As seen in...
The Economist
Washington Post
The Atlantic
ABC News
National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Damn the Evidence, Just Arrest that 11-Year Old!


The parents of an 11-year-old Canfield girl cleared of false rape charges is suing the city, police department and investigators for $5 million, alleging investigators pursued the case because of political connections even after they learned the accusations were false.

The parents alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. Northern District Court in Youngstown that Canfield Police Chief Chuck Colucci pressured investigators and juvenile prosecutors to pursue the case against the girl despite investigators believing that her three accusers were lying to get her in trouble.

Colucci “in turn applied political pressure to Detective McGivern, demonstrating to McGivern that this prosecution was a personal priority of the chief’s that would affect McGivern’s career at the Canfield Police Department if he did not listen to” him.

The suit says police questioned the girl April 20, 2012 for about five hours without food, water or rest. …

The girl was arrested April 24, rape charges were filed against the girl and she was taken to the Juvenile Detention Center “without her parents even having a chance to say goodbye,” the suit alleges.

One of the accusers later told police they conspired to lie during the investigation, yet the case against the girl continued the suit says.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-24-13

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, April 24, 2013:

  • Charlotte County, Florida: A deputy is off the job for conduct unbecoming of an officer. Two women claim they saw the former deputy with his pants down in a park while he was with a woman.
  • Houston, Texas: A woman who couldn’t find her family at a rodeo said that a deputy constable groped her after she turned to him for help. He then threatened to arrest her, she said. The officer has been charged with misdemeanor official oppression.
  • Miami-Dade, Florida: A former police officer has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for stopping female drivers on a pretense so he could have suggestive conversations with them. He was convicted of six charges of depriving victims of their civil rights.
  • San Diego, California: A police detective avoided a jail sentence for a crash in which he admitted he had been driving recklessly and under the influence. He was facing 60 days in custody but received 5 years on probation and 25 days of community service.
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin: A police officer pleaded no contest to four felonies and four misdemeanors stemming from his practice of conducting illegal strip searches and cavity searches on male suspects, but avoided conviction for sexual assault.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio: The family of a man shot and killed by police has expanded their wrongful-death suit. They originally sued one officer but added three more and the city in an amended complaint.
  • Long Beach, California: A jury found police officers violated the civil rights of a man who was shot and killed without warning, awarding his family $6.5 million in damages. “Amazingly, they didn’t give him any commands until after he stopped breathing,” the plaintiffs’ attorney said. “We have to expect better out of police, we really do. We don’t want innocent people being killed.”
  • Bay County Florida: A local judge threw out a case against a man caught with 13 pounds of marijuana, ruling sheriff’s deputies used an illegally placed GPS unit to track his movements, violated his due process rights and then misled attorneys about it and destroyed evidence.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-23-13

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, April 23, 2013:

  • Clay County, Florida: A deputy has been charged w driving under the influence after he was involved in a traffic crash. He was placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.
  • Washington Co, Pennsylvania: A state trooper is facing charges after police said he held a knife to his wife’s neck during an argument at their home. Authorities said  he is suspended without pay following the alleged incident.
  • Update: Denver, Colorado (First reported 04-09-13): Sheriff’s deputy was formally charged with aiding the escape of an inmate from the Denver Detention Center.
  • Imperial County, California: Sheriff’s deputy was arrested today on suspicion of oral copulation by a public official against the victim’s will.
  • Update: Chicago, Illinois (First reported 01-30-13): An officer pleaded guilty to charges that he extorted a tow truck driver and also sold firearms to a convicted felon. He is the eleventh officer to be charged in the incident. Under the plea deal, he faces up to 40 years in prison, a fine of up to $750,000, a period of supervision following release, fees related to his court costs and restitution for money he received during the investigation.
  • Update: Miami, Florida (First reported 02-04-13): An officer was convicted of accepting hundreds of dollars in bribes to protect a Liberty City check-cashing business. He has been sentenced to one year and three months in prison.
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: A former police officer who had been drinking when he hit a construction worker, and left the scene, has been sentenced to 60 days home detention. He must also pay restitution.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-20-13 to 04-22-13

Here are the 14 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, April 20 to Monday, April 22, 2013:

  • Lake City, Iowa: The assistant police chief allegedly harassed a woman with hundreds of text messages, sent photos with offensive comments about her, and, when he was caught, bribed someone else to take the blame. He has been fired.
  • Update: Sacramento, California (First reported 03-25-13): A former police officer was sentenced to one year in jail for falsifying drunken driving reports and lying at a State Department of Motor Vehicles administrative hearing. The judge said that he was particularly disturbed by how the officer’s actions threatened the integrity of the criminal justice system and violated due process of the accused.
  • North Charleston, South Carolina: A police officer is facing charges of driving under the influence after the Highway Patrol says she wrecked an NCPD cruiser while off-duty.
  • Orange County, Florida: A sheriff’s deputy was arrested on charges of domestic battery. Officers said they observed him scream obscenities and push a woman while they were facing each other.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: A former officer pleaded guilty to improperly accessing a law enforcement database to provide information to a drug dealer who was under federal investigation. He was fired after the allegations came up.
  • St. Mary Parish, Louisiana: A sheriff’s office deputy has been arrested in an investigation of drugs being brought into the parish jail. He was booked on multiple counts and has been fired.
  • Update: Minneapolis, Minnesota (First reported 02-08-13): An officer already facing allegations that he raped a juvenile girl was arrested again as new charges came up. He sent explicit messages and photos of his genitalia to an 11-year-old girl.
  • Twin Falls County, Idaho: A deputy has been arrested on charges of felony domestic battery. He was arraigned on three counts, including inflicting traumatic injury.
  • New York, New York: A veteran police officer is accused of filing phony tax returns for himself and others. He was charged with filing fraudulent tax returns over 5 years.
  • Update: Seattle, Washington (First reported 04-04-13): A police officer pleaded not guilty to an assault charge stemming from a confrontation with a handcuffed man who had assaulted the officer’s wife.
  • Beaverton, Oregon: A police officer was arrested on accusations that he lied to obtain public assistance, including food stamps.
  • Update: Delcambre, Louisiana (First reported 12-12-12): A former police officer has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for second-degree kidnapping and sexual battery. He committed the crimes, while on duty, after pulling over a woman during a traffic stop.
  • Prince George’s County, Maryland: A now-former police officer was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but will serve only seven, for allegedly selling seized guns. He had been assigned to a task force that seized guns from people unqualified to own them. Prosecutors say he then sold some of those guns to known criminals over the course of up to three years.
  • Mercer County, New Jersey: A deputy has been fired for driving under the influence of alcohol.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-19-13

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, April 19, 2013:

  • Rehoboth Beach, Delaware: A police officer, caught on video tasering a man, has been placed on administrative leave. An internal investigation is underway. The man in the video says he didn’t deserve the treatment he received from the three officers.
  • Tuscaloosa, Alabama: A former police sergeant pleaded guilty to a criminal civil rights charge for using his authority as a law enforcement officer to sexually assault a woman. “This former officer did the unimaginable when he used his police powers to sexually assault this victim,” said the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.
  • Schenectady, New York: A police detective has been put on unpaid leave after being arrested for an alleged “road rage” incident. He has been charged with menacing and placed on unpaid leave from the department.
  • Davie, Florida: A suspended officer is on trial. He has been accused of drugging and sexually assaulting his teenage step-daughter. He faces a maximum 30 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
  • Update: Mobile, Alabama (First reported 12-14-12): A former police officer pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge, admitting that conspired with a narcotics dealer to sell marijuana. He resigned his position amid the drug investigation.
  • Harford County, Maryland: A sheriff’s deputy was arrested and suspended without pay for allegedly giving a towing company privileged information about people whose cars were subject to being repossessed and then being paid for the information. “Police are empowered with specific tools and resources to do their job effectively. Misuse of those resources is not only unethical, it is illegal,” said the sheriff.
  • Northampton County, Pennsylvania: A deputy sheriff was charged with illegally providing a confidential firearms permit application to a councilwoman. He faces a felony of illegally disseminating firearms information and a misdemeanor of obstructing the administration of law.
  • San Luis Obispo, California: A narcotics officer is facing criminal allegations of perpetuating a scheme to acquire and sell drugs while on the local beat. He entered not guilty please to a felony charge of bribery and one felony charge of extortion.
  • Erie County, New York: A former sheriff’s deputy admitted she used pepper spray on a handcuffed inmate being escorted by two other deputies. She pleaded guilty to a charge of deprivation of rights under color of law.

The Waco Incident – 20 Years Later

Since this web site is all about police misconduct, we cannot let the twentieth anniversary of the Waco incident pass without comment.

April 19, 1993 marks the worst police action in modern American history.   Here are the main things to know:

  •   76 people, including 27 children, died that day.  That loss of life is a sufficient explanation as to why this incident is important and worth remembering.
  • The federal police operation did not involve a handful of “rogue” agents.  The incident is disturbing because it supposedly involved the best units of the ATF and the FBI.  And much of the decision-making was done by the top people at headquarters facilities in Washington, DC.
  • Make no mistake, crimes were committed by federal agents at Waco.  And those crimes were covered-up.
  • If the feds can successfully cover-up the worst police action in modern American history–an event that was highly publicized and that eventually brought extensive congressional hearings and the appointment of a special prosecutor– it is frightening to consider what police agencies would be able to get away in instances where there is no media scrutiny or legislative oversight.

For those interested in the details, read this paper that we published in 2001 (I also recommend the documentary film, Waco: The Rules of Engagement, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1997).  For today, let me just highlight some facts for all the people who do not have the time or inclination to study the details.

  • When the Branch Davidian residence burned to the ground and it became apparent that the FBI tank assault on April 19 backfired–resulting in almost everyone losing their lives, Attorney General Janet Reno told the media that the reason she ordered the assault was because “babies were being beaten” —  so the feds had no choice–they just had to move in.  About a week later, Reno testified before Congress.  Under oath, she admitted she had no evidence that babies were being beaten!  What!?
  • The FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team kept saying they were there to save lives and that they were especially concerned about the safety of the children in the residence.   But their tanks drove into the side of buildings even as the agents admitted they did not know the whereabouts of the children.
  • Some of the Branch Davidians survived the inferno of April 19.  They were arrested and charged with “murdering ATF agents.”  In a stinging rebuke to the federal prosectors, the jury acquitted the Davidians of those very serious charges.
  • One of the primary reasons the cover-up was successful was that government officials kept deflecting attention away from their actions to the Branch Davidian leader, David Koresh.  And, later, the feds would deflect attention by pointing out the crimes of the Oklahoma City bombers.   The feds seemed to taunt everyone with the question, “Who are you going to side with? Koresh?  McVeigh and Nicols?”  That was always a false choice.  One can, for example, condemn excessive force against a shoplifter without “siding with” shoplifting.
  • There are, to be sure, some wild conspiracy theories out there about the feds and Waco.  But the existence of a conspiracy theorist(s) does not make all government conduct lawful and ethical, at least in logic.

What’s the takeaway from all this?  First, recognize that this awful incident really did happen.  Crimes were committed and then the government tried to deceive everyone about what actually happened there.  Second, when it comes to government power, especially police power and the use of deadly force, be impartial, ask questions, and follow the evidence.  We must remember that, in a free society, police agents may not use the “color of their office” to commit crimes.

Update:  Podcast interview here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-18-13

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, April 18, 2013:

  • Dallas, Texas: A police officer has been suspended with pay after she was arrested for drunk driving. She is now on administrative leave.
  • Eureka, California: A police sergeant was arrested following allegations of excessive force by a fellow officer and accusations he filed a false police report. “We will not tolerate misconduct by any of our officers, and I firmly believe and stand behind that Police Officer’s Code of Ethics, that each of our officers are expected to conduct themselves under that code,” said the police chief.
  • Martinsburg, West Virginia: The former sheriff will face a sentencing hearing. He has pleaded guilty to charges of using excessive force under color of law for the beating of a since-convicted bank robber. The man suffered a broken nose, a broken jaw, a broken eye socket, and other injuries.
  • Edwardsville, Illinois: The police chief pleaded guilty to federal charges and admitted stealing roughly $138,000 from the city. He took cash and money orders from a department lock box that contained vehicle impound fees. “I am disgusted and saddened when called upon to prosecute someone who had sworn to uphold the law,” said a U.S. attorney.
  • Dekalb County, Georgia: A police officer who was waiting in the drive-thru line at a McDonald’s is accused of pulling a gun on the customer ahead of him because the officer was angry at having to wait for his food. “I’m just not going to stand for any behavior that goes outside that scope of the law,” the chief said. An investigation is underway.
  • Denver, Colorado: An officer has resigned. He has been accused of working another job while simultaneously collecting workers compensation payments.
  • Charleston, South Carolina: A former police trooper pleaded guilty in federal court to using excessive force when he repeatedly kicked an arrested man in the head and neck following a high speed chase.
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: An officer was arrested and booked with forcible rape of a 15 year-old girl. He was also booked on charges of sexual battery, and was immediately put on emergency suspension without pay following his arrest. The officer was given a $50,000 bond during a hearing. If he makes bond he must also wear a monitoring device and avoid contact with the victim.

Upset by a Long Wait, Cop Pulls Gun on McDonald’s Customer


FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A police officer who was waiting in the drive-thru line at a McDonald’s restaurant in Forsyth County is accused of pulling a gun on the customer ahead of him because the officer was angry at having to wait for his food.

The off-duty officer is Detective Sgt. Scott Biumi, 48, of the DeKalb County Police Department. Biumi is charged with felony aggravated assault on the customer.  11Alive News was not able to reach him for comment Wednesday night.

“He put his hand right here,” said the customer, 18 year old Ryan Mash, pointing to his upper chest and shoulder area, “then he pulled the gun and put it, pointed it at, like, my neck area.”

There’s a security camera video at the link above.  The report says the officer is on leave with pay pending the outcome of the criminal case.  Question: When are officers accused of crimes suspended without pay?

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-17-13

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, April 17, 2013:

  • Newark, New Jersey: A 17-year veteran was indicted this morning on charges he set his SUV on fire and then filed a fraudulent insurance claim. If convicted of the charges, he faces up to 10 years in prison on each charge.
  • Asheville, North Carolina: The police department is investigating several of its officers after cell phone video surfaced of a suspect allegedly being tased while in handcuffs.
  • Bedford, Massachusetts: A high-ranking police official and a librarian were charged in a plot to kidnap, torture, and kill women and children, federal prosecutors say. According to the criminal complaint, the men allegedly discussed the plot with the cooperating witness to help him commit these crimes against his wife and some of her relatives.
  • Price, Utah: A police officer has been sentenced to jail for defrauding his car insurance company. In addition to jail, he gets three years’ probation and must pay $22,000 in restitution. He pleaded guilty in the case.
  • Update: Anne Arundel County, Maryland (First reported 03-22-13): Police said that no criminal charges will be filed against an officer who placed a camera in a boys’ restroom at a high school. The officer involved in the incident remains on administrative leave.
  • Riverside County, California: An off-duty sheriff’s deputy suspected of threatening two highway patrol officers as they were detaining him on suspicion of drunken driving and then damaging their patrol car is on paid administrative leave from his job.
  • San Diego County, California: The County and a detective might be liable for using excessive force and conspiring against a deputy’s ex-girlfriend with a “SWAT-like” raid of her home. On the claim, the court said the force used was “clearly intimidating.” It concluded that the girlfriend is entitled to a trial to prove her claim that the “raid” tactics were used to gain the upper hand in custody mediation.

Creative Commons License
This work by Cato Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.