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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 06-15-13 to 06-17-13

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, June 15 to Monday, June 17, 2013:

  • Slaton, Texas: A mother who asked to see read the warrant for the apprehension of her 11-year-old son was taken to jail. It turned out that the officers did not have an arrest warrant to begin with. They have told her they will issue an apology as long as she agrees not to file a lawsuit.
  • Garland County, Arkansas: A sheriff’s deputy has been arrested on a federal warrant for allegedly enticing an individual to engage in prostitution. If convicted he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
  • Update: Kern County, California (First reported 05-13-13): The family of David Silva announced that they have filed federal civil rights claims against the sheriff’s office, six sheriff’s deputies and a sergeant, two California Highway Patrol officers, the county, and the state alleging excessive police force killed him.
  • Tucson, Arizona: An officer has been accused of computer tampering. She was indicted on three counts, one day after she resigned from the department.
  • Aberdeen, North Carolina: A man who was hit with a Taser multiple times following a traffic stop and his family are suing the police department and the officer involved in the incident. The suit alleges that the officer has pulled the man over three times on similar charges and that all three had been dismissed in court.
  • Update: East Washington, Pennsylvania (First reported 05-17-13): A now-former police chief was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for extorting about $8,000 from undercover FBI agents he thought were drug dealers, in exchange for protecting two staged drug deals and agreeing to buy them police-issue stun guns. The case was built largely on videos of the staging, and the chief bragged, “I’m the best cop money can buy.”
  • Buncombe County, North Carolina: A deputy who was charged with driving while intoxicated has been fired. He was arrested at a hospital.
  • Update: Birmingham, Alabama (First reported 06-18-12): A jury found a now-former officer guilty on all charges in his arson trial. He was charged with four counts of second degree arson, one count of attempted arson and one count of first degree criminal mischief.
  • Nassau County, Florida: A deputy who recently served as a school resource officer was fired from the department following his arrest. He faces sexual battery and lewd and lascivious charges in connection with an incident with a student. He allegedly confessed he had a sexual relationship with a teenager.
  • West Palm Beach, Florida: A police officer was arrested on a domestic battery charge. He has since been placed on desk duty.
  • Update: Houston, Texas: A grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against a police officer who fatally shot a double amputee in a wheelchair. The officer shot the man after the man threatened his partner with a ballpoint pen.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 06-14-13

Here are the 17 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, June 14, 2013:

  • Update: Greensboro, North Carolina (First reported 05-17-13): An officer with the police department has been fired and another suspended as the result of the city’s investigation into the department’s response to a student apartment complex. The students claimed the officers used excessive force.
  • Arlington, Texas: A woman is suing a police officer, claiming he body slammed her and punched her during an arrest. She says in the suit that she never resisted.
  • North Bend Oregon: A former police officer avoided a prison sentence when he pleaded guilty in federal court to tipping off an illegal steroid distributor about an ongoing investigation. He was placed on probation for five years and ordered to perform 400 hours of community service as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. He also must undergo a mental health evaluation and will have all of his medications monitored while on probation.
  • Update: Robbinsville, New Jersey (First reported 09-19-12): A police officer who attacked a woman in a wheelchair and her child while he was suffering from a psychological disorder will resign from his job. The charges against him will be dropped after he successfully completes a three-year pretrial intervention program.
  • Bethel, Maine: A developer and restaurant owner has filed a federal suit against the town and the sheriff, among others, seeking damages for he claims was an excessively forceful, wrongful arrest. In the claim it says he was deprived of his liberty, “without probable cause or due process, and in direct violation of the Constitution.”
  • Gadsden, Alabama: A police chief has been given a 15-day suspension over his personal relationship with a convicted murderer. According to the civil service board, the relationship could have negative impact on the police department’s reputation.
  • Update: Two Harbors, Minnesota (First reported 09-27-12): A now-former trooper accused of driving drunk on his way to a training session has pleaded guilty to careless driving.
  • Martinsburg, West Virginia: The family of a man shot to death after a scuffle with police officer is suing the city for $200 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The lawsuit says police used unreasonable and excessive force, shooting the man 15-25 times while he was on the ground.
  • San Diego, California: A sheriff’s deputy caught in an undercover prostitution sting is on probation but still at work after pleading guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace. An internal affairs investigation has begun on the incident.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The ACLU plans to file two federal lawsuits today against the police department for wrongfully arresting a journalism student for photographing an officer and a woman who was observing police action. “Certainly the right to observe police officers and their interaction with the public is at the core of what the First Amendment is supposed to protect,” said the attorney.
  • Update: Franklin County, Virginia (First reported 01-14-13): The estate of a former deputy’s ex-wife has settled a wrongful death suit against the deputy and a former sheriff. The deputy was charged with fatally shooting her. The lawsuit also says the sheriff didn’t warn authorities that his deputy was armed and had threatened to kill her.
  • Belleville, Illinois: A second lawsuit has been filed against the state police trooper who was involved in a crash that killed two sisters. It accuses the officer of negligence for driving his police-issued car at 126 miles per hour before the crash.
  • West Valley City, Utah: The parents of a 21-year-old woman, who was shot and killed by two police officers, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, the officers, two police supervisors, and 10 other unnamed officers. The officers were placed on administrative leave while the case is being reviewed.
  • Update: Waveland, Mississippi (First reported 03-28-13): A federal judge has dismissed the city and its police department as defendants in a lawsuit over the use of stun guns by officers.
  • Cherokee County, Georgia: An ex-police officer is accused of lying about receiving a Purple Heart medal and was arrested.
  • Update: Minneapolis, Minnesota (First reported 06-04-13): A police officer accused of sexually assaulting young girls has pleaded guilty to sending nude photographs of himself to two teenage girls. He has been fired from the police department.
  • New York, New York: An off-duty police officer shot her boyfriend and then her baby to death before turning her service weapon on herself. The woman’s older son jumped out of a back window and escaped. It is unclear what started the incident.

The Daniel Vail Case

From the Washington Post:

Vallery Vail thought the heater had blown up.

She was getting ready to go to sleep in her tiny two-bedroom apartment in a converted Mount Airy barn just before 1 a.m. Her son, Daniel, 19, who had an early shift at the gas station that morning, had gone to bed early. And then — boom.

It was not the heater.

Frederick County sheriff’s deputies — wearing SWAT gear, night-vision gear and military-style helmets — were storming Vallery Vail’s home in a raid connected to her son, who was a suspect in a home invasion and who the deputies feared might be armed. They set off a deafening flash-bang device. Then came gunshots.

“Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,” Vail said, describing a hail of 18 9mm bullets deputies fired at her son. There was screaming. Deputies entered her bedroom, she said, and handcuffed her.

“I don’t hear Daniel,” she remembers thinking. “Why isn’t anyone helping him?”

Daniel Vail had been shot multiple times, including twice in his left temple, according to his family, who have yet to receive the official autopsy report. He died beside his bed.

The article notes the Cato report on these no-knock raids (right hand margin of our home page) and quotes the author, Radley Balko:

Flash-bangs have become a popular but controversial diversionary tactic used by SWAT teams. The devices give officers key seconds to make tactical moves and are especially useful in hostage situations. But using them when the suspect doesn’t yet present an active threat can lead to violent confrontations instead of preventing them, said Radley Balko, a former Cato Institute researcher and author of “Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America.”

“The police will say, ‘We need to do these midnight raids and use these devices to take people by surprise,’ ’’ Balko said. “But then they will turn around and say, ‘Well, you should have known we were the police, and you should have dropped the gun.’ That’s an inherent contradiction.”

Yes.  The police stress they had only a ‘split second’ to decide whether to use deadly force.  But they recklessly created the situation.  They should have arrested Vail at the gas station or school or some other place.  A raid in the middle of the night was a terrible idea.

Check out Radley Balko’s new book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 06-13-13

Here are the 14 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, June 13, 2013:

  • Cincinnati, Ohio: The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned down the appeal of an officer to have a lawsuit thrown out. The man filing suit will be allowed to move forward with his excessive force lawsuit. He says the officer used a stun gun on him while he was shirtless, unarmed, and kneeling with his arms in the air.
  • South St. Paul, Minnesota: A police officer has been arrested for allegedly driving under the influence and fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle. Police are recommending the case for criminal charges.
  • Box Elder County, Utah: An Arizona man has filed a federal lawsuit against the county, saying he was held behind bars for 17 days without access to an attorney and without any charges filed against him. He was arrested based on a outside witness’s account of his driving.
  • Norfolk, Virginia: A jury has ordered a now-former police officer to pay $500,000 in damages to a woman who said he raped her while answering her 911 call for help.
  • Arlington, Texas: A police officer bought anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs for himself and other officers in his department and used a police computer to tip off his dealer, authorities have said. The FBI and Texas Rangers are continuing to investigate the extent of the steroids ring, which a federal complaint says involves other Arlington officers.
  • Kansas City, Missouri: A federal judge ordered a now-former deputy sheriff to pay $2 million to a 15-year-old girl he forced to give him a blow job. He pleaded guilty to violating the girl’s constitutional rights and has been sentenced to prison for 14 years.
  • Knoxville, Tennessee: Disciplinary action has been taken against four officers and three supervisors. A homeless, mentally-ill, man was hogtied and beaten in front of witnesses and was caught on film by at least four cruiser cameras. “It’s just completely inappropriate,” said the police chief. “I feel sorry it happened. We’re sorry to [the victim] this happened. I tell people all the time, unfortunately we have to recruit from the human race.”
  • Orlando, Florida: A man says a police officer shot him with a Taser twice even though he wasn’t doing anything wrong. The entire incident was captured on camera, and he is now suing.
  • Buffalo, New York: A Iraq war veteran was at work when his apartment was raided by police. He says that they raided the wrong apartment and his dog was shot and killed. Police said they believe they had the right address, but on the warrant the suspect is described as black and he is Hispanic. “They had no right, no evidence because if that was they case they would have found stuff here and I would be in jail,” said the man.
  • Update: Hertford County, North Carolina (First reported 12-21-12): A now-former sheriff’s deputy has pled guilty to assaulting an inmate; he unjustifiably punched the man repeatedly while he was handcuffed.
  • Spokane, Washington: A police officer under internal investigation has resigned and the investigation has been turned over to county prosecutors to determine if charges are warranted.
  • Missoula County, Montana: A County Sheriff’s Deputy who was fired for an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old boy will not be getting any jail time after pleading guilty in court. He will have to pay more than $1000 in fines.
  • Buckeye Lake, Ohio: An officer has been suspended without pay for two days and has a permanent write-up on his record for allowing a suspected impaired driver to drive home while he followed.
  • Hackensack, New Jersey: Two residents who say they were illegally imprisoned, searched and injured by police in a case of mistaken identity have filed a lawsuit against the city and a group of current and former police officers.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 06-12-13

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, June 12, 2013:

  • Cleveland, Ohio: The police fired a sergeant and meted out demotions and suspensions for a car chase that involved five dozen cruisers, 137 rounds of ammunition fired by 13 officers, and the death of two people who, it turned out, were probably unarmed.
  • Update: Villa Hills, Kentucky (First reported 06-04-13): The assistant police chief, who had been suspended without pay for political activity and gross misconduct, will be reinstated with back pay.
  • Fort Worth, Texas: Two police officers were arrested for DUI in separate incidents. One was charged with operating a boat intoxicated, and the other was driving a car while drunk.
  • New Hanover County, North Carolina: A lieutenant has been fired, and is being investigated by the state bureau of investigation on allegations of prescription drug abuse. Based on a preliminary look the district attorney said the officer’s actions have impact on cases that are both pending and closed.
  • New York, New York: An off-duty police officer gunned down his wife before turning the weapon on himself. He chased her down a street and shot her with a shotgun.
  • Kingston, Pennsylvania: Police leaders violated municipal policy prohibiting cash payments to officers working private security details at least 160 times and lied to cover up the violations, according to a report released. It says that nearly $32,000 in cash compensation did not go through the payroll system.
  • Los Angeles, California: The top commander at the LAPD was removed from his post after being arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. He has been reassigned to “a non-field assignment pending the outcome” of the criminal proceedings and an internal investigation.
  • Update: Miramar, Florida (First reported 07-03-12): A former police captain convicted of forcing a teenage girl to strip during a traffic stop was sentenced to four years in prison. He was also given five years of sexual offender probation. The chief said in a statement that the captain’s “conduct that led to his arrest and conviction is abhorrent and certainly not representative of the dedicated men and women of the Miramar Police Department.”
  • Cherokee County, South Carolina: A highway patrol trooper is under investigation on allegations he stole money from an Upstate Fraternal Order of Police chapter. He is accused of embezzling $2,600 and has been suspended without pay pending the conclusion of the investigation.

‘Humane Officer’ Shoots the Kittens

A woman called the police department to complain about a family of cats was making a home in her wood pile in the backyard.  The woman was astonished by the responding officer’s conduct:


“He informed her that shelters were full and that these cats would be going to kitty heaven,” Landon said of Accorti. “She assumed he would be trapping them or something and taking them to a shelter and they would be humanely euthanized if they were not adopted.

“Instead, he went to his truck and got a gun, which she thought was a tranquilizer gun, and walked around to the back of the house and approximately 15 feet from her back door shot and killed the 8- to 10-week-old kittens . . .

“She was very distraught when this happened. He started shooting them right in front of her. Her children were upstairs in view of the windows. They started screaming and crying because they heard the gunshots. They started screaming, ‘Mommy, he’s killing the kittens,’ ” Landon said.

The police chief said the officer acted properly.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 06-11-13

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, June 11, 2013:

  • Sarasota, Florida: A man has filed a wrongful arrest lawsuit against a highway patrol trooper. The lawsuit stems from the man’s arrest for DUI, even though a breath test later showed a BAC of 0.000. A urine sample also came back clean.
  • Update: Pawtucket, Rhode Island (First reported 04-11-13): A police officer who’d been suspended after accusations of assaulting his girlfriend while on duty has resigned. He will not receive a pension because he did not serve at least 20 years.
  • Douglas County, Nebraska: In what the county’s top prosecutor calls “disturbing” and “an abuse of power,” a sheriff’s deputy allegedly gave a 19-year-old woman an ultimatum: Come up with a way to get you and your boyfriend out of trouble. He allegedly exposed himself to the girl and made her perform oral sex on him after he pulled the two over.
  • Sutton, Nebraska: The police chief was fined $750 for allegedly misusing public resources. He used the police station to store campaign signs and also spent more than $200 in public funds to buy snack foods.
  • Chesterfield County, Virginia: An officer has been arrested after police say while on duty he took and sold the jewelry of a person needing medical attention. “We are deeply saddened and embarrassed by the actions of this officer,” said Col. Thierry Dupuis. “We want members of this community to know that we deal with matters such as this head on. We hold ourselves accountable and will do what it takes to regain and maintain the public trust.”
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: A police officer was fired, and faces criminal charges, almost a year after he and two other officers were seen on video using their tasters and fists to take down suspected pot dealers. The officer jumped on the back of the suspect, and when the suspect screamed, “I surrender,” the officer, according to the video, said: “Oh, you surrender, huh?” and struck him several times.
  • Tyler, Texas: The family of a man who was shot and killed by a police officer on New Year’s Eve is taking the city and the police department to court. The officer was cleared of any wrong doing by an internal investigation by the department.
  • Update: Tempe, Arizona (First reported 04-15-13): A now-former police officer who pleaded guilty to one count of theft was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years of probation. He was arrested after several items of police property went missing and money was taken from a lockbox. Many of the items were found in his possession.

Editorial on Police Accountability

From the SyracuseNewTimes:

When it comes to the men and women in blue, there are no serious consequences for misdeeds. Last year, the city spent months revamping its Citizen Review Board legislation, filled the board and hired new staff. The CRB can look into complaints against the police, and then what do they do? They turn the results over to the chief and ask him to do something about it. He might take action, and even if he does, he can keep that action secret. It’s a personnel matter. So the public that pays the bill and bears the burden of police misconduct does not even have the right to see how discipline is handed out….

I don’t understand why my conservative friends who are always all up in arms about big government don’t seem to be able to get worked up about a flagrant case of police abuse of the rights of a criminal defendant. Is it because we don’t seem to realize that police and prosecutorial misconduct are a threat to all of us? Is it too easy to forget that the only thing standing between any one of us and being labeled a criminal is a decision made by a police officer? And the only thing standing between any of us and being convicted are the Constitutional protections that insist that we be given due process. If you get arrested, the charges, the determination, and the sentence if you are convicted, will all be on the public record. Wouldn’t you like to know that the people holding your life in their hands are accountable to someone other than their chief?

So why such is deference given to law enforcement, so much benefit of the doubt given to those who can wreck our lives so easily? Especially when we see how the men and women in blue time and time again break the rules without any hint of accountability. They break the rules because they can.

And we all pay the price.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 06-08-13 to 06-10-13

Here are the 12 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, June 8 to Monday June 10, 2013:

  • Youngstown, Ohio: An officer has been arrested and is being held in jail. He was arraigned on felony charges of illegal use of a minor in sexually oriented material and importuning. The officer has been assigned to the Family Services Unit that often deals with juveniles and underage victims, but its unclear if that’s how he met the suspected victim.
  • Vidalia, Mississippi: A police officer was fired on multiple charges stemming from an incident in which he allegedly fled an officer, operated a vehicle carelessly, and sped, going 75mph in a 35mph zone. The officer has been previously suspended and demoted.
  • Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: A 21-year-veteran police officer is in jail after being arrested on 20 criminal charges. All of the counts stem from three alleged road-rage incidents in the space of nine days. When police went to the officer’s home to question him, they say he was hostile, defensive and argumentative.
  • Dane County Wisconsin: The sheriff has asked the district attorney to consider charges against a deputy accused of having a relationship with a woman in a jail diversion program. The deputy has worked with the Sheriff’s officer for about 15 years and was assigned to work in the jail.
  • Baldwin County, Georgia: Two deputies have been fired because they used excessive force in separate incidents. One was a nine year veteran.
  • Cass County, Michigan: A sheriff’s deputy has been charged for allegedly staging a car-deer crash, and then lying about it in a police report, so a friend could collect insurance money for a new car. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.
  • Watertown, Massachusetts: A former police officer pleaded guilty to tipping off a suspected drug dealer to a federal investigation and providing him sensitive information, including the home addresses of two fellow officers. He could face up to 5 years in prison.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: An off-duty, New Jersey detective is being held on $1 million bond after police said he killed a man in what may have been a road rage incident. He was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter after he shot the man on the shoulder of a highway ramp.
  • Otsego, Michigan: A police officer has resigned following an internal investigation into misconduct. The city said his misconduct was not illegal, but they will not release the findings of the investigation.
  • Update: Alger County, Michigan (First reported 02-07-13): A deputy has been terminated from the department after he pled no contest to assaulting a jail inmate. He was facing a 93-day jail sentence, but that was delayed for twelve months. If he successfully completes his probation, the charge will be removed from his record.
  • Danbury, Connecticut: Three police officers have been suspended without pay and another is facing disciplinary action after hearings regarding their conduct in a routine traffic stop. “No resident of this city deserves to be treated the way this resident was treated,” said the Mayor.
  • Surprise, Arizona: Authorities have charged a man for driving under the influence despite him blowing a 0.00 on a breathalyzer test. He was analyzed by a drug recognition expert, and the man who was arrested said, “after he did all the tests, he says, ‘I would never have arrested you, you show no signs of impairment.”

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