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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Worst of the Month — April

James King was minding his own business when he was confronted by two menacing men.   King didn’t know these men and he wanted to get away from them, but they chased him and beat him up.

Turns out the men were police officers working on a fugitive task force.  They thought King was one of their fugitives, but they were mistaken about that.  They were out of uniform when they confronted King and, according to King’s lawsuit, they did not identify themselves as police officers.  Worried about his own safety, King ran away from them.

One of the officers put King in a chokehold till he lost consciousness.  When King came to, he again feared for his own safety and bit the arm of one of the officers in a gambit to get away from them.  The bite infuriated the officer, who then unleashed a torrent of punches on King’s face and head.

Bystanders were alarmed by what they were witnessing and they called 911.  The responding officer, for his part, told the witnesses to delete the cell phone videos of the incident.  He was worried about the safety of the officers, who had undercover jobs.  They shouldn’t be recorded.

When things settled down, and the police realized their mistake, they decided to arrest King anyway.  He fought back during his arrest–that’s a crime.

Prosecutors evidently agreed that King needed to be punished–so they charged him with three felonies.

King declined to plea bargain and insisted on a jury trial.  The jury acquitted him of all charges.

A civil lawsuit is now pending.   There’s no indication of any discipline for the officers involved.  They’re apparently still out there policing.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 05-02-16

Here are the 14 reports of police misconduct tracked for Monday, May 2, 2016:

  • Update: Belknap County, New Hampshire (First reported 02-23-16): A now-former deputy was found guilty of raping an inmate. He is still facing multiple counts for similar offenses against other inmates.
  • Update: Champaign, Illinois (First reported 07-06-15): An officer waived his right to a jury trial for sexual assault just before jury selection was set to begin.
  • San Francisco, California: An officer was arrested for filing a document with a forged name on it to access motor vehicle records.
  • San Francisco, California: An officer was charged with hindering a rape investigation against another officer by filing a false report.
  • San Francisco, California: An officer was accused of rape.  The internal investigation into the accusation set off the second racist texting scandal to hit the department in the past year.
  • Neenah, Wisconsin: The department released footage of the fatal shooting of Michael L. Funk. It does not match previous public explanations of what happened. For example, the officer gave no verbal commands to drop the weapon and Funk was not given medical treatment for 25 minutes after the shooting despite contrary statements in the past.
  • Update: Lewis and Clark County, Montana (First reported 01-13-16): A now-former deputy was given an 18-month deferred sentence for pulling a gun on a man while the deputy was drunk off duty. He also called the man “an ISIS.”
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A man won a malicious prosecution suit against three officers who “misled prosecutors” in order to charge him in the death of a police officer. The deceased officer, who had previously harassed the man, died when the plaintiff’s car struck him while riding a bike with no light in the rain. The judgment exceeded $1,000,000.
  • Baltimore County, Maryland: An officer barricaded himself in his home and exchanged gunfire with police.  The off-duty officer was shot and taken into custody.
  • Glendale, Arizona: The City settled four lawsuits stemming from a chain-reaction accident started by an officer in his patrol car, one person was fatally injured, for a total of $3,800,00. The officer was disciplined for that crash and was fired for a subsequent crash.
  • Update: Orleans Parish, Louisiana (First reported 04-18-16): A now-former colonel is expected to plead guilty this week in false billing scandal. He charged private contractors for phantom security guards that were supposed to be working events but didn’t exist.
  • Cape Coral, Florida: An officer was suspended 80 hours after an investigation into the actions seen on a video in which he threw a woman to the ground. No criminal charges will be filed in the case.
  • Update: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (First reported: 02-22-16): An officer has one kidnapping charge thrown out but is ordered to stand trial for aggravated assault on a man he escorted out of the Special Victims Unit. He allegedly kicked the man in the knee and broke his leg.
  • Update: Cleveland, Ohio (First reported: 12-04-12): The supervisor was fired after the fatal shooting of Timothy Russell and Melissa Williams was reinstated by an arbitrator.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 04-29-16

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, April 29, 2016:

  • Pierce County, Washington: A deputy was charged with custodial sexual misconduct for demanding sex from a woman in lieu of arrest after a traffic stop.
  • New York, New York: Two officers who allegedly beat a postal carrier who inadvertently gave directions to a man who ambushed NYPD officers have been indicted.
  • Fort Worth, Texas: An officer was fired after his body camera had revealed the probable cause for a search did not exist as he had written in his report. The resulting charges from that search have been thrown out.
  • Update: Cleveland, Ohio (First reported 05-23-13): A court upheld an arbitrator’s ruling that an officer who was fired in 2013 for stabbing her boyfriend will be reinstated.
  • Update: Providence, Rhode Island (First reported 10-02-15):  An officer was fired after he pled guilty to illegal weapons possession and for threatening his superiors.
  • Chicago, Illinois: Officers have been accused of beating a female pastor in front of her kids.
  • Muskogee County, Oklahoma: The County seized thousands from a band who had raised money for charity by way of civil forfeiture and pressed charges for drug dealing. Six and a half hours after a lawsuit was announced to recover the money, the County dropped the charges and refunded the seized assets.
  • Jacksonville, Florida: A sheriffs’ officer was fired and charged with battery for punching a cuffed suspect. (Video)

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 04-28-16

Here are the seven reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, April 28, 2016:

  • Baltimore, Maryland:  Officers shot a reportedly fleeing boy with a BB gun. The boy is expected to survive. Officers also arrested the child’s mother who, according to her, was detained because the officers said she was “belligerent” when asking about the child’s safety.
  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana: An officer was placed on leave after a released video showed him punching a 16-year-old child he arrested.
  • Update: Kissimmee, Florida (First reported 03-23-16): Three officers are to be charged for lying about a drug raid. Video contradicts their statements.
  • Chicago, Illinois: A detective’s one-year suspension for his role in clearing Mayor Daley’s nephew in David Koschman’s death was reduced by 10 months.
  • East Carolina University: An officer was fired for handcuffing a victim of vicious group assault and not questioning him. The FBI is investigating the assault as a possible hate crime. The victim remains hospitalized.
  • Update: Boulder City, Nevada (First reported 04-13-16): The  now-former chief pled guilty to failure to perform his duty. He was fined $1,000 for dropping animal cruelty charges against a woman who ran the animal shelter after she was alleged to have needlessly killed many animals for enjoyment.
  • Update: East Cleveland, Ohio (first reported 10-08-15): A now-former officer was sentenced to six years in prison for robbing drug dealers. He was the third and final former officer charged in the scheme.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 04-27-16

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, April 27, 2016:

  • Eaton County, Michigan: A deputy resigned after evidence surfaced that showed he was abusive during traffic a stop and subsequently lied about what happened. His resignation preceded a disciplinary hearing that could have ended in termination. He thus remained eligible to be hired by another law enforcement agency and was indeed hired as a deputy by Lenawee County.
  • Berrien County, Michigan: The sheriff’s department is being sued by ten women who claim they were coerced to perform sex acts while inmates in jail.
  • Bradley County, Tennessee: A deputy was suspended after allegedly threatening a 16-year-old student.
  • Update: Del Rio, Texas (First reported 11-24-15): An officer will not be charged for his November DUI arrest because the video of the stop didn’t match the information in the arresting officer’s report.
  • McLennan County, Texas: A deputy was arrested for passing information taken from law enforcement database to a suspect in a biker shootout.
  • Update: Pomona, California (First reported 04-04-16): The City has agreed to stop seizing and destroying the property of the homeless as the settlement negotiations to a related civil suit continues.
  • Update: Minneapolis, Minnesota (First reported 04-08-16): An officer was acquitted on six counts, and the jury hung on three other federal counts including civil rights abuses and perjury.
  • Baldwin County, Georgia: A deputy was arrested for DUI. He had BAC of .162.
  • New York, New York: A man was arrested as part of an FBI probe into corruption in the NYPD. He allegedly bribed officers to issue gun permits that he’d sell to other residents.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 04-26-16

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, April 26, 2016:

  • Oakland, California: An officer was arrested for false imprisonment and brandishing his weapon in an off-duty incident. He has been fired.
  • New York, New York: The City is being sued by a student who was hit by an officer with a baton. Video of the incident has been released.
  • Update: San Mateo County, California (First reported 10-01-13): A now-former deputy was sentenced to 30-years-to-life and an additional 38 years for molesting a young relative over a period of six years starting when the child was 11 years old.
  • Update: Santa Clara, California (First reported 03-29-16): A now-former officer was sentenced to 45 days in jail for masturbating in front of girlfriend’s co-worker after the co-worker walked in on them having sex on the premises.
  • Tallahassee, Florida: An officer was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for pulling a gun on a cyclist during an off-duty incident.
  • Update: Suffolk County, New York (First reported 02-05-14): An officer pled guilty to more charges related to stealing from Hispanic motorists. After his initial conviction, more victims came forward.
  • Chicago, Illinois: Two officers were placed on administrative duty during an FBI criminal investigation into the arrest of Heriberto Godinez, who died in police custody. The family suggests that the autopsy report left out important information that indicates there may have been unreported violence.
  • Providence, Rhode Island: An officer was arrested for attempted burglary. A business owner noticed that coupon flyers meant to be newspaper inserts were missing over several days. Police set up surveillance and found the officer in the act of trying to break into the door.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 04-25-16

Here are the 16 reports of police misconduct tracked for Monday, April 25, 2016:

  • Los Angeles County, California: A deputy was convicted on three counts of simple assault against jail inmates and acquitted of felony abuse and color of law violations. He is slated to be sentenced June 6.
  • Update: Cleveland, Ohio (First reported 11-24-14): The City settled a lawsuit with the family of Tamir Rice for $6,000,000. The twelve-year-old boy was killed by a police officer responding to a call about a person with a “probably fake” gun. Despite video evidence contrary to what the responding officers said happened, no criminal charges were filed in the case. Both officers were terminated. The Cleveland police’s union released a statement saying that they hope the family uses some of the settlement money “to help educate the youth of Cleveland in the dangers associated with the mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms.” The report was silent on whether the suit required the department to provide better training or improve hiring practices to prevent people deemed unfit for duty from becoming Cleveland Police officers.
  • Update: Marion County, Florida (First reported 08-15-14): Four now-former deputies were sentenced for their role in beating a man. Two were given 14 months in prison, and the other two were sentenced to spend one year in a halfway house.
  • Update: New York, New York (First reported 07-28-15): A now-former officer was sentenced to nine years in prison for drunkenly shooting into an occupied vehicle.
  • Update: New Orleans, Louisiana (First reported 01-14-15): An officer was fired before his trial for domestic violence was set to begin.
  • West Terre Haute, Indiana: An officer was fired for conduct unbecoming for an off-duty incident.
  • Update: Champaign, Illinois (First reported 02-23-16): An officer who had been named in four separate excessive force lawsuits has been fired.
  • Update: Denver, Colorado (First reported 04-21-15): An officer’s 30-day suspension was reinstated by the civil review board. The officer was suspended in 2015 for attacking a man while in uniform but an arbitrator set aside the original punishment. The victim filed suit in January and video of the incident is now available.
  • Dixon, Missouri: The city marshal was not sworn-in after his reelection because his law enforcement license is suspended so long as he is under indictment. That indictment includes 15 criminal counts related to theft of public property, hindering prosecution, and other violations.
  • Update: Winston-Salem, North Carolina (First reported 11-20-15): An officer fulfilled the requirements of a plea agreement, including serving more than 200 hours of community service. He will thus not go to jail for a fatal crash on duty.
  • Madison, Alabama: A deputy was acquitted of contempt of court. The charge was related to the beating of Sureshbhai Patel, and Indian national who was paralyzed by a now-former Madison officer. The police chief remains on leave for his actions surrounding that incident.
  • Iron County, Utah: A now-former deputy pled guilty to disorderly conduct after a drunken fight with a fellow deputy. He was originally charged with aggravated assault. Both deputies resigned.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A now-former officer was charged with theft, receipt of stolen property, and obstruction for stealing parts of automatic weapons while on a special firearms squad. According to the report, “in 2011 that [then-officer Anthony] Magsam had confessed the thefts to his colleagues but was not disciplined. Instead, the [Philadelphia Daily News] reported, he was quietly transferred out of the unit.” The officer who was Magsam’s supervisor at the time committed suicide just before prosecutors were set to interview him about this case earlier this month.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: An officer had his criminal charges dropped. He had been charged for his role in a brawl outside of a motorcycle club.
  • Meriden, Connecticut: An officer was fired for multiple violations, including arresting a minor without probable cause and improper investigation of domestic violence.
  • Shelby County, Tennessee: A deputy was charged with assaulting his girlfriend and her 13-year-old daughter.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 04-22-16

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, April 22, 2016:

  • Update: Bastrop County, Texas (First reported 06-18-14): A now-former deputy was acquitted of murder in the shooting death of Yvette Smith in a bench trial. One previous jury trial ended in mistrial. The deputy was responding to a domestic dispute and thought the unarmed Smith had something in her hand as he entered the home with his rifle drawn.
  • Jasper, Alabama: A now-former officer pled guilty to extortion. He took payments from a drug dealer and, in exchange, gave the dealer information about police activity.
  • Essex County, New Jersey: A detective was ordered to pay $1.4m to a man he wrongfully arrested. Witnesses testified that they were coerced by the officer to identify the man as the guilty party.
  • Madison County, Tennessee: A deputy was arrested for DUI.
  • Update: Mansfield, Ohio (First reported 02-13-15): An officer was found guilty of multiple felonies including stalking and sexual battery. He used law enforcement computers and databases to find information about his victims. He was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison.
  • California Highway Patrol: A now-former officer was acquitted of felony domestic violence. The jury hung on a misdemeanor charge.
  • Update: Baltimore, Maryland (First reported 09-18-15): An officer was acquitted of assaulting a handcuffed fugitive by choking him.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: An officer was acquitted of assault and misconduct in office for punching a detainee.
  • Washington, District of Columbia: An officer was arrested for pulling his gun on another motorist during an off-duty road rage

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 04-21-16

Here are the ten reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, April 21, 2016:

  • Jefferson County, Kansas: A deputy was arrested for domestic battery and placed on administrative leave during the investigation.
  • Update: St. Louis, Missouri (First reported 12-21-15): A now-former officer was sentenced to probation. He wrecked his police vehicle while he was drunk and high on cocaine and then fled the scene.
  • Gerald Ford International Airport (Michigan): A now-former officer has been charged with misusing police computer network.
  • Update: Huntsville, Alabama (First reported 12-16-14): A decorated now-former officer was sentenced to two years in prison for trying to bribe a fellow officer to drop drug charges against a third person.
  • Boynton Beach, Florida: An officer was fired and arrested for solicitation after being caught in a prostitution sting.
  • Robbins, Illinois: An officer was charged with felony loan fraud and forgery for falsifying a pay stub to secure a personal car loan.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii: An officer was arrested for offering to aid a prostitution suspect in exchange for sex and misusing a police database in furtherance of that act.
  • Knoxville, Tennessee: An officer was indicted for involvement in a painkiller and methamphetamine conspiracy.
  • Wind River Reservation (Wyoming): An officer was arrested for shackling his wife and threatening to kill her. He was released into the custody of a fellow police officer pending trial. His estranged wife has moved out of the area.
  • Update: St. Petersburg, Florida: An officer was convicted of DUI. He was suspended from the job for one month and ordered to abstain from alcohol.

More Police Transparency, Not Less

Yesterday, the Philadelphia Inquirer published a piece I wrote about pending legislation in Pennsylvania to anonymize officers under investigation for use of force. The proposed legislation is supposed to increase officer safety. A snippet:

Of course, officer safety is important. But there is scant evidence that specific police officers or their families – in Pennsylvania or elsewhere – have been targeted and harmed by criminals because they were named in use-of-force incidents. (While police officers have been the tragic victims of ambushes, including in Philadelphia, the indications are that officers are, as New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said in 2014, “targeted for their uniform,” not their actions.)

At best, these bills provide a remedy for something that has not been proven to be a problem. At worst, they protect officers with documented histories of violence and, ironically, give the majority of officers a bad rap.

Internal and criminal investigations are by their nature kept from the public eye, and for good reason. But the community should know if its public servants are under investigation for inappropriate violence and who they are. If one officer out of a thousand does something bad, but no one can say who he is, all officers fall under suspicion because the so-called bad apple is indistinguishable from everyone else.

As we saw in the John Geer shooting in Virginia, when police withhold information from the public about inappropriate uses of force, silence can seem like a cover-up. States and police agencies should look for ways to increase transparency after questionable uses of force, not put up new barriers to information.

Read the whole thing here.

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