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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 08-15-16

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Monday, August 15, 2016:

  • Las Vegas, Nevada: An officer was arrested on child pornography possession and distribution charges.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Washington State): An officer was given a suspended sentence for breaking into a co-worker’s phone to access intimate photos of her and send them to himself. He has been on unpaid leave and faces likely termination.
  • Update: Putnam County, Indiana (First reported 03-12-14): A now-former deputy was sentenced to 14 months in prison for brutality. The U.S.  Attorney’s Office that prosecuted the case is appealing the “uniquely low sentence.”
  • Ohio State Police: The OSP is being sued by the surviving family of a former NAACP chapter president who died of heart and diabetes-related issues during car stop after a K-9 triggered a search that turned up no illicit drugs. The family claims the officers should have sought medical attention before he started seizing but they were too intent on trying to make a drug bust.
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin: A detective was terminated for inconsistent statements after a traffic accident in an unmarked police vehicle.
  • Update: Richmond County, Georgia: A deputy resigned after his domestic violence arrest.
  • Gadsden, Alabama: An officer was suspended 61 days without pay for insubordination and conduct unbecoming. Separately, he was arrested for domestic violence.
  • Albany, New York: Two officers were taken off the street during an investigation into their use of violence against teens at a group home. One was put on administrative assignment; the other was suspended.
  • New York, New York: The City is investigating a video of an officer hitting an apparently subdued suspect after that suspect had fought and injured officers.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 08-12-16

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, August 12, 2016:

  • U.S. Border Patrol: A now-former agent pled guilty to attempted possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and bribery charges.
  • Erie County, New York: A deputy pled guilty to insurance fraud for covering-up a drunk driving accident. He was given three years’ probation and allowed to keep his job.
  • Delaware County, Indiana: A now-former deputy was sentenced to six months of home detention and three years of supervised release for stealing more than $8,500 of ammunition from the county and then selling it for a profit.
  • Richland County, South Carolina: The County settled a DOJ lawsuit that was brought after a deputy slammed a female student to the ground who had been obstinately sitting at her desk in a classroom. The incident was caught on a student’s cell phone camera and went viral. As part of the agreement, the department must teach de-escalation tactic and strategies to avoid bias.
  • Tampa, Florida: An officer was charged with sexual battery during a February traffic stop. He was fired.
  • Update: Shreveport, Louisiana (First reported 02-13-15): An officer who was acquitted of sexually assaulting a woman in the police station has been reinstated by a civil service board. He and the department face a civil suit from the woman.
  • Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania: An officer was fired by the Borough Council after an investigation into $10,000 of missing
  • Clearwater, Florida: An officer resigned during an investigation into three shots fired by officer(s) at a moving vehicle.
  • DeKalb County, Georgia: The department is being sued by a married couple after the husband was shot in the leg and their dog was fatally shot in a wrong-door pursuit of a suspect.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 08-11-16

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, August 11, 2016:

  • Broward County, Florida: A deputy entered a drug diversion program to expunge drug charges that stemmed from a car wreck. He still will face a hit and run charge from that
  • Pulaski County, Indiana; A now-former sheriff and his former chief deputy were indicted on a total of 15 counts of theft, obstruction, and misconduct in office.
  • New York, New York: An officer was fired after he was convicted of assault for stomping on a suspect’s head while he was restrained.
  • Los Angeles, California: A now-former officer pled no contest to felony assault while he was on duty. The charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor upon completion of community service and
  • Richmond County, Georgia: A deputy was arrested for domestic battery.
  • McMinn County, Tennessee: A detective is no longer with the department and is under investigation for stealing a suspect’s credit card. He is also being sued for false arrest. He allegedly arrested two women for being late on their payday loans, which is not a crime.
  • Update: Baltimore, Maryland (First reported 04-21-15):  Lieutenant Brian Rice, who was acquitted for his role in the death of Freddie Gray, will be given $127,000 in back pay.
  • Boston, Massachusetts: An officer pled guilty to fraud for purchasing stolen gift cards and resigned his position.
  • Update: St. Johns County, Florida (First reported 10-30-15): A deputy had fraud charges dropped. He was accused of falsely collecting insurance benefits for his deceased wife.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 08-10-16

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, August 10, 2016:

  • Florida Gulf Coast University: An officer was arrested for stalking and violating a restraining order.
  • Homer, Louisiana: A now-former officer pled guilty to federal civil rights and false statement charges.
  • Grand Traverse County, Michigan: The officer who was acquitted of assault and disorderly conduct will serve one-day suspension.
  • Orange County, California: A deputy was charged with running illegal background checks on two people.
  • Lincoln County, Maine: A deputy was indicted on 21 counts of sexually abusing three girls over a 17-year period.
  • Terrell County, Georgia: A deputy was arrested for taking $200 out of a lost wallet at Wal-Mart. He called the owner to say he found his wallet but security footage showed that the officer removed the cash that was in it.
  • Plainfield, New Jersey: An officer pled guilty to receiving stolen property. He was caught in a sting.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Danville, New Hampshire): An agent was arrested for intentionally crashing a truck into a tree during a domestic dispute. He was charged with DUI and reckless conduct.
  • Church Point, Louisiana: An officer with a history of arrests for violence was arrested for trying to set his wife on fire.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 08-09-16

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, August 9, 2016:

  • Update: Altavista, Virginia (First reported 05-19-15): The now-former chief was convicted of 15 felony counts of forgery and obtaining drugs by fraud.
  • Oak Harbor, Washington: An officer was charged with receiving child pornography for exchanging explicit messages with a 13-year-old girl.
  • U.S. Border Patrol: An agent was arrested for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
  • Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana: A deputy was fired and arrested for giving her husband, a felon and fugitive, a firearm that was later used in a shooting.
  • Update: Weld County, Colorado (First reported 05-11-15): A deputy was acquitted of sexually assaulting his daughter. An internal investigation is ongoing.
  • Shenandoah County, Virginia: A deputy was arrested for domestic assault and battery. He is no longer with the department.
  • Akron, Ohio: An officer was arrested for OWI and having a gun in the car at the time, a felony.
  • Update: U.S. Marshals: A deputy marshal faces 20 additional charges for recording women and girls in dressing rooms with his cell phone.
  • Gwinnett County, Georgia: An officer resigned after his arrest for battery, theft, assault, and transmission of a nude video of his estranged wife on social media.

Investigatory Stops and the Baltimore Police Department

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice released its report on the Baltimore Police Department. As expected, they found “patterns and practices” that lead to unconstitutional policing in the City and that these adversely and disproportionately affect black Baltimoreans.

The report describes a litany of offenses and violations of basic decency perpetrated by the Baltimore Police. Each of those stories is important, but for now, I want to focus on the primary source of the violations described: unconstitutional and other investigatory stops.

The DOJ found that between January 2010 and May 2015, the Baltimore Police made at least 300,000 pedestrian stops—a number the DOJ says is almost certainly too low because of police underreporting. Forty-four percent of these stops were made in two majority black districts of Baltimore that comprise only 11 percent of the City’s population. They found hundreds of people who were stopped more than ten times during that period, 95 percent of whom were black.

One man in his 50s was stopped over 30 times in four years and was never ticketed or arrested. That probably shouldn’t be surprising, as less than four percent of these stops ended in citations or arrest. And, recalling the recent dissents in the Supreme Court decision in Utah v. Strieff, it’s likely that many of those arrests were for outstanding warrants for unpaid parking tickets and other minor violations that had no connection to a potentially illegal activity that allegedly justified the stops in the first place.

Moreover, the DOJ found at least 11,000 arrests by BPD were not prosecuted for lack of probable cause or other merit. Thousands more were detained for investigations and searches that went nowhere, with many people publicly strip-searched. One, even, was strip searched after being stopped for a broken taillight. Such unjustifiable actions serve no purpose other than public humiliation.

Black Baltimoreans were more likely to be charged with the most discretionary offenses—“failure to obey,” “trespassing,” “disorderly conduct,” and “loitering,”—and often without required notice that they were in violation of the law. Indeed, the DOJ wrote that “[r]acially disparate impact is present at every stage of BPD’s enforcement actions[.]” This is something black Baltimoreans know and rightfully resent. As I’ve written before, this denial of basic rights makes Baltimoreans less secure and less safe:

If civil rights protections are widely denied, particularly to one group of people, because they are routinely ignored and capriciously violated by police officers, those rights lose all tangible meaning to that population. Mistreatment by authorities—whether official policies like Stop and Frisk, or tolerance of police brutality, corruption, or homicide—corrodes the integrity of a community. The government loses credibility by effectively nullifying its own authority by arbitrary enforcement of laws (government powers) and the protections for citizens (civil rights).

Cooperation with law enforcement must suffer as the trust required between a police department and its citizens is eroded by the rightly perceived unbalanced enforcement. Criminals become emboldened through weakened law enforcement capabilities, and the citizens become less safe. The community divests itself from the relationship with the police and societal norms become threatened.

Aggressive and unconstitutional policing is a threat to community safety. The policies that support and encourage these practices are counterproductive to public safety and actually make policing harder. They ensnare far more innocent people than guilty ones and make police-community cooperation all but impossible. Police departments should discontinue these practices on their own, for their own interest, and not wait for the DOJ to tell them what is patently obvious to the people suffering under the policies in their communities.

For a longer explanation of pretextual stops and police legitimacy, you can read my article in the in the Case Western Reserve Law Review here. A shorter piece on the importance of individual rights and policing is here.  The full DOJ report on Baltimore can be found here.


This was cross-posted from Cato@Liberty

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 08-08-16

Here are the ten reports of police misconduct tracked for Monday, August 8, 2016:

  • Seattle, Washington: An officer was suspended ten days for kicking a suspect as seen on video from 2010. The chief lacked the power to fire him for it.
  • Rennselaer, New York: Two officers were suspended for allegedly running down and killing a woodchuck in a golf cart.
  • Fairfax, Virginia: The death of a disabled man who wandered from group home outing and died after coming in contact with police was ruled accidental.
  • Northern Illinois University: A now-former officer will stand trial in December for sexually assaulting a student while off duty in 2011.
  • Linden, New Jersey: A now-former officer was sentenced to probation for selling marijuana.
  • Allegan, Michigan: An officer pled guilty to misusing a city credit card for personal use.
  • Floresville, Texas: An officer was arrested for DWI. He remains on duty.
  • Abilene, Texas: An officer who had been fired for mishandling marijuana evidence will be reinstated.
  • Los Angeles, California: The City settled a lawsuit with a former officer who was fired for making racial remarks. He will be paid $50,000 but will not be reinstated.
  • Escambia County, Florida: A deputy was found guilty of sex crimes against a minor. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept 6.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 08-05-16

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, August 5, 2016:

  • Portsmouth, Virginia: An officer was convicted of manslaughter for fatally shooting unarmed shoplifting suspect William Chapman.
  • Bossier Parish, Louisiana: A deputy was fired after his arrest for mishandling statutory rape case as a school resource officer.
  • Bexar County, Texas: A deputy was suspended without pay after mishandling DUI crash and subsequently having sexual contact with the drunk driver. A criminal investigation is underway.
  • Memphis, Tennessee: An officer was charged with aggravated sexual battery, misconduct, and oppression.
  • Update: Douglas County, Missouri (First reported 08-02-16): A deputy was fired after a DUI crash while he was on duty.
  • Wilmington, Delaware: A detective was arrested for 2nd-degree arson for hiring a man to set fire to his car so he could collect insurance money.
  • Brenham, Texas: An officer was fired after excessive force investigation.
  • Update: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (First reported 08-04-16): The officer who was arrested for fighting her aunt at a funeral home had her charges dropped.

Worst of the Month — July

So for July we’ve chosen the case from Berrien County, Tennessee where the former sheriff pled guilty to beating up prisoners in-custody.  These prisoners were in handcuffs and were not resisting or threatening anyone.  Here’s an excerpt from the local news:

According to Heath’s guilty plea, on Jan. 12, 2012, Heath and deputies from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office were engaged in a foot chase of an individual identified only as M.V., who had been banned from traveling through the county. During the chase, Heath saw M.V. and called out to him, “You better not run or I will beat your a**,” or words to that effect, according to the justice department. M.V. reportedly responded by running into a nearby wooded area.

Heath and deputies followed M.V. into the woods, where a deputy eventually saw M.V. and arrested him without incident. When a deputy reported that M.V. was in custody, Heath reportedly ordered deputies to wait and hold M.V. in the woods. When Heath arrived, M.V. was lying face down on the ground, with his hands handcuffed behind his back and was not resisting arrest, according to the press release.

Heath kicked M.V. in the ribs, punched him in the head with a closed fist multiple times and forcefully kneed him in the ribs multiple times, causing M.V. to experience pain and have difficulty breathing, according to the justice department.

Read the whole thing.  The former sheriff, Anthony Heath, is facing two counts of violating civil rights under the color of law.  Each count carries a maximum sentence of ten years, but the actual sentence is expected to be far less.

We are of course aware of several officer-involved shootings last month that received national and international attention.  Alton Sterling was killed in Baton Rouge; Philando Castile was killed in Minnesota;  Paul O’Neal was killed in Chicago; and Charles Kinsey was shot and wounded in North Miami.  The investigations into these incidents are underway and we will, as usual, be posting updates.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 08-04-16

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, August 4, 2016:

  • Henderson County, Kentucky: A deputy was indicted on four counts of sexual abuse. It is unclear whether the behavior happened while the deputy was on or off duty.
  • Lee County, Florida: A deputy was fired after he allegedly had inappropriate sexual contact with an injured woman whom he drove home. It is unclear whether the contact was consensual or whether the woman was able to give consent.
  • Grant County, Wisconsin: A deputy was charged with felony child abuse for whipping his son with his police belt.
  • Update: Baltimore, Maryland (First reported 08-19-15): An officer was found guilty of first-degree assault for shooting an unarmed man after he was downed by police. He was found not guilty on separate counts of attempted murder.
  • Edison Township, New Jersey: A now-retired officer pled guilty to unlawful taking for working a job while on paid sick leave with the department. He collected about $38,000 in unearned pay. Before the plea bargain, he faced a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for official misconduct if he had been convicted. His sentencing is scheduled for October 11.
  • Mobile, Alabama: An officer was arrested for domestic violence by means of harassment for actions against his 16-year-old stepson. The boy’s mother filed the complaint on his behalf.
  • Waterloo, Iowa: An officer who is also a tactical team member was charged with assault for an alleged road rage incident while he was off duty.
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: An officer arrested was for getting in a fight with her aunt at a funeral home.

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