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

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.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 04-20-16

Here are the eleven reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, April 20, 2016:

  • Round Rock, Texas: An officer was arrested for assault/family violence for choking his wife during a dispute.
  • Update: Greene County, Missouri (First reported 01-07-16): A now-former deputy pled guilty to receiving and distributing child pornography.
  • Erie County, New York: A deputy was arrested for smuggling drugs to jail inmates and receiving a bribe.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: The police department and 24 officers are being sued for excessive force and brutality by several plaintiffs during 2015 unrest.
  • Update: New Orleans, Louisiana (First reported 07-13-10) Five now-former officers entered new guilty pleas for their roles in the Danziger Bridge shootings and cover-up. Their original convictions were thrown out because of egregious prosecutorial misconduct in the U.S. Attorney’s office.  The report broke down the new sentences and compared them with their old ones:

 “Originally sentenced to a 65-year prison term, former officer Robert Faulcon received 12 years under the new deal. Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius accepted 10-year terms, down from 40 years apiece. Anthony Villavaso, who had been sentenced to 38 years, received seven under the deal and, according to his attorney, Timothy Meche, is now set to be released within weeks because of the time he has already served.

Former NOPD Sgt. Arthur “Archie” Kaufman, who was accused of orchestrating a cover-up of the Sept. 4, 2005, episode that left 17-year-old James Brissette and 40-year-old Ronald Madison dead and four others injured, saw his sentence halved from six to three years.”

  • Ellis County, Texas: A now-former deputy was charged with tampering with government records, tampering with evidence, and theft.
  • Update: Morris County, New Jersey (First reported 12-15-15): A now-former officer pled guilty to child neglect. The original arson charges were dismissed as part of plea agreement.
  • Sarasota, Florida: An officer resigned and was charged with stalking a fellow officer after a break-up.
  • Memphis, Tennessee: An officer was relieved of duty pending an investigation into allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman while he was on
  • Dixon, Missouri: An officer was arrested for assaulting a woman. The woman had previously attained orders of protection against him.
  • Sweetwater, Florida: An officer was charged with official misconduct by a public servant for causing a car crash.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 04-19-16

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, April 19, 2016:

  • Acadia Parish, Louisiana: A deputy was fired and arrested for allegedly stealing $48,000 of asset forfeiture proceeds.
  • El Paso, Texas: An officer was charged with assault/family violence for actions against his wife.
  • Update: Tallassee, Alabama (First reported 03-29-16): A now-former assistant chief was charged with theft and burglary for stealing a handgun from an evidence locker.
  • Science Hill, Kentucky: The now-former chief pled guilty to tampering. He had been charged with theft exceeding $10,000 for taking money citizens paid for water bills. He was sentenced to 21 days of home confinement, two years of probation, and ordered to pay roughly $30,000 in restitution.
  • Flagler County, Florida: The state ethics commission found that the sheriff misused a County credit card and knowingly failed to report a gift. He may be fined as a result.
  • Update: Lima, Ohio (First reported 03-21-16): A now-former officer was sentenced to 14 years for the rape, sexual battery, and kidnapping of a 16-year-old girl.
  • Clovis, New Mexico: An officer was charged with battery after an off-duty altercation with a motorist. Allegedly, the officer opened the driver’s door and repeatedly punched him in the face.
  • Update: New York, New York (First reported 02-10-15): The now-former officer Peter Liang’s conviction for involuntary manslaughter for killing Akai Gurley was reduced to negligent homicide. He was sentenced to five years of probation and community service.
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee: An officer was indicted for misconduct and evidence tampering. He allegedly sent explicit texts to a rape victim.
  • Melbourne, Florida: An officer was charged with felony battery for punching a handcuffed suspect in the face multiple times.
  • Seattle, Washington: An officer was arrested for “long-term abuse” of two family members.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 04-18-16

Here are the 13 reports of police misconduct tracked for Monday, April 18, 2016:

  • Update: Washington, District of Columbia (First reported 10-14-15): A now-former officer was sentenced to 11 months in prison for tax fraud.
  • Highlands County, Florida: A deputy was arrested for DUI after he was found unconscious behind the wheel while off duty.
  • Update: Kenosha, Wisconsin (First reported 03-04-15): A now-former officer pled guilty to felony misconduct. He planted a bullet in the backpack of a murder suspect.
  • Daytona Beach, Florida: Two officers were fired from the department. One officer was fired after testing positive for cocaine during a drug test. Another was fired for making inappropriate comments he made to two college students.
  • Coconut Creek, Florida: An officer was charged with custodial sexual battery and two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation.
  • Hall County, Georgia: A deputy was fired for having an inappropriate relationship with a woman on house arrest.
  • Update: Fairfax County, Virginia (First reported 09-04-13): Now-former officer Adam Torres pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of John Geer. The judge denied the 12-month sentence suggested by the plea deal and scheduled a sentencing hearing for June 24.
  • Orleans Parish, Louisiana: A colonel was charged in off-duty detail scheme in which he charged private vendors for ghost security guards that didn’t exist.
  • Update: Denver, Colorado (First reported 07-25-14): An officer was suspended for a drunken fight at another officer’s home while all were off duty. Charges were dropped against the suspended officer but are still pending against his wife.
  • Denver, Colorado: An officer was suspended for ten days for harassment of a street vendor and subsequently starting a fight that led to a large police response and false arrests of other individuals.
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan and FBI: Both agencies are being sued by a now-former student who was beaten and rendered unconscious by undercover officers after he was mistaken for a fugitive. The officers on the scene convinced onlookers to delete footage of the arrest from their cell phones and prosecuted the man who they had misidentified for resisting the plain clothes officers. The man was acquitted of wrongdoing in his criminal case.
  • Bisbee, Arizona: An officer who was exonerated in the fatal shooting of a homeless man was notified of termination proceedings against him. He filed paperwork for medical retirement.
  • Update: Altoona, Pennsylvania (First reported 07-15-15): A now-former officer was acquitted of assault and official oppression. He had been fired from the department for excessive force in the same case.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 04-14-16 and 04-15-16

Here are the 13 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, April 14 and Friday, April 15, 2016:

April 14:

  • Creek Nation (Oklahoma): An officer was arrested for shoplifting make-up from a Wal-Mart while on duty.
  • Juneau County, Wisconsin: A detective was arrested for domestic violence.
  • Orlando, Florida: The citizen review board ruled that an officer used excessive force against a homeless man, overruling an internal affairs decision. The prosecutor now must decide whether to press charges against the officer.
  • DEA: An agent was suspended while he is under investigation into a task force drug scandal that resulted in criminal charges against others under his supervision.
  • Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana: A deputy was charged with sexual battery and malfeasance in office. He was fired.
  • Illinois State Police: A trooper pled guilty to DUI and was sentenced to one year of court supervised probation. He responded to an accident while drunk on-duty.
  • Montebello, California: An officer was charged with assault after a video recording of him slamming another man’s head into the ground was released.

April 15:

  • Update: Crawford, Texas: A now-former officer was sentenced to 10 years’ probation for fondling a juvenile girl in 2013.
  • Midland, Texas: An officer was arrested for misdemeanor assault after an incident with his girlfriend.
  • Update: Cook County, Illinois: A now-former officer was sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison for stealing drugs from dealers.
  • Update: East Cleveland, Ohio: A now-former officer was sentenced to nine years in prison for stealing cash from drug dealers.
  • Update: Chattanooga, Tennessee: An officer who was under investigation for sexual assault while on duty has been fired.
  • Aiken County, South Carolina: A deputy was arrested for child molestation. He has been fired.

Guilty Plea in John Geer Case

Jury selection was scheduled to start today in the trial of former Fairfax County, Virginia officer Adam Torres for the 2013 shooting death of John Geer. Torres instead pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

As regular readers of may recall, Geer was killed while standing inside the front door of his home with his hands up. The Fairfax County police had been called to the home because of a domestic disturbance.

The Washington Post’s  Tom Jackman has been diligently covering this case since the shooting. Fairfax authorities were reluctant to release the name or status of Torres, waiting over a year to do so and eventually fire and charge him in the case. The delays and secrecy surrounding the incident led to a Post editorial headline that declared the case “looks unmistakably like a police coverup.”

Today’s plea agreement included a recommended sentence of 12 months—Torres is currently held in jail without bond—but Judge Robert J. Smith rejected that sentence and ordered a sentencing recommendation memo and a hearing for June 24.

We will continue to follow this case as it moves to the sentencing stage.

Read Jackman’s full write-up of today’s plea and the case history here.

National Police Misconduct Newsfeed Daily Recap 04-13-16

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, April 13, 2016:

  • New York, New York: A man was awarded $1.8m for a lawsuit against the City. He was beaten by an officer over an open container violation and prosecuted. The criminal charge was thrown out.
  • Update: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (First reported 02-16-15): Two now-former officers were acquitted for their actions in the 2013 beating of Najee Rivera.
  • Update: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (First reported 11-19-14): An officer was acquitted of criminal charges. He was alleged to have used racial slurs and threatened to kill a man. The jury hung on weapons and assault charges.
  • Sussex County, New Jersey: A deputy was charged with official misconduct for a relationship with a probationer.  He warned her when drug tests were scheduled and she, in turn, told other people on probation to cheat the test. l
  • Cleveland, Ohio: An officer was arrested for an off-duty assault at a casino.
  • Oakland, California: An officer was charged with battery for and off-duty assault while he was intoxicated on a woman and her husband.
  • Boulder City, Nevada: The now-former chief was charged with failure to perform his duty. He dropped animal cruelty charges against a public employee. The employee allegedly killed many animals for enjoyment, but the chief allowed her to retire rather than press charges.
  • St. Louis, Missouri: An officer was charged with DWI after an off-duty crash into a parked vehicle.
  • Carrabelle, Florida: An officer was charged with sexual assault, possession of child pornography, and witness tampering.

Chicago’s Police Accountability Task Force

Last December Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel formed a task force to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the Chicago Police Department.  That move followed calls for Emanuel’s resignation in the wake of the video release of the Laquan McDonald shooting.

The Task Force released its report yesterday.  Here is an excerpt:

The public has lost faith in the oversight system. Every stage of investigations and discipline is plagued by serious structural and procedural flaws that make real accountability nearly impossible. The collective bargaining agreements provide an unfair advantage to officers, and the investigating agencies—IPRA and CPD’s Bureau of Internal Affairs—are under-resourced, lack true independence and are not heldaccountable for their work. Even where misconduct is found to have occurred, officers are frequently able to avoid meaningful consequences due to an opaque, drawn out and unscrutinized disciplinary process… Any one of these metrics in isolation is troubling, but taken together, the only conclusion that can be reached is that there is no serious embrace by CPD leadership of the need to make accountability a core value. These statistics give real credibility to the widespread perception that there is a deeply entrenched code of silence supported not just by individual officers, but by the very institution itself….Simply put, there is no ownership of the issue within CPD leadership or elsewhere, and thus there have been no substantive efforts to address these problems which continue to cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year.

The full report is close to 200 pages and we have not yet studied the whole thing.  Most of the criticism is directed at the police department itself–and it is damning.  The executive summary says little about Mayor Emanuel or his culpability.  Hmm.

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