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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Worst of the Month — September

So for September we have chosen the Chicago Police Department, particularly, the officers who were responsible for arresting George Roberts.

CBS Chicago reports on a lawsuit filed by Roberts against the Chicago Police Department.  According to Roberts, he was falsely arrested and roughed up by police following a traffic stop.  Here’s the thing: Roberts investigates police misconduct for the Independent Police Review Authority.  And it was when the police discovered that fact that the abuse of power began.  Mysteriously, several police cameras on the scene were turned off:

It is against policy in both Chicago and Illinois for a police officer to turn off his dashboard camera, CBS Chicago reports.

Vehicles belonging to two other officers on the scene were equipped with audio recording devices, though no audio of the encounter was saved, according to the lawsuit.

Roberts said in the lawsuit, which was filed on Sept. 15, that the camera was shut off after officers realized he worked for the Independent Police Review Authority — or IPRA — the agency responsible for investigating police misconduct.

Roberts said he was initially stopped for a minor traffic violation, but was then pushed in the back by one of the officers and forced to the ground. He said in the lawsuit that an officer shouted, “Don’t make me [expletive] shoot you.”

But “when the (officers) turned off the dash camera, things got worse,” his attorneys write in the lawsuit.

Roberts, who was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police vehicle, complained that the handcuffs were too tight, according to the lawsuit. The 6-foot-3, 315 pound man says that, instead, it would have have been appropriate for officers to use multiple handcuffs strung together for someone of his size.

He says in the lawsuit that one of the officers responded to his complaints: “What are you going to tell me next, you can’t breathe?” — an apparent reference to Eric Garner, a New York City man who died in 2014 as a result of a police choke hold.

Roberts also says he was told “that’s your fault,” when he pointed out that his weight made the single set of handcuffs painful.

Read the whole thing.  Roberts was suspended from his job while charges were pending.  Following his acquittal, he returned to work.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 10-02-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, October 2, 2015:

  • Providence, Rhode Island: An officer was arrested for threatening his superiors. He had already been suspended for weapons tampering violations.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii: A now-former officer was sentenced to four years’ probation for assaulting his then-girlfriend and pointing his service weapon to her head.
  • Mt. Vernon, Ohio: A detective was arrested by the FBI for extortion and drug trafficking.
  • Update: Belchertown, Massachusetts (First reported 09-15-15): The chief resigned after a report of a drunk driving incident in February recently went public. He was pulled over in another jurisdiction and driven home by officers without citation or arrest.
  • Auburn, New York: An officer was arrested with three corrections officers for an off-duty incident at a state park.
  • Update: Hatch, New Mexico (First reported 07-15-15): An officer was indicted on false imprisonment charges and pled not guilty.
  • Alabama State Police: A trooper was arrested for domestic violence.
  • Greenville, Tennessee: A now-former officer was sentenced to 18 months in prison for misconduct. He had sexual relationships with several jail inmates.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 10-01-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, October 1, 2015:

  • Danbury, Connecticut: An officer was arrested and charged with grand larceny for a string of car break-ins.
  • El Paso, Texas: An officer was arrested for DWI after crashing into a wall.
  • South Miami, Florida: An officer was arrested for inappropriate conduct with underage girls.
  • Dallas, Texas: An officer was fired after arrest for soliciting prostitution.
  • Shreveport, Louisiana: An officer was placed on leave for alleged policy violation. Details of violation have not been disclosed.
  • Wright County, Minnesota: A deputy was arrested for DWI after a colleague turned him in for showing up to work intoxicated.
  • Update: Moundsville, West Virginia (First reported 01-21-15): A now-former officer pled guilty to 3rd-degree sexual assault against a minor.
  • Audubon, New Jersey: An off-duty officer was arrested at his home after attempting to take a responding officer’s gun.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 09-30-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, September 30, 2015:

  • Update: Baltimore, Maryland (First reported 04-21-15): The six officers charged for the death of Freddie Gray have trial dates tentatively set. The first is slated to start November 30. The other five are staggered through the last trial starting March 9.
  • Chicago, Illinois: The City faces another lawsuit regarding the Jon Burge torture scandal. A man who was wrongfully convicted of rape and served 31 years after he was coerced into a false confession had his lawsuit approved by a
  • Update: State College, Pennsylvania (05-15-15): A now-former officer was sentenced to 23 months in prison followed by five years of probation for stealing drugs from the evidence room. According to the report, he stole “1,265 grams of cocaine, 88 tablets of OxyContin, 123 tablets of oxycodone and seven tablets of hydrocodone.”
  • Port Barre, Louisiana: An officer resigned after he was accused of assault when he was off duty. A criminal investigation is ongoing.
  • Update: Austin, Texas (First reported 06-03-15): An officer who arrested for DWI in May has been fired.
  • Update: New York, New York (First reported 2010): The City settled the lawsuit filed by now-former officer and whistleblower Adrian Schoolcraft for $600,000.
  • Update: Tulsa County, Oklahoma (First reported 04-13-15): The sheriff was indicted for willful violation of law for actions in the wake of Eric Harris shooting. He resigned.
  • Tunica County, Mississippi: A commander was fired after a deputy accused him of coercing her into sex under threat of termination.
  • Update: Middlesex County, New Jersey (First reported 09-24-15): A deputy who was recently arrested for assaulting a woman faces additional charges for illegal possession of an assault weapon.

NYPD: New Use-of-Force Guidelines Issued after Highly Critical Report Released

This morning, the NYPD Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a report that found police leadership ignored over 35 percent of sustained excessive force complaints against its officers. This afternoon, New York Police Commissioner William Bratton announced new use-of-force guidelines to improve reporting and responsiveness. The guidelines will require NYPD officers to document and grade each use of force occurrence on duty. They also require officers to intervene if they witness a fellow officer using excessive force.

According to BuzzFeed:

The scathing [OIG] report, the first of its kind prepared by the new regulatory agency, was based on an analysis of 179 cases from 2010 through 2014 in which the Civilian Complaint and Review Board, the independent agency that investigates police misconduct, found that officers had used excessive force. The report also examined internal NYPD records for over 100 of those cases.

Among the Inspector General’s most troubling findings was the fact that top department brass declined to discipline a large portion of officers who were found to have used excess force. In 36% of the cases where independent investigators found evidence of misconduct, the police commissioner, who ultimately decides the fate of police officers accused of wrongdoing, “refused to impose any form of discipline.”

In spite of these revelations, NYPD’s largest union objected to the new reporting requirements. Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolence Association, told BuzzFeed, “more paperwork coupled with a serious shortage of police officers and the continual second-guessing of their actions is a formula for disaster.”

The OIG also found the percentage of sustained force complaints that garnered no discipline is down considerably under Commissioner Bratton’s leadership. This decline indicates that Bratton’s NYPD is serious about addressing these entrenched problems of responsiveness, union objections notwithstanding.

As the nation’s largest police department, the NYPD often sets the operational standard (for good or ill) for many of law enforcement agencies across the country. Police departments and reformers alike will be watching closely as the NYPD implements these new guidelines.

You can read today’s OIG report here. You can read more about the new guidelines from yesterday’s preview in the New York Times. And you can read my testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on the widespread lack of transparency regarding the use of force and officer discipline here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 09-29-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, September 29, 2015:

  • Erie County, New York: A deputy was arrested and charged with felony DWI for an off-duty incident.
  • Boswell, Oklahoma: An officer was fired and arrested for larceny for stealing money during a DUI traffic stop.
  • Update: San Felipe, Texas (First reported 08-17-15): The chief was indicted for the second time this year on weapons charges.
  • Waco, Texas: An officer was placed on indefinite suspension after he was accused of punching a doctor.
  • Update: Boynton Beach, Florida (First reported 10-31-14): A now-former officer faces trial for armed rape and kidnapping. He allegedly raped a 20-year-old woman at gunpoint on the hood of his cruiser after driving her away from the DUI traffic stop of her friend.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio: An officer was arrested for punching his son during a dispute over the son’s haircut.
  • Portville, New York: The chief was arrested for possession and distribution of  a controlled substance. He allegedly sold prescription pills while he was on
  • Crestview, Florida: An officer resigned in lieu of termination amid sexual battery allegations.
  • Cottage Grove, Oregon: An officer was fired after an investigation into mishandled evidence. He may face federal charges.


USA Today: Death Toll from Police Chases Could Pass 15,000

From USA Today:

The U.S. government has drastically understated the number of people killed in high-speed police car chases, potentially by thousands of fatalities over several decades, a USA TODAY investigation shows.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration overlooked at least 101 motor-vehicle deaths in 2013 that were related to a police chase, according to a USA TODAY review of police reports and internal documents, court records, police-car videos and news accounts based on police statements. NHTSA’s count of 322 chase-related deaths in 2013 — the most recent year for which its records are publicly available — understates the total by at least 31%, the investigation shows.

NHTSA’s undercount suggests that the actual number of people killed in police chases since 1979 could be more than 15,000 — far more than the 11,506 chase-related deaths found in the agency’s public records — and that chases result in a death much more frequently than studies have stated.

People tend to think of these high speed chases as the good guys chasing the bad guy.  What’s crucial to understand is that innocent bystanders get killed.  Passengers get killed.  Not just the bad guy driver who decided to flee the police.  The bottom line is that high speed best practices need to be developed to minimize casualties.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 09-26-15 to 09-28-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, September 26 through Monday, September 28, 2015:

  • Dallas, Texas: An officer was arrested for assault and family violence.
  • Phoenix, Arizona: An officer was arrested after allegedly assaulting his wife.
  • Update: Allen Parish, Louisiana (First reported 09-10-12): A now-former deputy was convicted of malfeasance for using a department credit card to purchase $25,000 worth of gasoline and then reselling it for personal
  • Dearborn, Michigan: The City settled a lawsuit with a woman who was ticketed by an officer because she didn’t tell him she had HIV. The officer admitted that he would not have ticketed her otherwise but that he was “aggravated” by her non-disclosure.
  • Denver, Colorado: A judge found that the district attorney should have charged a deputy—who is also the son of the former sheriff’s department head—for abusing an inmate in a courtroom. The incident was caught on video but the statute of limitations has run out. A civil suit is pending against the deputy who remains on active duty.
  • Chicago, Illinois: The City is being sued by a supervisor of the Independent Police Review Authority—the agency which handles administrative complaints against police officers—who claims he was beaten after officers learned his job. There is no body cam footage of the incident and the plaintiff claims that the dash cams that were present were turned off intentionally after his role on the IPRA was discovered.
  • Clute, Texas: The chief resigned after he was indicted for theft and misuse of asset forfeiture funds.
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma: An officer was arrested for DUI.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 09-25-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, September 25, 2015:

  • Paris, Tennessee: An officer was charged with murder for the death of his infant son.
  • Lonoke County, Arkansas: A deputy was arrested for DWI while on duty.
  • Jackson, Mississippi: An officer was charged with extortion in federal court.
  • Update: Indianapolis, Indiana (First reported 07-02-15): A now-former officer pled guilty to criminal recklessness. In exchange, his attempted murder charge was dropped.
  • Update: San Jose, California (First reported 03-03-14): An officer who was charged with rape has been fired. He is awaiting trial.
  • Update: Miami Springs, Florida (First reported 05-27-15): A now-former officer was sentenced to nine years in prison for corruption. He was caught in a drug sting. He agreed to be a police escort for what he believed to be a large cocaine deal.
  • Solebury, Pennsylvania: A 30-year veteran detective was arrested for misdemeanor theft from a construction site. He has resigned.
  • San Antonio, Texas: Three officers face criminal charges including sexual assault and official oppression.
  • Update: Bayonne, New Jersey (First reported 01-26-15): A now-former officer pled guilty to deprivation of rights and falsification of documents to hide his actions. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 09-24-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, September 24, 2015:

  • Los Angeles County, California: A deputy who was fired in the wake of infamous Mel Gibson DUI arrest for leaking information had his job reinstated with full back pay.
  • Miami-Dade, Florida: An officer was arrested for misconduct for using police resources against her estranged husband.
  • Fairview, Oklahoma: An officer was arrested for child pornography.
  • Radnor, Pennsylvania: An officer was terminated for conduct unbecoming and neglect or violation of rules.
  • Sacramento County, California: A deputy was named in his third excessive force lawsuit. The latest incident involved footage shown on his dashcam. All suits accuse him of using his flashlight as a baton. He is on leave.
  • Atlanta, Georgia: An officer was arrested in Alpharetta for being drunk and belligerent. Alpharetta authorities used a Taser on him to take him into custody.
  • Middlesex County, New Jersey: A deputy was arrested for assaulting a woman while off duty. Authorities upped the charge to aggravated assault upon learning the extent of the victim’s injuries. She is reported to have suffered an undisclosed bone fracture.
  • Update: Perth Amboy, New Jersey (First reported 02-10-15):  The chief lost his motion to have his indictment tossed and must stand trial. He is accused of theft and subsequently pressuring officer to lie to cover up the theft.
  • Update: Los Angeles, California (First reported 10-28-14): Two officers were faulted in an administrative hearing for the beating of Clinton Alford. One of the officers faces criminal charges for his conduct.


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