So for the month of November we have selected the case of Roger Carlos, who was severely beaten by officers with the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD). According to news reports, Mr. Carlos had done nothing wrong. He was apparently just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Here’s what reportedly happened. SAPD police were hunting for a suspect on drugs and weapons charges. In a case of mistaken identity, officers swarmed on poor Mr. Carlos. And even though Mr. Carlos complied with their commands, they just kept hitting him.
Mr. Carlos’s wife, Ronnie, still can’t believe this has happened. The couple has three boys under the age of ten–but their father is now paralyzed from the chest down. Doctors are also concerned he may have difficulty breathing down the road. The medical bills for multiple surgeries are enormous.
After reviewing the case, a police discipline board recommended 15-day suspensions for three officers involved. The Police Chief, William McManus, thought that recommendation was wrong. He shortened each of the suspensions to five days.
My opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times:
A generation ago, when someone complained of police misconduct, we would learn that a police spokesperson denied the accusation and that was that. Because we were not there and did not know those involved, it was impossible to draw any conclusions. There was also an understandable reluctance to believe that the local department would spread falsehoods. Now more and more incidents are captured in cellphone videos, and that means citizens can judge for themselves whether the police broke the law. Smartphones are providing us with a glimpse of the widespread abuse that policymakers have been ignoring for years and changing the world of American policing….
To a certain extent, the authorities in South Carolina deserve praise for how they handled this incident. They disclosed the identity of the officer and his disciplinary record. They turned the case over to an independent agency to avoid a conflict of interest, and those investigators followed the evidence. Many people will say that the system “worked.” Did it?
Read the whole thing here.
Btw, with this case making national news, it is a good time to blast a note to all your friends and contacts about Cato’s Police Misconduct Reporting Project. Just a quick note saying something like “check out this website–police misconduct is more common than you may realize.” And don’t forget to Like us on Facebook. Thank you for considering.
It started out as a morning walk, but ended up with a 57-year-old grandpa laying partially paralyzed in an Alabama hospital bed.
Sureshbhai Patel required spinal fusion surgery to repair damage to his back when his family says police twisted his arm and forced him to the ground.
Video at the CNN link. When the police department was asked for an explanation, a spokesperson said that Patel reached into his pocket while speaking to the officers on the scene. Hmm.
San Francisco Public Defender Jami Tillotson was arrested by police officers in the hallway of a courthouse for “resisting arrest.” The false arrest was captured on tape. Tillotson made the work of the police inconvenient, but that is not a crime. Yet, it is telling that the police think it is. And if the police are willing to arrest a public defender in a courthouse hallway while being videotaped, what sort of illegal searches, detentions, and arrests occur in the neighborhoods?
New York Times editorial:
The Justice Department report describes the Cleveland Police Department as something far closer to an occupying military force than a legitimate law enforcement agency. The officers, for example, seem to take a casual view of the use of deadly force, shooting at people who pose no threat of harm to the police or others. In one case in 2013, for example, they actually fired at a victim who had been held captive in a house — as he escaped, clad only in boxer shorts.
The report cataloged numerous incidents of wanton violence, with officers beating, pepper-spraying and Tasering people who were unarmed or had already been restrained. Officers escalated encounters with citizens instead of defusing them, making force all but inevitable.
The record in Cleveland is extreme. But aspects of illegal police conduct can be found in cities all over the country, subjecting millions to intimidation and fear that they could be killed for innocent actions.
Subjecting millions to intimidation. Stop what you’re doing and think about that.
Harry Siegel in the New York Daily News:
Garner had a heart attack in the ambulance, and died.
As he lay dying, he was treated like a piece of meat. By Pantaleo. By the other cops on the scene. Even by the medical technicians.
Had Garner been treated with basic human dignity after he was violently, and needlessly, taken down, he might not be dead.
I’m no lawyer, but this is section 125.15 of New York’s penal code: “A person is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree when: 1. He recklessly causes the death of another person.”
So I’m stunned, and saddened, by a Staten Island grand jury’s decision to level no charges against Pantaleo.
Anyone unsure why so many people of color are upset with the police, and suspicious of the American justice system, put your politics down, open your eyes and watch the videos.
Regular visitors will recall that we selected the Garner case as the ‘worst of the month’ for July.
Small request: If you believe the work we’re doing here at policemisconduct.net is important and worthwhile, would you take a moment to blast a link to our site to all your Facebook contacts and other social media? Since the president, mayor of New York, members of congress, and most media networks are now focused on police wrongdoing and what might be done about it, seems like a good time to pass the word about this site and perhaps remind skeptics that there are many more cases and victims out there. With your help, we should be able to double or even triple the number of persons who check our site regularly. Thanks for considering.
A criminal comes on to your property and steals your SUV. Later, the criminal, perhaps still under the influence of meth, tells the police that he found drugs on your property. The police proceed to sneak on to your property and, without announcing themselves, break down your back door. Frightened that the criminals have returned to your home, you retrieve a gun to protect yourself and your spouse. The police then open fire and you are killed in your own home. By the police.
According to the Hooks family attorney, that is what happened to his client. Here is an excerpt from the attorney’s statement:
On Wednesday, September 24th at 9:56 p.m., drug task force agent Chris Brewer made application for a search warrant before Faith Snell a non-attorney Deputy Magistrate of the Laurens County Magistrate Court. The facts submitted to Deputy Magistrate Snell to convince her that probable cause existed to issue the warrant consisted of the statement by Rodney Garrett a confessed burglar, thief, and a meth addict who was under the influence at the time of his arrest that the approximately 20 grams of methamphetamine, a digital scale, and 2 firearms found on him at the time of arrest had been stolen by him out of another vehicle at the Hooks home. Investigator Brewer also stated information he claimed came from an investigation involving Jeff Frazier. That investigation was in August 2009 over 5 years ago. A search warrant was issued at 9:56 p.m. by Judge Snell. This search warrant is invalid on its face as it does not comport with the requirements of the Constitution of State of Georgia nor the United States Constitution. Armed with an invalid search warrant and with less than an hour of preparation, at approximately 10:55 p.m. several members of the Drug Task Force and the Laurens County Sheriff’s Response Team arrived at David and Teresa Hooks home unannounced by emergency lights or sirens. There is no question the Officers were aware the home had been burglarized only two nights earlier.
David and Teresa were under the impression that the burglars were back and that a home invasion was eminent. David armed himself to protect his wife and his home. Despite the fact that the illegal search warrant did not have a “no knock” clause the Drug Task Force and SRT members broke down the back door of the family’s home and entered firing in excess of 16 shots. These shots were from multiple firearms and from both 40 caliber handguns and assault rifles. Several shots were fired through a blind wall at David with the shooters not knowing who or what was on the other side of the wall. The trajectory of the shots, coupled with the number of shots infers a clear intent on behalf of the shooters to kill David Hooks.
Lauren’s County Sheriff’s department says they are not making any more statements on this case. They are directing all questions to the GBI. They’ve not responded.
Neither agencies has identified the deputies involved in the raid, said how many of them fired shots, or said how many times Hooks was hit.
Hooks was buried on Tuesday.
Read the whole thing.
From the Washington Post:
IN PRINCE George’s County, it is now clear that the police, without provocation, can beat an unarmed young student senseless — with impunity. They can blatantly lie about it — with impunity. They can stonewall and cover it up for months — with impunity. They can express no remorse and offer no apology — with impunity.
The agent of this travesty of justice, and this impunity, is Judge Beverly J. Woodard of the Prince George’s County Circuit Court. Ms. Woodard has presided in the case involving John J. McKenna, a young University of Maryland student who was savagely beaten by two baton-wielding Prince George’s cops in March 2010, following a men’s basketball game on the College Park campus.
The beating of Mr. McKenna was videotaped; had it not been, the police, who filed no report and then falsely claimed that he instigated the incident and attacked them, may never have been investigated or charged. Yet despite the fact that a jury convicted one of the police officers, James Harrison Jr., of assault nearly two years ago, Ms. Woodard has now thrown the verdict out and closed the case.
Read the whole thing.
For additional background, see the recent series of articles about forfeiture in the Washington Post.