So for February, we’ve selected Pima County, Arizona for the conduct of (the now former) Sheriff Christopher Radtke and the very peculiar leniency shown to him by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Federal prosecutors charged Radtke with several felonies for money laundering and theft. According to the newspaper accounts, Radtke admitted that for years he made it appear as if his office was donating seized cash and assets from criminal suspects to a sheriff’s auxiliary fund when that wasn’t the case at all.
Ordinary citizens go to prison for embezzlement, but not Radtke. No prison time and a very generous pension.
The plea bargain dismisses all felonies, with Radtke admitting to three misdemeanor theft counts. He agreed to not seek employment as a law-enforcement officer or with Pima County government. In return, prosecutors will request one year of probation without incarceration and will not prosecute Radtke for other offenses.
The deal allows Radtke to receive an $82,800 annual pension from the state Public Safety Personnel Retirement System and a one-time $505,000 payment from the system’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan, according to the retirement system’s records. Within six years, Radtke will receive more than $1 million in state retirement benefits.
Had Radtke been convicted of any of the felony charges against him, he would have been required by law to forfeit his state pension because the crime was committed in the course of his role as a public official for a government employer.
The plea was accepted by Magistrate Judge Eric Markovich. Sentencing is scheduled for April 7 in U.S. District Court in Tucson.
For more than a year after an officer shot and killed a black teen named Laquan McDonald, theChicagoPolice Department had video footage that raised serious doubts about whether other officers at the scene tried in their reports to cover up what prosecutors now contend was murder.
Not until 15 months later was one of those officers and a detective who concluded the shooting was justified put on desk duty. At least eight other officers failed to recount the same scene that unfolded on the video. All of them remain on the street, according to the department.
The lack of swift action illustrates the difficulty of confronting the “code of silence” that has long been associated with police in Chicago and elsewhere. The obstacles include disciplinary practices that prevent the police chief himself from firing problem officers and a labor contract that prevents officers from being held accountable if a video surfaces that contradicts their testimony.
“If they are not going to analyze officers’ reports and compare them to objective evidence like the video, why would the officers ever stop lying?” asked Craig Futterman, a University of Chicago law professor.
Michael A. Wood Jr. is a retired Baltimore police officer. This morning, he tweeted a series of troubling, illegal, and disturbing incidents he witnessed while on the force. I have Storified them below. Warning: these tweets contain graphic language. You can follow him on Twitter @MichaelAWoodJr .
PC=probable cause ; CDS=controlled deadly substance (drugs)
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.
The Mayor of Vineland, New Jersey is at the center of controversy after he reportedly ordered that all charges be dismissed against a disgraced former police officer.
Former Vineland Police Detective Gamaliel “Gami” Cruz was fired two years ago after investigators discovered that he lied to a judge while trying to secure a search warrant.
Cumberland County prosecutors moved to drop the charges against 39 defendants — which in most cases involved drug offenses — because Cruz’s testimony would have been needed to carry on with the prosecutions.
Officials said the dismissals were necessary “in the interest of justice.”
Cruz was suspended and then fired from the Vineland Police force in 2012.
Two years later however, Cruz could possibly be rehired after Vineland Mayor Ruben Bermudez issued an order on May 21 which dismissed all the charges against the ex-officer, according to the Daily Journal.
Former Vineland Mayor Robert Romano told NBC10 he was outraged.
“To rehire this guy without being ordered by a judge is a travesty to the city of Vineland,” Romano said.
Carlos Miller was arrested for filming the police. Resisting the pressure to accept a “deal,” he risked more prison time simply by insisting on his right to a jury trial. According to Miller, the prosecutor told the jury that Miller did not behave like a “real journalist” because a “real journalist” would have obeyed all police requests and orders. Miller’s attorney responded to that argument with the following:
“In this country, when you’re a journalist, your job is to investigate.
Not to be led by your hand where the police want you to see, so they can hide what they don’t want you to see.
No, when you’re a journalist, a real journalist, it’s your job to go find the truth. As long as you are acting within the law as Mr. Miller was, you have the right to demand and say, ‘no, I’m not moving, I have the right to be here. This is a public sidewalk, I have the right to be here.’
He did his job. He has the right to do his job the way he sees fit. It’s not up to these prosecutors to tell anybody, much less an independent journalist, how to do their job. It’s not up to the police officers, it’s not up to a judge or the president.
In this country, journalists do their job the way they see fit.
What’s he describing is Cuba. What he’s describing is a communist country. The government says you can’t be here because I say you can’t be here.
And it’s infuriating to me that a prosecutor would try to get up here and try to convince you that just because a police officer says something, that he has to bow his head and walk away.
That is a disgrace to the Constitution of this country.”
Congratulations to Miller and his attorneys. More info, including video from the trial, at the link above.
A New York judge who says a police officer struck him after apparently mistaking him for a heckler is blasting Queens District Attorney Richard Brown for refusing to prosecute.
Judge Thomas Raffaele claims Brown is orchestrating a cover-up, the New York Law Journal reports. A press release explaining the refusal to prosecute is full of falsehoods, Raffaele told the publication. “Everything they say is a lie.”
[The judge] said investigators didn’t contact his witnesses until he complained. “Given the way the officers lied to cover up what this guy did who hit us, I have to wonder if the same cover-up attitude extends to the detectives in the DA’s office.”
An anonymous survey of nearly 2,000 retired officers found that the manipulation of crime reports — downgrading crimes to lesser offenses and discouraging victims from filing complaints to make crime statistics look better — has long been part of the culture of the New York Police Department….
The survey, conducted earlier this year, was financed by Molloy College. Dr. Eterno and Dr. Silverman e-mailed a questionnaire to 4,069 former officers who had retired since 1941. Roughly 48 percent — 1,962 retired officers of all ranks — responded.
The respondents ranged from chiefs and inspectors to sergeants and detectives. About 44 percent, or 871, had retired since 2002. More than half of those recent retirees said they had “personal knowledge” of crime-report manipulation, according to the summary, and within that group, more than 80 percent said they knew of three or more instances in which officers or their superiors rewrote a crime report to downgrade the offense or intentionally failed to take a complaint alleging a crime.
The questionnaire did not ask for specific examples, but it did invite respondents to comment. The summary included remarks from six former officers, but did not indicate their ranks.
One officer, who retired in 2005, wrote that he heard a deputy commissioner say in a “pre-CompStat meeting” that a commanding officer “should just consolidate burglaries that occurred in an apartment building and count as one.”
“Also not to count leap-year stats.”
Another respondent, who retired in 2008, wrote, “Assault becomes harassment, robbery becomes grand larceny, grand larceny becomes petit larceny, burglary becomes criminal trespass.”
NYPD Officials deny widespread manipulation and say there are problems with this study.