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"I don't like this book because it don't got know pictures" Chief Rhorerer

“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”

“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”
“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”

The epidemic of mentally unstable cops in America: Asheville police officer charged with assaulting w...

The epidemic of mentally unstable cops in America: Asheville police officer charged with assaulting w...: Asheville police officer charged with assaulting woman Local media outlets report that 22-year-old Ethan Taylor Russell was arrested ...

Chicago Cop Indicted For Excessive Force In 2012 Arrest

CHICAGO (CBS) – A Chicago police officer has been indicted on federal charges, accused of using excessive force when he allegedly punched a man during an arrest in 2012, and kicked him while he was handcuffed and lying on the floor face-down.
Aldo Brown, 37, has been charged with one count of violating a victim’s civil rights, and two counts of obstruction of justice. Brown, who has been an officer since 2002, has not yet been scheduled for arraignment.
Federal prosecutors allege Brown and another unnamed officer entered a convenience store on East 76th Street on Sept. 27, 2012, and placed two people in handcuffs. After searching the store, the unnamed officer allegedly removed the handcuffs from one man, and Brown allegedly struck the man several times.
The victim was then handcuffed again, and Brown pulled a gun from the man’s rear pants pocket, according to prosecutors. Brown then allegedly kicked the man while he was lying on his stomach, before Brown and his partner arrested the man.
Brown allegedly falsified a “tactical response report” on the incident, claiming the victim actively resisted, and fled from the officers, and did not indicate Brown punched or kicked the victim.
Prosecutors allege Brown also falsified an arrest report, by claiming he saw a gun in the victim’s poket while interviewing him, then “conducted a [sic] emergency take down.”
The indictment alleges Brown did not see the gun until after he had struck the man several times, and handcuffed him twice.
The second officer was not charged as part of the indictment.
Although the indictment does not identify the second officer, or either of the men who were handcuffed at the convenience store, two brothers sued Brown and Officer George Stacker in October 2012, claiming the officers beat them during that arrest.
Jecque Howard and Paul Neal said they were working in the store when the two officers came in and began handcuffing people.
“I’m getting a gun pointed at me and punched in my face and kicked in my ribs,” said Jecque Howard.
Howard said the officers never even said why they were there. He said Officer George Stacker was the first to approach him.
“He came to the front and said ‘you work here?’, and I said, ‘yes’. He said ‘well not after today, you’re fired,’” explained Howard.
Howard’s brother, Paul Neal, was working outside the South Shore shop for a government cell phone program at the time.

Surveillance footage obtained by the 2 Investigators was at the center of an Independent Police Review Authority investigation at the time.

Lawsuit claim: San Jose cop accused of rape sexually assaulted another woman just months earlier

By Tracey Kaplan

SAN JOSE -- The woman who prosecutors contend was raped by an on-duty San Jose police officer has made an explosive new accusation in a lawsuit, alleging that the cop had sexually assaulted "at least one other woman" just months earlier.
The lawsuit further alleges that the department knew or should have known about his conduct but failed to make sure he was accompanied by a second officer "at all times."
Officer Geoffrey Graves' lawyer did not respond to a request for comment. The woman's attorney also did not respond to requests for more information to support the new accusations, which are described only briefly in the lawsuit.
Earlier this year, Santa Clara County prosecutors charged Graves with raping an undocumented woman in September 2013, whom he first encountered during a disturbance call. The criminal complaint also charges Graves with two counts of felony domestic violence for allegedly injuring his then-girlfriend in incidents unrelated to the alleged rape.
But Graves is not charged with sexually assaulting anyone other than the alleged rape victim.
Assistant District Attorney Terry Harman, who oversees the office's sexual crimes team, declined to comment directly Tuesday on the new accusations, saying it is not the office's practice to discuss civil lawsuits. But Harman did not rule out the possibility of filing new charges, though she also stood by the existing complaint.
"We charged the appropriate crimes based on the evidence known to us," Harman said.
Graves is free on $100,000 bail and has been on paid administrative leave since March.
The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, names Graves, the department and city. It seeks an unspecified amount of punitive damages, as well as compensation for loss of earnings, medical costs and attorney's fees, on the grounds that the officer committed sexual assault/battery and violated the woman's civil rights, and the department and city were negligent.
The San Jose City Attorney's Office had objected to the filing, insisting that the alleged rape victim had lost her right to sue because she had filed a financial claim against the city, a mandatory prerequisite to a lawsuit, after the six-month deadline. City Attorney Rick Doyle declined to comment on the contents of the lawsuit, but said the office plans to defend the officer and the department.
But the woman's lawyer, Roger Hecht, argued that his client, who is undocumented and speaks limited English, was too traumatized after being sexually assaulted to file on time and was misled by government officials about her legal rights. A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge then waived the deadline, allowing the suit to proceed.
Graves faces up to eight years in prison if he is convicted. However, experts say prosecutors could add a gun enhancement because he was armed at the time of the alleged sexual assault, potentially extending his maximum sentence to life in prison.
Contact Tracey Kaplan at 408-278-3482. Follow her atTwitter.com/tkaplanreport.

Police Advisory Commission calls for review of arbitration process in cases of dismissed cops


AFTER A REVIEW of more than two dozen cases of fired Philadelphia Police officers that showed the majority of them were reinstated, the Police Advisory Commission yesterday called on the city to examine the police arbitration process.
In its inquiry into 26 cases of police officers fired between 2008 and last year for offenses ranging from domestic incidents and retail theft to excessive force and on-duty intoxication, the commission found that 19 of the cops were reinstated by arbitrators, PAC executive director Kelvyn Anderson said during a news conference last night at which the commission released its 2012-13 annual report and announced its recommendation.
"Commissioner [Charles] Ramsey, since he's been here in 2008, has fired on average probably 20 to 23 people every year," Anderson said. "A good number of those folks are brought back to the department through the arbitration process, and what we've tried to find out is why that occurs and what remedies there would be to that process."
Anderson said the commission extensively reviewed the controversial case of reinstated Lt. Jonathan Josey, who was fired after he was captured on video striking a woman during a Puerto Rican Day Parade after-party in North Philadelphia in September 2012.
They chose that case, Anderson said, "primarily because it involved that elephant in the room for all of us now, which is video."
The commission said it plans to explore Pennsylvania's police-officer-certification system as a potential tool to improve the disciplinary process for officers across the state.
Anderson blamed the issues with the arbitration process partially on a lack of consistency in the way the Police Department has meted out discipline.
"They'll hand out one type of discipline to one officer, something else to another officer in a similar situation. When an arbitrator sees that type of discrepancy, it's likely that they're going to overturn that piece of discipline."
He added that when officers are fired without a full investigation into the action in question - as he said the commission believes happened in Josey's case - it paves the way for an arbitrator to reinstate the officer.
"In any case . . . No. 1, you need to be fair to the officers involved because the disciplinary process depends upon fairness on all ends of the spectrum, to citizens certainly, and absolutely to officers," Anderson said. "Clearly, if we're going to take the step of taking an officer's job away, we need to do as thorough an investigation as possible . . . so the outcome is appropriate."
The commission also touched on a number of other issues in its annual report, including:
* Its ongoing attempts to obtain full reports on police-involved shootings, which Anderson said the Police Department has declined to provide citing an ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice into the department's police discharges.
* A proactive review of court-ordered custody exchanges of children that occur at police districts. "If we take the right steps, we can prevent tragedy from occurring," Anderson said of the review.
* Data-driven oversight: Anderson said the commission is working to combine data released by the Police Department, including crime statistics, with complaints of officer misconduct to analyze how the data sets relate.
The commission also included in its annual report a comparison of its budget to those of police-oversight agencies in other cities, including Washington, D.C., Chicago and New York - all of which have budgets well above $1 million annually. Philadelphia's current PAC budget is $282,387.
Commissioners said they support a bill introduced by Councilman Curtis Jones that would establish a permanent commission with an initial budget of $1 million, allowing more staffers and investigators.

Suspended officer faces assault charge

TIMMINS - A suspended TPS officer faces an assault charge following a domestic dispute.
During the morning of Nov. 17, Timmins Police officers responded to a call regarding a domestic incident.
Reports indicated that a physical altercation had occurred between the suspect and his partner during a verbal dispute.
The suspect, a Timmins Police officer, was arrested and charged with assault in relation to this incident.
At the time of the arrest, the officer was under suspension in relation to previous criminal charges.
The officer was released on a promise to appear in court. The court date is scheduled for Dec. 23.
The name of the officer cannot released released by police to avoid identifying the victim.

Philly police suspend officer arrested for threats

The Philadelphia Police Department has suspended a lieutenant after his arrest for allegedly threatening the mother of his children.
Police say Lt. George Holcombe struggled with officers responding to the incident Sunday in the city's Holmesburg neighborhood.
The department on Monday suspended the 42-year-old Holcombe for 30 days with the intent to dismiss. His weapon was also taken.
Police say Holcombe, a 23-year department veteran, threatened the woman during an argument while off-duty.
He's charged with aggravated assault on police, simple assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, terroristic threats, harassment and endangering the welfare of a child.

Secaucus cop charged with selling prescription steroid on eBay

 By Michaelangelo Conte 

A Secaucus police officer has been charged with obtaining a steroid gel known as Androgel testosterone and then selling the medication online on eBay, officials announced today.
"It's a dark day for the Secaucus Police Department,” said acting Secaucus Police Chief John Cerny of Friday’s arrest of Officer Michael Cucciniello, 43, on the charge of obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud.
"Police officers are sworn to uphold laws," Cerny said. "They also have to abide by those very same laws. Wrongdoing will not be tolerated. We owe that to the public who entrusts us, as well as the men and women of this department who come to work every single day and do their job the right way. The Secaucus Police Department continues to remain committed to our community."
Investigators allege that between Feb. 24, 2013 and Oct. 30, 2013, Cucciniello obtained the steroid and sold it online, based on the probe by Hudson County Prosecutor's Office Internal Affairs Unit in cooperation with the Secaucus Police Department, Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Gene Rubino said today.
Cucciniello was processed and released on a summons complaint, which is common for third degree crimes, Rubino said, adding that Cucciniello is scheduled to make his first court on the charge on Friday in Central Judicial Processing court in Jersey City.
According to the FDA, Androgel is a prescription medicine that contains testosterone and is used to treat adult males who have low or no testosterone. Androgel is a controlled substance because it contains testosterone that can be a target for people who abuse prescription medicines. Selling or giving away this medicine may harm others and is against the law.
Androgel has abuse and misuse potential by athletes, bodybuilders, weight lifters, and young adults engaged in sports, according to the FDA.
A third-degree charge carries a possible sentence of three to five years in prison, although there is a presumption of non-incarceration for first-time offenders.
Secaucus Mayor Mike Gonnelli said Cucciniello has been suspended without pay and is being allowed to use some of his comp time.
The medication was legally prescribed to Cucciniello by a physician, Rubino said, adding that no one else is being investigated in connection to the case.

Newton cop exposed himself to young male drivers during stops, complaint says

By Ben Horowitz

NEWTON — A Newton police officer was arrested Monday on accusations that he unzipped his pants and exposed himself to young male drivers during "numerous" traffic stops.
Jason R. Miller, 37, of Hampton Township, a patrolman since 2001, turned himself in at the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office and has been indefinitely suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case, according to a statement issued by Sussex County Prosecutor Francis Koch and Newton Police Chief Michael Richards.
Miller was charged with two counts of official misconduct, one count of a pattern of official misconduct and one count of lewdness, the statement said.
Miller would expose his genitals to motorists "to satisfy his prurient interests" and then let them leave without issuing traffic summonses, according to a police complaint.
The incidents occurred between March 18 and Oct. 23 of this year, the complaint says.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Critchley set bail at $35,000 with a 10 percent option and the condition that Miller surrender all firearms, the prosecutor's statement said. Miller posted the bail, the statement added.
The statement said Newton police received an anonymous tip on Oct. 23 reporting an allegation of misconduct by Miller and then another anonymous message on Oct. 24.
Based on the information, "an immediate investigation ensued" and following a review of patrol car video recordings and interviews, Miller was suspended on Oct. 28, the statement said.
An affidavit signed by Capt. Donald Peter of the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office detailed what appeared to be a pattern of behavior by Miller during several traffic stops.
The investigation took officers back to March 18, when Miller stopped a 26-year-old male who was driving 16 miles per hour over the speed limit and acknowledged on an audio recording that he had consumed alcohol, Peter said in his affidavit.
While Officer Miller was in his patrol car and after his initial interaction with the man he stopped, "you can hear what appears to be the sound of a zipper opening and/or closing," Peter said.
"Officer Miller did not issue any motor vehicle summonses, nor investigate (the man) for driving while intoxicated, despite the driver's admission to consuming alcohol and coming directly from a bar," Peter said.
On Oct. 23, Miller stopped a 22-year-old male who was leaving O'Reilly's Pub sometime after midnight and the young man noticed the officer's zipper was down and his genitals were exposed, Peter said in his affidavit. The young man said Miller asked him several times where he was going and where he lived, and that made him "uncomfortable."
During a review of the video recording of the interview, "it appears that Officer Miller's zipper is open" and his genitals were visible, Peter said. The young man drove home and was not issued a ticket, Peter said.
Miller's attorney, Anthony Iacullo, said his client is innocent.
"Officer Miller is an excellent officer who vehemently denies these allegations, as they are false and baseless," Iacullo said in a statement. "We are confident that when this matter is heard in a court of law, Mr. Miller will be exonerated of all the charges."

Anyone with further information is asked to contact the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office at 973-383-1570.

HPD officer accused of sexually assaulting girl, 15, he met at restaurant

Matt Aufdenspring,Mark Boyle

A Houston police officer is accused of raping an underage girl he met at a fast-food restaurant he frequented.
Ruben Anthony Carrera is charged with sexual assault of a child under 17. Court documents state Carrera met the 15-year-old girl at a Chick-Fil-A restaurant, where he would go to eat for free. A witness claimed to have seen Carrera hugging and kissing the girl on multiple occasions at the restaurant.
According to court documents, the girl told investigators that Carrera sexually assaulted her in her bedroom. She said he stopped because he received a call over his radio. The girl said Carrera was wearing his police uniform during the incident.
"He's been charged with sexual assault of a child which is a second-degree felony," prosecutor Tiffany Johnson said. "He's looking at two to 20 years in prison. Based on the nature of the relationship with this complaintant, the DA's office believes that there may be other victims out there. We would like for those victims to contact the Houston Police Department."
Court documents state police said Carrera admitted to knowing the girl was only 15 years old, admitted to visiting her house multiple times and admitted to hugging and kissing her on several occasions.
"I don't know why an officer would be with a girl by herself," resident Jack Van Pelt said. "I guess that'll be something that the courts will have to decide but it's not a good thing."
Carrera, 27, is being held on $50,000 bond.
HPD said Carrera is off the job on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues.

Oklahoma cop charged with raping women while on duty


OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma City police officer accused of sexually assaulting 13 women while on duty will face trial for 35 felony counts including rape and sexual assault, court officials said on Wednesday.
If convicted, Daniel Holtzclaw, 27, could face life in prison. Holtzclaw, who is on paid leave, has denied the allegations against him and remains under house arrest at his parents' home in Enid, about 70 miles north of Oklahoma City.
At a pretrial hearing this week, 13 women testified about being forced into sex with the officer, who threatened many of them with jail. The charges include six counts of first-degree rape.
"He was an officer. And I was scared. And I knew he could hurt me," one woman said in court.
Another victim, aged 17, said she was raped by Holtzclaw on the front porch of her mother's home. She testified Holtzclaw picked her up while she walking home and threatened to arrest her on outstanding warrants.
Holtzclaw, who had been on the force for three years, was arrested in August and charged with assaulting eight women. Other victims have came forward since then. Most of the incidents are suspected of taking place between February and June.
Holtzclaw's next court date is Jan. 21.

Austin cops suspended less than a week after joking about rape on dashcam video


The Austin Police Department has apologized after a video posted to YouTube showed two of its officers making rape jokes while in a patrol car. The May 24 video, posted on Oct. 30 by Austin lawyer Drew Gibbs, who told Austin TV station KXAN he obtained the footage via an open records request. In the dashcam video, officers are heard saying that if they "ride out for a week, crime is gonna be on the run and (expletive) non-existent. (Expletive) would get real for the bad guys. The world would be at peace for a week." One officer then says, "Look at the girl over there," before blowing a whistle. The second officer is heard saying, "Go ahead and call the cops. They can't unrape you."
The Austin Police Department has briefly suspended two officers shown in a video posted to YouTube making rape jokes while in a patrol car.
Officers Mark Lyttle and Michael Castillo have been suspended for three and five days, respectively, the Austin American-Statesmanreported Wednesday. Each must participate in training with a community group that works with victims of sexual assault, according to the American-Statesman.
Following a disciplinary hearing Wednesday, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said the department has audited each contact the two officers have had with sexual assault victims and that the officers have been empathetic and professional, according to the American-Statesman.
However, Acevedo said the officers' "cavalier attitude" and "gallows humor" is "embarrassing, inappropriate and absolutely is not going to be tolerated by this department," he said.

Can cell phones stop police brutality?

By Laura Ly, CNN

 (CNN) -- Millions of people have now seen the video.
Eric Garner, standing on a sidewalk, asks the NYPD officers surrounding him, "What did I do? What did I do?"
Garner, 43, raises both hands in the air and tells the officers not to touch him.
Moments later, he's on the ground while a plain-clothes officer places him in an apparent choke hold.
Garner gasps, "I can't breathe, I can't breathe."
His words are muffled as his face is pressed into the pavement.
By the end of the video, Garner is lifeless on the Staten Island sidewalk.
The video went viral. Garner's death sparked protests across the country, thrusting into the spotlight the issue of police brutality on unarmed citizens. Citizens who, in increasing numbers, have taken to arming themselves with their own kind of weapon -- their cell phones.
"The police out here [are] crazy. Nobody trusts them. So I decided to pull out my camera every time they come over here," said Ramsey Orta, who filmed the July 17 incident on his cell phone.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that acts of police forcehave not increased dramatically in recent years. Their Police Public Contact Survey found that in 2008, only 1.4% of those who reported contact with police had force used or threatened against them, with no statistically significant increase since 2002.
What has changed is the prevalence of cell phones equipped with cameras. Cell phone videos of alleged police misconduct have proliferated online, flooding social media websites and provoking questions about law enforcement behavior.
Luis Paulino's August 2012 beating by NYPD officers was captured on video and posted online. The video shows officers throwing Paulino to the ground. Several officers punch him repeatedly. According to Paulino, the officers started in on him after he saw them violently beating another young black man on the sidewalk. In the background, an unidentified male can be heard encouraging people to record what was happening and yelling, "He didn't do nothing!"
For Paulino, the video proved to be vindicating. He was initially charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstructing a government official, but all charges were dropped.
Without the video, "there wouldn't have been anything but my word against 15 police officers," Paulino told journalist Soledad O'Brien.
Paulino has filed a lawsuit against the city. The NYPD will not comment on the case, citing the legal proceedings.
"When you are in public spaces, where you have a right to be, you can photograph anything that is in plain view," said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union. Stanley's research focuses on technology-related privacy and civil liberties issues.
The ACLU says that photographing things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a "constitutional right" and that this includes "federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties."
Law enforcement officials also do not have the right to confiscate any video or photographs being taken, nor can they ask to view it without a warrant.
"If you are not interfering in any real way with legitimate police operations, they don't have the right to interfere in any way," Stanley said.
Still, even with the perceived ubiquity of cell phone videos showing alleged acts of police misconduct, it seems that some errant officers aren't deterred by the cameras.
Stanley said he believes authorities are simply still adjusting to the availability of new technology and the knowledge that they may be recorded at any time.
"For police officers, it can take a while to sink in [that they may be filmed]. As police officers do take in that new reality, we may see a revolution in terms of a drastic reduction in brutality. We may not, but it's too early to tell," he said.
Paul Callan, a CNN contributor and former prosecutor, said he believes that drastic reduction has already begun.
"I believe that the existence of cell phone video and social media postings has substantially reduced police brutality over the long run. Although the intensity of news coverage of cases such as [George] Zimmerman and Michael Brown makes it feel like there is more police brutality, my sense of the situation as a lawyer who is in court several times a week is that the number of cases is diminishing," Callan said.
Some police departments are embracing camera technology and are even utilizing it to strengthen transparency and accountability between their officers and the community. Police departments in Rialto, California, and Mesa, Arizona, have implemented body-camera programs for their officers.
The initiative seems to be working. A 2014 study by the U.S. Department of Justice cites both departments, noting an 88% reduction in citizen complaints and a 60% reduction in officer use-of-force incidents after one year of camera deployment in Rialto. In Mesa, there were 40% fewer complaints for officers with cameras and 75% fewer use-of-force complaints overall.
On September 4, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced that the police department would be testing two types of body cameras that would allow officers to record audio and video during their patrols.
"The NYPD is committed to embracing new and emerging technology in order to continue to keep New York City safe," Bratton said. "Having patrol officers wear body cameras during this pilot demonstrates our commitment to transparency while it will also allow us to review its effectiveness with the intention of expanding the program."
The statement came less than a week after it was announced that officers in Ferguson, Missouri, had adopted the use of body cameras after the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teen who was fatally shot by an officer.
In New York, cameras will be distributed to officers patrolling in precincts that reported the highest number of "Stop, Question, and Frisk" encounters in 2012. The policy -- in which police stop, question and frisk people they consider suspicious in an effort to deter crime -- has been widely criticized for unfairly targeting young, male minorities.
Police-community relations in such precincts, with predominantly black and Latino residents, have been tenuous. Police department figures showed that nearly nine out of 10 people "stopped and frisked" in 2011 were African-American or Hispanic, though New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has said 90% of those stopped were innocent.
In mid-November, the NYPD said the body-camera program is still in the planning stages.
In the four months since Garner's death, the New York Medical Examiner's Officer ruled it a homicide. Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is seen on the video choking Garner, was put on modified assignment and stripped of his badge and gun amid the investigation, the NYPD said.
In a statement, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch called Pantaleo's reassignment "a completely unwarranted, knee-jerk reaction for political reasons." He said the move "effectively pre-judges this case and denies the officer the very benefit of a doubt that has long been part of the social contract that allows police officers to face the risks of this difficult and complex job."
Video shows trooper shooting unarmed man
CNN's attempts to reach Pantaleo for comment were unsuccessful.
A second police officer was placed on desk duty. The NYPD also announced new mandatory training for officers on the proper use of force when engaging a suspect.
Garner, a grandfather with six children, had a lengthy criminal history, including more than 30 arrests, and had previously been arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes in May. Police said they initially approached him on July 17 because they believed he was selling cigarettes illegally again.
The case is now in the hands of Manhattan's district attorney. Citing the legal proceedings, Bratton declined to comment further on the case.
In early October, Bratton spoke to a conference of NYPD officers, publicly stating that there were "a few" officers in the department who "just don't get it."
"They're not the right fit for the NYPD in 2014. My intention going forward is to ensure that we will aggressively seek to get those out of the department who should not be here. The brutal, the corrupt, the racist, the incompetent," Bratton said.
Bratton told Soledad O'Brien that policing is "a balancing act."
"How do you have the appropriate level of policing to reduce crime, and prevent it, to reduce disorder and prevent it, but do it in a way that the law-abiding in that community don't feel they need to be fearful of the police?"
It's a balance that Paulino wonders if the NYPD will ever achieve.
It has been two years since the incident, but Paulino, a former college football player, still goes to physical therapy every week to rehabilitate his injured shoulders.
"Every time I'm asked about the incident, I close my eyes and I can see myself there again. I can see myself on the floor getting punched, getting kneed and asking why?" Paulino said.
"Every day I wake up and I've got aches and pains in both my arms. I'll never be the same."
New York police officers plead not guilty to assaulting Brooklyn teenager

Not so transparent

George Nilson

Plan to post police brutality lawsuits online doesn't go far enough
A Baltimore City plan to create an online database listing the outcome of civil lawsuits alleging police brutality is being billed as a tool for making the department more transparent after a Sun investigation this summer revealed the city has paid out nearly $6 million to settle plaintiffs' claims of misconduct by officers. Baltimore City Solicitor George Nilson, who devised the new policy, said posting the information online will dispel any impression the city is trying to hide officers' misconduct from the public. But though the database clearly is a step in the direction of reform, we have doubts that it will deliver sufficiently on that promise.
The city frequently settles complaints of police brutality out of court — typically by agreeing to pay only a fraction of the damages alleged — rather than take such cases to trial. It costs the city less to resolve cases through settlements and doesn't require it to admit wrongdoing by officers. Moreover, settlement agreements routinely contain so-called non-disclosure clauses, which prevent plaintiffs who receive an award from talking about it publicly. Plaintiffs who violate that restriction risk losing their monetary payment.
Mr. Nilson says the city will consider changing the requirement that plaintiffs remain silent after a settlement is reached, but there's no guarantee it will actually do so. The most he's willing to offer is a review of "best practices" in other cities to determine whether Baltimore's policy should change. That's not much of a commitment.
Moreover, while lawsuits against the police will be available online, the posts may not include details about the specific instances of brutality or misconduct alleged. That's no better than what we have now with the brief summaries currently given the city's Board of Estimates, which must approve all payments larger than $25,000. Critics charge that in the past such summaries have been used to hide the nature and extent of alleged abuses, leaving the public and other city officials in the dark about how widespread the problem is or whether the same officers are responsible for multiple complaints of misconduct.
The more fundamental problem with just posting lawsuits against police online is that such information contains no independent findings of fact. That's because when city settles a case it doesn't necessarily concede the truthfulness of the allegations. All the public sees is that the city decided to resolve the case out of court rather than take it to trial. But there's no way of knowing why it did so or whether the outcome resulted in any disciplinary action being taken against the officers involved. Posting complaints online may give the public an easier way to tote up how much the city is paying out, but without an independent body to investigate such complaints the public still won't know much more that it does today about the nature of the abuses being litigated.
That's why if the police department is to be truly transparent, the city must establish an independent citizen review board with real powers to investigate complaints of police misconduct and compel the department to discipline officers who abuse their powers. New York City currently has such a panel, staffed by 100 civilian investigators and other employers who can take citizen complaints, locate witnesses and gather sworn testimony from officers implicated in misconduct. It's a far more effective body than Baltimore's toothless citizen review panel, which can't even begin its work until after the police department has finished investigating itself.
What city residents want to see is a recognition by top officials that police officers are accountable to the public they serve, that no officer is above the law and that the department stands ready to discipline the wrong-doers in its own ranks. The department needs to show it can police itself before it can win the confidence of those it is sworn to protect. Mr. Nilson's plan is a welcome reform as far as it goes, but it doesn't do nearly enough to make the department truly transparent and accountable.

US Cities (and Taxpayers) Paying Millions in Police Misconduct Settlements


When a Chicago police officer was caught brutally beating a female bartender in 2007, the city paid her $850,000.
Another officer shot a man in the back while he was on the ground and was later found to be unarmed. That payout cost the city $4 million.
Now, police Cmdr. Glenn Evans faces criminal charges for allegedly sticking a gun down the throat of a man he mistakenly accused of hiding a gun.
"They took the gun, put it down my throat,” alleged victim Ricky Williams said in a videotape provided by his attorney. "The things that they did they should get punished for."
Evans, a highly decorated officer, has been the subject of more than 40 misconduct complaints.
None of the previous claims have been proven, but Evans is now on desk duty awaiting trial. So far he has cost taxpayers $300,000 in settlements.
And these expensive burdens on taxpayers happen all over the nation.
6 Police Misconduct Settlements Worth Millions
Alleged Police Misconduct Caught on Tape
Ex-Reporter Sues After Alleged Police Brutality Deleted Off Camera
In Philadelphia, more than $40 million in police misconduct settlements have been paid out in the last five years. New York City paid out $428 million in the same period, according to data obtained by MuckRock, an organization that advocates for open, transparent government records.
A Baltimore Sun investigation found the city had paid $11.5 million in the last four years. In Los Angeles, the amount totaled $54 million for claims just in 2011.
In Chicago, where the city had to float $100 million worth of bonds to help pay for police settlements related to abuse, the Chicago Sun Times found the city had paid out $450 million in the last decade with much of it due to repeat alleged abusers.
And many, like the commander, are still on the job.
Evans was stripped of his police duties and moved to a desk job, pending the outcome of criminal charges that include two counts of aggravated battery and seven counts of official misconduct, which are all felonies. Prosecutors in Chicago want to present evidence of previous cases of misconduct against Evans in the current case.
"What it signals to me and to most defense attorneys is their main case is weak, so they're trying to bolster it with other stuff," said Evans' attorney, Laura Morask. ABC News requested multiple times for an interview with the police superintendent, but was denied.
When ABC News approached Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy to question the refusal to sit down for an interview, he replied: "Are you kidding me?"
He then walked away and would not comment on why he had not only kept Evans on the job after the latest criminal allegations of misconduct, but had even promoted him to district commander in spite of the dozens of abuse allegations leveled at him while he was still a lieutenant.
During a September news conference, after allegations against Evans had surfaced, McCarthy had said: "If the allegations are true, it's reprehensible."
"But Cmdr. Evans is entitled to due process just like every other citizen in the United States of America. I hope that that's kept in mind," McCarthy said.
"It's almost as if they make an effort not to connect the dots, rather than turn the information they have into knowledge that they could use to identify that relatively small number (of officers) but still significant in their impact," said Jamie Kalven, with the Invisible Institute, a Chicago-based journalistic production that works to increase awareness of controversial issues.
"You have complaint after complaint after complaint alleging behavior in the very pattern they were ultimately convicted of -- and no action was taken," Kalven said. "They don't connect the dots and then intervene."
The Chicago City Council Finance Chairman Ed Burke, who approved the settlements, said he was frustrated too.
"I've asked repeatedly about why there has not been discipline meted out to some of these officers we have spent large amounts. I don't know that I've had or that the members of the council have been satisfied with the responses to those questions,” Burke told ABC News.
In a statement to ABC News, the Chicago Police Department said:
"Community policing and fostering stronger relationships with residents and the communities we all serve is the foundation of our policing philosophy. Over the last three years, Chicago has made it a priority to improve trust and cooperation between the Chicago Police Department and we have become a positive national and international model for preventing police misconduct and investigating allegations.
"As soon as we were made aware of the charges Commander Evans was relieved of his police powers, pending the outcome of this matter. We take the charges very seriously. The alleged actions that led to Glenn Evans' arrest, if true, are deeply disturbing. They have no place in our city and are not reflective of the actions and values of the men and women who serve in the Police Department."

Officer who punched woman ‘used appropriate force’, suspended for vulgarity

A police officer who punched a woman several times in the face during an arrest used “appropriate force,” an investigation has ruled, but he has been suspended for using vulgar language.
An internal investigation into the actions of Officer George Gothner in Superior, Wisconsin, during an arrest on January 5 concluded the force he used against Natasha Lancour “was reasonable and consistent with the policies of the department and the training provided by the State of Wisconsin,” WDIO reports.
However, the Wisconsin Department of Justice concluded that Gothner had not communicated appropriately and used “vulgar and unprofessional language” when initially speaking to Lancour, 29.
As a result, Gothner has been handed a 10-hour unpaid suspension.
Dash cam video footage of the altercation between Gothner and Lancour shows the pair exchanging words before Gothner marches Lancour over to his car while she struggles.
After placing her face-down on the hood, Lancour attempts to wriggle free, at which point Gothner punches her as witnesses look on.
KDAL reports the investigation found Gothner’s actions were appropriate “in response to resistance and to Gothner’s perception that he was being assaulted.”
Last month, the Pioneer Press reported that the Bayfield County district attorney had decided against charging Gothner, and just days later a disorderly conduct charge against Lancour was also dropped, FOX21 notes.
Gothner took five months’ paid leave following the incident while the internal investigation progressed, and returned to a desk job in July,according to WPR.
Now that the investigation is over, he is expected back on full duty next week.

Harrisburg police officers suspended in connection with wild car chase

By Christine Vendel

Harrisburg police have suspended several officers for allegedly violating department policy in a wild car chase earlier this month.
City officials would not identify the officers, confirm the number of officers or suspension days or say what part of the department's pursuit policy was allegedly violated.
The city also declined to provide a copy of the police department's pursuit policy, which outlines the circumstances under which officers can chase vehicles. Such policies are confidential under Pennsylvania law.
Other states, including New Jersey, allow reporters and the public to access pursuit policies.
Sources told PennLive four officers were suspended between two and five days each. Officers can appeal their suspensions but it was unclear if the officers had filed appeals.
The Nov. 3 chase started downtown after officers noticed the driver going the wrong way along Second Street. He drove northbound on Front Street, then drove the wrong way across the Harvey Taylor Memorial Bridge.
Because of the danger he posed to other drivers, police chased him, Police Chief Tom Carter said the day after the chase.
During the 15-minute chase, the suspect hit or sideswiped at least three vehicles, including two Harrisburg Police cars. One woman in a vehicle struck by the suspect suffered minor injuries, police said.
The chase ended on North 32nd Street, near Logan Street, in Camp Hill after the driver struck a curb, disabling his vehicle. He was alone in the vehicle.
Police charged Curtis Howard Wanner, of Womelsdorf, with 10 crimes including fleeing and eluding, reckless driving, aggravated assault, resisting arrest, and driving the wrong way.
Police "always take into account the safety of the public before chasing anyone," Carter said at the time. "We tried to get him stopped several times. He was not paying attention to our signals. We had to take some police action."
Investigators believe Wanner was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Police department policies can range from permissive, deferring to officer discretion, to restrictive, only allowing officers to chase vehicles associated with a violent felony.
It's unclear where Harrisburg stands because of the state law that mandates such policies "shall not be made available to the general public."
While police departments have different guidelines for police chases, many involve a requirement that the initial officer ask a supervisor for permission to continue a pursuit.
In those situations, supervisors weigh the seriousness of the offense against the danger posed to the public. The supervisor will either grant approval or tell the officer to terminate the chase.
The supervisor usually gets updates throughout a chase and can decide to discontinue later if the danger posed to the public seems to be increasing.
When making decisions, supervisors will usually consider the following circumstances: vehicle speeds, volume of traffic and pedestrians, weather conditions, time of day, road conditions, familiarity with the area and whether the suspect is known and could be arrested at  later time.
Police agencies in Pennsylvania are required by law to make a report of each police chase and provide the data to the Pennsylvania State Police. The PSP is required to collect these reports, analyze the data, and compile and publish an annual summary of the findings.
Harrisburg city officials on Friday denied PennLive's Right to Know request for the report concerning the Nov. 3 chase.
According to last year's annual report of aggregated data:
•           Seven people were killed in police pursuit crashes. All of them were violators. The figure was down from 14 killed in 2012.
•           514 pursuits resulted in a total of 671 crashes with 203 of the pursuits resulting in injury to the violator, police, and/or uninvolved persons.
•           More than 69 percent of pursuits resulted in the apprehension of one or more violators.
•           Roughly 53 percent of chases were initiated because of traffic violations, about 14 percent for felony crimes and 13 percent for suspicions of driving under the influence.

Former Opa-Locka Police sergeant sentenced after false imprisonment conviction

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. (WSVN) -- A crooked former Opa-Locka police sergeant learned his fate in court Friday.
A jury found 50-year-old German Bosque guilty of witness tampering and false imprisonment.
He was sentenced to a year in prison, four years probation and 500 hours of community service.
Back in August of 2011, Bosque falsely imprisoned a man who tried to file a complaint against him at the Opa-Locka Police Station.
Bosque will remain on house arrest while his lawyers appeal his conviction.