A 59-page report released by the United States Department of Justice on Thursday reveals widespread, excessive use of force by police officers in Cleveland. Cleveland is the city where cops recently killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice while he was carrying a toy gun on a playground, and just before that, Tanesha Anderson died in police hands when cops were supposed to be transporting her for mental health treatment.
In one incident from the Justice Department’s new report, a 300-pound officer sat on a 13 year-old boy who weighed half as much and punched the boy in the face repeatedly while the boy was handcuffed in the back of a police car. In another incident, police used their stun gun on a juvenile suspect, despite the fact that the boy was being held on the ground by two officers. In a third incident, an officer fired upon a man who fled after repeatedly asking the officer to produce his badge in order to prove that he was, in fact, a cop. The cop did not do so.
The overarching conclusion of the report is that Cleveland police “too often use unnecessary and unreasonable force in violation of the Constitution,” and that “[s]upervisors tolerate this behavior and, in some cases, endorse it.” The report points to a “pattern or practice of using unreasonable force in violation of the Fourth Amendment,” including the “unnecessary and excessive use of deadly force,” similar use of non-deadly force, and “[e]xcessive force against persons who are mentally ill or in crisis.”
Some of the incidents laid out in the report reflect such questionable judgment that they would almost be comic if they did not end so tragically. In one incident, a police sergeant fired upon a hostage who fled a house where he was being held against his will by armed assailants. Although the man fled the building wearing nothing but his boxer shorts, the sergeant fired upon the man because he believed that the man had a weapon when he pointed arm towards the sergeant. According to the report, “[n]o other officers at the scene reported seeing [the man] point anything at the sergeant.”
Another section of the report, which details a high-speed chase involving dozens of officers, is worth quoting at length:
On November 29, 2012, over 100 Cleveland police officers engaged in a high speed chase, in violation of CDP policies, and fatally shot two unarmed civilians. . . . The incident began when Timothy Russell and his passenger Malissa Williams drove past the Justice Center in downtown Cleveland, at which point officers and witnesses outside the Justice Center heard what they believed to be a shot fired from the car. It now appears that what they actually heard was the car backfiring. A massive chase ensued, involving at least 62 police vehicles, some of which were unmarked, and more than 100 patrol officers, supervisors, and dispatchers—about 37 percent of the CDP personnel on duty in the City. The pursuit lasted about 25 minutes, at times reaching speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. During the chase, some of the confusing and contradictory radio traffic incorrectly indicated that the occupants of the car may be armed and may be firing from the car. Other radio traffic did not support that conclusion. No supervisor asserted control over the chase, and some even participated. CDP now admits that the manner in which the chase occurred was not in accordance with established CDP policies. The chase finally ended outside the City’s borders, in an East Cleveland school parking lot, with CDP vehicles located in front of and behind Mr. Russell’s car. In circumstances that are still being disputed in court, thirteen CDP officers ultimately fired 137 shots at the car, killing both its occupants. Mr. Russell and Ms. Williams each suffered more than 20 gunshot wounds. The officers, who were firing on the car from all sides, reported believing that they were being fired at by the suspects. It now appears that those shots were being fired by fellow officers.
Just last week, nine officers involved in this incident filed a lawsuit claiming they were punished more harshly for their participation because they were not African American. Their punishment? Three days of administrative leave, followed by restricted duty for about 45 days, during which they say they were asked to do “menial and unpleasant tasks” and denied overtime pay.
The Justice Department’s report, however, found that these incidents of excessive force may have flourished because the police department’s mechanisms for investigating and disciplining officers who engaged in excessive force were entirely inadequate. Some officers who are “charged with conducting unbiased reviews of officers’ use of deadly force admitted to [the Justice Department] that they conduct their investigations with the goal of casting the accused officer in the most positive light possible.” Indeed, the report found that “[d]iscipline is so rare that no more than 51 officers out of a sworn force of 1,500 were disciplined in any fashion in connection with a use of force incident over a three-and-a half-year period.” When DOJ dug deeper into that 51 incidents, they found that “in most of those 51 cases the actual discipline imposed was for procedural violations such as failing to file a report, charges were dismissed or deemed unfounded, or the disciplinary process was suspended due to pending civil claims.”
A press release accompanying the report announces that “the Justice Department and the city of Cleveland have signed a statement of principles committing them to develop a court enforceable consent decree that will include a requirement for an independent monitor who will oversee and ensure necessary reforms.” A consent decree is an agreement negotiated between DOJ and the city that can be overseen and potentially enforced by a federal court once it is finalized.
Suspension for cop caught with his pants down
St. Petersburg, Florida -- A St. Pete Police officer was suspended for conduct unbecoming after he was caught masturbating in his own personal vehicle on Aug. 25.
A tow truck driver allegedly saw Officer Andrew Cane, who was off duty, in his personal vehicle in a posted "tow away" parking lot on Central Avenue. He called police to report what he saw and an investigation was conducted by the Investigation Services Bureau.
In an interview with investigators, Officer Cane told them he had just finished his instruction at the Police Academy and had gotten tired while driving home. He pulled over into the parking lot to rest and had fallen asleep.
The next thing he knew, he was being awakened by a tow truck driver knocking on the window. Officer Cane did admit his penis was exposed and in his hand when the tow truck driver approached the vehicle.
St. Pete Police Chief Anthony Holloway said in his report Officer Cane made several inconsistent statements during recorded interviews with investigators.
On Dec. 9, a Command Review Board convened and Chief Holloway determined the allegations against Officer Cane were sustained and he received an 80-hour suspension along with removal from the Department's SWAT Team and Honor Guard. He has received a mandatory referral to Employee Assistance Program as well.
In 18 months, Officer Cane will be eligible to apply for open positions on the Special Weapons and Tactics Team and Honor Guard.
By Washington Post Editorial Board
AFTER 24-YEAR-OLD Albert Jermaine Payton was fatally shot outside his Southeast home by D.C. police officers, the department issued a terse news release. The man, according to the statement, had approached officers brandishing a knife and was shot when he did not comply with their order to drop the weapon.
That was more than two years ago. No other information — the number of shots fired, the type of knife, the race or backgrounds of those involved — has been forthcoming. Investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office is still ongoing, and police said they are constrained from comment as long as that probe is open. Meanwhile, the two unnamed police officers have returned to duty.
Clearly, there is something wrong with a system in which there seems to be no sense of urgency in accounting for a death in which police were involved. Not only is it unfair to those affected — the victim’s family as well as the police officers — but it also undermines the community trust in police that is critical to fighting crime.
How police-involved deaths are handled is under increased nationwide scrutiny because of controversies over the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., Tamir Rice in Cleveland and other high-profile cases. The case of Mr. Payton, shot Aug. 24, 2012, was highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal article examining weaknesses in the national collection of data about deaths involving police that make it nearly impossible to know how many people officers kill each year. Among the troubling findings is that there are agencies, including Fairfax County police, that inexplicably don’t consider justifiable homicides by law enforcement officers as events that should be reported.
The situation is unacceptable. Congress, as we have urged, should put in place a system that ensures the collection of accurate information to assess the problem and inform the debate over reform. But there is also, as Mr. Payton’s case demonstrates, a need for local police officials to treat these cases as priorities and with more transparency. To their credit, D.C. police do report all uses of force — both fatal and non-fatal — in publicly available annual reports.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia offered little explanation — other than that a resolution of the case is expected “soon” — about why it has taken so long to get to the bottom of what happened when police responded to a call about family violence on that hot summer day. We hope that when prosecutors conclude this case, they will provide a full accounting of the events. If no criminality is found, that should not be the end of the matter. It will be important to know the results of any administrative review by the department and whether different procedures or actions might have produced a different result.
Cop Faces Shoplifting Charges
(CBS) – Shoplifting has escalated in the city, and the Chicago Police Department’s organized crime division is part of a task force trying to stop it.
But now the 2 Investigators have learned one of their own officers was charged with shoplifting after an alert store security guard and cameras caught the cop in the act.
According to police reports, on Oct. 18, Costco security saw a customer at its store at 1430 S. Ashland Ave. take a bottle of wine off the shelf and place it in her shopping cart. She then moved to the back of the store, where security saw her place the bottle in her purse.
The customer then walked past the cashiers and out of the store without paying and was stopped.
It turned out the customer was off-duty police officer, Katrina Grey, 42, assigned to the organized crime division. Police reports indicate that after Grey was caught she ran through the Costco parking lot chased by store officials until she was caught and taken into custody just down the street.
When Grey was asked to remove all items from her purse that she had not paid for, she took out five bottles of wine and a child’s pair of pink boots. The total cost would have been $115, if she had paid.
Grey is a 14-year veteran of the police department and makes $80,000 a year. Now, she’s on paid medical leave pending the outcome of her court case on the misdemeanor retail theft charges.
David Bradford, the head of Northwestern University’s Center for Public Safety, says if one of his officers had done this when he was a police chief, “in addition to being upset, I would be very disappointed.”
“It creates big problem,” for the Chicago police department, Bradford says. “The most important thing to do is to make sure that this person is held accountable for their behavior.”
A police department spokesman says Grey was stripped of her police powers after her arrest and she could face further discipline, pending results of an investigation.
“While she currently is on medical leave, that is unrelated to this incident and has no impact on the possibility of additional discipline,” the spokesman said.
Grey did not return phone calls to CBS 2. Her attorney, Thomas Needham, says Grey, who was deployed in Iraq for a year, has “earned a fine reputation among her colleagues.”
“Unfortunately,” Needham adds, Grey “is now in the midst of some significant personal and medical problems. Once she has addressed these issues, her inexplicable and uncharacteristic behavior on October 17, 2014 will be easier for people to understand.”
By Eugene Robinson
Michael Brown’s death was part of a tragic and unacceptable pattern: Police officers in the United States shoot and kill civilians in shockingly high numbers. How many killings are there each year? No one can say for sure, because police departments don’t want us to know.
According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, in 2013 there were 461 “justifiable homicides” by police — defined as “the killing of a felon by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.” In all but three of these reported killings, officers used firearms.
Eugene Robinson writes a twice-a-week column on politics and culture, contributes to the PostPartisan blog, and hosts a weekly online chat with readers. In a three-decade career at The Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper’s Style section.
The true number of fatal police shootings is surely much higher, however, because many law enforcement agencies do not report to the FBI database. Attempts by journalists to compile more complete data by collating local news reports have resulted in estimates as high as 1,000 police killings a year. There is no way to know how many victims, like Brown, were unarmed.
By contrast, there were no fatal police shootings in Great Britain last year. Not one. In Germany, there have been eight police killings over the past two years. In Canada — a country with its own frontier ethos and no great aversion to firearms — police shootings average about a dozen a year.
Liberals and conservatives alike should be outraged at the frequency with which police in this country use deadly force. There is no greater power that we entrust to the state than the license to take life. To put it mildly, misuse of this power is at odds with any notion of limited government.
I realize that the great majority of police officers never fire their weapons in the line of duty. Most cops perform capably and honorably in a stressful, dangerous job; 27 were killed in 2013, according to the FBI. Easy availability of guns means that U.S. police officers — unlike their counterparts in Britain, Japan or other countries where there is appropriate gun control — must keep in mind the possibility that almost any suspect might be packing heat.
But any way you look at it, something is wrong. Perhaps the training given officers is inadequate. Perhaps the procedures they follow are wrong. Perhaps an “us vs. them” mentality estranges some police departments from the communities they are sworn to protect.
Whatever the reason, it is hard to escape the conclusion that police in this country are much too quick to shoot. We’ve seen the heartbreaking results most recently in the fatal shooting of 28-year-old Akai Gurley, an unarmed man who was suspected of no crime, in the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project, and the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was waving a toy gun around a park in Cleveland.
Which brings me to the issue of race. USA Today analyzed the FBI’s “justifiable homicide” statistics over several years and found that, of roughly 400 reported police killings annually, an average of 96 involved a white police officer killing a black person.
Two years ago, D. Brian Burghart, the editor and publisher of the Reno (Nev.) News & Review, launched FatalEncounters.org, an ambitious attempt to compile a comprehensive crowd-sourced database of fatal police shootings. Reports of the October 2012 killing of a naked, unarmed college student by University of South Alabama police made Burghart wonder how many such shootings there were; the fact that no one knew the answer made him determined to find it.
Burghart recently summed up what he has learned so far: “You know who dies in the most population-dense areas? Black men,” he wrote on Gawker. “You know who dies in the least population-dense areas? Mentally ill men. It’s not to say there aren’t dangerous and desperate criminals killed across the line. But African-Americans and the mentally ill people make up a huge percentage of people killed by police.”
Burghart and others who have attempted to count and analyze police shootings shouldn’t have to do the FBI’s job. All law enforcement agencies should be required to report all uses of deadly force to the bureau, using a standardized format that allows comparisons and analysis. Police departments that have nothing to hide should be eager to cooperate.
A 12-year-old boy said to have been waving a fake semi-automatic pistol in an Ohio playground dies after he was shot by police. (Reuters)
The Obama administration has been laudably aggressive in pressing cities with egregiously high rates of police shootings, such as Albuquerque, to reform. But no one can really get a handle on the problem until we know its true scope.
The Michael Brown case presents issues that go beyond race. An unarmed teenager was shot to death. Whatever his color, that’s just not right.
Former CT officer charged with arson
By Joseph Wenzel IV, News Editor
A former Bridgeport police officer is accused of setting his house on fire with his wife and dog inside it earlier this year, sources said.
Thomas McMahon, 65, was charged with first-degree arson and providing a false written statement.
According to police, the fire was set at McMahon's residence in the 400 block of Golf Road in Orange on Oct. 27. No one was injured in the fire.
McMahon is being held on $50,000 bond and is expected to appear in Derby Superior Court on Jan 5.
By Ed Mazza
A Texas cop is under investigation after using a stun gun on an elderly man he had stopped for an inspection sticker issue that the officer himself apparently didn't understand.
Dashcam video from the incident posted by Raw Story, above, shows officer Nathanial Robinson, 23, pull over Pete Vasquez, 76, at Adam's Auto Mart in Victoria, Texas, as "Under Ground Kings" by Drake blares from the cruiser's radio.
Vasquez gets out of the car, walks behind it and gestures toward the license plate and to the office of the dealer, where he works. He later told the Victoria Advocate newspaper that he was explaining that the dealer tags on the car make it exempt from inspection.
Victoria Police Chief Jeffrey "J.J." Craig confirmed to the paper that the car was exempt.
On the video, however, Robinson appears to try to snatch a piece of paper from Vasquez without success. Then, he grabs Vasquez's arm, twists it behind him and pushes him against the hood of the cruiser. After a brief scuffle, the cop reaches for both of Vasquez's arms and drags him the ground, out of camera range.
When the cop is next seen in frame, he's yelling and holding up a stun gun.
Police told the newspaper that Robinson used the device twice on Vasquez.
A man emerges from the dealer's office and yells at the cop.
"I told the officer, 'What in the hell are you doing?' This gentleman is 76 years old," sales manager Larry Urich told the newspaper. "The cop told me to stand back, but I didn't shut up. I told him he was a goddamn Nazi Stormtrooper."
When other officers arrive on the scene, they ask Vasquez for his side of the story and check to see if he's injured.
"Are you hurting anywhere?" the unidentified officer can be heard asking on the video.
"Not yet," Vasquez replies. "Probably later on. I'm 76 years old."
Vasquez was taken to a hospital, then released without being cited.
Craig later apologized to Vasquez.
"Public trust is extremely important to us," Craig said, according to the Advocate. "Sometimes that means you have to take a real hard look at some of the actions that occur within the department."
He told The Associated Press that Robinson has been placed on administrative duty pending an investigation.
District attorney Stephen Tyler told the paper he hasn't been contacted by police yet, but said the officer could face charges including official oppression, injury to elderly, aggravated assault and assault.
As many took to the department's Facebook page to express their concern, the agency posted a response reiterating that the incident is under investigation.
"We place incredible value in public trust and have worked diligently to build that trust. In the interest of transparency, and knowing that many of you are looking for an outlet to express your feelings on the matter, we are creating this post to allow your comments to be heard," the post said. "All we ask is that your comments stay within our established posting policy."
Phillip White wrote that ‘I will use my God given and law appointed right and duty to kill you’ and alluded to slogans used in protests against police violence
A police officer in San Jose, California, has been suspended for tweets he sent from his personal account in which he made threatening remarks towards protesters marching against police violence.
“By the way if anyone feels they can’t breathe or their lives matter I’ll be at the movies tonight, off duty, carrying my gun,” one tweet by Phillip White said.
The next said: “Threaten me or my family and I will use my God given and law appointed right and duty to kill you,” and was marked with the hashtag “#CopsLivesMatter”.
The tweets, and then later White’s Twitter account, were deleted, but not before Buzzfeed managed to take a screengrab of them.
The internet reacted swiftly to his remarks. A petition on Change.org demanding that he be fired now has over 12,000 signatures.
White is a 20-year veteran of the San Jose police department, and has previously won plaudits for community outreach in gang prevention.
He was also an assistant basketball coach at Menlo College, a business school, which has now severed ties with him. “The college will not be represented by expressions of intolerance and bigotry on the campus, on social media, or on the internet,” the university said in a statement.
Police chief Larry Esquivel announced that White would be on paid leave pending an investigation. “The San Jose police department recognises the sensitive nature of this matter,” he said, adding that the tweets did not represent “the thoughts or feelings of the men and women here at the San Jose police department”.
“Nor do we condone this type of behaviour,” the statement said.
Sam Liccardo, the mayor-elect of San Jose, told the Mercury-News that White’s tweeting “undermines everything that our officers are working to accomplish in our police department to build relationships with trust in our community”.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, say an officer accidentally shot a man during a burglary investigation.
Police spokesman Simon Drobik said the officer's gun discharged as he climbed through a broken window of a second-floor apartment while investigating a burglary early Sunday.
Drobik says the bullet went through the apartment's floor and into the unit below, where it struck a man in the back.
Drobik says the man, whose name was not released, was hospitalized in stable condition with injuries that were not life-threatening.
He says the shooting occurred after officers took another man into custody.
The shooting comes after city officials recently signed an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to overhaul the police force.
Mayor Richard Berry on Monday is scheduled to unveil a new initiative on community meetings
By Carl E. Hartdegen
WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The decision by the leadership of the city police department to terminate an officer believed to be unfit for duty has been upheld by the Civil Service Commission after a lengthy appeal process.
A former city police officer, Michael C. Puza, terminated in 2011 because the department found him to be unfit for duty, had appealed the department’s decision to the commission and was granted a reprieve when the commission set aside his termination and substituted a one-year suspension.
Puza had been an officer for more than a decade when he was fired and had a history of disciplinary issues extending over much of that time.
He had undergone an evaluation to determine his fitness for duty by a licensed psychologist before he was terminated and was re-evaluated by a psychiatrist before he returned to work after the commission rejected his termination in favor of a one-year suspension.
The commission’s report details a number of incidents considered in the two evaluations, several of which involved off-duty alcohol use, that ultimately contributed to findings in both evaluations which found him to be unfit for duty as a police officer.
In one 2005 incident, Puza had been drinking with a fellow officer who was experiencing marital discord and Puza called the man’s wife on the telephone and “called her a highly offensive name.”
Later in 2005, Puza was in a city bar when he became involved in an altercation with a bouncer and police were called. Puza called the station in an effort to forestall a police response.
As a result of the second incident, the commission’s report states, “the WPD demoted the Appellant (Puza) from Detective to Patrolman.”
In 2007, the report notes, Puza failed to appear in court and was working a paid road detail when he was due in court.
In 2009, Puza was suspended for a day for making hours-long personal phone calls on his city-issued phone while working. In an evaluation interview Puza “asserted that he wasn’t shirking his duty during the lengthy calls because he was writing a report while he was on the phone.”
In 2011, Puza was reprimanded for providing confidential Registry of Motor Vehicles information to a friend who used it to harass another person and child. In discussing that incident with an evaluator Puza said that “other officers give out information like this and, incredibly, that his only error in this regard was that he should have told his friend not to use the confidential information.”
Also in 2011, the report relates, Puza “was involved in an off-duty high-speed chase with passengers in his car and evading the State Police.”
In discussing that incident, he told the doctor evaluating his fitness “that he had only one drink that night and that he was just horsing around, that other police do the same and that it was just a joke” but went on to acknowledge that “in hindsight, it was poor judgment and not funny, that he could have put people in jeopardy, and it was a mistake.”
Later in 2011, Puza was suspended for 13 days “for calling in sick for a shift so that he could attend a close friend’s 30th birthday party.”
Puza was subsequently terminated but, when he appealed to the commission, “The Commission found that the only reason for termination supported by a preponderance of the evidence was the speeding incident involving the State Police and modified the Appellant’s employment termination to a one year suspension.”
The commission allowed the department to obtain another evaluation of his fitness for duty, with a different examiner, before he returned to work.
The department exercised that option and required a re-evaluation by a psychiatrist, Julia Reade, who was assisted by a psychologist who administered a number of tests “widely recognized for their reliability.”
In addition to the testing results, Reade examined the reports of other practitioners who had met with Puza and herself interviewed him for four and a half hours.
Her evaluation, as reported by the commission, includes statements such as “Mr. Puza has a long history of problematic alcohol use” and “Mr. Puza is at high risk for return to active alcohol abuse.”
She states he “has entrenched maladaptive personality traits that include psychological rigidity, difficulty taking responsibility for his own behavior and trouble reflecting on his contributions to a conflict. He is prone to blame others for his difficulties, to trivialize his problematic actions and to sanitize his account of his behavior.”
She concludes “Mr. Puza is not currently fit for unrestricted duty as a police officer. It is unlikely, in my view, that he can be restored to fitness, even with specialized treatment, given his severe and problematic personality factors.”
After the commission’s examination of the relevant reports and testimony the report, written by Commissioner Cynthia Ittleman, found that “Time and again, the Appellant disregarded his duties and appropriate conduct as a police officer.”
It further states “the Appellant is not able to conduct himself pursuant to Department rules and regulations at all times and does not uphold the higher standard to which police are held.”
The commission thus denied Puza’s appeal saying “Therefore, the Respondent has proved, by a preponderance of evidence, that the Appellant is unfit to perform the function of a police officer, providing it just cause to terminate the Appellant’s employment.”
The appeal process, which extended for about two years, had precluded the department from hiring a replacement but, at the most recent meeting of the Police Commission, a full time officer was appointed to fill the vacant slot on the police roster.
By Donita Naylor
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A suspended Woonsocket police officer found guilty in October of abusing his 9-year-old half-sister in 2012 was sentenced Monday in Superior Court to serve six months of a 10-year term.
Patrick Cahill, 25, was convicted in October by Judge Daniel A. Procaccini of one count of second-degree child abuse for using unnecessary force against his half-sister on Aug. 20, 2012, while she and her sister were in his care.
Procaccini said that after Cahill serves six months, he’ll be on probation for the remainder of the 10-year sentence. Cahill was ordered to have no contact with the victim, to undergo anger management and mental health counseling and to turn over any firearms, said Amy Kempe, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office.
The start of the sentence was stayed until Jan. 14, the court date for execution of the sentence or a hearing on bail pending appeal, Kempe said.
Cahill has been suspended without pay since his arrest on Aug. 21, 2012.
By Rachel Molenda, Staff writer
Tonight, Charleston City Council members will see the videos that got a Charleston police officer suspended, Mayor Danny Jones said.But members of the public won’t see the videos, which were allegedly taken from Lt. Shawn Williams’ personal computer. Instead, council members will view them behind closed doors.Sources have told the Gazette that the videos show Williams’ young daughter dressed in what appear to be articles of a police uniform and dancing to an anthem of the Ku Klux Klan.
Sources have also told the Gazette that Police Chief Brent Webster recommended that Williams be fired.Jones said he wants to show council members the videos because a council member is advocating on Williams’ behalf.“He’s got one strong advocate on council, who’s lobbying for him, and I think that they need to see exactly what’s going on,” Jones told the Gazette.Jones said there were seven short videos obtained by the police department.“Someday you’ll see those tapes, and they’re not very pretty,” the mayor said during a meeting last week between police officers and clergy about race and community relations.Williams was suspended pending an investigation by the department’s personal conduct division that was triggered by an internal complaint. Webster has not commented on the investigation because of personnel laws.Jones said Williams has made “some very serious allegations against the police department,” referring to a television interview Williams did in November with WCHS-TV.In the interview, asked if he thought the investigation was political, Williams answered, “Without a doubt.”“I was contacted back in the spring and summer by some City Council people that thought the department needed to go in a different direction,” Williams said.Williams also said Jones told his lawyer that he needed to listen to reason or Jones would release the tapes to a local news station.The suspended officer said the police department is likely using the investigation “as a tool that, ‘We’re not going to tolerate racism in the Charleston Police Department.’ Well, if you think that this is the first and only incident of racism in the Charleston Police Department, people, I guess ‘Stand by,’ ” Williams said.“If everybody on council rises up and supports Shawn Williams, that’s their business,” Jones said. “It’s a significant case and a significant issue, and he’s made some allegations against our police department that I don’t think are fair.”City Council meets at tonight at 7 in City Hall.Reach Rachel Molenda - See more at: http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20141215/GZ01/141219575/1101#sthash.DiOfzxOO.dpuf
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A police officer is caught on camera by a TV news camera person early Thanksgiving Day hitting a man with a baton.
Now, that officer is off the job and suspended without pay.
Night stick in hand, Officer Corey Krug walks down a Buffalo street early Thanksgiving morning confronting a man about to get into a fight.
Other officers rush over as Krug tells the man on the ground to get up. The video shows Krug striking the man on the ground with his baton several times.
Those other officers are telling Krug he is being recorded on camera.
A news photographer with 7 Eyewitness News was on scene and documented the altercation. He was following police officers on the job when he saw Krug hitting the man and then letting him walk away.
"They're telling this guy to walk away, so apparently, he did nothing," said Daire Irwin, an attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union.
He says in a situation like this, police officers would typically charge someone with a crime, but in this case, there was no arrest.
"I absolutely, categorically believe his civil rights were violated," Irwin said.
After 7 Eyewitness News showed the tape to Buffalo Police Commissioner Dan Derenda, Krug was suspended indefinitely without pay.
Derenda says he's reached out to both the FBI and the US Attorney's Office for a possible investigation into civil rights violations.
The police department is also doing its own investigation.
"I really can't comment on an internal investigation,” Derenda said. “What I will say is as it has shown, this administration takes inappropriate behavior very seriously and appropriate action was taken in each and every case."
7 Eyewitness News reports that Krug joins a list of at least 15 Buffalo police officers who have been charged, convicted or suspended since 2012.
The latest was Officer John Cirruli, who was convicted on civil rights violations after being caught on camera in April hitting and kicking John Willett.
Last year, Krug was named in a federal civil rights lawsuit from a 2010 arrest.
It's unclear where that case stands in federal court.
We've also discovered from a police source, Corey Krug is a relative of Officer Raymond Krug, who was charged with federal civil rights violations from a 2009 arrest.
"The vast majority of officers do the right thing each and every day,” Derenda said. “When officers don't do the right thing across the line, there's consequences, as we've shown in the past, we do what we have to do to take necessary action."
By Jeff Sturgeon firstname.lastname@example.org 981-3251
The city of Salem revealed Monday morning that a Salem police detective assigned to a federal drug task force was suspended without pay two months ago and is the subject of a federal investigation.
The reason for the investigation has not been made public.
Salem spokesman Mike Stevens said the officer, whom Stevens declined to name, was suspended without pay Oct. 10 in connection with an FBI probe.
Before the suspension, the officer had been assigned for the last five years to a local U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration task force. The officer worked in the task force’s Roanoke office, Stevens said.
Steven’s statement indicated that the case may be in a preliminary phase and hasn’t yet gone to court.
Stevens said the officer’s suspension would be subject to further review and revision “at the conclusion of this officer’s court proceedings.”
Salem Police Chief Tim Guthrie declined to comment, except to say the officer’s situation is a personnel matt
Even if I were not a political scientist who understood both the importance of what police officers do every day and the dangers they face in their job, I would have a very personal reason for appreciating their work. Years ago, police officers put their bodies on the line to protect my father, when he was a justice of the peace in upstate New York.
So like most Americans, I'm not inclined to criticize police officers who use force to protect themselves and others.
At the same time, the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner remind us that sometimes police officers use deadly force in questionable circumstances. And there is dramatic statistical evidence that institutional racism plays a role in who is killed by the police — black men die at disproportionate rates. But very rarely are police officers held accountable for what they do.
They should be.
We need a criminal trial
I reach that conclusion not because I know all the details of these three cases — but, rather, because I do not. None of us does, for the very simple reason that the evidence in these cases has not been brought forward and tested in public, by the process we believe best enables us to get the truth, a criminal trial. In the Brown and Garner deaths, a grand jury declined to indict the police officers involved. We are still waiting to see what happens in the Rice case.
I don't think police officers should be indicted in these cases because I think they are guilty. I don't know if they're guilty. An indictment is not a judgment of guilt. Someone indicted is still innocent until proven guilty in a trial. I think they should be indicted both so that justice is done in the individual cases and because it is critically important to hold the police accountable for their actions, both for the public that relies on the police, and for the overwhelming majority of police officers who do their job well and want the rest to be held to the same standard.
There are a number of ways to reduce unwarranted police shootings. It appears that new training programs in Philadelphia have reduced them dramatically. Such programs should be broadly adopted.
And putting video cameras on police officers is an idea that has merit as well — even if, as we saw in the Garner case, the meaning of a video is subject to dispute.
But neither training the police to do well nor watching what they do is enough. It's a settled principle of American Constitutionalism, and implicit in our practices — not just in politics but in business, medicine, education and other fields — that the best way to insure that people do the right thing to institute some form of oversight or check on their misbehavior.
The criminal justice system is the appropriate oversight when people are killed. It is for civilians. It should be for the police. But it is not today.
How can we make it effective? Here are five suggestions
1. Appoint special prosecutors to investigate police killings.
We have ample evidence that even the best district attorneys need to be concerned about protecting their relationship with the police, without whom they cannot do their jobs. They are thus very much disinclined to do what they usually do before a grand jury, which is to make a case for an indictment. So let's take them out of this difficult situation and let a specially appointed attorney investigate deaths at the hands of the police.
I would suggest that judges — say the president judge of Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia — be empowered to recruit a pool of lawyers with extensive experience to serve as special prosecutors and that they then be chosen at random to investigate particular cases as they arise.
2. Give special prosecutors adequate resources.
Special prosecutors need a guarantee that they will have the resources and tools needed to carry out a thorough investigation. Perhaps the state police should be empowered to take the place of local police forces.
3. Make the grand jury proceedings public.
All of these cases should come before a specially empaneled grand jury that holds its sessions in public. Private grand juries allow selected and unbalanced evidence to be leaked. Unlike most criminal cases, the names of the police officers under investigation are already public. So there is no reason to hold these sessions in private, except in the rare situation when this is the only way to secure testimony. Public sessions will enable the media and public to evaluate whether the DA is making a proper case.
4. Empower the families of the deceased.
Resources should be provided to the family of those killed by the police sothey can make some kind of legal pleading at the grand jury.
5. The public should pay for the proceedings.
The legal fees of those police officers investigated by the special prosecutor and brought to trial should be paid by the public. And while they should not be allowed to act as police officers during their trial, they should continue to be paid until it is over.
The point of these new procedures is not to create an investigation or trial biased against the police. That would be as unfair to the police and as dangerous to the public as the current situation. The point is to create the oversight that, along with better training and video recordings, can restore confidence in the police among a public that very much needs to work with law enforcement in order to keep our communities safe.
Marc Stier is a writer and political activist from Mt. Airy. He’s finishing a book titled “Civilization and Its Contents: Reflections on Sexuality and the Culture Wars."
By Ramsey Cox
The Senate passed a bill Wednesday to investigate the deaths of people being held under police custody.
H.R. 1447, the Death in Custody Reporting Act, would require states receiving some federal funds to report to the U.S. attorney general every quarter on whether any person arrested or detained died while in police custody.
The bill, which comes after several unarmed African-American men have been killed by local law enforcement, would also require the attorney general to study how it could reduce the number of deaths that occur under police custody.
The House passed the measure by voice vote last year. The Senate passed it through a unanimous consent agreement, meaning it now heads to President Obama’s desk for him to sign it into law.
New Yorkers talk about the Eric Garner case, other cases of police brutality, and how these divisive issues affect their sense of self and of citizenship.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Recent deaths at the hands of police have raised lots of anguished questions about where we are as a country on issues of race and police relations. We asked locals and tourists in New York City today what they're thinking and whether this changes how they think about the country.
CHRISTIAN PARKER: It doesn't really change my viewpoint on America at all. Like, this still the country that I live in. New York is still the city I live in. Like, I'm from here. I was born here, so it's not going to change my idea about America at all. But I know it does change other people's opinions. I know some people are like, oh, let's riot, let's do this, let's do that. But, in my opinion, there's no need for it.
ALYCE ANGLER: Yeah, I feel like we're definitely on the decline and not on the upwards of being united. I feel like we're on the decline of being - we're not a country anymore. We're islands living together on one continent.
LISA NORRIS: As far as what happened in - on Staten Island, I do believe the police officer probably took it a little out of hand. But I don't think you should look at the color of the people. You should look at the event and not so much if you're black or white or - I don't think that should matter.
ZOE CHACE, BYLINE: So when people say, oh, there's a pattern of shooting young black men in this country, you don't really buy that.
NORRIS: Maybe the black men shouldn't be in the situation that they get shot.
CARRIE GARCIA: I remember seeing separate water fountains for blacks and for whites when I was a child. And, well, we don't have separate water fountains. Maybe we have separate systems of justice.
RICO RODRIGUEZ: A lot of stuff happens in America. So it's like - it's not in my power to change it. I can't do it by myself alone. But I got to - it's got to be a whole society of people. And then there's another story for them to actually listen to us.
BLOCK: We heard there from Christian Parker (ph), Alyce Angler (ph), Lisa Norris (ph), Carrie Garcia (ph) and Rico Rodriguez (ph). They spoke in New York to NPR's Zoe Chace.