When is a routine traffic stop anything but routine? When it involves a camera and a state trooper who doesn’t like being recorded.
A New York state police officer recently threatened to have a motorist arrested after the driver video recorded the traffic stop. It is not against the law to record interactions with law enforcement unless it would “truly interfere with legitimate law enforcement operations.”
Police have no right to order that a person stop taking pictures or video in public places. In fact, courts have determined that it is an individual’s constitutional right under the First Amendment to record police activity, and while in most states a person has to consent before being recorded, it does not usually apply to law enforcement on duty.
John Houghtaling says he was stopped by a police officer named Rosenblatt for what the officer said was a tailpipe that was too loud, and when Rosenblatt saw him recording, he threatened him.
“How about if I see you post this on YouTube, I’ll find a way for the D.A.’s office to arrest you," Rosenblatt told Houghtaling.
When Houghtaling asked him if it is illegal to record police officers, Rosenblatt answered, “When I tell you to put the phone down and you disregard what I’m telling you, yes, it is,” a claim that is not true.
“Your exhaust [pipe] is extremely loud, that’s why you’re being stopped," Rosenblatt is heard asking. "Have you got an answer for that?”
Rosenblatt then demands to see Houghtaling’s license and registration. Houghtaling’s complies but continues to record.
The trooper asks, “What is your issue with always videotaping?” and Houghtaling replies, “Am I legally obligated to answer that?”
Rosenblatt replies, “You’re obligated because I asked, you, that’s why,” – another false claim – before returning to his patrol car.
by Thomas L. Scott
The New York police officer who was caught on camera punching a Black teenager who was already in police custody has been suspended while the New York Police Department Internal Affairs Bureau investigates the arrest.
“An individual that we have identified as a plainclothes anti-crime officer runs up and appears to strike the individual with a closed fist twice on the side of the body,” New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Monday. “That officer has been suspended pending the investigation going forward.”
The NYPD announced the suspension on Friday, but they didn’t reveal the name of the officer.
In New York City and around the country, people have been protesting for months against police brutality and racial profiling. The lack of trust between police and the communities they are supposed to protect has encouraged bystanders to gather their own proof and use video to attempt to hold police accountable. A police brutality witness in Staten Island used his cellphone to record NYPD officer, Daniel Pantaleo, putting Eric Garner, an unarmed Black man, in the chokehold that ultimately killed him. Despite the video evidence, Pantaleo wasn’t indicted by the grand jury.
The Black teenager who was assaulted by the officer was 16-year-old Denzel Funderburk, according to a CBS New York. He and two other teenagers, 16 and 17, were arrested on Dec. 15 because they were suspected of assaulting someone with a cane. The three teenagers were charged with gang assault. Funderburk was also charged with assault, obstruction, criminal possession of a weapon and other charges, according to CBS New York.
The charges were dropped before the video was released on the Wednesday following the arrest, New York Daily News reported.
The video of the arrest, which was posted on Dec. 17, showed the Black teenager pinned against the hood of a car by three officers as the plainclothes cop rushes in to deliver at least two body punches.
Police procedure expert and professor at John Jay College, Robert McRie, said that police officers who attack suspects that have already been subdued are subject to disciplinary action.
“There doesn’t seem to be any legitimate reason for it,” McRie told CBS. “He wasn’t moving at the time the blows were delivered and he was in no position to escape.”
By Stephen Young
Sunday morning, Dallas police officer David Kattner was arrested for allegedly using his authority to coerce a woman into having sex with him while he was in uniform. An arrest affidavit obtained by The Dallas Morning News says Kattner called a woman and told her to follow him to the 9700 block of Webb Chapel Road in North Dallas. Once there, he allegedly forced her to have oral sex with him in his marked police car. He kept one of his hands on his gun throughout the assault, the affidavit says.
Detectives in the area saw Kattner and the woman, according to police, and stopped the woman when she got out of the car. She told the detectives that the Sunday morning attack was the third time Kattner assaulted her. According to the News, the affidavit does not identify the alleged victim as a prostitute specifically, but says Kattner contacted "known female prostitutes" in order to force them to have sex with him while he was working a second job. The woman, police say, said Kattner showed her her outstanding warrants and threatened to harm the woman's daughter if the woman didn't do what Kattner wanted.
Kattner is the second Dallas cop in the last two years arrested for illegal activity with sex workers.
Jose Luis Bedoy, a former Dallas vice cop, resigned in 2013 after being arrested for trading police information for sex. When he was caught, he told the woman he gave information to that she should leave town and get rid of her cell phone. He was convicted of obstructing a federal grand jury investigation in October.
In 2010, rookie police officer Jeffrey Thorn was fired for allegedly forcing two prostitutes to have sex with him during the same shift so they could avoid arrest.
It's worth noting the Kattner was part of a group of five police officers who sued D Magazine for defamation after a 2007 article that accused them of issuing tickets to prostitutes and the homeless for offenses that didn't happen so the cops could later pick them up on the felony charge of not paying misdemeanor tickets. The cops lost the lawsuit.
Kattner has been placed on administrative leave pending the result of the investigation. He is assigned to the Northeast Patrol Division and is 26-year DPD veteran.
4 officers punished in YPD traffic stop incident
By WYTV Staff
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Monday, the Youngstown Police Department announced that three officers will be suspended and a fourth will lose pay in connection with a Nov. 28 traffic stop in which investigators allege that officers failed to file an OVI charge against the brother of a YPD lieutenant.
According to results of an internal investigation obtained by WKBN, Lieutenant John Kelty will be suspended for five days without pay and demoted to the rank of police officer for his role in the incident.
Officer Thomas Wisener and Lt. Gerard Slattery will be suspended for 15 and 10 days without pay, respectively, and officer Assad Chaibi will lose his pay for four hours of accumulated time.
According to police reports, Wisener pulled over Joseph Slattery, 54, the brother of Lt. Slattery, on the night of Nov. 28 along Mahoning Avenue for running a traffic light.
Wisener, who made the stop, said he found an open can of beer on the floor of the car. Slattery received citations for failing to obey the red light and having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle.
Documents included in the investigation results show that Joseph Slattery had a blood-alcohol content of 0.136% when tested that night. Ohio’s legal limit is .08%.
According to the investigation, Wisener said that he called Kelty, who told him to charge Joseph Slattery with have an open container of alcohol and running a red light. Wisener said he wrote a police report that was not completely true to match up with those charges.
The investigation found significant differences between the descriptions of the incident by Wisener and Kelty, each saying that the other was responsible for not filing the OVI charge. A polygraph test showed deception for Kelty’s responses when he was asked if he told Wisener not to charge Slattery and showed no deception on the part of Wisener when asked the same questions.
According to the investigation, Gerard Slattery expressed his displeasure with Wisener to Kelty after receiving a call from his brother about the possible OVI charge. Slattery also picked up his brother’s car without paying the towing fee, a violation of the YPD code of conduct, the report found.
Chaibi placed the test results for the blood alcohol content testing machine in a shred bin, according to the internal investigation report. The report also states that Kelty allowed Chaibi to do this, along with allowing Joseph Slattery’s car to be released to his brother and ordering the deletion of the tow report for the car.
YPD Lt. Brian Butler, who sent the report to YPD Chief Robin Lees, made five recommendations based on the results of the investigation:
• A camera should be installed in YPD’s BAC room
• Lt. Slattery should pay for the towing of his brother’s car.
• Towing companies that work with YPD should get a memo from the chief’s office stating that vehicles are only to be released after receiving a request in writing from an authorized representative from the police department.
• An administrating officer should keep and document all BAC test results, whether or not charges are filed.
• Joseph Slattery should be charged with OVI.
Federal authorities will probe Milwaukee officer-shooting; Oregon principal suspended after 3rd OWI arrest this month
MILWAUKEE -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Justice Department, and the Milwaukee U.S. Attorney's office will all investigate the Milwaukee police shooting of Dontre Hamilton.
The word came after District Attorney John Chisholm ruled Monday that criminal charges were not warranted against fired officer Cristopher Manney. The federal review was announced a few hours after Chisholm's decision was made public. It will determine whether Hamilton's civil rights were violated.
Manney is the white officer who shot the black Hamilton to death April 30 during a scuffle at Milwaukee's Red Arrow Park.
Chisholm said Manney's 14 shots were in self-defense, and it was not his role to second-guess whether the officer violated Milwaukee Police policies against frisking from behind, which got Manney fired in October.
He's at least the third white officer throughout the U.S. to avoid charges in the past month, after prosecutors in New York and Ferguson, Missouri ruled in similar cases.
A coalition of religious and civil rights' groups joined Hamilton's family in demanding the federal review. They also want a fresh review of other Milwaukee Police cases that involve excessive force.
Hundreds of protesters marched peacefully. Many attended a private gathering at a church Monday afternoon.
Media reports said there were no indications of the National Guard being present, after Gov. Scott Walker approved a deployment if necessary.
State Emergency Management officials said they've worked with other agencies for a response if needed. Protesters planned another rally at Red Arrow Park Tuesday evening.
By Todd Richmond,
MILWAUKEE — A white Milwaukee police officer who was fired after he fatally shot a mentally ill black man in April won't face criminal charges, the county's top prosecutor said Monday.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said Christopher Manney won't be charged because he shot Dontre Hamilton in self-defense. Manney is at least the third white police officer to avoid charges in the past month after a confrontation that led to a black man's death.
"Based on all the evidence and analysis presented in this report, I come to the conclusion that Officer Manney's use of force in this incident was justified self-defense and that defense cannot be reasonably overcome to establish a basis to charge Officer Manney with a crime," Chisholm said in a statement.
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The Hamilton family released a statement through their attorney expressing their disappointment with the decision, saying the case "cries out for justice, criminal charges against Christopher Manney, and accountability to Dontre Hamilton's family."
The family said it has asked the U.S. attorney in Milwaukee to seek a federal investigation.
Manney's attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, Chris Ahmuty, issued a statement saying the decision not to charge Manney left "a cloud of uncertainty over the circumstances of and the responsibility for Mr. Hamilton's death."
Manney shot 31-year-old Hamilton on April 30 after responding to a call for a welfare check on a man sleeping in a downtown park. Manney said Hamilton resisted when he tried to frisk him. The two exchanged punches before Hamilton got hold of Manney's baton and hit him on the neck, the former officer has said. Manney then opened fire, hitting Hamilton 14 times.
Several witnesses told police they saw Hamilton holding Manney's baton "in an aggressive posture" before Manney shot him, according to Chisholm's report. Police said they have no video of the event.
Chisholm consulted with two experts on the use of force by police officers who concluded Manney's conduct was justified. Emanuel Kapelsohn of the Peregrine Corporation said all the shots were discharged in 3 or 4 seconds and there was no evidence that Manney continued firing after Hamilton hit the ground.
Manney suffered minor injuries, including a bite to his right thumb, a neck strain and neck contusion, the report said. He was treated for post-concussion syndromes, a mild traumatic brain injury and had physical therapy for bicep and rotator cuff injuries, the report said.
Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Manney in October. He said at the time that Manney correctly identified Hamilton as mentally ill, but ignored department policy and treated him as a criminal by frisking him.
Hamilton's family said he suffered from schizophrenia and had recently stopped taking his medication.
At a news conference, Chisholm said his assessment covered only whether Manney was justified in using deadly force, not whether the initial stop was handled properly. He invited anyone to review the full investigative file. "They'll think we made a fair decision," he said.
The Milwaukee Police Association condemned Manney's firing as a political move, and members voted no confidence in Flynn soon after the firing. Manney has appealed his dismissal.
Hamilton's death preceded the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City, but the case hasn't attracted as much attention. Hamilton's family has led mainly peaceful protests, trying to raise awareness about mental illness. Other protesters said his death underlined race concerns.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has said he will call up the National Guard if there is any violent reaction to the prosecutor's decision. Police arrested 74 protesters Friday who blocked rush hour traffic on Interstate 43. On Monday, the state Department of Military Affairs activated its emergency operations center to monitor the situation in Milwaukee and coordinate activities between any affected state agencies.
"Threaten me or my family and I will use my God given and law appointed right and duty to kill you."
Suspended San Jose Cop: "Threaten me or my family and I will use my God given and law appointed right and duty to kill you."
There are a host of issues that have to be addressed to effect effective police reform: overcriminalization, lack of transparency and accountability, union-negotiated protections, racism, and so on. In some states there's also the issue of self-defense. As a life-long resident of New Jersey, it always made me uncomfortable that the local super market could hire someone licensed to carry a firearm to protect their store but I was not permitted a license to carry a firearm to protect myself or my family. These, I suppose, are progressive values: you can exercise a right when you have the wealth to influence the state. New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. But these laws, in New Jersey and elsewhere, rarely apply to law enforcement, on or off-duty. New York state recently passed new anti-gun legislation they forgot to exempt all police from and worked diligently to correct their mistake.
This disparity between the right to bear arms for the "civilian" and the right to bear arms for government agents is another issue that makes the questions of police reform so "complex" because it contributes to the sense that police officers and other government employees are a different class of citizen, with different rights and privileges, than those of us who pay their salaries.
Take this not unique attitude a cop in San Jose, now suspended over his comments, had no fear sharing publicly. Via CBS News:
In one of his tweets, [Officer Phillip] White said: "Threaten me or my family and I will use my God given and law appointed right and duty to kill you. #CopsLivesMatter."
In another, he said he would be off-duty at the movies with his gun if anyone "feels they can't breathe or their lives matter."
The tweets and hashtag played on protest slogans "I can't breathe" and "black lives matter."
Efforts to reach White through the San Jose Police Officer's Association were not successful.
The tweets and White's Twitter account have been deleted amid a social media firestorm over the comments. White's department, union and a college where he coached basketball all condemned the comments.
White was suspended with pay and not fired, not just because of the police officer's association but because California actually has enshrined job security for cops and other public employees into its state laws, be they unionized or not.
White talks about his "God given" and "law appointed" right to use lethal force in self-defense, confusing natural rights with government privileges not just because he's probably not that intelligent but also because of the systematic effort in this country by the establishment to confuse rights and privileges while curtailing natural rights like the right to bear arms from self-defense as much as they can get away with.
In California, Phillip White, who saw nothing wrong with going on social media to announce his right to defend himself and his family using lethal force in the context of peaceful protesters, and other law enforcement officials across the state enjoy the right to defend themselves and their families, on or off duty, using a service weapon paid for by taxpayers who the state treats like criminals when it comes to exercising the right to self-defense.
Parity between the rights and privileges of citizens and the rights and privileges of government employees is a crucial first step toward any kind of substantive change in the attitudes held by too many cops.
Police accidentally shoot suspect
Rebecca S. Green The Journal Gazette
Michael R. Houston has had a lot of run-ins with law enforcement.
And early Monday morning, he was arrested again. But this time, he found himself at a hospital with a minor gunshot wound to his thigh as the result of an accidental firearm discharge by one of the men sent to take him into custody.
According to a press release from the Fort Wayne Police Department, members of the FWPD’s vice and narcotics squad, as well as members of the Emergency Services Team, went to a home in the 300 block of East Branning Avenue at 6:40 a.m. Monday.
They were there to arrest Houston, this time on four charges of dealing cocaine or heroin and three additional charges of dealing cocaine. As they were taking him into custody, an officer’s weapon fired accidentally, striking Houston in the thigh, according to the press release.
Officers gave him immediate assistance and rushed him to a hospital, where he was treated and released.
Houston remains in the Allen County Jail on the aforementioned charges.
The unnamed officer who accidentally shot Houston has been put on paid administrative leave, as is department protocol.
by Caroline Connolly
SALT LAKE CITY — A dog was shot and killed by Salt Lake City police in June of this year, and now the dog’s owner says he is suing the police department for $1.5 million in damages.
Sean Kendall said police violated his Fourth Amendment rights when an officer entered his backyard and had a fatal encounter with Kendall’s dog, Geist. The dog was shot by the officer, who said he felt threatened by the animal.
“Geist was my best friend for two and a half years,” Kendall said.
Police said in the past they believe they were justified in entering the yard, as they were searching for a 3-year-old child with disabilities who had been reported missing. That child was later located inside the child’s home. Kendall said the search was poorly executed and led to a violation of his rights as well as in Geist’s death.
Kendall had previously been offered a settlement in the case, which he declined as he said he wanted to focus on lobbying for change in the way officers are trained in encounters with animals. He has been active in numerous protests regarding the way police respond to animals.
Salt Lake City Police Department officials declined to speak regarding the pending litigation.
FOX 13 News’ Caroline Connolly has more on this story, see the video above for her report.
by German Lopez
Adam Arroyo was at work on June 3, 2013, when he heard the news. "Adam, I'm sorry," he recalled his landlord telling him. "They killed your dog."
Arroyo's landlord wasn't talking about burglars. "They" were the Buffalo, New York, police, and they had barged into his apartment, torn through his belongings, and killed Cindy, his two-year-old pit bull, during a botched raid.
When he got home, he said, "it looked like a tornado hit. My dog was missing, and there were bullet holes and blood all over the walls."
Police later said that Cindy had been "aggressive." But Arroyo, a 30-year-old Iraq war veteran, insists the dog was chained when he left for work that day. It also turned out that police may have hit the wrong apartment — Arroyo believes they were targeting a neighbor who allegedly sold illicit drugs.
"That dog, everywhere I went, she wanted to go with me. Those police, they don't know what they did."
Arroyo and Cindy are not alone. The Buffalo Police Department shot 92 dogs between January 2011 and September 2014, 73 of which died from their wounds, according to a recent story from local news station WGRZ. Twenty-six of those shootings were the work of one officer — and nearly all of those dogs died. For many critics, including Arroyo, these shootings are a symptom of a larger problem in law enforcement.
"These police officers think they're above the law," he said.
Since the summer, a national discussion about the way officers use force on the job and whom they use it against has dominated the news, sparked by the killing of several unarmed black men by police — long a deep concern among civil rights activists. The deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in Staten Island, and, most recently, 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, at the hands of local police have sparked a roiling, emotional debate about the latitude police are given to take lives, even when it is later discovered that a situation did not warrant it. Police officers say this latitude is essential for their safety and the ability to perform their jobs effectively.
This human toll is the primary concern in protesting a system that gives law enforcement what many believe is too much freedom to take lives and property. But for years, one of the ways this multilayered story has played out is in the killing of dogs by police.
Police kill an untold number of dogs a year
It's hard to know how many dogs are shot by police — we don't even have a firm idea of how many people are shot by police. But it's not just Buffalo. According to a 2011 report presented to the US Department of Justice, a majority of shootings in most of the surveyed police departments involve animals, particularly dogs. And based on media reports, hundreds of dogs are shot by police each year.
Police in Milwaukee killed roughly 48 dogs per year between 2000 and 2008, according to the Associated Press. Officers in southwest Florida shot 111 dogs between 2009 and 2012, the News-Press found. In metro Atlanta, according to a WSB-TV investigation, police were responsible for the deaths of nearly 100 dogs from 2010 to 2012. And Chicago police killed approximately 90 dogs per year between 2008 and 2013, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The Washington Post's Radley Balko has written extensively about police-involved dog shootings — including dogs that are leashed and unleashed, puppies and seniors, and big and small, with breeds ranging from chihuahuas to Labradors. The topic has a blog, Facebook page, and subreddit dedicated to it. Reports from advocates or people who lost their dogs at the hands of police flow into these repositories on a daily basis. Here are a few examples:
According to an email sent to the blog Dogs that Cops Killed, Megan Hood's dog, Blossom, was killed by police in Jonesboro, Texas. But Hood said she wasn't told about the police shooting until later, after a private investigator contacted her. Instead, she said, the city government initially told her that her dog had been hit by a car and that the Texas Department of Transportation had incinerated the body.
Sean Kendall got a call one day that Salt Lake City police had entered his yard and killed his Weimaraner, Geist. Police officers said they were investigating a missing child report and the dog acted aggressively, but Kendall said officers could have backed out of the yard and closed the gate to protect themselves.
In one case caught on a body camera, a police officer in north Texas called a dog over to him and then shot it multiple times. The officer claimed the dog showed signs of aggression, but that is not visible in the available footage.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputies on December 5 shot and killed a family's pregnant pit bull, even though they went through a gate with a "beware of dog" sign, reported CBS Los Angeles. The dog's owner said the dog never attacked the deputies and that the deputies either hit the wrong home or were responding to a prank call.
Arroyo, now a manager at a cleaning company and member of the National Guard, said he still mourns Cindy. He moved out of his previous apartment, which was stained with bad memories and Cindy's blood, and currently lives with his uncle. He feels like no one is being held accountable for the shooting.
For Arroyo, Cindy's friendship was a way to cope with his loneliness after serving in Iraq. Arroyo bought Cindy from someone who intended to put her in dog fights. His initial goal was to save Cindy, but he quickly fell in love with the dog.
"I feel like I rescued her," Arroyo said. "But at the same time, she rescued me."
Buffalo Police officials didn't respond to multiple inquiries about an internal investigation into Arroyo's case. They previously refused to provide an update to WGRZ.
In an interview with WGRZ, Buffalo Police Chief of Detectives Dennis Richards said the dog shootings made up a small fraction of the thousands of calls Buffalo Police officers respond to each year.
"Officers generally shoot to live. We don't shoot to kill," Richards said. "It goes to the officer's safety and the safety of other people."
When can police shoot dogs?
Cynthia Bathurst, co-founder and director of animal advocacy group Safe Humane Chicago, said there's not a noticeable pattern in these dog killings. She said she's heard of it happening in domestic dispute cases, SWAT raids, and even traffic stops in which a dog is in the car.
Almost all of these shootings were later found to be justified. But animal activists believe that part of the issue is that cops are allowed, under the law and department policy, to use deadly force too easily. If an officer merely thinks a dog is going to bite or attack him, he's allowed to shoot — even if a dog doesn't pose a threat to the life of the officer or others. And since dogs are considered property under most state laws, the legal standards of probable cause and objectively reasonable belief that apply to human shootings don't apply to dogs and other pets.
Based on media reports, hundreds of dogs are shot by police each year
Even an unjustified shooting likely won't land a police officer in jail or prison. But dog owners can and do resort to civil lawsuits to claim damages for shootings, under the argument that killing a dog unlawfully is akin to illegally seizing or destroying property. There have been reports of proposed settlements as high as $10,000 in Salt Lake City; $30,000 in Riverside, California; and even $225,000 in Minneapolis, in a case that involved two dead dogs.
Arroyo is now pursuing a federal lawsuit against the city of Buffalo for the raid and his dog's death. He said the city offered him $1,000, which he decided wasn't enough. But he also insisted the lawsuit has nothing to do with money. His concern is holding the city and police accountable for their mistake, he said, and the only way to do that may be to force a big payout.
"To me, it's not about the money," Arroyo said. "I'm not the only person going through this."
Advocates want better police training and standards
The Buffalo Police Department doesn't train for encounters with dogs, WGRZ reported. Just two states — Colorado and Illinois — require such training, said Bathurst, although police departments in other states might do so voluntarily or under local laws. The hope for reformers is to get more cities, states, and police departments to adopt similar standards.
Arroyo said he believes it's only a matter of time until things change. "This is going to break," he said. "There's too many incidents for nothing to happen."
One barrier to change, Bathurst said, is that police overestimate the threat posed by dogs. The number of reported dog bites has decreased by as much as 75 to 90 percent, depending on the city, since the 1970s, according to data compiled by the National Canine Research Council (NCRC). And dog bite fatalities are extremely rare, resulting in 32 deaths in 2011, NCRC reported.
"We don't want to understate the importance of decreasing this number [of fatal dog bites]," Bathurst said. "But they are, in general, minor."
The National Canine Research Council and Safe Humane Chicago developed a series of videos that educates police officers on how to read different breeds' body language, ways to get out of a situation without resorting to force, and tools — such as Tasers, batons, fire extinguishers, and chemical sprays — that can be used to stop a dog without shooting.
At the very least, animal proponents say police departments should begin better tracking their encounters with dogs. Currently, federal and state data is spotty and scant on police-involved dog shootings.
Dog shootings further distrust between communities and police
"When [these shootings] occur, they get more and more attention, and there's more and more concern in the community," said NCRC spokesperson Janis Bradley. "It leads to dog owners mistrusting the police, which is bad for everybody — it's bad for the police, bad for the community, and, of course, bad for the dog."
Police officers are found to be legally justified almost every time they kill a dog, according to police shooting watchers and various media reports on dog shootings.
But a legal argument does nothing to repair community mistrust when police actions make people feel that the law is either not on their side or only on the side of a chosen few. Police are also found to be legally justified nearly every time they kill a person, and yet the Pew Research Center found that about 61 percent of all Americans — and 93 percent of black Americans — score police "only fair" or "poor" on "using the right amount of force for each situation."
For Arroyo, there is little police could do to give him back what he lost.
"She was my best friend. That dog, everywhere I went, she wanted to go with me. It breaks my heart," Arroyo said. "Those police, they don't know what they did."
By Greg Groogan,
MISSOURI CITY, Texas (FOX 26) - He violated not a single law but got grenaded, shot, stunned, beaten, jailed and unjustly prosecuted for offenses that could have left him a felon.
The botched and unwarranted 2011 SWAT team raid in Missouri City left Chad Chadwick financially devastated from legal expenses and living with both post-traumatic stress and permanent hearing damage.
"It just sickens me that these people can do what they are doing day after day and they have no remorse," said Chadwick. "They don't care. They use their shield to say we're here to protect you, but we may destroy your life in the process."
"It's beyond race now," said community activist Quanell X, who is helping Chadwick share his story with the media. "Police misconduct is about power, the abuse of power,"
But lingering outrage is where the quest for accountability often stops.
FOX 26 legal analyst Chris Tritico says Texas residents who suffer the consequences of misconduct by law enforcement officers and overzealous prosecution have little or no recourse because state lawmakers in Austin have granted blanket protection to both.
"Municipalities and their employees are immune from action in state civil court for most things that we would file against private individuals," said Tritico.
And prospects for justice get little better at the federal courthouse where Tritico says those who claim violation of their civil rights by police and prosecutors have to meet a very difficult burden.
"Unfortunately, where we live in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the law is that you have to prove it's the policy pattern and practice of the entire municipality to violate someone's civil rights, not just that this officer violated your civil rights," explained Tritico. "It's an almost impossible standard."
It is a threshold a U.S. District Court Judge in Houston says Chad Chadwick's case does not reach.
Chadwick has filed an appeal.
"All I really cared about was what my kids thought of me," said Chadwick.
"If you are investigating a possible suicide, there is no need to blow up two compression grenades and beat the living crud out of someone,"said Tritico. "That's where this fell off the map,"
A demonstration is scheduled on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Missouri City Police Department in support of Chad Chadwick and against misconduct by law enforcement officers.
Why the Federal Government (Probably) Can’t Impose Oversight on Local Investigations of Police Misconduct
After grand juries opted not to indict police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, calls increased among activists and some members of Congress to require special prosecutors — not local district attorneys — to investigate cases of police using deadly force.
Such requirements could be difficult, but not impossible, to push from the federal level, according to a Congressional Research Service legal analysis.
Demonstrators march in New York, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, during the Justice for All rally and march. In the past three weeks, grand juries have decided not to indict officers in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York and the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The decisions have unleashed demonstrations and questions about police conduct and whether local prosecutors are the best choice for investigating police.
Demonstrators march in New York, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, during the Justice for All rally and march. Grand jury decisions not to indict police officers in the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown have unleashed demonstrations and questions about police conduct and whether local prosecutors are the best choice for investigating police. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Proponents of such a federal law contend that the symbiotic relationship between prosecutors and the police they work with in fighting crime creates a conflict of interest when a police officer is suspected of misconduct.
“In the twin cases United States v. Morrison and United States v. Lopez, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that local crime had a sufficiently substantial effect on interstate commerce to bring it within the scope of Congress’s Commerce Clause authority,” the CRS analysis said. “It would appear that a similar argument that police shootings substantially affect interstate commerce would be equally unavailing.”
The Morrison case from 2000 found that some provisions of the Violence Against Women Act were unconstitutional because Congress exceeded its power under the Commerce Clause. The 1995 Lopez decision was a gun case in which the high court similarly determined Congress misapplied the Commerce Clause.
Christopher Adkins, a criminal defense attorney in Huntersville, North Carolina, said it’s rare that special prosecutors are ever used. He admits as a former Charlotte police officer for seven years, he’s conflicted because he wants what’s best for the officer, even though he thinks the relationship with police and prosecutors is too close.
“Whenever there is a prosecution of police, there most certainly is a conflict of interest,” Adkins told TheBlaze. “These folks work together every single day and develop a relationship. A lot of time things are either swept under the rug or it’s a small penalty. States do whatever they can do to avoid prosecuting police.”
Special prosecutors have been used at the state and local level for some time, well before the term became better known for national cases during Watergate.
“Historically, special prosecutors have been appointed to try criminal cases in two instances: first, when the case poses a conflict of interest or some other disqualification for the prosecuting attorney (such as when he himself is a criminal defendant), and, two, to handle political or controversial prosecutions that government officials fear will not be prosecuted absent a special counsel,” the CRS report said.
A petition by the liberal group MoveOn.org gathered more than 117,000 signatures that called for a special prosecutor in the Ferguson, Missouri, case of Michael Brown.
Potentially, the most likely way for Congress to intervene in a local investigation would be the use of the purse strings, the CRS said.
“Congress might rely on the Spending Clause to condition the acceptance of federal law enforcement grants upon the states’ adoption of special prosecutor laws,” the analysis said. “This route might alleviate concerns that Congress is interfering with the states’ criminal justice processes as the states can choose whether to adopt the proposed changes.”
The proposed Grand Jury Reform Act, sponsored by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) would make federal law enforcements funds contingent on the appointment of a special prosecutor to conduct a probable cause hearing if there is a police misconduct case that led to someone’s death.
The bill would essentially use federal funds to nationalize the various state laws that already exist regarding special prosecutor laws.
The state of New York allows the governor to appoint a special prosecutor in such a case. Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has called for Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo to name a special prosecutor to reexamine the Garner case, who was killed following a confrontation in Staten Island with a New York City police officer.
Missouri, where Brown was shot, permits the appointment of a special prosecutor by the court presiding over the case. Several other states allow a court to appoint a special prosecutor.
Connecticut is the only state that automatically requires the appointment of a special prosecutor after someone dies as a result of police using deadly force, according to the CRS analysis. In California, the grand jury has the ability itself to appoint a special prosecutor.
One other unlikely avenue for Congress to intervene is through Section Five of the Fourteenth Amendment, which allows the federal government to remedy constitutional violations. The section says, “The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”
“Under this theory, Congress must identify a pattern of constitutional violations by state actors, but it is far from clear whether the unconstitutional use of deadly force has been pervasive enough to trigger Congress’s Section 5 remedial power,” the CRS said.
By Elizabeth Donald
A veteran Edwardsville police officer faces multiple charges after he has been accused of burglarizing homes and businesses while on duty and in uniform.
Officer Brian Barker, 41, of Moro was initially charged with burglary, a Class 2 felony, and official misconduct, a Class 3 felony. He was accused of entering Reality Salon in Edwardsville on Sunday and stealing money from the register while on duty. Prosecutors since have added another 12 charges: 10 counts of burglary, targeting Edwardsville businesses since 2012; one count of residential burglary of a home in Moro, a Class 1 felony; and one count of aggravated possession of stolen firearms, a Class X felony.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said Barker was found in possession of seven stolen firearms, which had been stolen from individuals and from businesses. The businesses listed in the indictments include Edison’s Entertainment, multiple law offices, The Little Gym, Extreme Vapor, Edible Arrangements, Headstrong Hair, Afsanehs Alterations and Pedegos.
Once the salon reported the burglary and Edwardsville Police determined that the suspect was one of their own, Gibbons said, Chief Jay Keeven immediately turned it over to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department for an independent investigation.
Barker was being held on $175,000 bail but he has since posted bond, Gibbons said. Barker has been placed on administrative leave without pay.
Barker could not be reached for comment Friday. Gibbons said he is not sure whether Barker has hired an attorney.
Gibbons said the situation was “really awful.” He was not sure how long Barker has been a police officer, but believed it was at least 20 years.
“We put all this trust, faith and power in police officers, but with that comes gigantic stresses,” he said. “When they breach that trust, it’s so much worse ... The magnitude of this breach of public trust necessitates a very harsh penalty, and we will be seeking prison time.” The charges of residential burglary and possession of stolen firearms cannot carry probation, and the latter carries a minimum six-year sentence up to 30 years, Gibbons said. The burglary charges carry penalties ranging from probation up to 15 years.
It is only the latest in a series of problems at the Edwardsville Police Department. Last year, another 15-year veteran officer pleaded guilty to a felony count of unauthorized recording after he was caught videotaping women at a tanning salon with his department cellphone. He received a sentence of probation and lost his police pension. Earlier in 2013, former police chief James Bedell pleaded guilty to four counts of embezzlement and theft after he was caught stealing more than $138,000 from city towing fees to support his gambling habit. Bedell is currently serving a sentence of 18 months in federal prison.
Gibbons said that Edwardsville Police, the sheriff’s department and Mayor Hal Patton had been fully cooperative. “The moment they got notice of this, they’ve been all over it,” Gibbons said. “They did everything they could possibly do under these bizarre circumstances ... It’s really sad to see someone who’s supposed to be the good guy go wrong. But the measure of character of leadership is what they do when it happens. In this case, they absolutely did the right thing.”
Keeven said that police were contacted by Reality Salon on Sunday evening, and on Monday morning, he asked Sheriff John Lakin to take over the investigation. “It isn’t that I don’t have faith in my investigators, but for the public trust, it’s best to have an independent agency investigate your agency,” Keeven said. He said he had full faith that Lakin and Gibbons would conduct a “fair and thorough” investigation and prosecution.
Cynthia Van Patten, owner of Reality Salon and Spa located at 4 157 Center, said in prepared remarks that she called 911 after her security system detected motion in her business. She meet with a police sergeant at her salon and they discovered a burglary had occurred.
“I gave a statement to the sergeant and I’m fully cooperating with the investigation,” Van Patten said. “We are extremely disappointed that the person charged is a police officer but are pleased that the small business owners that were affected by this will now have resolution and justice.”
Keeven said the department was “blindsided” by the allegations. “We feel like we’ve been kicked in the gut,” he said. “It was a complete shock. I hate the fact that many officers are going to be suspect now, just for the fact that they’re a police officer. The victims are across the board: the families, the victims of the crimes, the police department, the community as a whole ... Nobody wins.”
“I understand that human beings are human beings and they are going to make mistakes and do bad things,” Keeven said. “But it’s very hurtful when our officers work so hard to build trust within our community, with all the things they do throughout the year ... Those things are forgotten when someone causes embarrassment to our department.”
Patton apologized to those impacted by the burglaries, and vowed that the city would fully cooperate with the investigation. “We want to emphatically state that our community has been, and will continue to be, a safe place to live and raise a family,” Patton said. “I have great confidence in the current leadership team of our police department and many of the officers known to me personally.”
Patton said an internal review will go forward to ensure integrity is restored and maintained within the department, and to encourage better communication between officers and administrators to identify individuals who may have personal issues requiring intervention or assistance. Both Patton and Keeven lauded the police officers who volunteered their time with the recent Shop With a Cop program for underprivileged children and worked with the Edwardsville NAACP to support local children. “Please stand by me in support of our officers who do so much good for all of us,” Patton said. “We would greatly appreciate the community’s support as we work through this difficult time.”
Keeven said he did not believe that Barker’s alleged actions reflected on the department. “The actions of one individual are not indicative of the service that we provide to this community on a daily basis,” he said. “Hopefully people can see that as it is: one person making bad decisions ... versus the good work that many of our officers do every day.”
Gibbons said investigators do not suspect any other person to be involved. “But they are digging hard because the chief wants to be sure,” Gibbons said. “Nobody is above the law.”
Posted by: Carlos Miller in Bad Cop, No Donut, Citizen Journalism, Court Settlements, PINAC News, PINAC News Top 3, Police Abuse, Recording the Police, The Blue Line December 26, 2014 47 Comments
A Florida man who was arrested last year for video recording Orlando police making an arrest received a $15,000 settlement this month.
His lawyers, however, might end up making three times that much for working his case.
And the cop who arrested him, seizing his phone as “evidence” as well as seizing another bystanders’s phone remains on the job as if nothing had happened.
The only difference is that Orlando police officer Peter Delio is now expected to follow a new departmental policy requiring officers to respect the rights of citizens to record them in public.
In other words, he is now mandated by the department to follow the law.
But Delio has a long history of complaints against him for being rude and abusive, so we shouldn’t expect him to change his ways.
At least Alberto Troche is $15,000 richer after having spent 15 hours in jail and having to wait three weeks for them to return his phone last December.
According to the Orlando Sentinel:
Troche and the city agreed to a $15,000 settlement several weeks ago, according to federal court records.
Now, his lawyers have asked a U.S. magistrate to make the city pay another $44,000 for the hours they worked on the case.
The Orlando Police Department has also changed its policies on how to handle people who video-record them in action, said Troche’s attorney, J Marc Jones.
Officers may not order members of the public to stop video-recording them or arrest or try to stop them, so long as they are in a public place, have not crossed a police line and are not interfering, according to a policy directive signed by Police Chief John Mina two months after Troche filed suit.
Officers also may not demand that a person recording them identify themselves, may not demand to know why they are making the recording and may not intentionally block or obstruct their camera, according to the directive.
“A bystander has the right under the First Amendment to observe and record … (police officers) in public discharge their duties,” the directive says.