Several Fairfax County Police officers out for evening for a "date night with the misses" mistook a board of supervisors meeting for movie theater that was said to be featuring "Broke Back Mountain"
"It was like a really like bad movie because all it was, was like guys talking, so like, we just made out instead"
In other news, the community and members of the Fairfax County Police attended a public forum to discuss police transparency in Fairfax County.
It’s not about transparency, it’s about hiring low brow, sub-par people as police officers.
It’s that simple.
Don’t force these clown to be transparent, force them to hire a higher grade of human being.
It’s that simple.
Fairfax County: Supervisors Approve Independent Police Auditor
Unanimous vote follows Ad Hoc Commission recommendations for more transparency and oversight of Fairfax County police.
Recent data released by Chief Roessler shows that 40 percent of Fairfax County Police use of force incidents involved African Americans while only 8 percent of county residents are African American. Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) offered this as an example of broader policy issues that the auditor could study.
By Tim Peterson
Supervisor Pat Herrity (center, R-Springfieldt) expressed concern that an independent auditor position would increase the police department’s administrative workload. He proposed funding two additional positions in FCPD’s internal affairs bureau immediately, but those positions will wait until 2018.
With a unanimous vote on Tuesday, Sept. 20, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the creation of an independent police auditor office, following recommendations from the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission.
Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock), chairman of the board’s Public Safety Committee, said the proposal for auditor was true to the essence and “basic philosophical approach” of the commission in calling for an impartial civilian who would review police investigations as they’re occurring and report directly to the Board of Supervisors.
“The auditor would be involved in monitoring and making recommendations in the course of the police investigations, a lot more efficient than waiting until the end,” Cook said. “Police would receive real time comment back from the auditor’s office to help strengthen those investigations.”
Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova established the 32-member commission following public outcry over the August 2013 death of John Geer, 46. Geer was unarmed and standing in the doorway of his Springfield home when he was shot and killed by FCPD officer Adam Torres. The police and county refused to release information on the case for more than a year, and then after court orders.
Torres, who was fired in July 2015 and indicted by a grand jury for murder in August 2015, was the first Fairfax County Police officer in the history of the department to be charged in such a death. Torres entered a guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter, received credit for time served for his 12 month sentence and was released in June.
THE AD HOC COMMISSION and its five subcommittees met intensively beginning in March 2015, reporting to the Board of Supervisors in October, 2015, with 142 recommendations, including the recommendations to establish the Office of Independent Auditor.
“This has not been easy, that is an understatement,” Bulova said. “It’s the first time we’ve established a position such as this.”
It is the first independent, civilian oversight of the Fairfax County Police.
The scope of the independent auditor’s work will include reviewing all cases in which police use of force result in serious injury or death, Cook said. The auditor would also review any citizen complaint about police use of force even if it does not involve serious injury or death.
Cook said the auditor would issue an annual report, and that the auditor would also be available to engage in policy and practice analysis regarding use of force, as suggested by the Board of Supervisors, County Executive or Chief of Police.
For example, the auditor could study and make recommendations concerning recent data released by Chief Edwin Roessler about demographics of police use of force, Cook said. There were 539 use-of-force incidents in 2015 and data show that 40 percent of those incidents involved African Americans while only 8 percent of county residents are African American.
Cook also pointed out that, unlike an ordinance or land use case, the board may make changes to the independent auditor position in the future.
“If we pass this,” he said, “It would not be shocking at all that auditor could come back and recommend we look at a few adjustments” in the future.”
Commission member and Use of Force subcommittee chair Phil Niedzielski-Eichner called today’s action “a remarkable achievement for the commission’s work.” He acknowledged the vision of the auditor was for a position that would be independent, but not separate, from the police work.
“This gives the public a real feeling of comfort,” said Randy Sayles of Oak Hill, a member of Use of Force subcommittee, looking forward to use of force investigations with the auditor on board, “of the integrity and transparency of the process.”
Commission member Adrian Steel of McLean called the unanimous vote “quite affirming.” He also appreciated the auditor being able to be involved in identifying trends and reviewing policy, again getting back to the disproportionate percentage of African Americans impacted by use of force incidents.
“The whole thought was for the auditor to become involved in picking up these types of things,” he said.
Reston resident John Lovaas, an alternate on the commission for Nicholas Beltrante with the Virginia Citizens Coalition for Police Accountability, said he wasn’t happy with the way he believed the supervisors deviated from the commission’s version of the position.
“They eviscerated the independence of the independent auditor,” Lovaas said, citing the auditor’s dependence on cooperation from the police.
Other commission recommendations that have already been approved include the establishment of the Diversion First program providing treatment rather than jail for people in mental health crisis and more transparency in police communications.
THE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE will discuss the creation of a Civilian Review Panel, a complementary oversight entity to the auditor as proposed by the Ad Hoc Commission, at its next meeting, scheduled for Oct. 25 at 1 p.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center.
Bonnie Kristian, Rare Contributor
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A black police officer shot an armed black man at an apartment complex Tuesday, authorities said, prompting angry street protests late into the night and well into the early morning hours.
The man’s family disputes the police account, reports CBS Charlotte affiliate WBTV.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department tweeted that demonstrators were destroying marked police vehicles and that approximately 12 officers had been injured, including one who was hit in the face with a rock. WBTV said 7 officers and a civilian were brought to an area hospital.
Water bottles were also thrown. Television coverage showed police firing tear gas to break up the crowd. Arrests were kept to a minimum, the station said.
Early Wednesday, protesters made their way to Interstate 85 and began throwing rocks at passing traffic, prompting police to close the highway. WBTV tweeted:
WBTV tweeted that police formed a line enabling traffic to get by, the road re-opened, and protesters moved to another location.
Then came word that a Walmart had been damaged by demonstrators.
“Gr8 work 1×9 Conditions team,” gloated a New York Police Department Twitter account this month. “Arrested a male for a gravity knife and vouchered 18,000 dollars cash for forfeiture.”
In English, that means the NYPD arrested a man for the dastardly crime of owning a small pocketknife—not stabbing or even threatening anyone with it, just owning it—and then stole $18,000 from him via civil asset forfeiture. As if to add insult to injury, the tweet included a photo showing the knife, the cash, and the arrestee’s car registration, with his name and address decipherable for the whole world to see.
Two things are going on here, one comparatively unique to New York City and one plaguing all of these United States.
The unique part is the gravity knife arrest. A true gravity knife is a very unusual weapon. Originally developed for German paratroopers to use during World War II, gravity knives have blades that fully retract into their handles. The name comes from the fact that it could be opened by a soldier one-handed. The blades were as much as a foot long—legitimately lethal stuff.
But NYC has a conveniently loose interpretation of its gravity knife ban. Basically, no one in New York, except perhaps a World War II buff, has a real gravity knife. But the NYPD considers just about any pocketknife a gravity knife.
This serves as a dishonest pretext for police to initiate confrontations with huge numbers of New Yorkers who aren’t bothering anyone and don’t believe they’re breaking any laws. It’s even illegal to possess these pocketknives in your own home, plus getting caught with one can mean years in prison. And perhaps unsurprisingly given NYC’s abysmal record on racial discrimination in stop-and-frisk encounters, the gravity knife ban disproportionately affects minorities’ right to self-defense.
So that was the pretext for the stop that led to this $18,000 confiscation. Thankfully, it isn’t likely to be duplicated outside of New York City—but the confiscation itself easily could be.
The money was taken under an increasingly notorious policy called civil asset forfeiture, an insidious and unconstitutional confiscation practice used by law enforcement at all levels of American government, from local police all the way up to the FBI.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but civil asset forfeiture infuriates me like nothing else.
It’s when police take your money or stuff on the grounds that they find you (or even just someone you know) suspicious. Once your property is confiscated, the burden of proof is on you, not the cops, to demonstrate that the confiscated cash doesn’t have criminal connections.
Because police don’t have to charge you or present any evidence of illegal activity, you have no constitutional protections. (The Sixth Amendment is interpreted to mean everyone has a right to an attorney in court, but since your money is the accused party, it doesn’t get Sixth Amendment rights.) In some jurisdictions, you actually have to pay a fee just to be able to contest the seizure, let alone to be certain your stuff will be returned.
So that $18,000 could have been confiscated almost anywhere in America, because civil asset forfeiture is legal in most states. It doesn’t matter that this man might have been carrying that cash for a totally innocent reason.
Maybe he was buying a car or some other big-ticket item off Craigslist. Maybe he owns acash-only restaurant or other business and was taking earnings to the bank. Maybe it was a deposit on a new home or other property.
Each of those is a real-life example of innocent reasons Americans were carrying large sums of cash that were essentially stolen by law enforcement. It’s hard to believe this could be legal in a country that prides itself on freedom and individual rights, yet it is.
But back to New York. It turns out NYC has seized so much money from New Yorkers that the NYPD can’t even count it all. Just attempting to collect all the data would crash the department’s computers, the NYPD said.
One unjust confiscation case is galling enough, but this is abuse of private property and individual liberty on a grand scale. It is past time for civil asset forfeiture to go, and New York is a great place to start.
(Photo: Melanie Stetson Freeman/'The Christian Science Monitor' via Getty Images)
SEP 18, 2016
Rebecca McCray is a staff writer covering social justice. She is based in New York.
Sometimes it seems there are almost as many suggestions for how to discourage police misconduct as there are new headlines describing violent encounters between police and civilians. Officer-worn body cameras, better data collection, decreasing police presence, and reducing the use of military-grade equipment are just a few ideas that have been floated or put into practice in the last several years as the names of victims—Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Walter Scott, and the latest, Tyre King—continue to flood in.
One unusual suggestion surfaced this year in Minneapolis, where a team of activists and community organizers tried—and failed—to mandate professional liability insurance for police officers. The campaign, which was organized by a group called the Committee for Professional Policing, argued that if individuals were required to pay out of pocket for the rising costs of premiums associated with their misconduct, police would be less likely to engage in bad behavior.
“We as [Minneapolis] taxpayers pay roughly $2.5 million per year for bad police misconduct,” the group’s founder, Michelle Gross, told TakePart. “We started thinking there has to be a better answer to this problem.”
The fatal shooting of Jamar Clark by a Minneapolis police officer in March drew the nation’s eyes to Minnesota and resulted in a Justice Department investigation. In June, the department announced that it would decline to bring civil rights charges against the two officers connected with Clark’s death. This was one of many disappointments that led Gross and her fellow activists to believe a creative, systemic approach was necessary to spark change.
After collecting 15,000 signatures for an initiative that would have put the police insurance amendment on the city’s ballot—they only needed 5,000—Gross felt optimistic. In July, City Attorney Susan Segal ruled the proposal would be illegal under state law. The group appealed to the state Supreme Court, which upheld Segal’s ruling in late August. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, the local union, was pleased with the court’s decision. “This was a harebrained idea to begin with,” he said in an interview with TakePart.
To Stop Police Brutality, Do We Need to Stop Policing?
“This widespread misconduct and corruption that they talk about doesn’t exist,” Kroll continued, saying that he believes Gross to be “mentally unstable.”
In spite of the initiative’s major setback, the concept appeals to police reform advocates around the country. Samuel Sinyangwe, a policy analyst who works with the anti–police violence group Campaign Zero, told TakePart that liability insurance could be “an important component of a broader systemic approach that…ensures department-wide accountability.”
Sinyangwe points out that some cities require misconduct settlements to come out ofpolice department budgets rather than the city’s coffers, which imposes a greater burden on police. The threat of financial liability on departments or individuals could discourage misconduct more acutely than broader reforms, some advocates argue.
“Officers aren’t on the financial hook right now,” said Seth Stoughton, a former Florida police officer turned professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law. “More than 98 percent of the time, a police union, department, or the city indemnifies litigation costs that fall on individual officers.”
Though Gross said her campaign consulted with insurance and legal experts when crafting the amendment, the court’s ruling emphasizes how challenging it may be to mandate individual liability insurance. Stoughton expressed concern that in practice, departments or city agencies might continue to pay the rising costs of premiums as part of an officer’s benefits package.
“I don’t know that it’s politically feasible anywhere to prohibit agencies or municipalities from paying those costs,” said Stoughton. Beyond political roadblocks, individual officers aren’t likely to have the kind of money that might be required in a court settlement, or even to shoulder premium costs. Still, Stoughton emphasized that this kind of “experimental” campaign is a valuable approach to addressing a long-standing problem in policing.
“This kind of out-of-the-box thinking is what needs to happen, because we have a number of systemic or structural issues that contribute to police problems,” he said.
Setbacks aside, Gross and her team are moving forward with their campaign outside Minneapolis. Because city charters vary greatly, they think they might have better luck pushing forward an amendment in St. Paul or Bloomington. Gross said she is also consulting with organizers in cities such as Las Vegas, Ferguson, Missouri, and Oakland, California, where she said liability insurance campaigns are being considered.
“People talk about bad cops and good cops,” said Gross. “This is about a bad system that validates bad policing and allows it to go on. This would provide better protection for those officers who do not engage in bad conduct.”
Updated by German Lopez @germanrlopez email@example.com Sep 21, 2016, 1:45p
Terence Crutcher, a black 40-year-old man, was unarmed. He appeared to be cooperating with police, with his hands up as they escorted him toward his car. Yet suddenly, in moments that were largely obstructed in the videos released by the Tulsa Police Department on Monday, an officer shot and killed Crutcher.
According to the local newspaper Tulsa World, police were responding to an unrelated call on Friday, September 16, when they spotted Crutcher’s stalled car. We don’t know what happened when police arrived at the scene. Instead, the videos begin as Crutcher is guided by officers, one of whom is aiming her gun at him, slowly to his car. He has his hands up during this time.
Police say that Crutcher then failed to follow orders — leading officer Betty Shelby to fire her weapon and officer Tyler Turnbough to use his Taser on Crutcher. By the looks of the videos, the Taser and gun were seemingly fired almost simultaneously.
RelatedWhy police so often see unarmed black men as threats
The videos — one a police dashboard camera on the ground, another on a helicopter in the air — are obstructed by officers and Crutcher’s car at the exact moment he was shot. That makes it hard to discern whether Crutcher had his hands up right as Shelby pulled the trigger.
But Crutcher had his hands up in the air until at least the seconds before he was shot, and he appears — although, again, it’s hard to say for sure — to put his hands on the roof of his car right before the officer fired.
Police found no gun on Crutcher or in his car.
Law enforcement reportedly found PCP in Crutcher's car. An attorney for Shelby told Tulsa World that she thought Crutcher was on drugs when she shot him. But that has no bearing on whether the shooting was legally justified — unless Crutcher acted in a dangerous or threatening manner before he was shot, which the video doesn't show.
A local investigation into the shooting is currently underway. The US Department of Justice also opened an independent investigation into the shooting.
The shooting has already inspired strong condemnations from the Black Lives Matter movement, with activist and New York Daily News columnist Shaun Kingcalling for the police officers involved to be arrested. The shooting exemplifies yet another example of the racial disparities in police use of force — showing that even when a black man holds his hands up, he can still be at risk of getting shot and killed by the police.
An analysis of the available FBI data by Vox’s Dara Lind shows that US police kill black people at disproportionate rates: They accounted for 31 percent of police killing victims in 2012, even though they made up just 13 percent of the US population. Although the data is incomplete, since it’s based on voluntary reports from police agencies around the country, it highlights the vast disparities in how police use force.
Black teens were 21 times as likely as white teens to be shot and killed by police between 2010 and 2012, according to a ProPublica analysis of the FBI data. ProPublica’s Ryan Gabrielson, Ryann Grochowski Jones, and Eric Sagara reported: "One way of appreciating that stark disparity, ProPublica’s analysis shows, is to calculate how many more whites over those three years would have had to have been killed for them to have been at equal risk. The number is jarring — 185, more than one per week."
There have been several high-profile police killings since 2014 involving black suspects. In Baltimore, six police officers were indicted for the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. In North Charleston, South Carolina, Michael Slager was charged with murder and fired from the police department after shooting Walter Scott, who was fleeing and unarmed at the time. In Ferguson, Darren Wilson killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. In New York City, NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo killed Eric Garner by putting the unarmed 43-year-old black man in a chokehold.
BLACK TEENS WERE 21 TIMES AS LIKELY AS WHITE TEENS TO BE SHOT AND KILLED BY POLICE BETWEEN 2010 AND 2012
One possible explanation for the racial disparities: Police tend to patrol high-crime neighborhoods, which are disproportionately black. That means they're going to be generally more likely to initiate a policing action, from traffic stops to more serious arrests, against a black person who lives in these areas. And all of these policing actions carry a chance, however small, to escalate into a violent confrontation.
That's not to say that higher crime rates in black communities explain the entire racial disparity in police shootings. A 2015 study by researcher Cody Ross found, "There is no relationship between county-level racial bias in police shootings and crime rates (even race-specific crime rates), meaning that the racial bias observed in police shootings in this data set is not explainable as a response to local-level crime rates." That suggests something else — such as, potentially, racial bias — is going on.
One reason to believe racial bias is a factor: Studies show that officers are quicker to shoot black suspects in video game simulations. Josh Correll, a University of Colorado Boulder psychology professor who conducted the research, said it’s possible the bias could lead to even more skewed outcomes in the field. "In the very situation in which [officers] most need their training," he said, "we have some reason to believe that their training will be most likely to fail them."
Part of the solution to potential bias is better training that helps cops acknowledge and deal with their potential subconscious prejudices. But critics also argue that more accountability could help deter future brutality or excessive use of force, since it would make it clear that there are consequences to the misuse and abuse of police powers. Yet right now, lax legal standards make it difficult to legally punish individual police officers for use of force, even when it might be excessive.
Police only have to reasonably perceive a threat to justify shooting
Legally, what most matters in police shootings is whether police officers reasonably believed that their lives were in immediate danger, not whether the shooting victim actually posed a threat. So in the Crutcher case, the question is whether the officers involved thought he reasonably posed an immediate threat to them or others — and what exactly Crutcher did to warrant that.
In the 1980s, a pair of Supreme Court decisions — Tennessee v. Garnerand Graham v. Connor — set up a framework for determining when deadly force by cops is reasonable.
Constitutionally, "police officers are allowed to shoot under two circumstances," David Klinger, a University of Missouri St. Louis professor who studies use of force, told Vox’s Lind. The first circumstance is "to protect their life or the life of another innocent party" — what departments call the "defense-of-life" standard. The second circumstance is to prevent a suspect from escaping, but only if the officer has probable cause to think the suspect poses a dangerous threat to others.
The logic behind the second circumstance, Klinger said, comes from a Supreme Court decision called Tennessee v. Garner. That case involved a pair of police officers who shot a 15-year-old boy as he fled from a burglary. (He’d stolen $10 and a purse from a house.) The court ruled that cops couldn’t shoot every felon who tried to escape. But, as Klinger said, "they basically say that the job of a cop is to protect people from violence, and if you’ve got a violent person who’s fleeing, you can shoot them to stop their flight."
THE KEY TO BOTH OF THE LEGAL STANDARDS IS THAT IT DOESN’T MATTER WHETHER THERE IS AN ACTUAL THREAT WHEN FORCE IS USED
The key to both of the legal standards — defense of life and fleeing a violent felony — is that it doesn’t matter whether there is an actual threat when force is used. Instead, what matters is the officer’s "objectively reasonable" belief that there is a threat.
That standard comes from the other Supreme Court case that guides use-of-force decisions: Graham v. Connor. This was a civil lawsuit brought by a man who’d survived his encounter with police officers, but who’d been treated roughly, had his face shoved into the hood of a car, and broken his foot — all while he was suffering a diabetic attack.
The court didn’t rule on whether the officers’ treatment of him had been justified, but it did say that the officers couldn’t justify their conduct just based on whether their intentions were good. They had to demonstrate that their actions were "objectively reasonable," given the circumstances and compared to what other police officers might do.
What’s "objectively reasonable" changes as the circumstances change. "One can’t just say, 'Because I could use deadly force 10 seconds ago, that means I can use deadly force again now," Walter Katz, a California attorney who specializes in oversight of law enforcement agencies, said.
In general, officers are given lot of legal latitude to use force without fear of punishment. The intention behind these legal standards is to give police officers leeway to make split-second decisions to protect themselves and bystanders. And although critics argue that these legal standards give law enforcement a license to kill innocent or unarmed people, police officers say they are essential to their safety.
For some critics, the question isn’t what’s legally justified but rather what’s preventable. "We have to get beyond what is legal and start focusing on what is preventable. Most are preventable," Ronald Davis, a former police chief who heads the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, told the Washington Post. Police "need to stop chasing down suspects, hopping fences, and landing on top of someone with a gun," he added. "When they do that, they have no choice but to shoot."
Police rarely get prosecuted for shootings
Police are very rarely prosecuted for shootings — and not just because the law allows them wide latitude to use force on the job. Sometimes the investigations fall onto the same police department the officer is from, which creates major conflicts of interest. Other times the only available evidence comes from eyewitnesses, who may not be as trustworthy in the public eye as a police officer.
"There is a tendency to believe an officer over a civilian, in terms of credibility," David Rudovsky, a civil rights lawyer who co-wrote Prosecuting Misconduct: Law and Litigation, told Amanda Taub for Vox. "And when an officer is on trial, reasonable doubt has a lot of bite. A prosecutor needs a very strong case before a jury will say that somebody who we generally trust to protect us has so seriously crossed the line as to be subject to a conviction."
If police are charged, they’re very rarely convicted. The National Police Misconduct Reporting Project analyzed 3,238 criminal cases against police officers from April 2009 through December 2010. They found that only 33 percent were convicted, and only 36 percent of officers who were convicted ended up serving prison sentences. Both of those are about half the rate at which members of the public are convicted or incarcerated.
The statistics suggest that it would be a truly rare situation if the officer who shot and killed Crutcher was convicted of a crime. But video could potentially make a difference — as it did for prosecutors who pressed charges over the police shootings of Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati, Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina, and Laquan McDonald in Chicago.
Say What Now? Police Officers Accidentally Record Themselves Making Up Criminal Charges Against Protester
September 19, 2016
It’s no secret that police officers fake charges when dealing with protesters, but now there’s hard evidence.
In a complaint filed U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut by the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, it’s alleged that that three state police troopers violated a protester’s rights byy searching and detaining him, confiscating his camera, and charging him with fabricated criminal infractions.
The whole incident was captured on video.
On behalf of Connecticut resident Michael Picard, the ACLU-CT alleges that John Barone, Patrick Torneo, and John Jacobi, all employed by the state police division of Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, violated Picard’s First Amendment rights to free speech and information and Fourth Amendment right against warrantless seizure of his property.
On September 11, 2015, Picard was protesting near a police DUI checkpoint in West Hartford. Barone approached him under the pretext of public complaints and confiscated Picard’s legally-carried pistol and pistol permit. Barone then claimed that filming the police is illegal, and took Picard’s camera. Unbeknownst to the troopers, the camera was recording when Barone brought it to Torneo’s cruiser. With the camera rolling, the officers proceeded to: call a Hartford police officer to see if he or she had any “grudges” against Picard; open an investigation of him in the police database; and discuss a separate protest that he had organized at the state capitol.
After Barone announced “we gotta cover our ass,” either Torneo or Jacobi stated “let’s give him something,” and the three settled on fabricating two criminal infraction tickets that they issued to Picard. Torneo drove away with Picard’s camera on top of his cruiser, upon which the camera fell onto the hood of the car, Torneo stopped, and Jacobi returned the camera to Picard. In July of this year, the criminal charges against Picard were dismissed in the Connecticut Superior Court.
“Police should be focused on public safety, not punishing protesters and those who film public employees working on a public street,” said ACLU-CT legal director Dan Barrett, who is representing Picard in the lawsuit. “As the video shows, these police officers were more concerned with thwarting Mr. Picard’s free speech and covering their tracks than upholding the law.”
“Community members like me have a right to film government officials doing their jobs in public, and we should be able to protest without fearing political retribution from law enforcement,” said Picard. “As an advocate for free speech, I’m deeply disappointed that these police officers ignored my rights, particularly because two of the troopers involved were supervisors who should be setting an example for others. By seeking to hold these three police officers accountable, I hope that I can prevent the same thing from happening to someone else.”
“The evidence clearly shows that these police officers violated Mr. Picard’s rights,” said attorney Joseph R. Sastre, who defended Picard against the criminal charges and is joining Barrett to represent Picard in the civil case. “We are confident that the court will agree, and we hope that it will send a strong message to police and the public alike that enforcing the law means respecting free speech, not trampling on it.”
....1,000 to one is an expression, please
DO NOT SEND THE FAIRFAX COUNTY SWAT TEAM HERE TO KILL ME FOR GAMBLING
DO NOT SEND THE FAIRFAX COUNTY SWAT TEAM HERE TO KILL ME FOR GAMBLING
FOX 5's Marina Marraco reports.
WASHINGTON - D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday that an officer involved in the deadly shooting of a motorcyclist on Sunday morning was wearing a body camera, but did not turn the camera on to record video footage until after the shooting took place.
D.C. police said Terrence Sterling of Fort Washington, Maryland was seen riding his bike erratically near 17th and U Streets in Adams Morgan at around 4:30 a.m. Sunday. About ten minutes later, Sterling wound up at 3rd and M Streets where he was shot and killed.
However, a witness to the shooting told FOX 5 about a different account of the incident. Kandace Simms said she had just picked up a friend and was sitting in the right-hand lane waiting at the traffic light at 3rd and M Streets.
"So I pulled up to the light and I was there by myself for some time and some cars were coming behind me, but then I saw a motorcycle come on the left of me and then the police car blocked the motorcycle, so they kind of came at the same exact time,” said Simms. “The motorcycle was trying to speed off and drive away, but he couldn't because he was kind of caught in between the sidewalk at the curb and the police car. So the police were trying to open the passenger side door and he couldn't because the motorcycle was right there, and I guess when he couldn't open the door, he rolled down his window and shot twice.”
Simms said her windows were rolled down and she heard no commands coming from the officer in the cruiser. She said she saw the motorcycle strike the cruiser once.
“It did, but that is because they blocked him,” she said. “The police car wasn't right there when I pulled up."
According to Simms, she believes the collision looked unavoidable.
On Sunday morning, D.C. Police Assistant Chief Peter Newsham gave this account to reporters.
"Officers found the vehicle over here at the intersection of 3rd and M Streets, Northwest, which is about a block north of New York Avenue,” he said. “They were able to stop the vehicle. The person who was riding the motorcycle attempted to flee and ended up striking the police car. At that point, shots were fired. The victim was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.”
According to a D.C. Fire and EMS radio broadcast FOX 5 has been able to hear, Sterling was shot in the neck.
At a Monday afternoon news conference, Mayor Bowser said she called the victim’s family to offer her condolences and revealed only the aftermath of the shooting was captured on a police body camera.
"Our preliminary review does not show any camera footage prior to the shooting incident,” Bowser said.
Officers wearing body cameras are under strict orders to turn them on as soon as they begin an encounter with a member of the public.
D.C. police said the officer involved in the shooting did not suffer serious injuries and was placed on administrative leave.
Sterling, 31, had worked for more than a decade as an HVAC technician at a contracting firm. Sterling's mother confirmed to FOX 5 Mayor Bowser had called the family to extend her condolences. She would not say if their family had retained an attorney.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact police at 202-727-9099.
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS
As a police officer in a small Oregon town in 2004, Sean Sullivan was caught kissing a 10-year-old girl on the mouth.
Mr. Sullivan’s sentence barred him from taking another job as a police officer.
But three months later, in August 2005, Mr. Sullivan was hired, after a cursory check, not just as a police officer on another force but as the police chief. As the head of the department in Cedar Vale, Kan., according to court records and law enforcement officials, he was again investigated for a suspected sexual relationship with a girl and eventually convicted on charges that included burglary and criminal conspiracy.
“It was very irritating because he should never have been a police officer,” said Larry Markle, the prosecutor for Montgomery and Chautauqua counties in Kansas.
Mr. Sullivan, 44, is now in prison in Washington State on other charges, including identity theft and possession of methamphetamine. It is unclear how far-reaching such problems may be, but some experts say thousands of law enforcement officers may have drifted from police department to police department even after having been fired, forced to resign or convicted of a crime.
Yet there is no comprehensive, national system for weeding out problem officers. If there were, such hires would not happen, criminologists and law enforcement officials say.
Officers, sometimes hired with only the most perfunctory of background examinations — as Kansas officials said was the case with Mr. Sullivan — and frequently without even having their fingerprints checked, often end up in new trouble, according to a review of court documents, personnel records and interviews with former colleagues and other law enforcement officials.
As fatal police shootings of unarmed African-American men and sometimes violent protests have roiled the nation, the question of how best to remove the worst police officers has been at the core of reform attempts.
But a lack of coordination among law enforcement agencies, opposition from police executives and unions, and an absence of federal guidance have meant that in many cases police departments do not know the background of prospective officers if they fail to disclose a troubled work history.
Among the officers, sometimes called “gypsy cops,” who have found jobs even after exhibiting signs that they might be ill suited for police work is Timothy Loehmann, the Cleveland officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014.
Before he was hired in Cleveland, Officer Loehmann had resigned from a suburban police force not long after a supervisor recommended that he be fired for, among other things, an inability to follow instructions. But Cleveland officials never checked his personnel file.
Officer Loehmann, who was not indicted, remains on the Cleveland force. He is on desk duty pending the result of an administrative review, Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia, a police spokeswoman, said.
While serving as a St. Louis officer, Eddie Boyd III pistol-whipped a 12-year-old girl in the face in 2006, and in 2007 struck a child in the face with his gun or handcuffs before falsifying a police report, according toMissouri Department of Public Safety records.
Though Officer Boyd subsequently resigned, he was soon hired by the police department in nearby St. Ann, Mo., before he found a job with the troubled force in Ferguson, Mo., where Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African-American, was fatally shot by a white officer in 2014.
Officer Boyd is being sued by a woman in Ferguson who said he arrested her after she asked for his name at the scene of a traffic accident. He declined an interview request.
The Ferguson police declined to comment about him, but said in a statement that their applicants “undergo extensive investigation before final hiring decisions are made, which includes, but is not limited to, a psychological examination, investigation of an applicant’s prior work history, consultation with applicant’s previous employers and a criminal background check.”
Across the state, the Kansas City police fired Kevin Schnell in 2008 for failing to get medical aid for a pregnant woman after arresting her during a traffic stop. The baby was delivered, but died a few hours later.
Officer Schnell has since been hired by two other Missouri police departments, including his current employer in Independence. Officer Schnell and the Independence police declined to comment.
Criminologists and police officials said smaller departments and those that lack sufficient funding or are understaffed are most likely to hire applicants with problematic pasts if they have completed state-mandated training, which allows departments to avoid the cost of sending them to the police academy. Such officers can start work almost immediately, usually at a modest salary.
But police officials say most departments perform reasonably well in discovering when officers have histories of misconduct.
In addition to checking applicants’ work and criminal histories, and having a psychologist interview them, departments like those in Seattleand Austin, Tex., check credit histories. The Houston and Phoenixpolice departments are among those that administer polygraph tests.
Roger Goldman, an emeritus law professor at St. Louis University and an authority on police licensing laws, said that using the National Practitioner Data Bank for physicians as a model, the government must establish a database of officers who have criminal convictions, have been fired or forced to resign, have had their law enforcement licenses revoked, or have been named in a judgment or settlement involving misconduct.
“After Ferguson and the other stuff that’s happened, if we can’t get this done now, when are we going to get it done?” he said.
Last year, in a report by President Obama’s task force on 21st-century policing, law enforcement officials and others recommended that the Justice Department establish a database in partnership with theInternational Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training, which manages a database of officers who have been stripped of their police powers. There are some 21,000 names on the list, but Mike Becar, the group’s executive director, said his organization lacked the resources to do a thorough job.
“It’s all we can do to keep the database up,” he said.
The Justice Department, which gave the association about $200,000 to start the database in 2009, no longer funds it. The department declined to explain why it had dropped its support, but a spokesman said the goal was “ensuring that our nation’s law enforcement agencies have the necessary resources to identify the best qualified candidates to protect and serve communities.”
Law enforcement groups advocating reforms say an effective database would go a long way toward ensuring that unfit officers are not given multiple chances.
“Every chief wants as much information as possible about potential hires before making a hiring decision, and hiring one wrong person can undo a lot of an agency’s prior good work,” said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a policy group.
He said that while his group was investigating hiring practices in St. Louis County, Mo., after Mr. Brown’s death, it found that officers facing severe discipline and possible termination in many agencies were routinely allowed to resign to avoid a record of having been fired.
“They could then join another area department,” Mr. Wexler said.
Mr. Sullivan, who became the police chief in Cedar Vale, Kan., after being convicted on a harassment charge for kissing a 10-year-old girl, had been the second-highest-ranking officer in Coquille, Ore., before he was forced to resign in November 2004.
While prosecutors suggested that he had been “grooming” the girl for a sexual relationship, he avoided a jail sentence.
But in August 2005, not long after an Oregon judge barred Mr. Sullivan from working as a police officer, the Cedar Vale Police Department hired him. Mr. Sullivan had not told anyone about his past, local officials said. City officials involved in his hiring no longer work for Cedar Vale.
Prosecutors in Kansas investigated a relationship between Mr. Sullivan and a 13- or 14-year-old girl, but the girl refused to cooperate and the investigation was dropped, Mr. Markle, the Kansas prosecutor, said. Mr. Sullivan did not respond to a letter seeking comment.
Eventually, officials checked the police decertification database and found Mr. Sullivan’s Oregon conviction and the order barring him from police work.
Wayne Cline, Cedar Vale’s current police chief, never met Mr. Sullivan, but said he is still talked about around town.
“Everybody was surprised and would say, ‘He was such a nice guy,’ and I would think, ‘Yeah, he’s a con man. They’re like that.’”
....and you won't have to have community meetings that solve nothing
Fairfax Co. police, community leaders host town hall meeting
By Dick Uliano
CENTREVILLE, Va. — Fairfax County police, community leaders and county residents gathered Saturday afternoon for a town hall-style meeting aimed at building trust between police and the community. The county is striving for improvements following high profile incidents involving police use of force.
Since the 2013 fatal police shooting of John Geer in the doorway of his Springfield home, Fairfax County police have stepped up training, reexamined use of force polices and increased efforts toward police accountability.
“The changes that we have made in use of force, mental health (police contact with people with mental illness) and all different areas of the police department are through participation with the community,” said Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr.
The public forum, held at Centreville Baptist Church, provided an opportunity for police and citizens to discuss law enforcement efforts and the responsibilities of both police and the public.
“In the past year we’ve not had a complaint against the police department, so I think that’s extremely good,” said Shirley Ginwright, president of the Fairfax County chapter of the NAACP. Ginwright also leads the county’s Communities of Trust Committee, which sponsored the town hall-style meeting.
Everybody involved in the meeting seemed to agree that there are solid benefits when communication improves between police and citizens, particularly those in culturally diverse communities. The town hall-style meeting was regarded as the latest effort by police to reach out and to listen to members of the public.
“One of the things that I think Fairfax County does especially well is to, every once and a while, step back and look at ourselves,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova.
Milton Harding, a pastor and a 30-year resident of Centreville, said one meeting won’t be enough.
“We can’t just have one town hall and think that everything is going to be resolved tomorrow,” said Harding. “It will take responsibility on both sides of the fence.”
Prosecutor: No Wrongdoing by Fairfax County Officers in Man's Death
Fairfax County's Commonwealth's Attorney says that four police officers committed no wrongdoing when a resident of a group home died after a struggle with them.
Raymond Morrogh said in a statement Thursday that no charges will be filed in the death of 45-year-old Paul Gianelos of Annandale.
Police say on April 20, Gianelos wandered away from other group home residents during an outing at a Falls Church park.
They say Gianelos became combative after an officer found him, and four officers restrained him, handcuffing him behind his back. Police say Gianelos suffered what appeared to be cardiac arrest and died at a hospital.
An autopsy found that Gianelos died from cardiac arrhythmia associated with police restraint.
Police Chief Col. Edwin Roessler Jr. says the officers will return to full duty.
New Haven police chief resigns after two public outbursts where he berated a waitress and threatened to shut down a football game
• Police chief, Dean Esserman, visited the White House twice in the past year
• He resigned after launching a tirade against waiting staff at a restaurant
• Esserman's outburst was so severe it caused other diners to move tables
• He threatened to cancel a Yale football game during his tenure as chief
By SIMON HOLMES FOR MAILONLINE
A Connecticut police chief who was invited to the White House twice in the past year to discuss law enforcement issues has resigned after being disciplined twice for berating people in public.
New Haven Mayor Toni Harp announced Tuesday that Police Chief Dean Esserman resigned by 'mutual agreement' effective September 2. She also praised him for the city's declining crime and violence.
'I'm grateful for the chief's successful legacy,' Harp said in a statement.
'Public safety in New Haven is improved after a return to grass roots community policing, productive partnerships with other law enforcement agencies, and positive interaction with community organizations.'
Esserman has apologized in the past for public outbursts but it seems the last straw was a July confrontation with a member of staff at Archie Moore’s bar and restaurant in New Haven.
Harp investigated the matter after a witness said the chief's yelling prompted other diners to be asked to move further away from his table.
Esserman is said have been infuriated by poor service at the restaurant.
He faced a packed room at police headquarters Tuesday afternoon, speaking briefly about his time as chief and the dedication of officers in the city.
He said it was 'very important' that he give those in attendance the 'respect they deserve,' and to let them know in person that he was moving on.
'It has been a privilege to serve Mayor Harp and work alongside the remarkable men and women of the New Haven Department of Police Service, who no doubt have earned the title, 'New Haven's Finest,'' Esserman said.
'Last and certainly not least, it has been my privilege to serve the wonderful people of New Haven.'
Esserman agreed in July to go on three weeks of paid leave and then went on temporary sick leave amid the latest allegations from the local restaurant.
This is not the first time the police chief has been caught up in controversy. Two years ago, Harp reprimanded Esserman for his angry confrontation with a Yale Bowl usher.
When he was police chief in Providence, Rhode Island, in 2011, Esserman was suspended without pay for one day for what media reports said was a threat to throw coffee in the face of a sergeant who was coughing during a speech by Esserman.
Officers in both New Haven and Providence voted no confidence in Esserman, accusing him of publicly berating officers, intimidation, favoritism and retaliation, among other things.
Esserman, a Dartmouth College graduate who never served as a rank-and-file officer, is a protege of New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton, former chief of the Los Angeles police and former Boston police commissioner.
He previously served as an assistant prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York, assistant police chief in New Haven from 1991 to 1993, police chief for the Metro-North Railroad and police chief in Stamford, Connecticut.
He became New Haven chief in 2011.
Esserman was among 30 law enforcement officials, civil rights activists and other people invited to a White House discussion in July on improving police-community relations. He also attended a White House discussion on reducing incarceration across the country in October.
Assistant Chief Anthony Campbell will continue to serve as Interim police chief in New Haven.