Police Behaving Badly 4.23.15

From the use of excessive force to stealing drugs from suspects…from racial profiling to abusing the power of their badges…from sexually assaulting suspects to planting evidence…there is a never-ending stream of stories of law enforcement officials behaving irresponsibly, unethically, immorally, and/or criminally. Here are five recent examples from across the nation:


LAPD Chief shocked by video of officer’s confrontation with robbery suspect

“I was shocked by the content of the video,” Beck said of the surveillance footage of the Oct. 16 arrest of 22-year-old Clinton Alford Jr. near 55th Street and South Avalon Boulevard.

Officer Richard Garcia, 34, was charged Monday with assault under color of authority. He pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon and is scheduled to return to court June 1, when a date is expected to be set for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to go to trial.

Plainclothes officers stopped Alford, who was on a bike, because he matched the description of a robbery suspect. After initially fleeing the officers, Alford surrendered. Alford’s attorney, Caree Harper, says Alford was prone on the ground with his hands behind his head when Garcia kicked and stomped on him, then repeatedly struck him in the head and body.

Beck said that after he saw video of the arrest, he “immediately ensured that the officers were sent home.”

The chief said he “contacted personally the district attorney and expressed my desire for her folks to not only look at this case but to file criminal charges.”

Garcia has not been fired by the department, which is allowing the criminal case to move forward.

“We have to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is justice here,” Beck said. “And we want the justice system to be able to address this use of force, which I believe is a criminal act.”

All of the officers involved in the arrest were placed on paid administrative leave.

* * * *

Over in Round Rock, Texas, a police officer attempting to subdue a woman used a takedown move that resulted in a woman being knocked unconscious on the pavement. A bystander (who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation) recorded a portion of the incident:

Video captured by a man inside the Wing Stop on East Palm Valley in Round Rock Tuesday afternoon shows Officer Ben Johnson arresting Viviana Keith.

The video shows Johnson and Keith talking, then he tries to force her to bend over onto the hood of his car during the arrest. When she resists, Johnson performs a take-down move, essentially throwing Keith onto the ground. She hit her head and was knocked unconscious.

The video goes on to show Keith’s 6-year-old daughter walk over to check on her mom as the officer rolls Keith onto her back and checks her pulse.

“When I look back at the tape, I can see her head bounce off the concrete because when he threw her down, she wasn’t able to brace herself,” said the man who recorded the video, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. “She was absolutely unconscious. There were a couple of other gentleman in the store with me and we were saying ‘is she breathing?’ Because at first we weren’t seeing her stomach rise and fall.”

Viviana Garcia, who works in the shopping strip, said witnessed the incident and fearing the worst, she walked over to help Keith’s child.

“It looked like she was dead,” Garcia said. “The little girl was screaming, ‘Mommy, mommy.'”

Staff from an urgent care center in the strip went over to help until EMS arrived. Witnesses say the left side of Keith’s face was black and she had a large cut over her eye.

What the video did not capture was what led up to the arrest. Witnesses said Keith was drunk when she walked into Deluxe Nails.

“She was a little loud, and disruptive,” said Rebecca Tomlinson, who was inside the nail salon. “She said she was very tired, really tired and they said, ‘Maybe you should go home and get some sleep,’ and then she turned around and stumbled out.”

I don’t even want to read the comments on articles about this. I can imagine there will be people saying something to the effect of “she deserved this for being drunk” or “what kind of mother is she drinking all day”. As if being drunk or being a bad parent is sufficient justification for being treated brutally by law enforcement officials.

* * * *

Cop runs stop sign without lights or sirens, hits pedestrian, cutting off both legs, 5 hospitalized

A violent, multiple vehicle crash unfolded last week after a Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputy ran a stop sign.

The resulting crash left five people hospitalized. One man, who was loading up his pick-up truck with the tailgate down, was hit by the police cruiser, pinning him in between the car and his truck.

The man, who neighbors say was a construction worker, was taken to Harborview Regional Medical Center in Seattle where both of his legs were amputated. As of today, he is still in ICU.

Witnesses recall that the deputy did not have his lights on, nor his siren as he sped through the stop sign at the north Everett intersection of Rockefeller Avenue and 23rd Street just before noon on Friday.

Steve Teixeira, a neighbor who heard the crash, described hearing the man screaming in agony as he begged for help. Teixeira was forced to argue with the 9-1-1 dispatcher to send an ambulance because he couldn’t see the man pinned between the cop car and the pickup.

“Everyone was, ‘where’s the ambulance?’,” neighbor Kieth Owens said.

The accident investigation has been passed off to the Washington State Patrol, who said on Wednesday that the deputy was most likely at fault for this crash.

* * * *

An inmates final struggle caught on video; some raising questions about death at West Baton Rouge jail

According to a wrongful death lawsuit filed in federal court in February 2014 on behalf of Edwards’ only son, Ervin Edwards was with his girlfriend at a gas station near Port Allen on Nov. 26, 2013, when the couple got into a “minor argument.”

By the time West Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies responded, the argument was over, the lawsuit says.

Nevertheless, deputies began to question Edwards about his “sagging” pants, the suit says, and before long Edwards was being arrested.

By the time the Port Allen officer, Dustin McMullan, arrived at the gas station, Edwards already was in restraints, according to a police incident report. McMullan said Edwards was combative during the arrest process, threatening multiple times to kill the officers who were arresting him.

At one point while still at the gas station, the lawsuit says one of the law enforcement officers threatened to “tase” Edwards. When his girlfriend heard this comment, she begged the officers not to shock him because of his high blood pressure, the suit says.

While authorities didn’t shock Edwards at the gas station, a Port Allen police officer did end up shocking him inside the cell.

It’s difficult to tell from the video footage how many times or how long the officer shocked Edwards because other officers obscured the view inside the cell. It is clear, however, that Dustin McMullan kept the stun gun pressed against Edwards’ buttocks in “stun drive” mode for more than a minute — a fact apparently in direct contrast with McMullan’s recollection of the event in the police incident report.

McMullan wrote in his report that he warned Edwards three times to quit resisting officers’ restraint attempts before he pulled his stun gun from its holster and pressed it against Edwards.

“I then pulled the trigger on the Taser using the full five second circle on Edwards,” he wrote, meaning he shocked him for five seconds, which is the longest a shock can be applied without stopping for a brief time and pulling the trigger again. “However, the Taser did not appear to have any effect on Edwards.

“Due to the obvious lack of effect of the Taser, I then re-holstered it,” McMullan wrote. “I then again assisted in restraining Edwards using empty hand control techniques” before the officers were able to remove the restraints from Edwards’ ankles and hands and all exit the cell.

In contrast to McMullan’s report, the video shows him keeping the stun gun pressed firmly against Edwards for nearly a minute and a half. While it’s unclear how much of that time was spent shocking the inmate, a bright blue light can be seen between the stun gun and Edwards on several occasions during a roughly 45-second period.

Also in the report, McMullan said another deputy checked on Edwards after the use of force episode and saw the inmate breathing and moving his arms.

But in the video, Edwards doesn’t appear to flinch.

John Jakuback, McMullan’s attorney, said there is “overwhelming evidence” that McMullan’s use of the Taser “had nothing to do with Mr. Edwards’ death.”

Jakuback also noted that McMullan was one of the law enforcement officers who administered CPR to Edwards once the deputies and officers realized Edwards was unresponsive inside the cell.

“The witness statements taken at the scene of Mr. Edwards’ arrest at the gas station, video footage, and Jefferson Parish autopsy report confirm that neither Port Allen officer acted in any way inappropriately,” said Jakuback, who also is representing another Port Allen police officer who helped transport Edwards to the jail, “and that no action taken by those officers caused or contributed to Mr. Edwards’ unfortunate death.”

Jakuback said the Police Department’s “use of force” report, Edwards’ autopsy report and a computer-generated Taser report indicate McMullan only applied a single five-second burst of electricity to Edwards buttocks area.

It wasn’t clear why the computer-generated report says the discharge occurred at 6:46 p.m., while the time stamp on the video footage would indicate the discharge occurred about 15 minutes sooner.

Glenn Holt, a corrections expert with more than 20 years of experience in juvenile and adult detention centers, including some in Louisiana, described the handling of Edwards inside the jail as “bad correctional practice.”

Imagine that-cops lied on the police report to cover their asses.

(h/t Raw Story)

* * * *

Rounding things out, once again a recording has turned up that contradicts the police account of an officer-involved shooting. This time it’s here in Florida, where dashcam video shows that a Palm Beach County deputy lied about the shooting of an unarmed African-American man:

In dashcam video published by WPTV on Thursday, 20-year-old Dontrell Stephens can be seen on his bicycle being followed by PBSO deputy Adams Lin. When Stephens realizes that he’s being followed, he pulls over and appears to confront the deputy.

Stephens briefly disappears from view of the dashcam video and when he comes back into frame, he is being shot at by the deputy. Stephens attempts to flee from the bullets, but he is hit four times. As it turned out, Stephens had a cell phone, but no weapon.

Lin can later be heard explaining to another deputy what happened.

“He starts backing away,” Lin says of encounter. “I said, ‘Get on the ground, get on the ground.’”

“I got your back man,” the second deputy assures Lin. “I got your back. Hey, you hear me?”

“Yeah, I know,” Lin replies.

In a televised press conference later that day, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw warned suspects to “[s]top what you’re doing and comply with us.”

“There’s nothing in the rules of engagement that says we have to put our lives in jeopardy to wait to find out what this is to get killed,” the sheriff insisted.

Within four days, Lin had been cleared to return to duty. And the State Attorney’s Office and PBSO internal affairs later ruled that the shooting was justified.

West Palm Beach attorney Jack Scarola, who is suing on behalf of Stephens, said this week that the dashcam video appeared to contradict claims that Lin gave a command to get down on the ground before shooting.

“There are no records of any commands ever made to Dontrell Stephens,” Scarola said. “The deputy’s recorded statements following the shooting were absolutely false. Internal affairs completely ignored that evidence.”

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Police Behaving Badly 4.23.15
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