Police Behaving Badly 5.20.15

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:


YouTube video shows undercover JPSO deputy punching teen in Metairie

JPSO Col. John Fortunato confirmed the incident happened Friday evening in the Lakeside Mall parking lot after a parade in Metairie.

The YouTube video begins with 17-year-old Brady Becker being held down on the ground by a man who has his hand around the teen’s throat. Moments later, the situation escalates when the man begins punching Becker in the face.

Becker was taken to a hospital and treated for his injuries. The JPSO booked the teen on complaints of possession of alcohol by a minor, resisting arrest, battery on a police officer and inciting a riot after his release.

Fortunato said the altercation ensued after an apparent encounter with Becker and his friends as they were returning to their car in the parking garage. He said the undercover deputy was one of many who were working parade routes that evening.

WDSU contacted Becker’s mother, who said the teen did not know the undercover officer was with the JPSO and was sticking up for his friend. He admits to pushing one of the deputies because he was not aware of their position.

The circumstances leading up to the altercation remain unclear.

I hate that I think of this when incidents like this happen, but it’s a good thing Becker isn’t black, because he probably wouldn’t be alive.

* * * *

NYPD cop tries to arrest girl for arguing with him-community stops him (video)

The incident happened on May 14th in Washington Heights, when Michael Barber of the Copwatch Patrol Unit (CPU, an organization that films police activity) recorded a plain-clothes officer grabbing at a 14-year-old girl during an attempt to arresther for doing nothing. According to the allegations, the teen was under arrest for arguing with the officer after a child she was with (who witnesses say couldn’t have been more than 7 years old), had pushed a police call box’s button.

[…]

Witnessing the officer’s inappropriate handling of the situation, a furious woman from the community steps in and tells the officer that he is wrong to put his hands on a 14-year-old child. She defends the girls’ rights and repeatedly demands to know the officers’ names. She instructs the two girls being harassed that their parents must be told what the officers did to them.

The officer retreats back to his car, but at 6:20, he jumps out again and makes another attempt to arrest one of the girls. She tries to run away but the cop closes in on her – and that’s when several witnesses jump between the frightened teen and officer. They are successful in fending the officer off, but he makes another move at the 7:11 mark to snatch the girl. A woman jumps in and saves the teen one last time as bystanders yell at the cops, telling them to leave and respect the community. Fortunately, the cops give up.

Barber didn’t want to release this video at first, but he knew that it was important to defend innocent youth against the hands of police – especially now that so many children have died because of inappropriate action and police brutality. Barber told The Free Thought Project:

“I was scared to put up this video at first because I was not sure if it would get the cops in trouble or the community but everyone was wrong at some point.”

By posting this video, Barber shows that shows a community courageously defending its own against injustice and holding police officers accountable for their actions. The text accompanying the video says it all:

“We must protect our youths. This is a clear example of what people power is all about. These cops try to arrest these young girls for no reason at all and the community stepped up and did not allow it. These male officers had no right to put their hands on these girls, but they did anyway. These officers did not follow proper procedures and protocols.”

CPU’s video caption emphasizes the fact that those officers had no right – or reason – to arrest the girls. It might seem outrageous that a police officer would do such a thing, but cops often arrest people even when they’re not committing a crime. Even more troubling? They usually get away with it – and have been getting away with it for quite some time.

Supporting this data is a 2006 lawsuit filed by the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union accusing the Baltimore police for arresting thousands on made-up or extremely mild charges. Even in cases where there has been a false arrest, being able to hold officers accountable is a rarity. There are few consequences, and litigation can take years.

* * * *

This video highlights the vastly different treatment of a white person openly carrying a firearm and a black person doing the same thing:

According to the video, both men were carrying the exact same gun in the exact same area.

Walking down the street with an AR-15 strapped to his hip, a single officer approaches the white man. He’s briefly questioned, before being allowed to proceed on his way.

What happens when a Black man tries that?

The first cop who spots him exits his vehicle, gun drawn. He orders the Black gun owner to lie face down on the ground. He then orders the man’s wife, who is seven months pregnant and filming the encounter, to lay on the ground as well.

Although the Black gun owner is repeating the exact same legal arguments that the white man used during his encounter with law enforcement, the officer dealing with the Black man is obviously terrified. He calls for backup. Within moments no less than four cop cars are on the scene.

* * * *

Miami officers investigated over racist, crude emails

Sixteen Miami Beach police officers are under investigation after exchanging racist and pornographic emails, officials said on Thursday.

Some of the emails included cartoon characters making offensive remarks and another featured a fictionalised board game called “Black Monopoly”, in which every square said “go to jail”.

“Minorities and women were being demeaned in these emails that were sent between the officers, nude photographs were passed around and emails portraying offensive sexual acts were disseminated,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle told reporters.

Two of the accused officers in Florida are no longer with the force – one retired last year and another was fired this week in connection with the email incident. The two were the main instigators, authorities said.

The emails were sent to both personal and work accounts, and there were hundreds of messages exchanged in total, the Miami Herald reported.

In one instance, agents passed around an autopsy photo of a man controversially shot dead by police in 2011. Officials said they were investigating whether sending the picture was a criminal act.

This is from a news source in South Africa.  Which shows, once again, that the world is paying attention to the ongoing problem of police brutality in this country. I’m sure they’re noticing that nothing of significance is being done about the problem either  (I don’t consider mandatory body cams an example of significant action being taken to reduce police brutality because it doesn’t address the underlying issues contributing to said brutality).

* * * *

How in the world are there still cops in the U.S. unaware of the right of citizens to film interactions with the police?

A trucker driving through Georgia was stopped by WCSO deputy J. Rozier. In an effort to hold his detaining officer accountable, Carl Eastman, decided to film his traffic stop.

Eastman is cordial as he approaches the back of his tractor-trailer to speak with deputy Rozier. After the two greet each other, Rozier realizes that he is being held accountable by Eastman’s camera; he did not like this.

As Rozier asks for Eastman’s bill of lading and ID, he then asks him if he’d mind putting down his camera.

“I have the right to record,” explains Eastman.

But this Georgia deputy was apparently unfamiliar with the first amendment and began to threaten Eastman if he did not stop recording.

“I’m gonna ask you one more time or you gonna be charged with disorderly conduct,” says Rozier as he unlawfully threatens to arrest a man for practicing what has been deemed a right by multiple courts.

Eastman then attempts to put the camera down and leave it recording, but Rozier is adamant and continues his barrage.

“I’mma ask you nicely one more time to put that phone up,” says Rozier as he deals the final death blow to Eastman’s freedom of speech.

It has been clearly established that all Americans have the right to record the police. For an officer of the law to remain willingly ignorant to this precedent is at best, dereliction of duty, and at worst, unlawful deprivation of rights. Either way Deputy Rozier was completely in the wrong.

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Police Behaving Badly 5.20.15
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