Police Behaving Badly 6.1.15

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:


‘That’s what we do’: Florida cops shoot and kill suicidal man after girlfriend phones for help

We’ve already know that’s what so many cops do. We’d like it to stop. Actually, we DEMAND that it stop.

“I think [police] should come in using other things,” Kaitlyn Lyons said regarding the shooting death of her boyfriend, Justin Way. “And I think they definitely need to figure out how to handle suicidal people.”

And people with mental illnesses.

And People of Color-especially African-Americans.

Lyons contacted the police non-emergency dispatcher on May 11 after catching Way drinking and lying on their bed holding a large knife. She said Way, a recovering alcoholic, “had a setback” after losing his job but did not threaten her with it.

“The only person Justin threatened was himself and I honestly don’t think he wanted to die,” she said, adding that the two St. Johns County sheriff’s deputies who responded to her call, 32-year-old Kyle Braig and 26-year-old Jonas Carballosa, who were carrying assault rifles, looked like they “were going into war” when they entered the residence.

Why the heck did they bring assault rifles?

Lyons said she intended for Way to be institutionalized under the provisions of the Florida Mental Health Act.

According to the Florida Times-Union, the deputies instead shot Way in the stomach and abdomen.

Way’s mother, Denise Way, told the Beast that one official, identified as Detective Mike Smith, said the encounter was part of what he called a “new trend in law enforcement now — suicide by cop.”

Well Mr. Smith, that’s an assertion. Where is your evidence to back it up?

According to Denise Way, Smith also argued that her son had threatened Lyons — which she has denied — and told her that the deputies shot him after he refused to drop the knife, adding, “That’s what we do.”

A great many of you also lie about the circumstances surrounding fatal police encounters. What? We’re supposed to take your word for it that you were threatened? Not a chance.

Way’s parents believe that their son was shot while still laying in bed. His father, George Way, said that he believes a bullet was pulled from the mattress, arguing that there were no blood stains on the walls or floor nearby.

“If Justin was coming after them with a knife, at 6-foot-4, wouldn’t there be blood splattered all over the room?” he said.

Why yes. I think that would be the case. Surely the cops aren’t lying here.

Commander Chuck Mulligan told the Beast that it was standard procedure to send armed deputies without mental health professionals, “if the deputies feel that that is the appropriate weapon system to use,” arguing that using Tasers could pose a risk to the officers if they missed their target.

Your procedures ought to be reexamined then. Also, aren’t cops supposed to de-escalate a situation? Shouldn’t lethal force be the absolute last resort, rather than the first?

“Whether it’s a rifle or not, in many senses, is a non-issue,” Mulligan said. “A bullet comes out of a handgun, a bullet comes out of a rifle.”

Police should not treat citizens as wartime combatants. The use of military-grade weapons by police officers sends the message that the cops are here to fight an enemy rather than to serve and protect the citizenry. So yeah, there’s a bit of a difference between cops using assault rifles versus handguns.

* * * *

No sex assault charges for women in massage parlor sting

Honolulu’s top prosecutor is dismissing cases against 16 women arrested in a massage parlor prostitution sting after the sex assault charges they faced drew criticism.

The women were arrested this month during an operation involving Honolulu police and federal authorities. But instead of being arrested on suspicion of prostitution, police accused the women of sex assault.

“Although the conduct might have constituted a technical violation of the law, proof beyond a reasonable doubt could not be established,” Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro said in a statement Wednesday. “Therefore, these cases were dismissed.”

If convicted of sex assault, the women would have had to register as sex offenders and could have been sentenced to up to a year in jail, while a prostitution charge carries 30 days. At the time of their arrests, legal experts said the new tactic from the Honolulu Police Department is unusual for a law enforcement agency. Advocates for prostitutes and sex trafficking victims decried the arrests as re-victimizing the victims.

“I think the charges being dropped is a clear sign that this isn’t a method HPD should use,” said Kathryn Xian, executive director of Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery. “I think it’s been an embarrassing situation for law enforcement.”

Hawaii has a strange history with prostitution investigations. Until a year ago, police officers were legally allowed to have sex with prostitutes as part of investigations. State lawmakers changed that policy last year after The Associated Press highlighted the loophole.

Myles Breiner, an attorney representing some of the women, said in at least one instance at a massage parlor called Orchid Relaxation, an officer disrobed, took the woman’s hand and put it on his genitals.

A woman who answered the phone at Orchid Relaxation declined to comment.

“They’re experimenting with the limits of the constitution,” Breiner said after hearing that the charges were dropped. “Sex assault in the fourth degree is a nonconsensual touching of a sexual nature. How can you say it’s not consensual when the officers are going into these establishments intending to be touched?”

When asked if the department had any comment on Kaneshiro declining to prosecute the women, a police spokeswoman pointed to a letter posted on social media Tuesday.

“Some in the community have questioned the recent arrests of cosmetology and massage parlor employees, and more information will come out in court,” the letter said. Arraignments were scheduled for Friday.

* * * *

 Cop caught on video telling black teen ‘If you fuck with me, I’m going to break your legs’

“Can you tell me why I’m being arrested?” Hamza Jeylani asks an officer in a video captured on his cell phone.

“Because I feel like arresting you,” the officer, who the American Civil Liberties Union identifies as Officer Rod Webber, replies in the short video.

This exchange happens after Webber calmly threatens Jeylani, who does not appear to be offering any resistance whatsoever. “Plain and simple,” Webber tells Jeylani, “if you fuck with me I’m going to break your legs before you even get a chance to run.”

According to the ACLU, Jeylani and four of his friends — all of whom are black teenagers — were pulled over after making a U-turn in a parking lot in South Minneapolis. The four young men had been playing basketball at a YMCA. Despite Officer Webber’s statement that Jeylani was arrested because the cop felt like arresting him, the police claim that they suspected the four youth of stealing the car they were driving.

Jeylani, however, says that the driver of the car had documents showing that he owned the car. And the ACLU adds that “police said the stolen car they were after was a blue Honda Civic. The teenagers, however, were driving a blue Toyota Camry.”

Not like that matters. If the cops want to harass and terrorize black people, they will find a way.

(video available at the link)

* * * *

 Wife of Oklahoma pastor shot by trooper amid flooding challenges police account

Nehemiah Fischer was an assistant pastor at Faith Bible Church in Tulsa. Police said the 35-year-old was shot dead by a highway patrol officer who responded with a partner to a call about a motorist stuck in a truck in rising waters in a rural road south of Tulsa after 9pm on Friday night.

Seven people have been reported dead in Oklahoma as a result of severe weather that has also badly hit Texas.

According to police, the officers told Fischer and his older brother, Brandon, to leave their stalled car and move to higher ground. Some kind of confrontation ensued and Nehemiah Fischer was killed. Brandon Fischer was not hurt. He was arrested on suspicion of assault.

“They would not have gone after the trooper … they would not do that on their own volition,” the dead man’s wife, Laura, told FOX23 local news.

Fischer had a gun, said captain Paul Timmons, an Oklahoma department of public safety spokesman. He said he was unable to provide more detail about whether Fischer was armed at the moment of the shooting and who exactly fired the shots.

“A handgun was found,” he told the Guardian. “I can’t verify whether it was being brandished but the deceased individual did have a handgun … the investigators are still trying to determine how many shots were fired. We know there was more than one but an exact number, I don’t have that information available yet.”

Timmons said the officers involved would be placed on administrative leave, as is routine when police are involved in a serious incident, and more information, including their names, would be forthcoming later this week.

“It had been raining; that’s an area known to flood. I believe the road may already have been closed because of flood waters,” said Timmons. “The water was rising and running across the roadway rapidly and the troopers were concerned for these individuals’ safety.

“We’d already had numerous operations where we’d had to make water rescues around the state, so they were concerned for their safety, that they may be swept away by the rushing waters, so they were trying to convince them to come up to where they were so it would be safer.”

All of that sounds like a completely good reason to shoot the guy.

Not.

* * * *

Woman walking on sidewalk records St Louis PD taser her repeatedly

A silent protest organized by the Black Lives Matter movement under the banner of #ShutDownBaseball on Friday night began at Kiener Plaza around 8:15 p.m. before marching to the Cardinals game at Busch stadium in downtown St Louis. The goal: to raise awareness and call for an end to police brutality on people of color.

The demonstration was largely peaceful and fairly uneventful outside of people standing with signs, some of them in a line crossing the road at the entrance to the stadium, an area already closed off and crowded by baseball fans.

It wasn’t until the last 13 remaining protesters started to head home around 11:30pm when things got out of hand. People still motivated to bring attention to their cause had decided to leave the sidewalk and walk in the street. Faced with a myriad of options, when the commands given to leave the roadway were not met Lt Dan Zarrick made the decision to make arrests.  What we see in the video below (supplied by the female taser victim) shows what happened after that decision was made.

When the video starts off two people are already in custody and at least 6 officers are already on the scene. Some people had left the area already when arrests began, leaving 6 trying to walk away on the sidewalk. At that point you can hear an officer say “Grab anybody, they were all in the street,”  and then an officer with a taser in hand hurries to head off the people who were walking at a normal pace away from the scene of arrests. Seconds later aiming his less than lethal weapon at a man who was at the front of the small group that officer says “get back.”  Obviously not wanting to be tased and to avoid being arrested the man tries to evade the officer with a sidestep, when he is then tased.

The woman taking the video and the other 3 people are grabbed from behind when another officer begins to deploy less than lethal force by firing his taser on her. It is unclear why this officer felt it necessary to deploy less than lethal force on a woman walking away instead of simply or at least attempting to place her under arrest without incident. She is then heard agonizing in pain saying repeatedly “Ow my god, Ow my god” and asking “why did you do that?” I didn’t do anything.” An officer can be heard saying “put your hands behind your back,” she replies repeatedly “Please Stop, please stop, your hurting me, I can’t, it hurts, I can’t, it hurts so bad” when we hear the sound of her being tased yet again by the officer. She then says, obviously in a severe amount of pain “why are you doing this to me, I’m on the ground” before the video ends.

8 of the protesters were arrested.  Six protesters were arrested for impeding the flow of traffic. The remaining two protesters were arrested for impeding the flow of traffic and resisting arrest. All have since been released. Two of them went straight to the hospital to get checked. One for the tasing and the other for a head injury from being slammed to the pavement.

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Police Behaving Badly 6.1.15
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