Police Behaving Badly 6.5.15

Can you imagine the U.S. as a country without aggressive, authoritarian police officers? Think of it-people who film cops wouldn’t be harassed by them for exercising their constitutional right, anti-racist protesters would be able to march in peace without cops arriving and fomenting chaos, people wouldn’t be expected to follow every command from a cop like they’re a dog, and handcuffed prisoners would not be pepper-sprayed for the shits n giggles of cops.

Video recorded in January of this year shows an Illinois police officer pepper spraying two handcuffed teens, apparently for no reason whatsoever.

Chemical agents, like pepper-spray, are meant to be used by police only when they are dealing with subjects who are resisting arrest or otherwise uncooperative. In this case, both of the teens were already in police custody. Their hands are in restraints. Both appear to sitting quietly in a holding cell.

The Alton police officer, who has since been identified as Vince Warlick, swings open the door and blasts the two young men with pepper-spray.

One of the teens can be seen writhing in pain. His hands are cuffed in front of him, rendering him helpless to defend against the unprovoked assault. A few seconds later, the officer spray the two teens again.

[…]

The story doesn’t end there. Although the incident took place in January, Alton Chief of Police Jason ‘Jake’ Simmons also came under fire for not responding to the incident until the video became public. Warlick remained on duty until May. Simmons says that he became aware of the alleged officer misconduct in March, but it took another two months for officers to write a report about the incident.

In mid May, after a lengthy community hearing, which was attended by hundreds of residents, the City Council voted in favor of replacing chief Simmons. Immediately after the vote, however, the town’s mayor, Brant Walker approached the podium. Walker told the gathered crowd:

“I hereby exercise my right as Mayor to retain Jake Simmons as Police Chief. I have no intention of removing him from office, nor do I have any intention of nominating anyone else for the position.”

I wonder if there was a contest between the Mayor and the Police Chief to see who could be the biggest apathetic asshole. Here’s the 42 second video:

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Cop runs over bicyclist during high speed chase

Officials near the city of Philadelphia say they are investigating an officer who ran over a bicyclist during a high speed police chase.

Officials say they are trying to determine what happened, but local media sources have already begun spinning the story to favor the officer involved.

The local media has more information than the police have given out to everyone, but numerous sources have already begun conjecture about the collision happening “after” the police chase. We asked the Delaware Sheriff’s department and the Chester Police if they had made any such claim, and they told us they had not.

Right now, they say they have turned the investigation over to the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office. They tell us that this is the normal procedure in any police related fatality case.

The community and the victim’s family say they want answers now. Specifically, they want to know how the officer could have possibly been justified in running over the suspect, identified as 24-year-old Sherman Byrd.

This all happened at around 8:30 Wednesday night, after a 55-year-old woman reported having her cell phone stolen.

Sheriff’s deputies were nearby. They said they saw a suspect on bike who looked like the man the victim had reported.

They claim they are confident Byrd was the culprit, but they have no other evidence than their hunch and the fact that he had a weapon. Byrd’s family say it is ridiculous to imagine he would have robbed anyone.

For many cops, evidenceless suspicion is all they need to go after someone.  The bar should be higher than that.  I wonder…what is Byrd’s race?

He was in fact only in town visiting his 6-year-old daughter and to attend his sister’s high school graduation. To suggest that he would have taken a “robbery break” during his visit is not only out of character, but also just strange, according to friends and family.

My heart goes out to that family. Byrd was there in part to celebrate his sister graduating high school. This should be a joyous time for his family, but because of authoritarian, aggressive thugs-the police-instead of celebrating, this family is grieving. Over a fucking suspicion.

In fact, his family says he had only taken a quick trip to the store in the middle of a family gathering. To suggest that he needed to run out to steal a cell phone made little sense to anyone who knew him.

To add insult to injury, the Upland Police Department has charged Byrd’s father and another relative with assault for getting aggressive with a police officer at the hospital when and where Byrd died.

No need for any police investigation. I’m pretty sure the results will exonerate the officers involved and rather than answers, the family will get hollow condolences from the police department.

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Cop found not guilty after kicking handcuffed woman in chest

In Kentucky, a Louisville Metro Police officer was placed on paid leave after being caught on a cruiser dashcam kicking a handcuffed woman in the chest.

A six-year department veteran, Officer Jennifer Knopf, 32, handed in her badge and gun pending the outcome of the criminal investigation, according to Sgt. Phil Russell.

The woman was seated and compliant. But that didn’t stop officer Knopf from verbally and physically assaulting the woman.

When the officer found the victim with her hands cuffed behind her back from an officer already on the scene, the two engaged each other verbally.

Then Officer Knopf called the victim a bitch and told those nearby she “was familiar” with the victim.

Officer Knopf put her foot on the victim’s chest, then kicked her, rolled her on her stomach and continuously mocked her according to a complaint filed.

The local Courier Journal says that this is the second officer in a week to be criminally charged from the same department in a matter of weeks.

By February, officer Knopf had her day in court. She was facing two charges: official misconduct and harassment with physical contact.

Go ahead and guess what the verdict was. That cops continue to get away with brutalizing civilians is a travesty of justice.

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New York cops electrocute former Marine because he ‘clenched his fists’

It is now apparently a crime, punishable by immediate death sentence, to clench your fists in the presence of police officers. This is all we can surmise after a former marine who crashed in an upstate New York neighborhood was fatally shot by police.

The Rochester police officers used a Taser on Richard Gregory Davis, 50, a former Marine, who friends and family say had done nothing wrong aside from his driving.

Police say that he “charged” at them. But as you might anticipate, Davis had not actually taken a swing at any officer, nor harmed them in any way. Still, the police are doubling down on their preemptive execution of the man who had just crashed his red pickup truck.

It is likely that Davis was in some state of shock after the car accident. As is common for people in a state of shock, he attempted to leave the scene on foot. This is not at all unusual after an accident when a crash victim is not thinking clearly.

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle says that police arrived on the scene around 9 am on Sunday morning. Davis was disoriented and returned to the vehicle after police told him not to.

That’s when he crashed it again, knocking over a gas meter and hitting a fence, as well as a house. Many who have turned out rallies in support of the slain man say that this is evidence of how disoriented he was following the initial accident.

After wrecking again, Davis locked himself inside the truck.

Finally, after around five minutes, he did. But officer say that he “charged them” and had his “fists clenched.”

While his behavior was indeed erratic, witnesses only say that he advanced towards the officers. There was not further corroboration with the official police version of the events, beyond that.

The Rochester Police Department and the district attorney’s office say they are conducting an investigation into the incident.

I’m sure this will be yet another investigation that exonerates the police officers and finds their use of deadly force justified.

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If you are a dog lover or just love pets in general, this next story will probably anger you more than the typical police brutality stories.

Family raided by SWAT and their dog shot, for being unable to pay utility bill

Nothing says Police State USA quite like a SWAT team raiding a family home and killing their dog because they are unable to pay their natural gas bill.

The woman whose dog was killed and home destroyed by SWAT officers is Angela Zorich, and her story about her police state experience will shock the conscious.

According to a federal lawsuit filed this month, Zorich was the victim of a massive military-style raid and subsequent puppycide. The raid was carried out because police said they needed “to check if her home had electricity and natural gas service.”

“This is an example of police overreaching and using excessive force to get a family out of their house,” said Kenneth Chackes to the Riverfront Times, the attorney who represents Zorich.

According to the lawsuit, on April 25, 2014, St. Louis County Police officers came to her house. Her son cussed at them. They inspected the home’s exterior and placed a “Problem Properties” sticker on the front window.

Days after being publicly shamed and labeled by the St. Louis Police Department as a “Problem,” on April 28, Zorich called them to follow up. She was told by police that she was being investigated for failing to have natural gas or electric service; two violations against city code.

Zorich admitted to the police that she did not have gas, but said that she did have electricity. Zorich asked for another inspection to prove that she had the utilities. The officer told her that was fine, but that the investigation would continue.

The next day, on April 29, 2014, the home of Angela Zorich was raided by multiple officers from the St. Louis County Police Tactical Response Unit.

The Riverfront Times outlines the details of the lawsuit:

Zorich was at home with several family members and her pit bull, Kiya, when a St. Louis County Police Tactical Response Unit burst through the door without knocking, according to her suit. The unit had at least five officers with M-4 rifles, supported by at least eight uniformed officers.

The officers entered so quickly, Zorich’s suit alleges, that Kiya didn’t even have time to bark. A tactical officer fired three shots into the dog, and the dog’s “bladder and bowels released and she fell to the floor.” The dog “was laying on the floor in her own waste and blood struggling to breathe. She had a gaping hole in her chest.”

Zorich claims the officers kept trying to talk to her about the natural gas, but she was focused on her dog, whom she’d raised as a puppy and who (she says) had “never shown agression to any person.”

At one point in the raid, Zorich alleges, an officer pointed his firearm at her son’s head and said “One word, motherfucker, and I’ll put three in you.”

Zorich was subsequently taken into custody at the police station. When she was finally let go and allowed to return to her home, she found to be completely trashed. Beds had been overturned, and items that were once on shelves had been thrown to the floor.

The citations issued to Zorich, which had allegedly justified the heavily militarized raid on her home, were for substandard siding, guard rail, screens, window glass and deck.

This military mentality where cops see themselves at war has got to stop. Even if I were to agree that unpaid bills warrant a visit from the police, the most that should happen is a citation. But a SWAT team?! Zorich is a civilian, not a wartime combatant. She wasn’t in the middle of committing a crime that necessitated a special response team. She just had an unpaid bill. And now, thanks to overzealous thugs, her son’s life was threatened, her dog  was killed, and her house has been ransacked.  This is one of the most outrageous examples of police using excessive force I’ve read in a long time. I’m almost scared to see how the police chief or cop apologists will try to spin this.

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Police Behaving Badly 6.5.15
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