Police Behaving Badly 8.18.15

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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:

Watervliet officer accused of sex act with underage teen

Spratt, 34, faces allegations he used his position working around children to have sexual relations with two teenage girls, ages 16 and 17. A seven-count indictment unsealed Monday accused Spratt of engaging in oral sex with the 16-year-old girl in the parking lot at two cemeteries in Watervliet and Menands, a location on Third Avenue and in the parking lot of Watervliet Elementary School.

“For me personally, it’s a shock,” Boisvert told Times Union in a phone interview, “particularly with Officer Spratt because he hadn’t exhibited any of this type of behavior to us. It is shocking.”

The chief said when the department became aware of the allegations, he immediately took action and turned the case over to State Police.

The stunning turn of events prompted Watervliet school officials to activate the district’s “Crisis Team” in mid-summer. At 1 p.m. Wednesday, teachers, administrators and counselors will be made available in the high school cafeteria to meet with students “and help them process this news,” the Watervliet City School District said in a statement on its website.

“The charges against Officer Spratt are devastating, and if true, represent an egregious and unforgiveable betrayal of the trust we all placed in him,” the statement said. “As always, our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of students. Our focus over the next few weeks will be helping them to come to terms with this betrayal.”

If convicted. Spratt faces the possibility of 5 1/3 to 16 years in prison on felony charges that include four counts of third-degree criminal sex act, the legal term for sodomy. Each count carries 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison, which could run consecutively. Spratt also faces misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and official misconduct.

Spratt, 34, faces allegations he used his position working around children to have sexual relations with two teenage girls, ages 16 and 17. A seven-count indictment unsealed Monday accused Spratt of engaging in oral sex with the 16-year-old girl in the parking lot at two cemeteries in Watervliet and Menands, a location on Third Avenue and in the parking lot of Watervliet Elementary School.

“For me personally, it’s a shock,” Boisvert told Times Union in a phone interview, “particularly with Officer Spratt because he hadn’t exhibited any of this type of behavior to us. It is shocking.”

The chief said when the department became aware of the allegations, he immediately took action and turned the case over to State Police.

The stunning turn of events prompted Watervliet school officials to activate the district’s “Crisis Team” in mid-summer. At 1 p.m. Wednesday, teachers, administrators and counselors will be made available in the high school cafeteria to meet with students “and help them process this news,” the Watervliet City School District said in a statement on its website.

“The charges against Officer Spratt are devastating, and if true, represent an egregious and unforgiveable betrayal of the trust we all placed in him,” the statement said. “As always, our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of students. Our focus over the next few weeks will be helping them to come to terms with this betrayal.”

If convicted. Spratt faces the possibility of 5 1/3 to 16 years in prison on felony charges that include four counts of third-degree criminal sex act, the legal term for sodomy. Each count carries 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison, which could run consecutively. Spratt also faces misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and official misconduct.

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Douchebag cop sexually assaults woman for 7 hours

The alleged victim, a self-described couples relationship and sex coach, says she was trying to report details of an alleged assault at the time.

The accused officer is Jeromie Palaoro, a seven-year veteran of the police bureau, who’s been working as a patrol officer out of the East Precinct.

Earlier this month, Roni Reid-James, of Las Vegas, says she was staying at a hotel in the Pearl District while visiting her boyfriend.

She says she called police on him, saying he’d attacked her at his mother’s home on July 4.

No charges were filed in that case, but Reid-James says Palaoro, one of the officers who responded, called and texted her late that night.

She says Palaoro then showed up at her hotel room around 3:30 a.m. on July 5 wearing street clothes and offering to talk to her about the alleged assault.

But Reid-James says once he got inside he pulled out his gun and set it on a table.

She says he then took off all his clothes and ordered her to massage him, allegedly staying in the hotel room for seven hours.

Reid-James complained to the police bureau on July 6 and police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson says officers immediately started investigating.

“The police bureau takes misconduct allegations very seriously,” Simpson told KATU on Wednesday. “The investigation is active and ongoing both in the criminal side of things and in the internal investigation side. At the conclusion of the criminal investigation, the district attorney’s office will be brought in and the case will be reviewed for possible criminal charges.”

Reid-James says Palaoro groped her and asked for sexual favors during his seven hours in the hotel room.

I don’t have much confidence that Palaoro will be punished.

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14 POLICE OFFICERS TAKE DOWN A HOMELESS MAN WITH A PROSTHETIC LEG 

I recorded the incident August 4th 2015 during the lunch hour. It involves a Black man who was taken down by police in the mid-Market area of San Francisco, between 7th and 8th streets. Though the takedown didn’t occur directly outside of the Twitter building on 9th street, I began to see outlines of the incident unfold from there; a limping Black figure, wearing black, increasingly cornered by a wall of blue. By the time I had crossed 8th street, I was pulling out my phone as fast as I could.

Witnesses said there had been a call about somebody waving sticks around. No one, at least no one that I stayed long enough after the filming, could say for sure where the call came from. One woman said that she heard someone say that one of the deli managers called. By the time I arrived where Joe Bland was (as we’ll call him), several officers had arrived on the scene, and forced this man to the ground, which is where this footage begins. And they held him down, much of the time half-naked, for at least half an hour on one of San Francisco’s busiest streets.

The sticks? They were his crutches. You can hear people in the background around say so much. From my vantage point on the shore of 8th street, I could see the man reluctantly hand over his crutches. The man, it turned out, only had one leg; the other was a prosthetic. It is often twisted and backwards in the video. And this was the crux of the heightened tension between the police and Joe Bland; they wanted his crutches and he did not want to give them away. “What are you doing this for?” he asked so many times. “These are my crutches. I use these to walk.” He repeats this throughout the footage. An officer can be seen at the 5 second time-mark stomping on the man’s prosthetic leg. In further efforts to subdue a man already on the ground with four people on top of him, they stood on his leg, held it, and twisted it around even after they had cuffed him and pinned him to the piss-stained concrete.

Even when restrained and clearly unable to walk, several officers continued to hold him down to the ground.

1- Why would someone contact the police over an individual waving sticks? Are sticks some new type of deadly weapon I haven’t heard about?

2. Why did it require the involvement of 14 officers? Oh, I forgot, they hate being filmed when they engage in their violations of the constitutional rights of USAmerican citizens.

3. When the cops realized the man was “wielding” crutches, why did they not turn around and go home?

4. Do I really live in a country where people think openly carrying a firearm is A-OK, but waving around sticks (or crutches) is such a threat to public safety that the police need to intervene?

This version of the video is 11 minutes long (the incident actually went on way longer and I have roughly 30 minutes of footage) but here’s a brief summary of what you can see.

5 seconds in, you can see a cop literally stomp this man’s real leg and prosthetic leg.

At 10 seconds, the man-handling of his head begins.

At 22 seconds the man says, “What the fuck is you doing this to me?”

Around 1:35, the “Blue Wall” begins to form to block my filming.

Around 3:11, you can see that the man is partially nude, his ass is exposed. You can also hear me responding to the things that officers are saying to me, even if you can’t really hear them. Among the things they said: “You don’t live here,” “What do you do?” and “Oh, you’re a journalist, right, for who?”

I’m glad Chaédria LaBouvier was there to film and that she chose to share this with the world.

Around 3:55, you can’t hear him, but the man on the ground says, “they’re going to shoot me” and then you can clearly hear someone behind me say, “They ain’t gonna shoot you man, that’s why we have these cameras out here.”

Whoever said that must not have been black. And look! They’re still not treating the man with decency by allowing him to fully dress himself.

4:00 the wall begins to deepen and you can also see his nude backside completely exposed.

Around 6:00 he begins saying how much it hurts — “this shit hurts” and at 6:44, he says, “ That shit hurts…I have a fucking sore, an infection, on my leg.”

Why do I think they don’t care? Oh, wait, he’s black. So of course they don’t care.

Around 7:00 the man begins asking, “What the fuck is wrong with you, is this what you do? [inaudible? something “treat me”?] Is this respectable? When I say ‘no’, is this what you do to me?”

At 7:25 he’s explaining to them, as he has before — and other people in the background have also corroborated — that he was walking with the sticks that were confiscated from him.

It goes on.

Add another activity to the list of things black people cannot perform without facing police harassment: walking on crutches while black.

These incidents are so quotidian, so mundane, that they do not merit a mention in even passing on the local news. Which is to say, this is everyday harassment. Which is to say, that we’ve normalized and habitualized the kind of policing in San Francisco and the rest of America that brutalizes the most vulnerable people, which strips them of their human dignity, the agency to their bodies — to walk with crutches when physically disabled, to have this body unviolated — when in actuality, they are whom the police are especially supposed to be protecting.

Seriously! Did these cops get off on using their power abuse someone who may likely be a member of one of the most vulnerable and victimized groups in society? This is not right. This is not just. Their actions did not serve the public good and this is not the way police officers should behave. Unfortunately, the history of policing in the United States is rife with police harassment and brutality directed against black bodies. So the behavior of the SFPD are not out of the norm. They *are* the norm.

And it gets better. It wasn’t enough for this man to be harassed, humiliated, and degraded:

I don’t know who Joe Bland is. I and others tried to get his name, but we could not make it out very well. Long after my meeting at Medium, watching the video by frames and discussing this with Bobbie Johnson about what to do next (who did a tremendous job in helping this come together and edit this), I was still at a loss for exactly what he’d done. But I do know that the police didn’t even put him under arrest: SFFD medics strapped him, against his will, to a stretcher and took him to hospital, for no apparent reason. I do know that he was humiliated, crying and deeply upset, but that and being physically handicapped are not enough reasons to be sent to the hospital. I do know that 14 officers to take down a presumably homeless man with one leg seems like a waste of resources and unreasonable.

I’d say ‘unreasonable’ is an understatement. This was a travesty. It was a violation of this mans basic rights. There was no justification for the actions of the SFPD.  And yet, African-Americans are the ones who are the thugs.

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INMATE’S DEATH FOLLOWS REPORTS OF ABUSE AT A NEW YORK STATE PRISON

 

On the evening of April 21 in Building 21 at the Fishkill Correctional Facility, Samuel Harrell, an inmate with a history of erratic behavior linked to bipolar disorder, packed his bags and announced he was going home, though he still had several years left to serve on his drug sentence.

Not long after, he got into a confrontation with corrections officers, was thrown to the floor and was handcuffed. As many as 20 officers — including members of a group known around the prison as the Beat Up Squad — repeatedly kicked and punched Mr. Harrell, who is black, with some of them shouting racial slurs, according to more than a dozen inmate witnesses. “Like he was a trampoline, they were jumping on him,” said Edwin Pearson, an inmate who watched from a nearby bathroom.

I wonder if any of the correctional officers are former members of white supremacist groups.

Mr. Harrell was then thrown or dragged down a staircase, according to the inmates’ accounts. One inmate reported seeing him lying on the landing, “bent in an impossible position.”

“His eyes were open,” the inmate wrote, “but they weren’t looking at anything.”

Corrections officers called for an ambulance, but according to medical records, the officers mentioned nothing about a physical encounter. Rather, the records showed, they told the ambulance crew that Mr. Harrell probably had an overdose of K2, a synthetic marijuana.

Why does it not surprise me that authoritarian thugs covered up their actions and refused to take personal responsibility for their behavior?

He was taken to St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital and at 10:19 p.m. was pronounced dead.

In the four months since, state corrections officials have provided only the barest details about what happened at Fishkill, a medium-security prison in Beacon, N.Y., about 60 miles north of New York City. Citing a continuing investigation by the State Police, officials for weeks had declined to comment on the inmates’ accounts of a beating.

Gotta protect the officers as long as you can.

An autopsy report by the Orange County medical examiner, obtained by The New York Times, concluded that Mr. Harrell, 30, had cuts and bruises to the head and extremities and had no illicit drugs in his system, only an antidepressant and tobacco. He died of cardiac arrhythmia, the autopsy report said, “following physical altercation with corrections officers.”

The manner of death: Homicide.

No drugs in his system? You mean the corrections officers were deceitful? Say it ain’t so!

No officers have been disciplined in connection with the death, officials said. A classification of homicide is a medical term that indicates the death occurred at the hands of other people, but it does not necessarily mean a crime was committed.

Inmate witnesses at Fishkill say they are the ones who have been punished. Several described being put into solitary confinement and threatened with violence after speaking with Mr. Harrell’s family, their lawyers and with news reporters.

This is disgusting, but not surprising. Of course the officers want to silence anyone who speaks out against them. This is far from the first incident involving violence on the part of corrections officers at the facility.

The prison building where Mr. Harrell died has long been singled out as a violent place. In 2013, the Correctional Association of New York, a 171-year-old inmate advocacy group with a legislative mandate to inspect New York State prisons, published a report documenting “harassment and provocation” by officers working in Building 21 from 3 to 11 p.m. This was the same time frame when Mr. Harrell died. The association, which found similar problems in 2005, briefed officials with the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision in fall 2013, including the acting commissioner, Anthony Annucci, as well as Fishkill’s superintendent, William J. Connolly, who resigned this month.

Even so, inmates said, the problems have persisted. Five weeks before Mr. Harrell’s death, David Martinez, an inmate in Building 21 who was serving time for attempted murder, among other charges, filed a grievance saying he was being assaulted and harassed by officers, and asking that the officers on that shift “be split up.” In a subsequent letter, he described them as “a group of rogue officers” who “go around beating up people.”

In July, another inmate, Rickey Rodriguez, said that officers beat him so severely that he lost his two front teeth and had to be hospitalized. Interviewed a little more than a week after he was released from prison, Mr. Rodriguez, who was serving time for attempted murder, was still covered with cuts and bruises, and the white of his right eye was stained red with blood. “They go out of their way to pick and choose to beat on guys,” he said.

And I’m sure most of the time it’s black and brown people they beat up. But racism is over in the U.S.

The Times pieced together the events leading to Mr. Harrell’s death from 19 affidavits and letters written by inmates and obtained through the law firm Beldock Levine & Hoffman, which is representing Mr. Harrell’s family. Most of the inmates shared their affidavits on the condition that their names not be used, because they said they feared retribution from corrections officers. Three agreed to be interviewed with their names made public.

According to Luna Droubi, a lawyer at the firm, at least nine of the inmates who saw what happened had been placed at some point in solitary confinement. She said that the firm would soon file a lawsuit in connection with the death, and that there was a need for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate.

The inmates witnessed the encounter from several vantage points, including a day room and bathroom just a few feet away. Two described being at the bottom of the staircase and seeing Mr. Harrell come falling down.

What sucks is that the word of the inmates will likely be discounted. Because inmates are typically treated as unreliable by investigators. What’s funny is that the officers involved in Harrell’s death have already displayed enough dishonesty to call into question their version of events.

The day he died, several inmates described him as being depressed and withdrawn. Ibrahim Camara said he found Mr. Harrell sitting alone, watching television and asked what was wrong. “I said, ‘Is it your mom, family or something?’” Mr. Camara recalled in a phone interview from prison. “He shook his head yes.” Mr. Harrell’s mother had died in November.

Around 8:30 that night, Mr. Harrell — whose nickname was JRock — told two officers that his wife and sister were coming to pick him up and take him home, according to one inmate’s affidavit.

His earliest release date from prison was September 2020.

The officers called for medical and mental health assistance but could not reach anyone, the inmate reported. Soon after, the inmate said that two more officers arrived. “I believe JRock panicked after seeing all those officers surrounding him,” the inmate wrote. “JRock jumped up and ran.”

Mr. Camara said he was in the day room, watching a playoff game between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, when he heard a commotion in the hallway. “Me and other inmates, we hear the walls shaking, doom, doom, doom, doom,” he recalled. “Somebody opened up the door and looked outside, and said, ‘Yo, that’s JRock they got out there.’”

He was on the floor, face down and handcuffed, several inmates said. In short order, a large group of officers converged around him. The inmates in their affidavits and letters identified nine officers by name as being involved.

“I saw the officers kicking him, jumping on his head multiple times and screaming, ‘Stop resisting,’ even though I didn’t see him moving,” wrote Mr. Pearson, who has since been released after serving two years on a weapons charge.

Every single one of these fuckheads should be fired. And brought up on charges.

While Mr. Harrell lay still on the floor, officers periodically walked by, kicking him and hitting him, Mr. Camara said.

Most of the inmates could identify the officers by last names only, which they spelled in a variety of ways in their affidavits. In a database of New York State employees, seethroughny.net, there are several Fishkill officers who appeared to match the guards most often named by the inmates as being directly involved in the encounter. They are Thomas Dickenson (named by 10 of the inmates), John Yager (10), Officer Michels (nine), Bryan Eull (five) and a white woman they knew only as “Ms. B” (four).

They also identified the ranking officer at the scene as Sgt. Joseph Guarino. Reached by telephone, Sergeant Guarino confirmed he was present that night but said he could not comment.

Neither the corrections department nor the union would confirm the names of the officers. Reached by phone, several of the officers declined to comment. Others did not respond to voice mail messages, emails or messages sent through Facebook.

Through the years, Sergeant Guarino, 60, has been sued several times by inmates accusing him of brutality. One case was settled by the state in 2012 for $60,000 and another in 2011 for $65,000. In a 2011 deposition, he said inmates typically filed about 30 grievances against him a year and referred to him by the nickname Sergeant Searchalot.

Four inmates wrote that after Officer Michels was taken away, they heard Sergeant Guarino order officers to throw Mr. Harrell down the stairs.

This is incomprehensible to me. How can people be this heartless, uncaring, and vicious? Where does it come from? Where did their compassion and empathy for others go?

“Harrell came rolling sideways down the stairs,” Mr. Martinez wrote, adding that he had a “bedsheet tied all around his body and he was in mechanical restraints.”

Mr. Martinez said that two officers he identified as Mr. Eull and Mr. Dickenson then tried to put Mr. Harrell into a wheelchair but had difficulty lifting him.

Mr. Harrell, he wrote, “was not responsive at all” and “kept sliding off the wheelchair.”

Another inmate who was nearby said that Officer Eull ordered him to stop looking, and then grabbed him and pushed him into a corner. “He then told me, ‘You better forget what you saw here if you ever want to make it home,’” the affidavit said.

Mr. Harrell’s sister, Cerissa Harrell, left, and his wife, Diane, in Cerissa Harrell’s apartment in Kingston, N.Y. Credit Richard Perry/The New York Times

My heart goes out to his family. I can’t imagine how torturous this must be to them.

For a look into how the media can manipulate a story, take a look at this article from the Poughkeepsie Journal. They cover the same story as the New York Times (they even cite the paper), but they leave a lot of relevant information out. In addition, it is obvious they’re trying to paint the corrections officers in a sympathetic light. Hell, they even use a mugshot of Harrell, while the NYT used a shot of him with his niece.

* * * *

PATROLMAN ARRESTs MAN WHO CALLED OFFICERS ‘PIGS’

A Newport man was arrested by Newport Police Department patrolman Derek Wright early Friday after allegedly calling officers “Pigs”.

William G. Reece, 19, 1217 Fine St., Newport, was in a car that passed by officers finishing up a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 321. Reece allegedly opened a door in the vehicle and yelled, “Pigs!” to the officers who were at Zoomer’s, at 3:26 a.m.

Reece is charged with disorderly conduct, Wright stated in his report.

Wright reported that the incident began when he observed a white Honda traveling north on Cosby Highway at about 30-40 mph.

Reece, a passenger in the rear of the vehicle, allegedly opened the door while the vehicle was in motion and yelled “Pigs!” Wright said he stopped the vehicle and found Reece to be the passenger. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct “due to creating a hazardous condition that served no legitimate purpose,” the report states.

That charge strikes me as utter nonsense. It looks like nothing more than an excuse for the chance to get payback against a civilian who dared to disrespect an officer of the law (the guy is lucky he is white; had he been black, the payback would probably have been far worse). This mentality is dangerous. Too many officers expect people to respect their authority, as if being in a police uniform and being empowered by the state somehow grants them respectability. It doesn’t. Actions and deeds determine whether someone is worthy of respect. It’s all the more frustrating bc so many officers expect civilians to treat them with deference, but are unwilling to do the same in reverse.

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Police Behaving Badly 8.18.15
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One thought on “Police Behaving Badly 8.18.15

  1. 1

    Thanks for this, Tony.  Tough read as it is.
    I’ve got through the San Francisco and Fishkill Prison stories.  I think I’m going to have to absorb the other three a bit later on.
    San Fran FUCKING Cisco, people!  That is NOT the South.  That is where Democratic Senator and white liberal darling Barbara f*cking Boxer spent a lot of her political career.  (Sen Feinstein is no liberal’s darling…)

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