At a recent presidential candidate forum, former Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker was asked about police brutality and racial inequities. Rather than address any of the numerous examples of excessive force used by police against unarmed civilians, or how racial prejudice may play into many such incidents, Walker decided instead to express his unequivocal support for police officers:
“Do we have an issue in this country that we have to deal with when it comes to race? Absolutely,”he said. “But we shouldn’t confuse that into somehow thinking that that means we shouldn’t treat our law enforcement professionals as the great men and women that they are.”
He continued, refusing to admit that any of the officers involved in the recent, high-profile deadly shootings may have made a mistake. Instead, he told the story of Deputy Darren H. Goforth, a police officer who was killed in Texas earlier this year.
“Every leader we have — at the local level, the state level, all the way up to the president of the United States, for that matter anyone in the clergy and business and anywhere else — needs to step up and say that is wrong,” he said. “The men and women who wear the badge are doing the right thing, every day. All the time. they protect us. We need to have their back. As president, I will have their back every single day.”
In the United States Scott Walker apparently lives in, all law enforcement officials are good, morally upstanding individuals with integrity and compassion and an unwavering devotion to upholding the law. To him, police officers are entitled to respect and obeisance on the basis of nothing more than their position, regardless of their actions. Such thinking marks Walker as a multiply-privileged, empathy-deficient, authoritarian out of touch with the lives of many of the U.S. citizens he once sought to preside over. Authoritarian, because blind obedience to law enforcement officials is a textbook example of authoritarianism. Empathy-deficient, because Walker does not live in a vacuum. As a political official, it strains belief to think he hasn’t heard of the multiple high profile cases of police officers shooting unarmed or fleeing suspects. No, he’s heard of them. He simply doesn’t care about the people that have been injured and killed by cops. And multiply-privileged because as a white, heterosexual, cisgender male politician, he is highly unlikely to ever be the victim of police brutality.
For those of us who do not live in Scott Walker’s USAmerica, the experience is quite a bit different. We are aware of the existence of law-abiding, ethical, law enforcement officials who live up to the responsibilities of their job and do not abuse their power. Unlike Scott Walker, however, we also know that law enforcement agencies across the country are infested with morally bankrupt, unethical, corrupt, tyrannical thugs. How do we know these things? Because we have gifts Walker does not. We have the superhuman ability [and desire] to pay attention to stories of police brutality and abuse of power. Stories like the following five:
Sacramento County sheriff’s Deputy Paul “Scotte” Pfeifer has been hailed as a hero cop.
The 14-year veteran has won numerous awards in his career, including the department’s highest honor – the Sheriff’s Gold Medal of Valor – for helping save a baby from a three-day hostage situation on Arden Way.
He has been lauded for bravery, honored by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors and the Carmichael Elks Lodge for helping address the transient problem in the area, feted by the Sacramento chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution and recognized by the California Peace Officers’ Association.
He also has been accused in court of using excessive force at least three times since 2009, each time over his use of a flashlight as a weapon, and captured on video in two separate incidents beating a suspect with a long, metal flashlight. Video of one of those incidents began circulating in December. The Sacramento Bee this month obtained exclusive video of the second incident – shot from the dashboard cameras of two patrol cars.
In the most recent complaint, Pfeifer was sued this month in Sacramento Superior Court by a Carmichael man who says he was beaten, pepper-sprayed and shot with Taser darts in December as two bystanders captured the scene on video.
“On the day in question, for no reason other than an apparent reaction to ‘contempt of cop’ conduct, Deputy Pfeifer tasered, pepper-sprayed and beat plaintiff in the middle of the street, in broad daylight, with his department-issued flashlight,” according to the suit filed by Sacramento attorney Stewart Katz. “The wrongful attack was witnessed by many citizens who were appalled by the conduct, some of whom recorded the deputy’s illegal conduct.”
The plaintiff is John Reyes, 51, who suffered a broken nose, broken ribs, a concussion and a large gash above his left eye, according to the complaint.
As we’ve increasingly seen over the last few years, incidents of police brutality come to the attention of the public largely because they’ve been recorded by civilians. The video, available at the link shows Deputy Pfeifer beating on a man who is laying in the street. The man, John Reyes, is not an immediate threat. Hell, he’s not even moving when Pfeifer begins to beat him. Absolutely disgusting and unconscionable behavior on the part of an officer of the law. I’d cross my fingers and hope he’s arrested, tried, found guilty, and imprisoned, but that would be getting my hopes up far too high. If anything happens, it will probably be a slap on the wrist, like a demotion.
Incidentally, for me, when I’m reading an article about a police officer who has behaved like this, I neither need, nor want to hear about how great the officer has been in the past. Yeah, he did good in the past, but that’s not what we’re talking about right now, so its inclusion in an article like this is irrelevant at best.
Germantown police officer James Kensinger is fired, Deputy Chief Rodney Bright said Tuesday.
Kensinger was recommended for termination Sept. 4, Bright said. He still has the option to appeal, though he has to do so by Wednesday afternoon.
Kensinger was charged in April with rape, aggravated assault, bodily harm and domestic assault. The police department uncovered other internal violations during an investigation into the charges.
He had been suspended with pay since his arrest.
Apparently this thug pulled the victim into a house and after ripping her clothes off, raped her (source). Unlike the cop in the previous story, Kensinger has been arrested* and fired, but I don’t have much confidence that he’ll be found guilty and go to jail (hell, he will likely go on to be hired by another police department). Because not only was he a cop and cops typically have the blue badge of privilege, it is a sad fact that most rapists will never see in the inside of a jail cell for their horrific violation of others.
*it bugs me that he was arrested back in April, but continued to be paid until he was fired-in September.
This next story is not the least bit surprising to me. 51-year-old George Roberts, who is a supervisor at the Independent Police Review Authority (they investigate officer-involved shootings and allegations of officer misconduct), filed a lawsuit seeking unspecified damages against the Chicago PD, six named police officers, and one unnamed officer. In the lawsuit, Roberts claims he was falsely arrested, subjected to police brutality, and had his constitutional rights violated after he was stopped for a minor traffic violation on New Year’s Day of this year. He was pulled over after leaving a bar, and after his IPRA id was found, things turned ugly:
Immediately afterwards, the police dash cam recording the traffic stop cuts to black; Roberts alleges in his federal lawsuit against the police this is because another officer intentionally turned off the camera. Roberts’s attorney claims police paperwork did not even note any footage existed. In fact, police only admitted to its existence when Roberts’s criminal counsel discovered it during his trial for driving under the influence.
With no footage to contest their account of the incident, police told the media that Roberts was drunk and swerving his vehicle and that he refused to answer questions or to take a field-sobriety test. They arrested him for minor traffic violations and DUI. Police said he fell asleep in the back of the squad car and he soiled himself.
The officers covered up evidence to hide their culpability and lied on official reports? We *never* hear of that happening. I wonder what they were trying to hide.
Roberts’s wrists were too large for the single pair of handcuffs police slapped on him, his lawyer says. When Roberts, at 6-foot-3 and 315 pounds, complained that even the slightest movement caused the cuffs to cut into his wrists, Officer “R. Adams” allegedly taunted him with Eric Garner’s last words.
“What are you going to tell me next, you can’t breathe?”
Roberts, who is black, claims he was pulled out of the car and thrown to the ground again—a collision so violent that it made him lose control of his bowels. From there Roberts was taken to the lock-up, where he stayed overnight in his soiled clothes.
The only visit from an officer that night was borne not of concern but jubilation, according to Roberts. A white-shirt officer, which denotes high rank, peered in on Roberts as he sat defeated on the cell floor, then pointed and laughed.
I see. I wonder if they were looking to take out some anger and hostility on a member of the IPRA or if they were looking to lynch a black man? Well shoot, it doesn’t have to be one or the other, does it?!
What’s extra fucked up about this is that even though the IPRA is a police accountability organization, they have only found one out of 400 officer-involved shootings unjustified. In fact, one of their previous investigators was fired (for “bias against police”) after he was allegedly told to reverse his findings on police misconduct. Seems police officers in Chicago don’t have much to worry about from the IPRA.
On 9/19, the families of John Crawford, III, Sam DuBose, Tamir Rice, and Samantha Ramsey recently participated in the United March for Justice in Cincinnati, OH. Joining them to mark the two-month anniversary of the death of DuBose were a group of citizens journalists-The Awakened Media-who were there to document the march:
The day began with a private cookout for close friends and family members, of the fallen, to get a chance to meet before the march. We then walked to the police station and joined roughly 40 people that had already begun to hold signs up high. We took to the streets and walked through the neighborhoods with chants and singing that echoed off the buildings. The only time we stopped was near the corner where Sam was murdered. There was a moment of silence, prayer, singing, and heartfelt words spoken to the crowd from the families.
After a walk back to the police station and a small break, supporters took to the streets, chanting and walking up into the business district of Clifton. The police chose not to intervene until this point. What were a few annoyed cops on motorcycles became many angry agitated police officers in cars, SUV’s, vans, more motorcycles and on foot.
Police approached the peaceful protesters from the rear and forced everyone onto the sidewalk with aggressive screaming and shoving. Dan Joseph described the moments leading up to being tasered: “I’m walking down the street and one of the cops tried to push me over to the side with his vehicle. He comes over and tries to push me over, so I flipped him off, which is not illegal at all,” Joseph said. “Soon as I turn around, I saw that cop jump out of his car, jump on his radio, single me out, which at that point I was in fear for my life.”
As seen in the videos, an unmarked police car passes Joseph and Joseph gestures the ‘middle finger’ through the window. A marked police cruiser then passes by the unmarked car with its passenger door open and an officer poised to jump out of the passenger seat with his taser drawn. The officer jumps out, yells “Stop” and immediately uses the Taser on Joseph.
Cops really need to stop thinking they are owed respect. It’s treatment like this that leads to people distrusting them and feeling the need to flip them the finger.
On February 16, 2014, deputies responded to a 9-1-1 call about a fight between Chris Thomas and his father Willie. Arriving at the residence, deputies began speaking with Willie outside while his son remained inside the house loading a shotgun. In an attempt to de-escalate the situation, Willie’s girlfriend, Yvette Smith, was able to convince Chris to unload the shotgun and leave it on a table.
As Smith stepped through the front door to check on her boyfriend, Deputy Daniel Willis shot her twice, killing the unarmed woman. Officers initially claimed that Smith had been brandishing a firearm and ignored their commands when Willis was forced to gun her down. But the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office retracted the statement the following day after admitting Smith had not been armed when Willis killed her.
Arriving at the scene moments before the fatal shooting, Deputy Scott Gaskamp wrote in his incident report and told investigators that the officers had ordered Smith to show them her hands, to open the door, and come out of the house. Willis also told investigators that Deputy Gaskamp had issued orders at Smith before the shooting. But the recently released dash-cam video proved in court this week that none of the deputies issued any orders before Willis opened fire.
So they lied about giving her orders. They lied about her having a weapon. Sigh. And they wonder why so many people say ‘fuck the police’. Justice may yet be had for the family of Yvette Smith though:
In March, the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office demoted and suspended a lieutenant and sergeant for tampering with Willis’ training records right after the shooting. Lt. Joey Dzienowski was demoted to patrol duty and suspended for 240 hours, while Sgt. David Repka was demoted to patrol duty and suspended for 32 hours after altering Willis’ files during an active investigation.
After a grand jury indicted Willis for murder and Smith’s family received $1.2 million from a settlement with Bastrop County, Willis was fired from the department. His murder trial is ongoing. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.
I hope he doesn’t benefit from the blue badge of privilege that shields so many law enforcement officers from punishment by the courts.
It galls me to hear Scott Walker or any other public figure talk about treating law enforcement officers as the “great men and women they are”. Incidents like this occur all the time and are increasingly being reported in the mainstream media. They are not rare cases of a few bad apples. Nor is the problem limited solely to individual police officers. The Justice Department has released multiple reports condemning entire police departments around the country. This unquestioning support for law enforcement has got to stop. Until it does, corrupt, authoritarian thugs with a badge are going to continue wrecking havoc and causing the suffering and death of civilians.