Police Behaving Badly 10.16.15

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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 United states:

EX-PROVIDENCE OFFICER FILES SUIT CLAIMING DISCRIMINATION IN ARREST BY FELLOW OFFICERS

According to the lawsuit, Christopher and Tyler Owens, who are African American, were doing yard work at their 26 Glenbridge Ave. home on Sept. 19, 2012, when they heard sirens and saw a tow truck driven by Sean Sparfven hit a car on their street. At the time, Sparfven was fleeing the police who suspected him of dealing in stolen vehicles, and he had led officers on a high-speed chase from North Providence.

Christopher Owens, who had worked as a school resource officer at Hope High School, went to assist the woman driving the car that Sparfven had struck and learned she was a federal law enforcement officer.

Owens then pursued Sparfven as he attempted run away and tackled him in what turned into a violent struggle. Providence officers, some of whom Owens worked with or attended academy with, arrived along with state police and others.

According to the lawsuit, Owens was then assaulted, handcuffed and placed in the back of a cruiser by Providence officers Martin A. Rawnsley and Frank Furtado, Lt. Oscar Perez and state police Detective Mark McGarrity, despite repeatedly identifying himself as a Providence police officer.

He identified himself as a police officer multiple times, yet was ignored and still treated as a suspect. Remember this for a bit later.

Tyler Owens, who had worked undercover on details with the Providence police, was assaulted, punched in the face, handcuffed and placed in the back of a cruiser by Rawnsley, the lawsuit says.

Christopher Owens suffered multiple injuries and received injured in the line of duty benefits. He has been approved by the Retirement Board for a disability pension. He never returned to work.

The Providence police and the state police later credited Christopher Owens for apprehending Sparfven and acknowledged that he had been injured.

The lawsuit alleges that although Owens single-handedly apprehended Sparvfen while putting himself in grave danger, he and his son were treated as criminals. “They were assaulted, arrested, handcuffed and placed in the rear of police cars due to the color of their skin and because they are African Americans. One officer remarked that all he saw was a big black guy,” the suit says.

Well of course they were all treated the same. According to the stereotype (which is totes true), all black men look alike. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been mistaken for Michael Jordan, Herman Cain, or Dr. Ben Carson.

The suit also asserts that some of the officers who arrived on the scene later tried to deny that they participated or were even there. The Providence Police Department acknowledged that the treatment of Owens and his son was motivated by their race, the suit says.

The Owenses accuse Rawnsley, Furtado, McGarrity and other unnamed officers of violating their Fourth and 14th Amendment rights as well as assault and battery and negligence. In addition, they allege the City of Providence and the Police Department maintains policies and practices that display deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of citizens that contributed to the assaults.

[…]

Col. Steven G. O’Donnell, state police superintendent, said Owens had not followed Providence police policies for identifying himself as an officer at the scene. “It’s unfortunate he was injured. It was a dynamic scene, but he has some responsibility for what transpired in that back yard,” he said.

Remember how I said to recall that Owens identified himself multiple times? Yeah. So either Owens lied, O’Donnell is lying, or the cops lied in their reports. Me, I think Owens is telling the truth when he said he identified himself as a police officer several times. When it comes to the use of excessive force, I’ve read too many tales of police officers lying to cover their asses to trust that “oh, this one time, they’re being honest”.

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DASHCAM REFUTES COP’S STORY OF ‘FEARING FOR HIS LIFE,’ SHOWS HIM TASER MAN FOR PARKING TICKET

Here’s another example of how important video can be during interactions between police officers and civilians. Dashcam footage of an incident last year demonstrates that a police officer in Kansas City, MO lied about the reasons he used excessive force against a Short Stop Mini Mart store clerk:

On May 31, 2014, Officer Dale Secor approached a car parked perpendicular in a driveway and attempted to look through its tinted windows. When Short Stop Mini Mart clerk Damian Words saw the officer checking out his car, he stepped out of the store and crossed the street towards Secor. Before even speaking with Words, the officer immediately radioed for backup.

“You can’t park on the sidewalk,” Secor told Words.

“But you can’t go in nobody’s car,” Words responded.

“I can tow your car,” Secor replied.

Instead of writing a ticket or asking Words to move his car, Secor can be seen on dash cam video ignoring the clerk’s explanation while ordering Words to hand over his identification.

Here is the first example of the officer not de-escalating the situation. Rather than simply write a ticket or asking the clerk to move his car, he demands Words show his ID. Why?

“What you need my ID for?” Words inquired.

“Your car’s parked illegally,” Secor answered even though a driver’s license is not required to issue a parking violation.

“So what? You going to give me a ticket? For what?” Words asked.

“Your car’s parked illegally,” Secor repeated.

He could have simply written a ticket. Why did he not simply do that? What else is going on?

As Words tries to explain why his car is parked illegally, Secor suddenly orders him to turn around in an attempt to detain him. Words, who is unarmed and not making any threatening gestures, explains, “I’ve got a store that I’m running. Man, I’m not about to turn around.”

“Turn around or you’re gonna get tased. You’re under arrest!” Secor shouts while aiming his Taser at Words. Although Words attempts to speak rationally with the aggressive officer, Secor instantly escalates the situation instead of talking to Words like a person. As a patrol car approaches in the background, Secor inexplicably fires his Taser hitting Words in the arm and chest without reason.

And here we see a further example of escalating the situation. There was already no need to ask for Words’ ID. Compounding that, the officer decides to detain the clerk for absolutely no reason. An illegally parked car is no reason for detaining a civilian, and Words had done nothing else to warrant being detained. Then to not only threaten him with being tased, but to actually tase him?! For what?! Why couldn’t he have simply talked with Words? Why couldn’t the cop have treated him like an adult and respected him as a human being? This is unfettered authoritarianism.

After Words hits the ground, the second officer exits his vehicle and cuffs his hands behind his back. With the second officer squatting over his head, Words says, “Golly, man! I work here.”

Without an ounce of compassion, the second officer continues squatting over him and replies, “Yeah? Good for you, dude.”

Of course the second officer backs up the first, bc cops are never wrong, misguided, racist, or assholes, amirite?

Although Secor was able to remove the Taser probe in Words’ chest, the store clerk had to wait ten minutes for paramedics to remove the probe in his arm. In his arrest report, Secor claimed that he feared Words may have had a weapon, but no weapon was found at the scene. Secor also wrote that Words, “bladed his body and got into a power stance” a moment before Secor fired his Taser.

But Secor’s dash cam video revealed that the officer provided false information in his report. During the moments before Secor fired his Taser, Words remained calm with his empty hands exposed and not standing in a threatening position. He simply wanted to know why Secor was arresting him over a parking ticket.

And there’s the lie. A “power stance”. Uh-huh. Here, Secor further violates the trust placed in him by the community. Police officers are entrusted with powers by the state-powers such as the ability to detain and arrest, or even kill others if lethal force is deemed necessary-and they should act in a manner that demonstrates they deserve that trust. By deliberately lying about the actions of Mr. Words, Secor fails to live up to the trust placed in him by the community. And oh, look! Another lie:

Secor also wrote in his report that Words was listed as a known gang member after running his license plate. But federal records and state records in Kansas, Missouri, and Michigan reveal that Words is not a gang member and has no history of violent crime.

Normally, I wouldn’t call for people to fired over a situation like this, bc I’m sensitive to being unemployed. But across the United States, police officers continue to act as authoritarian thugs, who feel they can bully, badger, browbeat, and brutalize civilians and get away with it. And for too long, they’ve been able to do just that. Examples need to be made. They needed to be made yesterday. Secor needs to be fired *and* he needs to be ineligible for employment in any law enforcement capacity anywhere in the United States. Of course that won’t happen. Dammit.

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MAN KILLED BY LAPD HAD THROWN BEER BOTTLE THROUGH POLICE CAR WINDOW, CHIEF SAYS

Two Los Angeles police officers were stopped at a red light in Van Nuys when the back window of their patrol car shattered.

Fearing they were under fire, the officers bailed out of the cruiser and fired their own guns at a nearby man they believed was responsible, killing him, LAPD officials said.

When investigators searched his body and the nearby scene, they didn’t find a gun or any other weapon, police said Monday. Instead, they determined that he had shattered the patrol car’s window by throwing a 40-ounce beer bottle.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck offered new details Monday about the latest shooting by his officers, the 18th time this year that police have shot and killed someone. The man’s name had not been released as of Monday evening, coroner’s officials said, because they were still trying to notify his family.

Beck stressed that the investigation into Saturday night’s deadly encounter was still in its early stages.

“The primary thing to look at here is: Were the officers’ perceptions reasonable?” he said. “Not were they correct, but were they reasonable?”

No matter the results of the investigation (and I don’t have high hopes that the actions of the officers will be deemed unreasonable), police officers across the country need to be retrained on how to assess the level of danger they face. From the above article, it sounds like the officers made a snap judgment before they fully assessed the situation.

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  • Insufficient training and/or supervision of law enforcement officials regarding the limitations on their use of force as outlined by the Constitution.
  • Inadequate punishment of law enforcement officials for unconstitutional uses of force.
  • Failure to properly investigate civilian claims of excessive force by law enforcement officials.

These are just a few of the accusations filed in a lawsuit by 29-year-old Kali Reis against the city of Providence, RI, its police department, and a retired Providence police officer.

According to the lawsuit, Reis was working security at the club in October 2012 doing “light duty” due to an injury that left her in a leg brace. A fight broke out around 2:40 a.m. involving 15 to 20 patrons. All the security staff responded, except Reis, who manned the rear door to make sure no one entered or exited.

Club staff broke the fight up and began escorting people out the door. Reis then noticed that a coworker was lying on the floor apparently unconscious. Reis, who is certified in first aid, went to assist when Daniels approached her from behind and yelled “give her some air,” the suit said. No one on the force rendered aid. Instead, the suit said, Daniels threw Reis away from her colleague and across the dance floor.

Reis, who is a Native American professional boxer, stood up with her hands in the air, according to the suit by lawyer Michael P. Fontaine. Daniels grabbed her arms and then hit her with a closed fist, prompting her to put her hands up in a defensive position, it said.

Daniels repeatedly pepper-sprayed her, wrestled her to the ground and placed his full weight on her as he handcuffed her, the suit says. Reis said she believed surveillance footage of the incident was confiscated by the department’s internal affairs division, which had a long-standing investigation in the works into alleged misconduct by Daniels and “his continuing and ongoing pattern of abusing citizens.”

The suit says that Reis was picked up by the handcuffs, placed in the back of a police wagon and told by her supervisor that Daniels would release her if she apologized. She was never placed under arrest, but apologized, with some convincing, and was released from police custody.

Reis, 29, a Seaconke Wampanoag from Providence, alleges that the actions of Daniels and the department, through its indifference to training and supervision of its officers, represented a knowing, willful and reckless disregard for her federal protected right and the rights of citizens to be free of excessive force by police.

Why did he grab her? Why did he throw her? Why did he pepper-spray her? Why was she handcuffed and placed in the back of a police wagon? WTF was she supposed to apologize for? I’m perversely interested in hearing what Daniels has to say in response to all of that. In any case, I hope she wins and gets a ton of money.

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 CALIFORNIA DEPUTY CAUGHT ON LIFE TV BRUTALLY BEATING UNARMED BLACK SUSPECT

Huffington Post reported that officers had pursued a burglary suspect for 40 minutes from Rancho Cucamonga to Pasadena. One police cruiser collided with a tree during the chase.

Officer Monica Posada with the California Highway Patrol said the chase began around 10:53 a.m. and involved a suspect in a 1996 Lincoln Coupe.

In aerial video captured at the end of the chase by a KTLA news helicopter, a man is seen lying on the ground with his hands behind his back while one deputy holds a pistol on him and a second deputy approaches him, then begins to violently beat him.

The deputy threw at least 15 punches and kneed the suspect — identified by the L.A. Times as 25-year-old Donovan Gardner — in the head two times, said KTLA.

“There were two officers and they were pummeling him from each side,” said witness Aleta Hancock.

Sigh. Another day, another incident of a law enforcement official using excessive force against a suspect. And BONUS! The actions of said official, rather than being condemned as decent human beings do, are supported by a department spokesperson.

A sheriff’s department spokesman said there was nothing out of order in deputies’ treatment of Gardner.

Sgt. Phill Dupper told KTLA that the car chase “was a violent criminal act by criminals that had no regard for anyone’s life.”

This spokesperson clearly believes that criminals lose their rights just by the act of being a criminal. Moreover, this person feels that severely beating a criminal who HAS A GUN TO THEIR HEAD is justified. Shit like this happens every single day, and has been going on for countless years and decades. And people wonder why so many folks don’t like cops.

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Police Behaving Badly 10.16.15
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