I began the ‘Police Behaving Badly’ series in 2014 to document the stories of police officers who engaged in questionable, unethical, immoral, or illegal behavior. At the time, I knew that there were cases of on-duty cops sexually assaulting women, that cops had been caught stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug suspects, that it was not uncommon for officers to use excessive force, and that police brutality and racism often go hand-in-hand. What I didn’t know was how often this shit occurred. I didn’t know how pervasive these problems were. Like many, I trusted law enforcement officials. As I read more and more stories of police officers behaving badly, I came to realize that these individual cases pointed to a more significant problem-rampant corruption within law enforcement across the country as well as departments filled with sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, racist officers. Not just individual officers either, but entire police departments (the New York and Ferguson PDs immediately spring to mind). I learned that this shit happens all the time and as a result, this series will continue for a very, very long time (as long as I’m blogging most likely). Here are several recent examples of Police Behaving Badly:
Unethical. Immoral. Illegal. Those three words are an accurate description of the actions of ex-Chesterfield police officer David Cerna. Cerna stands accused of molesting the 18-year-old son of a Chesterfield mother.
She does not want to be identified, in order to protect her son. She said a Chesterfield Police Lt. told her that his former fellow officer abused her 18-year-old son. She said the Lt. told her Cerna, ‘had pictures of my son on his computer along with my son`s other parts.’
She thought back to when officer Cerna arrested her son on a misdemeanor, claiming her son was fighting another kid. She said, ‘I saw my son, who has a disability, in the back of a police car, handcuffed and he kept on… `Mom, what`s going on? Where am I going? What did I do?`’
That was on Christmas Day, 2013. Cerna reportedly took the teen back to a police holding room, alone.
Attorney Gonzalo Fernandez explained what happened next. He said, ‘David Cerna not only did a very thorough frisking, including frisking the genitalia, he would also pull out the sweat pants and appeared to be looking for contraband or weapons, at least that`s what the young man thought.’ Fernandez continued, ‘He had no idea there was a camera and he`s back alone with David Cerna thinking that`s what police officers do.’
“That’s what police officers do”. As a society we grant too much unearned respect and place too much trust in the hands of police officers. While some of them deserve that respect and trust, far too many do not. And their behavior, their illegal, immoral, unethical behavior, goes on and on, leaving a trail of victims in their wake (and probably emboldening the officers as well).
Attorney Gonzalo Fernandez said the police investigation that followed, uncovered evidence that Cerna victimized others while on duty. Fernandez explained, ‘In fact the contact would often be initiated by him performing some sort of traffic stop.’ Fernandez added, ‘Some of these people are minors… I know one of them was as young as 16.’
Like I said, a trail of victims. I really think at this point that police officers nationwide should be stripped of much of their power. There are just too many abuses of civilians, too many cases of unconstitutional use of excessive force, too much corruption. And it goes on and on and on. Worse still, much of this stuff is never uncovered. Thankfully at least, in this case, Cerna has been caught and will hopefully face the full force of the justice system.
Mom added, ‘It`s messed my son up horribly. He is paranoid all the time, thinking that someone is watching him, all the time. He won`t sleep alone. He thinks people are after him all the time.’
I cannot imagine how that young man feels. To be violated in such a manner by someone whom he trusted and respected. Shit. I hope he receives the help and support he very clearly needs.
Here’s a first for this series: the racist and sexist comments made by a Florida cop got him fired. Instead of accepting his responsibility and apologizing though, he’s blaming his comments on the “job culture”.
Blake Lanza, a former sergeant for the Melbourne police department, said his subordinates were out to get him, according to WESH. He is accused of forcing a female officer to do jumping jacks in front of an all-male CPR class and calling an African-American subordinate officer “Token” and “Chocodile,” News13 reports.
In a letter to Lanza, Melbourne police Chief Steve Mimbs wrote:
“You frequently belittled a female subordinate officer in front of other officers concerning her weight and eating habits, her upcoming marriage, and your prediction of its imminent failure, and your prediction of her eventually ‘cheating’ or engaging in extramarital affairs. You repeatedly belittled and embarrassed an African American subordinate officer by calling him ‘Token’ and [another insulting name].”
Lanza admitted to making the comments but told WESH it was all part of the police department’s culture of “off-color” humor. He also said some of the statements he is accused of making were either not true or taken out of context.
Oh? Do tell. Let’s hear which comments you believe are untrue and oh yes, let’s see what context makes sexist or racist comments magically not sexist or racist.
Funny thing-he unintentionally made a good point: he shouldn’t be the only police officer fired for making racist and sexist comments in the workplace. Clearly this is part of the job culture of police departments across the country. So let’s get started eliminating all the asshats.
Question: How hard would you have to hit someone on the back to leave a hand print through their shirt? Pretty hard I’d think.
Second Question: Why would a police officer hit a student at all, let alone that hard?
A Moore family says a police officer crossed the line and assaulted their autistic son. He is a student at Central Junior High School where he often sees that officer.
The boy’s mother does not want to use her name or her son’s name.
The boy is 14 years old but has the mentality of a child half his age. He calls his mom when he’s upset, and she can usually calm him down. Earlier this week, he called her from school.
“When I was on the phone with him, I heard the phone drop, and then the call dropped,” she said.
He immediately called back.
“Hysterical. Crying that the police officer had hit him on the back,” she said “And it hurts and mom don’t get off the phone with me. Come and get me.”
The boy’s grandmother was nearby and picked him up from school. She pulled over down the road and took pictures of the boy’s back.
“And there was a hand print from the officer on his back,” his mother said.
“My son is autistic, and the officer knew it. He’s had lots of contact with him.”
Once again, a cop doesn’t give a shit how their actions affect others.
“That’s battery, and I just can’t accept that,” she said. “He has a hard enough time being successful in school.”
The family admits the boy was having a meltdown at school and was pounding on a keyboard as he talked to his mother on the phone, but that didn’t give the officer the authority they say to hit him.
“He made a physical contact with my son, and it should have never happened,” she said.
That’s right. It shouldn’t have. Like so many other cops (and people in general in society), violence is the go-to solution for dealing with problems.
Yibin Mu, of Queens, posted the video Monday on YouTube showing the officer grab and throw him to the ground during the incident about 5 p.m. Sunday in Columbus Circle, where skateboarding is prohibited, reported Gothamist.
“Without warning, the police officer used one hand to grab my forearm and the other hand to grab the back of my neck,” Mu explained in the YouTube post. “He then put me in a chokehold and this is what happened next. I was non-aggressive the entire time.”
Oooh, having just read a ton of victim blaming excuses in support of the actions of the soon-to-be-fired Officer Ben Fields (the guy who recently used excessive force against a South Carolina teenager who was committing the unforgiveable sin of being on her phone in class and refusing to stop or leave) I know the proper response here.
Mr. Mu demonstrated a lack of respect and deference to the officer. Through his completely non-violent actions, he clearly brought this situation entirely on himself, and *forced* I tell you-FORCED-the cop to become violent. In the face of this lack of respect and non-violence, the officer had no other choice than to throw the guy to the ground and place him in a chokehold (nevermind their illegality).
But wait…there’s more! This kid really did bring this on himself.
Police confirmed that the 22-year-old Mu had been arrested for skateboarding despite six signs warning that the activity was not allowed — although Mu claims he never saw those.
Every reasonable police state supporting USAmerican citizen knows that whether or not you saw ‘No Skateboarding’ signs, the act of doing things you’re not supposed to-even if you harm no one else and are not being violent-necessitates the use of excessive force on the part of police officers.
I think I need to puke now. Channeling white privilege and racism upsets my stomach for some reason.
In thinking about the numerous defenses of Ben Fields (the officer in South Carolina who attacked a high school girl who was chewing gum and refused to put away her phone), I’ve noticed a consistent theme. Those white defenders of the status quo talk a lot about how we should automatically defer to police and grant them respect. I wonder-do they mean *all* police? Do they mean police officers who sexually assault minors, those convicted of taking bribes, those arrested on child porn charges, or those who erect memorials to Nazi’s? I’d ask one of them to clarify one day, but I’m really afraid their attempts to explain would shatter my brain.