Police Behaving Badly 11.10.15

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. Examples of such offenses occur almost every day. Many are likely not even heard of by the media. Moreover, law enforcement officials so often aren’t charged with crimes, and if they are, they’re found ‘not guilty’. While we can’t be sure cops will face punishment for their actions, we can be sure they’ll receive support from the community and politicians-no matter how heinous their actions are. It has become increasingly clear that we are living in something of a police state. Here are five recent examples that help paint an image of the United States as a police state:

VIDEO SHOWS INMATE MACED, PUNCHED IN INCIDENT THAT LED TO 7 GUARDS’ PAID LEAVE

In the video, you see MDC guards enter Amanda Chavez’s cell. They take her out and pat her down, though the reason for the search remains unknown.

The guards walk her to an area just outside her cell door as a guard does a sweep of her cell.

One guard takes her to the corner while the guard searching her cell steps out and begins talking to her. He then goes back into her cell.

When he comes back out, he has a garbage bag with some items in it. He places it on the ground.

Chavez appears to have her hands behind her back in the corner with the other guard still watching her.

But the guard who just emerged from her cell walks right up to her and maces her in the face.

At that point, Chavez reacts. A guard throws her to the ground and several more join in on top of her.

One of the guard appears to punch and knee her in the side several times.

Know what we never see in the US? Power-tripping law enforcement officers who brutalize prison inmates. Oh, wait. Did I say *never*? I meant often. And the icing on the cake? Once again, the LEOs involved got paid time off. Isn’t it lovely? They beat someone up and then get a paid vacation.

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All law enforcement officials should wear body cams. These body cams should be activated when police officers are in the field interacting with civilians. This should not be controversial. After all, a lack of accountability is one of the many complaints facing police and other LEOs across the country (remember, the complains about violation of constitutional rights extends beyond just police officers-it includes prison guards and school resource officers). We need to be able to hold officers accountable for their actions. We cannot do that if there is no recording of said actions. It has been shown over and over again in case after case that law enforcement officials have lied and tampered with official records. They cannot be trusted to provide all the relevant information of their civilian interactions in their personal reports. Make no mistake, while they aren’t going to fix the problems of authoritarian law enforcement officials wreaking havoc across the country, body cams are extremely necessary. Which is why it is dismaying that US Border Patrol staff reject body cams:

Customs and Border Protection staff concluded after an internal review that agents and officers shouldn’t be required to wear body cameras, positioning the nation’s largest law enforcement agency as a counterweight to a growing number of police forces that use the devices to promote public trust and accountability.

The yearlong review cited cost and a host of other reasons to hold off, according to two people familiar with the findings who spoke on condition of anonymity because the findings have not been made public. It found operating cameras may distract agents while they’re performing their jobs, may hurt employee morale, and may be unsuited to the hot, dusty conditions in which Border Patrol agents often work.

The findings, in an August draft report, are subject to approval by Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, who last year announced plans to test cameras at the agency that employs roughly 60,000 people.

The staff report doesn’t rule out body cameras but questions their effectiveness and calls for more analysis before they are widely distributed.

While a few misguided people believe that body cams will serve to keep LEOs on the straight and narrow, I suspect most criminal justice reform advocates do not believe they and they alone will be enough to ensure the rights of civilians are protected. But body cams are one step-one necessary step-of many in that goal. This should be a no-brainer. Without cams police interactions with civilians become a ‘they said/cop said’ situation and in this country, we all know who gets the benefit of the doubt in such interactions.

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In yet another maddening headline, police in Austin, Texas have been caught on video (hey look at that-video of their actions) brutally arresting 2 black men for the crime of…jaywalking. No, I’m not fucking kidding. See for yourself:

The video opens with several white police charging towards two African-American men walking along the sidewalk and smashing them against a storefront.

Initially, two officers pin one of the men against a storefront, who is quickly handcuffed and taken away off screen.

Meanwhile, one of the officers from that group peels off to join two other officers, one of whom is pummeling the other man with several punches to the head as law enforcement tells the man to be still.

“I’m not doing nothing, man!” the man yells, struggling as officers wrestle him to the ground. “Ok I’m down bro! I’m down!”

A third officer joins in and throws blows to the man’s arm.

“What did I do?” the man asks repeatedly.

Police tell bystanders they are taking the man to jail, while bystanders ask what he had done.

“Crossing against the light,” an officer says in an apparent reference to jaywalking.

“I’m handcuffed already, you can get your knees off me,” the man on the ground says.

A man and a woman, who appear to be friends of the two men being arrested and who were questioning the police’s actions, are also arrested in the video.

What am I being detained for?” one yells. “I didn’t do anything wrong. All I did was use my voice.”

During an exchange with an unidentified woman, police say they are arresting the individuals for crossing “against a red light,” to which the woman counters by arguing the police had said they could go. Police then say something about “jumping a barrier.”

Apparently, “jumping a barrier” and “crossing against the light” are violations of the law that are so severe as to warrant police brutality. Oh, wait. No the fuck they are not. Such offenses shouldn’t even warrant a fucking ticket, let alone the use of force, to say nothing of the use of *excessive* force. And to arrest someone for arguing with a police officer is just more police state “do what I say and don’t question me” bullshit.

The article above has a bit more information that shines a light on the terrible, horrible crime of jaywalking:

A week ago, Austin police began a “pedestrian enforcement” initiative near the campus of the University of Texas, where they stopped, warned or ticketed jaywalkers.

Earlier in October, local KUTX radio reported that police had begun a “No Sit/No Lie” citations program, a quality of life program allowing officers to issue tickets to someone for sitting or lying down on a city street or sidewalk for more than 30 minutes at a given time.

A standard ticket is for $160, plus community service hours. If defendants don’t appear in court, the cost of the tickets increases to $210. Nearly 60 percent of defendants don’t appear and don’t pay the fines, which turns the tickets into outstanding warrants. Homeless advocates say the program unfairly targets homeless people, effectively criminalizing them for being poor.

Seems eerily similar to Broken Windows policing, which is a questionable law enforcement policy that aims to reduce severe forms of crime by policing minor offense.

Oh and get this:

Jaywalking alone is an arrestable offense in Texas, according to Texas University law professor, David Gonzalez.

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VIDEO OF TUSCALOOSA POLICE USING TASER, NIGHTSTICK ON STUDENT UNDER INVESTIGATION

Tuscaloosa police are investigating after a video has surfaced of a team of officers cursing, Tasing and using a nightstick on at least one student during an arrest at an apartment early today.

Police were reportedly called to 12th Avenue Place Apartments on Frank Thomas Avenue about 3 a.m. on a noise complaint. What happened next is unclear, but multiple videos taken from both inside and outside of the apartment are making their way across social media.

The video shows an officer talking to those inside the apartment at the front door, and those inside refused to exit the apartment. The students questioned whether they were being arrested or detained, and whether the officers were within their rights to search the apartment.

Officers ended up going into the apartment. In one of the videos, one of the officers tells those inside the apartment to “Shut the (expletive) up.” When told the incident was being videotaped, he replied, “I don’t give a (expletive).”

At least a dozen officers quickly responded to the scene. A witness told AL.com the scene was chaotic. “They had a girl and two boys on the ground,” she said. “They were all screaming and everybody was videoing it. “

One of the young men was taken outside the apartment and then hit with a Taser stun gun, and struck repeatedly with an officer’s nightstick. Two young men and a young woman – all three students – were taken into custody.

The officers were from the Tuscaloosa Police Department and The University of Alabama Police Department.

Y’know, if kids these days would just listen to power-mad authoritarian thugs who demand (but do not deserve) respect cops, officers would have no reason to use excessive force. But no, youth today find themselves questioning their arrest or detainment over noise complaints. The nerve of them! And to make matters worse, they even argued with the cops and told them they didn’t think the officers had any right to enter their home! Such disrespect of authority figures cannot be tolerated. There is only one proper response to people disagreeing with cops or criticizing them or questioning them: police brutality. But it is not the fault of the cops. Nosiree. It is the civilians fault they were hit repeatedly with a nightstick. It is the civilians’ fault that a taser was deployed against them. I’m sure after this lesson, they will know that one is to always do what an officer tells them, regardless if that command is lawful. And above all else, they must *always* show proper deference, even if the cops behave like shitty power-tripping assholes.

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ARIZONA COPS ASSAULT UNARMED MAN FOR PULLING OUT HIS PHONE DURING A PROFILING STOP

Sigh. Innocent man stopped because cops thought he was suspect (he wasn’t). Innocent man makes “threatening” motion of calling his sister on his cell phone. Police somehow justify their subsequent use of force as justified bc they were afraid for their lives.  Don’t ask me how. It doesn’t make one fucking bit of sense:

As Arthur Velazquez was riding his bike down the street, police claimed that he ‘fit the description’ because he was wearing a hoodie and on a bike, so they stopped him.

While he was detained, he simply pulled out his phone and called his sister out of concern that something bad was about to happen.

“I’m thinking about my own safety,” Velazquez said. “I had a feeling that with these two officers something bad was going to happen; that’s why I called my sister.”

Unfortunately, his feeling of something bad happening came true when officers attacked him for making this call.

Police claim that they feared for their lives when Velazquez told them that he was calling his sister, so they had no other choice but the escalate the situation to violence and beat an innocent man.

“You have additional people coming to the scene, and you are in fear,” Detective Steve Berry, with the Mesa Police Department said in regards to this innocent man using the phone. “Who might be armed, and showing up to assist.”

Since these officers ‘feared’ a phone call, they proceeded to assault Velazquez. The incident was captured on the officer’s body cam.

At the beginning of the video, one officer can be seen attempting to pull the phone from Valazquez’s hand, but Velazquez tries to explain to his sister where he is just before being tackled to the ground.

After officers had slammed him on the ground, they began punching him the face for failing to prostrate himself before the badge fast enough. After realizing that they had just beaten an innocent man for no reason, police frantically searched for something to charge him with. They then issued Velazquez a ticket for not having the proper lighting on his bicycle.

These asshole need to be fired (they won’t be). They just beat on an innocent man, and did so under the pretext that “someone” was going to be coming to the scene eventually, and that could have placed their lives in jeopardy. This is fucking ridiculous. Now, it’s not even a case of “I thought I saw a weapon” or “The suspect reached in their pocket for something” or “The suspects hand went in their waistband”. No. Now it’s “someone may show up in the future and they may pose a threat to us, so we’re going to beat you up”. ::Le sigh::

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Police Behaving Badly 11.10.15
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