Police Behaving Badly 2.3.16

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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. 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:

Bastrop deputy arrested for DWI while on duty

Bastrop County Sheriff’s deputy Fred Ensinger was on the other side of the handcuffs Friday morning after his supervisor arrested him for D.W.I.

“Our dispatchers noticed that one of our officer’s, over the radio, appeared to have some slurred speech seemed to be a little disoriented and they were worried about his well-being,” Charlie Littleton, Chief Deputy at the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office, said.

Ensinger’s supervisors were dispatched to check on him and when they arrived, they found him sitting inside of his patrol car on the 100 block of Navasota Street with the motor on.

“When he went to talk to him to ask him how he was, was something wrong, he detected an odor of alcohol,” Littleton said. “On further checking of the vehicle, the sergeant found a backpack with a bottle of vodka in it and some of the vodka had been consumed.”

Supervisors also found an empty bottle of prescription medicine. Ensinger was arrested and charged with D.W.I. He was taken to the Bastrop County Jail where he later posted bond.

This isn’t the first on-duty, alcohol-related incident concerning Ensinger. In September 2015, when he showed up for work a sergeant smelled alcohol on his breath. According to the Sheriff’s Office, Ensinger told supervisors he had been drinking the night before and that the smell of alcohol was residual. Ensigner added that he “had a mental lapse.” Something  the Sheriff’s Office said they addressed.

It really is refreshing to know that our law enforcement officials-those individuals entrusted with powers and responsibilities by the state above and beyond those of average citizens-are held to such a high standard that when they fuck up and do something egregious like drink on the job, they get punished.

I mean that, really I do.

Now if only cops could be punished when they use excessive or lethal force against unarmed civilians. That sure would be swell.

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Ah, here’s another example of police officers breaking the rules and being punished. No, of course it’s not a case of cops an killing unarmed civilian. This time it’s the sabotaging of dash cams by police officers:

Last month the CPD found that 80 percent of its 850 dash cams do not record audio, and 12 percent don’t record video either. The CPD has blamed the failures on “operator error or in some cases intentional destruction,” and a close reading of that review by DNAinfo Chicago reveals the extent of the latter. Officers frequently tampered with dash cams, stashing microphones in their glove boxes or pulling out batteries. Some dash cams were found with their antennae deliberately destroyed, and others had had their microphones removed altogether.

DNAinfo also describes a months-long repair time for dash cams that experienced “intentional destruction.” For example: Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot and killed McDonald and has been charged with first-degree murder, brought in his dash cam in early 2014 to have a wiring problem fixed, and got it back three months later, on June 17. The very next day, the dash cam was broken again. This time it took until October 8 to fix what appeared to be intentional damage. Less than two weeks later, his dash-cam footage of the McDonald shooting (which differs from the viral video we all saw) had no sound. Police records show that the microphones in his car had never been synced up to the camera.

80%? Damn. These cops really don’t want anyone to hear what they’re doing in the course of their duties. I wonder why. What could these cops possibly have to hide? Surely it’s nothing illegal or against regulation. And it sure is mighty convenient that when those dash cams get repaired, many of them get quickly damaged again.

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Police tase cleaning lady at Ooltewah Middle School after mistaking her for burglar

Sgt. Jamie Heath and Officer Brian Desmond first responded to the school on Ooltewah-Ringgold Road around 8:20 p.m. after Desmond noticed an open door at the facility, Heath wrote in the report. The men decided to check the school for intruders and began to clear the building with their guns drawn, he wrote.

The report does not say whether the men announced their presence as police officers. Once inside, the officers found some cleaning supplies outside a restroom and discussed whether or not cleaning staff were working that night. They weren’t sure, the report states.

As they were checking a room that had two entrances, a woman in a blue T-shirt with the letters “ABM” on the front walked into the room at the entrance opposite the officers. She was not carrying anything.

“She obviously noticed us, as she looked directly at us, appearing to be nervous and somewhat reserved,” Heath wrote in his report.

The officers kept their weapons drawn but not pointed at the woman, Heath wrote. The men asked the woman to identify herself, but she did not understand English and answered every question with “No,” according to the report.

As Desmond tried to speak with the woman, she walked to the door where Heath was standing. He motioned for her to stop and asked for her “identificacion” and “licencia,” according to the report. She said “no” and continued to slowly walk through the room.

She then rounded a corner and began to walk quickly away down a hallway, Heath wrote. He yelled “alto” — the Spanish word for stop — and the woman began to sprint away. The two men chased after her, running through the school’s cafeteria, down a flight of stairs, out the building and into the parking lot. Heath warned the woman to stop or she would be shot with a stun gun, he said in his report.

When she didn’t stop, he deployed his Taser while running behind her. The Taser hit the woman and she fell to the ground. They then called for medical attention, according to the report.

The woman, who gave several different names to officers and seemed to have trouble understanding both Spanish and English, was an employee of the cleaning company ABM, which regularly works in the school, ABM managers told police that night. Chas Strong, senior manager in corporate communications at ABM, declined to comment Friday.

The woman was charged with evading arrest and booked into jail under the name Juana Raymundo, 36. She was released on a $750 bond and is due in Collegedale Municipal Court on March 2.

I’m sorry (notsorry), but Officer Heath should not have used a taser. Even though she was running away, she was unarmed. Is it policy to escalate the use of force against a suspect who is non-threatening and unarmed?

Also? They should have verified whether or not any members of the cleaning staff were on the premises before going any further. It’s not like they were there bc there was a report of someone dangerous roaming the grounds. They saw an open door. FFS.

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Lawsuit: Woman miscarried after cops ‘battered’ her during ‘false’ arrest

Fitzroy’s civil complaint does not specify why cops came to her home, although it notes she was arrested on charges of felony and misdemeanor assault, misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration, and lesser counts of harassment.

All of those charges were dropped last week on Jan. 26, the complaint states.

Fitzroy, a home health aide, alleges deprivation of civil rights, use of excessive force, false arrest, unlawful search and seizure, and common-law assault and battery.

She suffered “severe and permanent psychological pain” due to her loss of the fetus, the complaint alleges.

Fitzroy has sued the city and four cops and seeks unspecified monetary damages.

The incident occurred around 1:45 p.m., the complaint says.

The cops approached Fitzroy, “forcibly grabbed” her and arrested her “without any legal justification,” according to the complaint.

Fitzroy told cops she was pregnant, yet they still “battered” her, hitting her in the stomach, throwing her down and stepping on her, the complaint alleges.

Fitzroy miscarried “as the result of the injuries she sustained” at cops’ hands, alleges the complaint, which doesn’t say how many months she had been pregnant.

Fitzroy was incarnated for more than 26 hours until her release around 4 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2014, after her Criminal Court arraignment, the complaint states.

She had to hire a lawyer to fight the criminal charges, and appear in court multiple times before the charges were dismissed last week, alleges her complaint.

To serve and protect.

To Serve and Protect.

TO SERVE AND PROTECT.

Sorry I was stuck on repeat there for a second, but seriously, I can’t get the technically-on-paper duties of US law enforcement officials out of my mind. I mean, at what point did they serve and protect Emelda Fitzroy? I suppose she was technically served. She was served severe, permanent psychological pain as well as physical injuries. But that’s not exactly what she was looking for when she called the police. She was looking for help and protection. She got neither. The cops in this case did the opposite of their jobs. In what other occupation can you do the opposite of your job and get away with it? I can’t imagine working as a bartender and instead of giving a guest the drink they’ve ordered, I consume it. I probaby wouldn’t get away with that. I can imagine being a Waffle House employee who is supposed to deliver breakfast to a guest, but decides to eat the entire thing-in front of the guest. I wouldn’t have a job for long after that. Hmm, I’m having trouble with this one. Oh wait…I can think of a job where you can do the opposite of what’s required of you and still retain your job–being a Florida Senator who has missed 99 out of 291 votes in the Senate (hi there Marco Rubio).  Anyways, I think that’s a rare example. In most occupations, you won’t likely get away with doing the opposite of your job. At least not for very long. And that should definitely not happen with cops. They should be held to a high standard and they need to get back to serving and protecting the citizenry, not brutalizing us!

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Speaking of brutalizing people and not being punished, the last example in today’s post is a police officer who shot a Chicago teenager (twice) during a curfew confrontation and was cleared of any wrongdoing:

It began in 2013 with a midnight snack run at Narragansett and Montrose. According to a lawsuit Skibicki filed, he was walking with friends, past his curfew, when police asked for his identification. He did not have it and says that enraged one officer who began screaming at him.

“He was like an inch away from my face,” Skibicki says. “I was horrified.”

He also was frightened by what he says the officer screamed at him: “How am I supposed to identify your dead body if I find you on the streets?”

“After yelling at me, I took off running down this alley,” Skibicki says.

He says he was shot while trying to climb a fence.

The shooting victim says he was unarmed, but at the time of the incident, Chicago police officials said Skibicki swung a wooden board, posing a threat. Skibicki denies that.

“He’s not just going to say he shot me for running away,” Skibicki says.

Attorney Lance Northcutt, who filed a lawsuit for Skibicki, says police fabricated the board story.

“It just doesn’t add up. It did not happen,” said Northcutt, who believes a board was planted at the scene. “There has to be some explanation as to why you just shot a curfew violator, twice, who’s unarmed.”

He points to an evidence photo of the board. The board sits in a perfectly straight line, parallel to the sidewalk. It was not tossed about.

Skibicki was just a few blocks from home when this occurred. He says his running was stupid.

“I admit that, but I think it was stupid of him to shoot me,” Skibicki says.

Charges against Skibicki were vacated by a judge.

There so much bullshit to love in this situation-

  • the use of deadly force by police in response to a confrontation involving a suspect who is unarmed
  • the use of deadly force by cops bc a suspect runs away from them
  • the possibly made-up story of a weapon

and my personal, all-time favorite-

  • law enforcement investigates law enforcement and clears law enforcement of wrongdoing

And people wonder why so many folks do not trust the police. Examples like the above five (plus the countless others I’ve covered in this series) offer a slew of reasons why many citizens are nervous at best (and scared at worst) of law enforcement officials. This is not how the police should be doing their jobs. Nor is this how the citizenry should be treated. Law enforcement officials should be working with the community and serving and protecting everyone. Not treating people like potential criminals or wartime combatants.

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Police Behaving Badly 2.3.16
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