Police Behaving Badly 3.22.16

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(close up image of lights atop a police car with accompanying text ‘Police Behaving Badly’)

There are police officers who dutifully perform their jobs. They police their communities with an eye on treating people fairly and equitably. These law enforcement officials also engage suspects with the minimum level of force sufficient to resolve a situation and they set an example as morally upstanding agents of the state who use their power and positions responsibly. Sadly, there are a great many police officers who are the opposite of good cops. These are the law enforcement officers who stalk, sexually assault, and rape people, whether on the job or off. These are the cops who use their power and privilege to terrorize, harass, and berate citizens, or to assault and kill them. These are the police officers who are supposed to set an example of proper behavior, yet lie under oath, falsify evidence, accept bribes, and undermine criminal investigations.  The following stories are examples of these shameful, immoral, unethical, deplorable officers of the law:

TEXAS COP CAUGHT ON VIDEO PEPPER-SPRAYING A HANDCUFFED MAN IN THE BACK OF A POLICE VAN

An Austin Officer, later identified as Cameron Caldwell, closes the door to a police van while a man is inside. He then opens it again and yells at an unidentified black man inside to stop kicking the door. Caldwell opens the door a second time saying, “What did I tell you about kicking the door?”

The man inside says, “I didn’t do nothing.” Caldwell then sprays his face and body with pepper spray.

“What did I tell you about kicking the door? I told you,” Caldwell yells before closing the door once more.

“Wow, you asshole,” the woman recording the video yells. “I saw that, I got that on film, you abusive asshole.”

“Listen, we see these cops violating policy and committing crimes all the time, but usually there is some gray area that they like to dance (in),” Buehler said. “This was just crystal clear, there is no way by law or policy that what this guy did was acceptable. There is zero gray area.”

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Brutal abuse by Southport correction officers, $10M payout to prisoners over past five years

 

The beating of cuffed inmate Jean Belot was so intense that state correction officers pulled out the dreadlocks from his scalp and stuck a hard object into his rectum.

The violence stopped after a boss watching the beatdown ordered the officers to stop throwing punches at Southport, the state’s maximum security prison near Elmira, according to court records.

“It was the longest minutes of my life,” Belot recalled of the 2008 pounding.

Belot is not alone.

At least four other inmates have filed suits alleging abuse against Southport correction officers that has left them with intense nightmares years later.

Two of those cases each settled for $175,000 and the other two are winding through the court system.

Prison rights advocates contend that’s particularly galling because Southport inmates are almost always cuffed and in isolation cells.

Despite the costly payouts, jail officials are slow to discipline officers and frequently take no action, records show.

One of the officers named in the Belot case, Craig Skelly, was never punished and remains on active duty, a correction official said Friday.

Another officer, Peter Mastrantonio was also cleared in the Belot cases due to insufficient evidence, according to the department. But he was suspended without pay in a separate case, records show.

All told, the state has doled out approximately $10 million to prisoners in 175 settlements over the past five years, according to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Law from the state Attorney General, which litigates the cases. The figures were first reported by the Poughkeepsie Journal.

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WATCH: Mob of cops violently gang-tackle and Taser unresisting man outside Michigan bar 

In the video, uploaded to Facebook by Steven Ba, the man can be seen standing with his arms behind him and not struggling when five police officers first slam him into a wall before dragging him to the ground.

As Ba noted on his Facebook post, “Looks like each cop wanted to rip a limb off of him!” while claiming that the man was “Arrested for being Chaldean.”

Once on the ground the cops keep piling on him as one officer is heard saying “Taser” followed by the buzz of the device.

The video is available here.

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PASCO DEPUTY PUT LIQUID SOAP IN MOUTH OF GIRL, 7, CHOKED AND HIT HER

Ryan Robert Ferguson, 29, was arrested and charged with child abuse on March 17.

According to an arrest affidavit, the girl told investigators that Ferguson put liquid hand soap in her mouth because she lied about something. He then threw her onto the couch and slapped her on the bottom repeatedly.

After that, the girl said Ferguson pulled her off the couch, dropped her on her back to the tile floor and began hitting her on both sides of the face with an open and closed hand. She said Ferguson choked her as he held her down by her neck, making it difficult for her to breathe as he hit her.

Detectives say the girl’s face, neck, forehead and lower back were red the next day. A doctor found that the girl had bruises under her eyes, which were consistent with being choked. She also had bruising on her forehead, which was consistent with being hit with a closed fist.

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FORT WORTH OFFICER OFF PATROL AFTER PEPPER SPRAY VIDEO

The Fort Worth Police Department said that it has removed an officer from uniformed patrol and launched an administrative investigation after receiving a video that appears to show him using pepper spray on a group of bikers.

“He definitely put a lot of lives at risk,” said Brittany Botello, the driver of a red pickup truck seen parked in front of the officer in the video.

Botello was driving alongside the bikers as part of the same group. Her passengers were shooting video of the bikers with their cell phones. She said that the officer, identified by the department only as six-year veteran Officer W. Figueroa, had pulled her over.

Figueroa had yet to approach her truck, Botello recalled, when she and her passengers suddenly began coughing. “I thought it was sand up off the bikes that was making everyone choke and stuff, but it ended up being the mace,” she said.

Marcus Hernandez said that he was sitting in the bed of the truck when he saw a cloud of the spray drifting toward him. “I got asthma, so I couldn’t breathe. It was pretty bad,” Hernandez explained. “I said, ‘Why you’d spray us?’ and he said, ‘Because I felt the bikes were too close to my vehicle.’”

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Police Behaving Badly 3.22.16
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4 thoughts on “Police Behaving Badly 3.22.16

  1. 1

    More and more I’m starting to feel like that first type of cop you described – the fair, moral, dutiful one who tries to de-escalate and minimize violence – just doesn’t exist. Maybe never did.

    It is such a pretty story and a high ideal, “Protect and Serve”. It reminds me of the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, which gave me all kinds of ideas as to the way a knight should behave (I like fantasy stories) – but when I looked into what being a knight was really all about it turns out they were mostly just varying degrees of armored bullies and murderers and rapists who defended nobles and took what they wanted from peasants. I see parallels.

  2. 2

    @Silverfeather
    While no country’s police force is perfect, some do manage to run on a much better model. The one here in Australia isn’t too bad, and it’s largely drawn from Britain.

    – Police here are definitely classed as “civilians,” where in the US police often use the word to mean “people who aren’t me”. This is not just a matter of semantics – critics of police policy in any country usually observe that the first problem is that police consider themselves above society, not part of it.
    – We don’t usually hold any romantic notion of “to protect and to serve”. Being in the police is an occupation. It has moderately high risk, demands moderately high standards, and seems to give satisfactory pay. It’s not viewed as uniquely high or low on any of these axes. It doesn’t gain special deference.
    – I really don’t understand the US position of “sheriff” at all. The people who run local police forces are halfway up a very tall hierarchy, with no special powers. They are not elected.
    – Judges and prosecutors aren’t elected either.
    – Sometimes the Members of Parliament we do elect run on a platform of being “tough on crime”. Those that do sometimes change laws (especially for drug possession) in harmful ways. But their influence is diffused by many layers of beauracracy between the elected and the police on the street. In theory this makes our police and judges less accountable to the population than their elected US counterparts, but in practice the system is less erratic and better understood by most parties.
    – Prisons are state-run, although these days use a frustrating amount of for-profit contracting.
    – We have some massive problems (comparable to Canada) over police treatment of Indigenous Australians. In particular, a tragically high number die in custody, victims of suicide or untreated health problems. Deaths in custody are all considered significant, regardless of cause. There is strong pressure to keep them down, and acknowledgement that the most reliable way to do so is to not lock people up in the first place.
    – There’s also our treatment of asylum seekers. That is indefensible. Also, the detention facilities seem to be outright for-profit operations. Ugh.
    – Shootings by police are rare, aided by our overall low gun ownership. We still seem to be short of the British level, where many police do not carry guns on regular duty and prefer it that way.
    – For privileged white people, the most common complaint about police overreach is that they hide speed cameras in strange places to raise money, instead of placing them openly so people see the speed camera, slow down, and don’t crash.

    Is there any way to move away from the US policing mentality? It’s hard. There are countless essays explaining that the underlying purpose of US policing has always been to protect the rich white people from everyone else. It’s a system with massive inertia and massive resources. Changes in direction may be possible but will take great effort.

  3. 3

    @Periwinkle
    “There are countless essays explaining that the underlying purpose of US policing has always been to protect the rich white people from everyone else.”

    Rich, white and CIS. It’s 2016 and law enforcement can still execute a woman for the crime of being trans.

  4. 4

    The only way to clean up policing is one that has never been tried nor will ever be. Governments would never allow it.

    Start from scratch. Create an entirely new police force independent and untainted by the existing one. That means no “transfers”, no “trainers”, no “instructors”, no “command structure”, no “rulebooks” or anything to do with existing policing. Once it is up and running, ready to serve the community, then dissolve all existing policing.

    Policing needs to be civilian organized, managed and trained and based solely on the law, not the self-interest of those participating in it. You can’t start clean when you start with something already tainted and corrupted.

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