A Filmmaker Reported Police Brutality in Las Vegas. So the Cops Arrested Him.

“What Happened in Vegas” is a damning takedown of the city’s powers that be

by Daphne Howland,

Ramsey Denison has worked in Hollywood’s trenches on reality shows and TV documentaries — the kind of work that hones camera skills and storytelling chops. That came in handy in the aftermath of Denison’s arrest, following his 911 call to report an instance of police brutality on the streets of Las Vegas.

Denison’s documentary What Happened in Vegas is more than a revenge project. He unveils a pattern of police malfeasance, including cover-ups and lies, through disturbing stories of unjustified deaths.

It’s a damning takedown of the city’s powers that be — casinos cozy with a sheriff willing to protect their interests, and a constabulary infected with a Wild West mentality, armed with military weaponry and prone to lies. He argues that those powers even abet a law enforcement debacle surrounding the recent mass shooting at an outdoor music festival that left 58 concertgoers dead and nearly 500 injured.

Denison keeps up the pace — those television skills coming in handy — and unpacks a lot. But he also allows in some light. There are plenty of Las Vegas police officers who want things to change, and Denison gives them, and the victims’ families, a voice.

Sin City is a peculiar place, where losing money is the main tourist attraction, but the problems Denison uncovers serve as a warning to all Americans. While African Americans, unsurprisingly, took the brunt of the police atrocities he exposes, he also shows how bad police ultimately will maltreat anyone.

by Daphne Howland, A Filmmaker Reported Police Brutality in Las Vegas. So the Cops Arrested Him.” https://www.villagevoice.com/2017/11/22/a-filmmaker-reported-police-brutality-in-las-vegas-so-the-cops-arrested-him/

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Police Brutality Bruises Public Trust With Officers

https://i1.wp.com/loyolaphoenix.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_7328-1-1200x800.jpg
Christopher Hacker | The PHOENIXStudents participate in a scheduled walk-out in protest of alleged racial profiling by Campus Safety of two students of color earlier that week.

Have you ever driven past a police car and had that nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach, even though you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong? For some, that feeling is quite familiar — but not because of an irrational tendency to worry.

Police brutality and the use of excessive force by police officers have been present in the United States, and other countries, for many years and has sadly resulted in tension and mistrust between citizens and police officers. Although there have been several recent events which might have tested one’s trust in police officers, we need them to keep us safe, so action must be taken on both sides to restore a mutual trust.

On Feb. 24, an incident at Loyola caused students to question the actions taken by Campus Safety officers who were conducting a search of two men not affiliated with Loyola who were accused of scalping tickets outside Gentile Arena. When a few students noticed officers patting down the men in Damen Student Center, a student approached the officers to question what was going on and was eventually arrested by Campus Safety for interfering in the officer’s investigation, according to a statement released by the university.

However, a video posted online by a spectator showed Campus Safety officers using excessive force when arresting the student, which resulted in outrage from the student community.

Talk of racial profiling and police force spread on social media and among students. A statement released by the university assured students this incident wasn’t race related; however, the video footage confirmed the use of force by the officers. Students even took action, trying to hold Campus Safety accountable for this incident by creating and circulating a petition to hold Campus Safety accountable, as well as holding a walkout and town hall meeting.

Unfortunately, these incidents aren’t uncommon. The use of excessive force by police officers has been an issue for many years and not just in the United States. Incidents like these can make people feel unsafe, even when next to those whose jobs are to “serve and protect” the public.

On Feb. 16, a police officer from Oakland, California wanted to visit a local coffee shop to meet the staff and have a cup of coffee. However, once he arrived, he was refused service. An employee told him the shop had a policy of asking police to leave for the emotional and physical safety of its customers and staff.

People shouldn’t be fearful of police officers because they’re the ones who are supposed to keep people safe and give the public some peace of mind. Because of events like the one that occurred on our own campus, people, such as employees of the Oakland coffee shop, are claiming they don’t feel safe around those who are meant to protect them and, as a result, are severing any sort of relationship with them, even commercial. And although the use of excessive force has caused this fear, trust needs to be restored so police officers can do the job they’re meant to: Keep people safe.

In order for this trust to be restored, a change needs to be made. Police officers need to reevaluate the ways in which they take action in situations, whether that be systematic retraining or taking other steps in reducing the need to resort to using excessive force. Of course, excessive force should never be used and holding police officers accountable when they have wrongly done so is important, and this has been reflected in Loyola students’ reaction. Once a conversation can be opened between a community and its police officers, a change can be made and trust restored.

 

, loyolaphoenix.com, “Police Brutality Bruises Public Trust With Officers”, http://loyolaphoenix.com/2018/03/police-brutality-bruises-public-trust-with-officers/

Sacramento Police Pump 20 rounds into Unarmed Stephon Clark while in his own Backyard

Sequita Thompson, grandmother of Stephon Clark, surrounded by family members as they prayed on Monday afternoon. Mr. Clark was fatally shot by the Sacramento police on Sunday.CreditJosé Luis Villegas/The Sacramento Bee

By Christine Hauser

The police in Sacramento, searching for someone reported to have been breaking windows, fatally shot a young black man in his backyard over the weekend after he walked toward them carrying what they believed was a gun.

When they examined his body, however, the only object they found was a cellphone.

That was the account that the Sacramento Police Department offered on Tuesday in an update to their investigation into the shooting by officers of the unarmed man, 22-year-old Stephon Clark, on Sunday.

Mr. Clark’s relatives, whom he lived with in the South Sacramento neighborhood, could not immediately be reached on Wednesday. But one of them told The Sacramento Bee that family members often entered the home through the garage, after knocking on the back window because the doorbell was broken.

“The only thing that I heard was pow, pow, pow, pow, and I got to the ground,” said Sequita Thompson, Mr. Clark’s grandmother, adding, “I opened that curtain and he was dead.”

Mr. Clark’s brother, Stevante, told The Bee that Mr. Clark, who has two children, ages 1 and 3, had been living at the house for about a month, after being released from county jail.

“They’re asking, ‘Where’s Daddy, where’s Daddy?’” said Salena Manni, the mother of Mr. Clark’s children, according to the newspaper. “He was a part of our family. He was our rock.”

Image
Stephon ClarkCreditRenee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee

The police said that footage from the law enforcement officers’ body cameras and video from a sheriff’s helicopter would be released to the public within 30 days.

On Sunday, at 9:18 p.m., officers from the Sacramento Police Department arrived at a house on 29th Street, investigating reports that someone was breaking the windows of vehicles, a separate, earlier police statement said on Monday. The person who called the police said the suspect was wearing a black hoodie and dark pants and was “hiding in a backyard.”

Officers in a Sheriff’s Department helicopter overhead informed the police that they saw someone matching that description and helped to direct the police to him, saying he had just “picked up a toolbar and broke a window to a residence.” He was then seen running to the front of a house, the statement said.

When officers arrived at the house, they say, the man ran toward the back and they pursued. Then, “the suspect turned and advanced towards the officers while holding an object which was extended in front of him,” the police statement said. “The officers believed the suspect was pointing a firearm at them.”

“Fearing for their safety, the officers fired their duty weapons striking the suspect multiple times,” the statement said. Two officers fired 10 rounds each, the police told reporters, according to a report by KCRA.

It did not say whether they had previously been disciplined.

Mr. Clark, who the local news media said had two children, was pronounced dead at the scene, the police said. Investigators found a cellphone near his body but no firearms, they said.

The officers who fired their weapons have been with the department for two and four years and also had several years of experience in other departments. They were placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated by district and city attorneys and the Office of Public Safety Accountability, the police said.

 

Christine Hauser, “Sacramento Man Fatally Shot by the Police in His Backyard”, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/21/us/stephon-clark-police-shooting.html

NJ police brutality: State targets bad cops after Press investigation

Miguel Feliz was kicked by Jersey City police officers after Feliz’s car was hit by a suspect police had been chasing, according to Feliz’s attorney. Andrew Ford

 

Following an Asbury Park Press investigation into police brutality that exposed the lack of oversight of rogue cops, the state attorney general Tuesday issued sweeping new guidelines to weed out drug-abusing cops and those who flout the law.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued two directives for every police department in the state. The first directive orders mandatory, random drug testing in every department and the second directive sets up an “early warning” system to identify bad cops before they injure or kill residents. Both are posted at the bottom of this story.

Both orders come on the heels of the Press’ “Protecting the Shield” series in January that exposed the lack of drug testing in more than 100 departments and showed limited oversight of violent cops across the state.

“I thought the article shines a light on issues that the public should be aware of,” Grewal said, noting that they are issues law enforcement has “been contending with for some time.”

Following Asbury Park Press reporting that 100 police departments lacked policy for random drug testing, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal mandated random testing statewide. Andrew Ford

EDITORIAL: Good start on dealing on with rogue cops

Also, Grewal said his office is examining additional improvements to New Jersey’s system for police accountability, including a review of how departments conduct internal affairs investigations and state licensing of police officers. New Jersey is just one of six states that has no way to bar a rogue cop from law enforcement short of a criminal conviction.

“Protecting the Shield” identified more than $42 million in taxpayer funds spent to settle lawsuits alleging police misconduct, including 19 deaths and 131 injuries.

“I think these two directives are directly aimed at identifying problematic behavior in law enforcement officers before that behavior escalates to the point where there might be potential litigation, where an officer engages in some sort of problematic behavior with a civilian,” Grewal said, referring to the orders he issued Tuesday.

In an exclusive interview with the Asbury Park Press, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal explained how he addressed incidents that led to $42 million in taxpayer funds being spent to settle allegations of police abuse. Andrew Ford

“So, I think we have to remember, we have 30-plus thousand officers in the state, nearly 9 million people, clearly there are bad interactions and there are bad actors,” Grewal added. “But they’re few and far between. But we’re committed to identifying them and making sure that their behavior doesn’t escalate to the point where it leads to that next piece of litigation, that next, you know, sort of tragic consequence that you’ve identified in some of your reporting.”

NJ police brutality: Officer beat man, ‘fabricated’ report and taxpayers lost $250K

Lawmakers contacted Tuesday said they supported Grewal’s mandates.

“These individuals are trusted with our public safety and have a large responsibility in the communities and towns and jurisdictions where they work, so a drug testing policy is proper. That’s number one,” said Deputy Assembly Speaker Gordon M. Johnson, D-Bergen, a former law enforcement officer.

Johnson also spoke highly of the early warning system.

After the Asbury Park Press reported on lacking oversight of police officers outside departments, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal implemented early warning systems for officers statewide. Andrew Ford

“That can only put us in the right direction when it comes to accountability for police behavior in the streets, and that will then allow the public to feel that they do have a resource, a place to go if they feel that they’ve been mistreated by a police officer, in an interaction with a police officer,” Johnson said.

‘The Shield’: Lawmakers promise changes to dump bad cops after APP investigation

Longtime Assemblyman John McKeon, D-Morris, noted the challenges of the profession and the importance of oversight.

“It’s stressful and significantly important to the primary reason governments are put together to begin with and that’s public safety,” McKeon said. “And to be certain that officers who are so stressed are in the best position to serve the public, it just makes sense.”

Officer licensing considered

New Jersey has no process for revoking the license of a police officer found unfit to serve, similar to the way a doctor or lawyer can be banned from their professions.

“Right now, we’re considering many options that we believe can make the system stronger,” Grewal said. “A licensing system that other states employ is something that we’re looking at. But you should know that we’re committed to making the system stronger, to building trust. And we’re looking at all means to do that.”

The new statewide random drug testing policy requires that at least 10 percent of a department’s police officers are tested each time. All New Jersey police departments will be required to randomly test officers at least once in 2018, then twice annually each following year.

Investigation on drug testing: No drug testing for cops puts more than 1M New Jerseyans at risk

The early warning system establishes a minimum of 14 potential issues with police officer performance that departments will track. If these issues with an officer are spotted three times in a year, a supervisor will develop remedial measures for the officer. The department will also notify the county prosecutor’s office of the officer’s name, the nature of the issues and the plan to fix those issues.

NJ police brutality: Jury says Atlantic City to blame for a rogue cop, K-9 attack

A chief can choose to track more police performance issues, but at a minimum, departments will look for:

  • Internal affairs complaints against an officer
  • Civil actions filed against an officer
  • Criminal investigations or criminal complaints against an officer
  • Excessive or unreasonable use of force
  • Domestic violence investigations in which an officer is a subject
  • The arrest of an officer including driving under the influence
  • Sexual harassment claims against the officer
  • Car crashes in which the officer was at fault
  • A positive drug test
  • Arrests by an officer that are rejected or dismissed by a court
  • Cases in which evidence obtained by an officer is suppressed by a court
  • Insubordination
  • Neglect of duty
  • Unexcused absences

Atlantic City Police Chief Henry White explains how their ‘early warning system’ helps to identify problems with their police officers so situations can be addressed before they become a major issue. STAFF VIDEO BY THOMAS P. COSTELLO

If an officer is subject to the early warning system review, their department is required to tell that to future employers if the officer seeks work with another agency.

NJ police brutality: Money and silence push along bad cops

“I’m a firm believer that law enforcement works best when there’s trust and collaboration between law enforcement and the communities we serve,” Grewal said, noting that trust is primarily established through “transparency and accountability.”

Asked about making available to the public the sustained findings of an internal affairs investigation, Grewal described the broad scope of his office’s efforts.

“…These first three directives are part of an ongoing review process and we are in the process of reviewing our AG’s IA (internal affairs) guidelines,” Grewal said. “And so we’re looking at all options there as well to make the system more transparent and accountable.”

Grewal’s first directive after taking office this year – still pending review by the state supreme court’s ethics committee – would make public video recordings depicting police use of deadly force.

“These directives are by no means the end of the process for us,” Grewal said. “We’re engaged in looking at other areas in which we can improve trust, improve transparency and improve accountability.”

 

Andrew Ford, March 20, 2018 app.com,  “NJ police brutality: State targets bad cops after Press investigation”, https://www.app.com/story/news/investigations/watchdog/shield/2018/03/20/nj-police-brutality-drug-testing-attorney-general-investigation/442615002/

EXCLUSIVE: Family of teen allegedly abused by Bridgeport police officers speak out

BRIDGEPORT — An investigation is underway into Bridgeport Police officers use of force after a video surfaced showing an officer allegedly beating a teenager over the weekend.

Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez said he placed several officers on administrative status while the Office of Internal Affairs investigates. In the video, 18-year-old Aaron Kearney can be seen face-first against a car hood while his mother pleads for police not to hurt him.

“Don’t hurt my son,” the mother cries to police. “You’re punching my son.”

“I am,” a female officer in the can be heard responding, “get back.”

That unidentified female officer can be seen in the video hitting Kearney’s face.

“Why is she fu***** my son up,” the mother says, with a response from the same officer, “get back or you’re next.”

FOX61 spoke exclusively with Kearney’s aunt Tiffany Elliott.

“That’s what we have a serious issue with right now because you should not be in law enforcement if you’re threatening people like that,” Elliott said. “By saying “you’re next,” is she next to get beat up? Is she next to be detained for no reason at all? We don’t know what she meant by that, but it was wrong.”

Bridgeport Police said they were responding to a minor accident on Seaview Avenue involving Kearney, Friday at about 9:30 p.m. Police said they learned during a routine check that his license was suspended. When police told Kearney he would have to appear in court for driving with a suspended license he, “became outwardly belligerent and violent towards the officers, who then felt the need to call for backup,” according to police.

Police said he was violently resisting police officers claiming he was both verbally and physically abusive.

Bridgeport Police said the video raises “serious questions,” about tactics used during the arrest resulting in an immediate internal investigation.

“The Bridgeport Police Department takes this incident very seriously and our primary concern is always for the safety and protection of every resident of our city,” A Bridgeport Police Department spokesperson wrote in a statement Saturday. “However, if there was a violation of police arrest protocol or excessive use of force, we will get to the bottom of it and provide accountability for the department and our community.”

Elliott said the family wants justice for Kearney.

“I really don’t think she should be in law enforcement, she needs to have some kind of evaluation done, because it was too much, it was really excessive force,” she said.

Elliot said they come from a family of police officers. Kearney’s grandfather was a Bridgeport Police officer for nearly four decades. She said her mother also retired from Bridgeport Police and her step-brother is a former New Haven Police captain.

“There are several good cops out there,” Elliot told FOX61. “I mean, cops are there to help us and we know that but there are a few that I think are using their badge the wrong way and that’s what we need to put a stop to.”

Kearney’s family said he has never had trouble with police before and has attended summits with Perez on improving community relations.

His family said he was captain of the football team at Harding High School, he graduated last year.

Bridgeport Police Chief Armando J. Perez released a statement regarding the incident:

“The Bridgeport Police Department is committed to public service and the safeguarding of the public’s dignity and constitutionally afforded rights.

The men and women of the Department work tirelessly day and night, often at great peril to themselves to make Bridgeport a better and safer community.

When it comes to my attention that there are legitimate questions surrounding an officer’s use of force, I place that officer on administrative status. This status removes the officer from contact with the public while the case is expeditiously and vigorously investigated by the Bridgeport Police Office of Internal Affairs. This measure is taken to protect both the officer and the public while the officer is afforded their due process.

I have taken this step with the officers involved in the incident Friday night following a motor vehicle accident on Seaview Avenue, some of which was filmed on video and posted to social media.

In the event that an officer is found to have knowingly and willfully violated policy by using excessive force in the performance of their duties, I will make every effort to see that officer separated from their employment with the Bridgeport Police Department and where applicable arrested and charged with a crime.

As the Chief of Police, I have a zero-tolerance policy for abusing the citizens who we are tasked and sworn to protect and serve.

It is unfortunately also common for Bridgeport Police officers to face situations that require the use of force, up to and including the use of deadly force. I continue to support my officers who meet the standards of reasonableness in these situations when such a use of force is justified.”

Kearney is charged with breach of peace and assault on a police officer.

 

, by Associated Press and Jenna DeAngelis, November 13, 2017, Fox61.com, “EXCLUSIVE: Family of teen allegedly abused by Bridgeport police officers speak out”, http://fox61.com/2017/11/13/exclusive-family-of-teen-allegedly-abused-by-bridgeport-police-officers-speak-out/

The forgotten minority in police shootings

Protesters denounce the police-involved shooting of Native American Paul Castaway in Denver in 2015.

Story highlights

  • Native Americans are killed in police encounters at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group
  • Native Lives Matter raises awareness about police violence against Native Americans

(CNN)Allegations of excessive police use of force against African-Americans have captured the nation’s attention in recent years. But there’s another group whose stories you’re less likely to hear about.

Native Americans are killed in police encounters at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet rarely do these deaths gain the national spotlight.
This lack of attention has prompted some advocates to start social media campaigns reminiscent of Black Lives Matter.
“Native American people are basically invisible to most of the people in the country,” said Daniel Sheehan, general counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Project.
For every 1 million Native Americans, an average of 2.9 of them died annually from 1999 to 2015 as a result of a “legal intervention,” according to a CNN review of CDC data broken down by race. The vast majority of these deaths were police shootings. But a few were attributed to other causes, including manhandling. That mortality rate is 12% higher than for African-Americans and three times the rate of whites.
Even though the annual rate of death is higher, the number of Native American deaths is relatively small. An estimated 22 Native Americans and Native Alaskans died at the hands of police in 2016, and another 18 have died so far this year, according to Fatal Encounters, an online database compiled by a former editor at the Reno News & Review in Nevada. It is widely considered one of the most complete sources on deaths resulting from police encounters. CNN excluded deaths caused by car crashes from Fatal Encounters’ tally.
This count doesn’t include another fatal shooting on Wednesday. A sheriff’s deputy shot and killed 14-year-old Jason Pero on the Bad River Reservation in northern Wisconsin. A report by the Wisconsin Department of Justice said that Pero refused to drop a butcher knife and then lunged twice at the deputy. The state Department of Justice, which is continuing to investigate, said the boy himself called 911, giving his own physical description. The Associated Press reported that Pero’s family questions the police account and says the boy was home from school sick.
“(There is) no reason you can justify shooting a 14-year-old boy,” Pero’s mother, Holly Gauthier, told WDIO-TV.
While most fatal use of police force cases that have been investigated are ruled justifiable, some of the deaths caught on video have raised cries of excessive or inappropriate use of force.

Death led to awareness

Paul Castaway’s death in the summer of 2015 was one of those controversial shootings that moved his family to fight for wider attention to police violence against Native Americans.
A district attorney’s report gave the following account of Castaway’s death:
On July 12, 2015, Castaway’s mother called 911, breathless. “My son, he pulled a knife on me. He’s mentally ill and he’s drunk,” she said.
Castaway had entered her home without her permission and poked her in the neck with a kitchen knife before running out the back door.
When police arrived, they chased Castaway, who demanded that police kill him and then pressed the knife to his own throat.
Video surveillance footage appears to show Castaway was still holding the knife to his throat with both hands as he walked toward one of the officers.
That officer backed away and fired his gun three times, hitting Castaway twice in the torso. Castaway fell to the ground, and police handcuffed him. He died at the hospital, according to The Denver Post.
Castaway’s brother, Gabriel Black Elk, said it took him almost a year to watch the video. “There was a lot of mental anguish we had to go through, me and my mom and my sister.”
The Denver district attorney found the shooting justified. The family has filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful use of force and insufficient oversight of officers.
“Police knew they were there to help,” Black Elk said. “He wasn’t a danger to anybody but himself.”
Lynn Eagle Feather holds a bouquet to the sky while clutching a picture in memory of her son Paul Castaway.

Spurred to action by his brother’s death, Black Elk, a member of the Lakota Sioux tribe, created a Facebook message group for Native American families who have lost loved ones to police encounters. Slowly, the group expanded to include families of all races.
“A lot of people told me, ‘I didn’t know this was a problem for Native Americans, too,’ ” he said.

Deaths are likely underreported

The data available likely do not capture all Native American deaths in police encounters due to people of mixed race and a relatively large homeless population that is “not on the grid,” said Matthew Fletcher, director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University.
“The numbers might be wildly underreported,” he said.
In 1996, American Indian mortality rates were underreported by an estimated 21% because of inconsistencies in identifying Native Americans on death certificates, according to the CDC. The problem has lingered in recent years and is significant enough to make comparisons with other racial groups tricky.
Other media outlets that have kept their own tallies of police-related deaths have reported much higher numbers of deaths than what the CDC publishes. They, too, show high rates of Native American deaths.
The numbers in the Fatal Encounters database, for instance, are more than twice the average number of Native American deaths by legal intervention reported to the CDC.
As Black Elk started to create his Facebook group for grieving families, he said he was just as likely to learn about another Native American death through the grapevine as through local or national media.
Marlee Kanosh says she has sought justice in her brother Corey's death.

Marlee Kanosh, too, lost a brother to police gunfire back in 2012. Corey Kanosh was the passenger in a police chase involving a drunken driver. When the car stopped, he fled police on foot and was shot while resisting arrest. The county attorney concluded that forensic evidence and dispatch logs supported the officer’s account of events, but his family complains that he was left overnight at the scene without medical care.
Marlee Kanosh now runs a Facebook page called Native Lives Taken by Police to raise awareness of cases such as her brother’s. She said it can be hard to create — and sustain — attention for Native Americans’ cases, in part because many take place in small communities or more remote areas.
“There are very few people who’ve heard about a story somewhere out in a small reservation in California, and I see a lot of families who deal with that,” she said.
An analysis by Claremont Graduate University researchers recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Race and Justice found that major national or regional newspapers rarely picked up stories about Native American deaths. Even then, it found, the deaths rarely received in-depth coverage. What’s more, media don’t always correctly identify the deceased as Native American.

A death in Omaha

His brother’s death was not the only link Black Elk had to police shootings. His mother’s nephew, Benjamin Whiteshield, was killed by police in Oklahoma in 2012. According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, his family had brought him to the local police station because he had been “acting delusional.” Police said he was holding a wrench and was shot in the mouth after a confrontation with an officer.
Then Black Elk’s cousin, Raymond Gassman, was killed in South Dakota less than a year after his brother died. He was shot by tribal police while resisting arrest.
And in June, a member of Black Elk’s tribe, Zachary Bearheels, died after a violent encounter with police.
On June 4, Bearheels, 29, was on his way home to Oklahoma when he got kicked off a bus in Omaha, Nebraska. When he failed to make it home, his mother, Renita Chalepah, called police to let them know her son was lost and suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, the police investigation found.
Omaha police found Bearheels shortly after midnight at a convenience store. The department reported that officers put him on the phone with Chalepah.
“I heard him say ‘Mama, mama,'” she later told the Omaha World-Herald. She could tell from his voice that he was off his medications.
According to the police investigation, officers agreed to take Bearheels to the bus station. They handcuffed him and put him in the back of a police cruiser, but he slipped out of the car. That led to a scuffle. Police video shows officers shock Bearheels repeatedly with a Taser, drag him by his belt and ponytail, and punch him in the head.
He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. Two former officers are now facing assault charges. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The police department’s investigation found the officers’ use of the Taser an “egregious violation” of policy.
“Zachary Bearheels committed no crime,” Douglas County Attorney Donald Kleine said at a press conference. “Zachary Bearheels was simply a human being suffering from a severe mental illness that was quite obvious to anyone who came in contact with him. Our laws should protect those who are most vulnerable, particularly those who suffer from mental illness.”
Black Elk sees the deaths of his brother and Bearheels as part of a larger problem facing Native Americans.
“It has to do with a mental health crisis and with police killing Native Americans,” he said.
Some legal experts with experience working with Native American communities agree that mental health has played a role in the high rate of deaths from police encounters. They say that mental health services for Native Americans are often woefully inadequate.
A 2015 report by the Treatment Advocacy Center, a Virginia-based nonprofit, found that individuals with serious untreated mental illness were 16 times more likely to be killed during an interaction with a police officer and that at least a quarter of fatal encounters involved individuals with serious mental illness.
In February, the US Government Accountability Office placed the federal government’s Indian Health Service on its high-risk list. The list highlights agencies and programs vulnerable to fraud or mismanagement or “most in need of transformation.”
The report found the agency was ineffective, lacked adequate oversight and put Native Americans’ health and safety at risk.
“(Native Americans) do not have anything even approaching reasonable mental health services,” Sheehan of the Lakota People’s Law Project said of on-reservation health care. “It’s staggering.”
Addressing the GAO’s report, Chris Buchanan, acting director of the Indian Health Service, told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in May, “We share the urgency of addressing longstanding systemic problems… We are using the GAO findings and recommendations to inform our strategic and tactical planning efforts.”
Some experts also said they believe that pervasive stereotypes about Native Americans may help contribute to highly charged police encounters.
Native Americans are often stereotyped as being violent or addicted to alcohol and other drugs, said Fletcher of Michigan State University. He suspects those perceptions, conscious or not, can sometimes tinge police-civilian interactions.
“If your perception going into a situation is that it’s an Indian person and they’re completely out of control, I think that changes things on the ground,” he said.
Kanosh recalls growing up and seeing “older people get in these scary interactions with police because of alcohol.”
“And that would set the bar for future years for cops to always assume that when they were dealing with Native Americans it’s going to be because they’re drunk and going to get in fights,” she said.
A consultant for law enforcement agreed that cultural barriers are a challenge for police in dealing with Native Americans.
“But the flip side of that from an enforcement perspective is police have a job to do, and if it’s a polarizing situation leading to a deadly force situation, you don’t really have time to consider the cultural aspects of it. You have to take action, whatever that might be,” said Rex Scism, president and CEO of Midwest Police Consultants.
Scism said he believes those split-second decisions usually fall within the boundaries of the law.
“I’m not going to say the police always get it right; they’re human just like everybody else,” he said.
Police departments across the country are starting to train officers on how to respond to individuals with mental illness. Many are also incorporating training in cultural awareness and deescalation techniques. Yet changing academy curricula or adopting official training programs is not ubiquitous.
Mental illness may have played a role in a police shooting in Winslow, Arizona, a town of about 10,000 that borders the Navajo Nation reservation. The Winslow Police Department faced scrutiny for its role in the 2016 fatal shooting of Loreal Tsingine, a young Navajo woman.
Tsingine was in sweatpants on Easter Sunday last year when officers stopped her in a parking lot on suspicion of shoplifting from a convenience store. Silent body camera footage captures a brief struggle in which Tsingine appears to fall, pulls out a pair of scissors, and then moves away.
She then turns back toward one of the officers, with the scissors in her hand pointed down. The officer shoots her four times: twice in the front and twice in the back as she crumples to the ground, according to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
Family members told The Guardian that Tsingine was 5 feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds. The officer responsible for her death resigned after a meeting with his lieutenant about the internal investigation.
The Department of Justice was called in to examine the police investigation of the case. Prosecutors concluded they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully used excessive force, said Devin O’Malley of the DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs.

Start of Native Lives Matter

A few of these violent encounters have provoked wrongful death lawsuits or, in Bearheels’ case, assault charges. Yet most don’t. Kanosh said she and her family tried for years to bring her brother’s case to court, but in the end, they were unable to raise the money for an attorney.
Her family is not alone.
“I know plenty of (Native American) families who are even struggling to come up with money for a headstone for their family member,” Kanosh said. “They find themselves with not enough money and not enough support, and they give up hope.”
But their stories have gained attention on social media. Black Elk and Kanosh both help lead one of the emerging voices for Native American rights, Native Lives Matter. The group began in 2014 and is loosely modeled after Black Lives Matter.
Since its founding, Natives Lives Matter has held rallies and fund-raisers to raise awareness about police violence against Native Americans. Its Facebook page now has more than 160,000 members, and hashtags such as #NativeLivesMatter and #NativeAmericanLivesMatter are slowly gaining currency. A recent event to raise funds for people affected by the Dakota Access Pipeline protests attracted more than 500 people, said Troy Amlee, a core member of the group.
Kanosh has a straightforward goal. “I never want my brother’s story to die,” she said. “I don’t want other people’s family members — brothers, sisters, aunts, fathers, uncles — I don’t want their stories to die either.”
“The forgotten minority in police shootings”, https://www.cnn.com/2017/11/10/us/native-lives-matter/index.html

Toughguy Cop Jared Williams Likes Roughing up Little Girls, Costs Tacoma $500k.

By Julia Reiss,

A Washington state teen has been awarded $500,000 in federal court, after being shocked with a stun gun by an off-duty police officer working security. The case stems from an incident that occurred four years ago when the young woman was pulled off her bicycle and tased.

As the Associated Press reports, Monique Tillman sued Officer Jared Williams and the city of Tacoma over the violent attack, which happened in May 2014. The ordeal was captured on surveillance video. Tillman, who was 15 at the time, and her then 16-year-old brother, Eric Branch, were riding their bikes through a mall parking lot when Williams pulled Tillman over. When the teen asked why she had been stopped, Williams told her she had caused a disturbance. He said was going to issue her a warning for trespassing, which meant she would be arrested if she ever returned to the mall. Tillman then reiterated her question again, and when she attempted to ride away, Williams pushed her to the ground and tased her.

 

Maria Lee, A spokeswoman for the city, said in a statement that the verdict was disappointing. Is it though? Getting tased for riding your bike hardly seems like a justifiable use of force. The spokeswoman says that Tacoma’s attorneys may pursue an appeal after they review the case. Meanwhile, Williams still has his job with the department, which, personally, seems like a liability. Anyway, Tillman’s brother was also awarded $50,000 in the case.

Julia Reiss, , complex.com, “Washington Teen Awarded $500k in Police Brutality Case”, https://www.complex.com/life/2018/03/washington-teen-awarded-500k-police-brutality-case

 

 

Worthington man files brutality suit over 2016 arrest

Man’s arrest, incident caught on tape last year.
Video (05:00) : State leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union released a July 2016 squad car video Thursday of what they say is a law enforcement officer’s “disturbing and completely unnecessary … brutal attack” on a motorist in Worthington who was suspected of initiating a dangerous road-rage encounter that same day and resisting arrest.

A Worthington, Minn., man filed an excessive force lawsuit Wednesday against the Worthington Police Department over his 2016 arrest, saying he thought he was going to die after being forcibly removed from his vehicle and repeatedly struck by an officer.

Anthony Promvongsa, who is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, was pulled over July 28 of last year in downtown Worthington after being accused of tailgating two off-duty officers.

A police squad car video of the arrest shows an agent with the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force approach Promvongsa’s Honda Pilot SUV with his service pistol drawn while shouting obscenities. About 10 seconds after Promvongsa pulls over, the agent, Joe Joswiak, opens the Honda Pilot driver’s door and tugs at Promvongsa in an attempt to pull him from the driver’s seat. Promvongsa said later that he was still wearing his seat belt.

Joswiak immediately began striking Promvongsa, first with his knee, then with his fist and then with his elbow — nine attempted strikes in all — as he pulled Promvongsa from the Honda.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, names the Worthington Police Department, the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force, the City of Worthington, Joswiak, Worthington police Sgt. Tim Gaul and Nathan Grimmius, officer Dan Brouillet and Worthington Police Chief Troy Appel.

Appel was out of the office and not immediately available for comment Wednesday. He initially said the video only shows a portion of what took place.

Promvongsa pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of fifth-degree assault against the two off-duty officers he was accused of tailgating, according to the ACLU. Fifth-degree assault includes threatening to harm someone, or doing something that causes someone to fear immediate bodily harm. He also pleaded guilty to one count of driving after revocation.

ACLU-MN legal director Teresa Nelson said the arrest is part of a larger pattern of behavior by Worthington police and the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force.

“Everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect by law enforcement. The brutal assault against Anthony Promvongsa violated his rights,” Nelson said in a statement.

 

“Worthington man files brutality suit over 2016 arrest”, http://www.startribune.com/worthington-man-files-police-brutality-suit-over-2016-arrest/457775973/

‘At first glance this looks like a mistake’: Video shows Arizona officers beating unarmed man

June 6

The Mesa Police Department released surveillance video on June 6 that shows three officers beating an unarmed man in the hallway of an apartment building.

Four police officers from a Phoenix suburb have been put on paid administrative leave after video showed them beating an unarmed man last month, the Mesa Police Department said.

On Tuesday, the department released a 15-minute video of the incident, which took place May 23, in an effort to be transparent after recent high-profile cases where its officers’ use of force was questioned.

The footage shows four men in uniform frisking a man in a gray shirt as he stands near a railing on the upper floor of an apartment complex, holding a phone to his ear. The officers appear to give direction to the man — later identified as 33-year-old Robert Johnson — at which point he walks toward a wall.

Moments later, the officers have Johnson backed up into a corner near an elevator, then take him down. Johnson does not appear to resist. In the video, at least two officers are shown punching Johnson several times in the head; one officer pummels him on the left side of his face five times in rapid succession, before landing a final right hook that causes Johnson to slump down to the ground.

While this is happening, the elevator door opens and two more officers emerge and surround Johnson.

Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista told several local news outlets Tuesday night that he first became aware of the video after a civilian reported it to him about a week after the incident, and that four of the officers involved were placed on leave immediately pending an investigation. He did not identify the officers placed on leave or specify whether the others in the video were also under investigation.

The officers had been responding to a call about a woman in distress and found Johnson and 20-year-old Erick Reyes, Batista told the Arizona Republic. While police were questioning Reyes, they asked Johnson to stay behind; the incident escalated after Johnson didn’t sit down when he was told, he added.

“When the person didn’t sit down, our officers then engaged in use of force to make him sit down,” Batista told the newspaper. “I don’t feel that our officers were at their best. I don’t feel that this situation needed to go in the way that it went.”

Johnson was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct and hindering, and Reyes was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct and possessing drug paraphernalia, the Republic reported.

The video released Tuesday was recorded by a surveillance camera in the apartment complex and does not contain audio. Mesa police have not released any body-camera video that might also have been recorded.

Advocates for Johnson blasted the officers’ actions, as well as what they called “the culture of violence at the Mesa Police Department,” in a statement released Tuesday night by pastor Andre Miller and attorneys Benjamin Taylor and Joel Robbins. They said Johnson had been cooperative and following police instructions when officers began assaulting him — and that the incident would have gone unnoticed if surveillance cameras had not recorded video.

“We hope and pray that the Mesa Police Department will accept responsibility for the misconduct of these officers,” the statement read. “Mesa must take concrete steps to ensure that culpable officers are disciplined, retrained, or dismissed. The Mesa Police Department must develop a law enforcement culture that meets community and constitutional norms and ensures that police and citizens go home safely after police interactions.”

Mesa City Council member Jeremy Whittaker said the video was “appalling” at first glance.

“It would be irresponsible of me to convict these officers in the court of public opinion before they are guaranteed their constitutional right to a fair trial as I understand there is a criminal investigation,” Whittaker wrote. “I am eager for due process to take place. We hired Chief Batista last year to focus on making sure our police department is fairly serving the public. Leadership change takes time and I have full faith he is focusing on the issues that plague our community.”

The Mesa Police Department was thrust into the national spotlight recently after a high-profile incident involving questionable use of force. In December, former Mesa police officer Philip Brailsford was acquitted of second-degree murder charges in the January 2016 shooting of Daniel Shaver. After the ruling, a judge released graphic video from Brailsford’s body camera that showed Shaver sobbing, crawling on his hands and knees and begging for his life in the moments before Brailsford shot him multiple times.

In February, the department was also criticized after body-camera footage showed Mesa police violently taking down an 84-year-old grandmother, causing bruises and a black eye.

On Tuesday, Batista said he had instituted new policy that would prohibit officers from striking a person’s face or head unless that person is fighting them.

“This is no way represents the whole work that is done every day,” Batista told 12 News, of the newly released video. “They’re human beings. Certainly, at first glance this looks like a mistake. And it doesn’t look right and it’s my job — it’s our job — to collectively investigate and find the answers to this.”

June 6, The Washington Post, “‘At first glance this looks like a mistake’: Video shows Arizona officers beating unarmed man”