76 Baltimore Police misconduct cases have been allowed to expire since 2016


A Baltimore Police Department officer stands on a street corner during a foot patrol assignment. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

July 25

 An ongoing failure by Baltimore police internal affairs detectives to investigate misconduct complaints against officers in a timely manner has resulted in 76 such cases expiring without any conclusions on the officers’ guilt or innocence since 2016, the Baltimore Sun has found.

Emails between Baltimore police commanders, obtained by the Sun through a public records request, show a pattern of detectives and their internal affairs supervisors failing to investigate administrative misconduct cases within Maryland’s one-year limit for such work.

Critics of the department have said its failure to fully investigate every complaint against officers is evidence it cannot be trusted to hold itself accountable and needs outside oversight.

The emails show some senior internal affairs officials repeatedly expressing frustration with both the system and the lack of urgency on the part of department leadership to address the problem.

Maj. Stephanie Lansey-Delgado, who was appointed head of internal affairs by then-Commissioner Darryl De Sousa in early 2018, wrote in one April 2018 email to unit supervisors that administrators “have not been aggressive on getting the cases back before expiration.” Administrators “need to have a system where they are tracking the soon to expire [cases] for the entire division to make sure nothing expires,” she wrote in another email.

A lieutenant responded that such a system was in place.

“Well we need to work on the system,” Lansey-Delgado replied, “because a case just expired.”

The partially redacted emails show the issue is far broader than was indicated during a recent court hearing in which 12 cases were tossed by a judge for having been left unresolved for a year. And they expand on the finding this week by federal consent decree monitors that the department struggles to investigate its own, particularly when complaints come from members of the public.

While criminal investigations of officers can extend beyond a year, other administrative cases expire, including citizen complaints about discourteous and dismissive behavior and internal complaints about insubordination, breaches of protocol and serious failures of duty.

The department said this week that 26 internal affairs cases were allowed to expire in 2018 out of more than 2,600 complaints. The department previously said only eight cases expired last year.

In 2017, 22 cases expired. The cases related to a variety of issues, including officers allegedly making “inappropriate comments,” failing to properly investigate a car theft and failing to write a report after using force. In 2016, three cases expired.

An additional 25 cases have expired this year, including the dozen court cases tossed in May, the department said.

In a statement, police spokesman Matt Jablow said Commissioner Michael Harrison, who took over the department in February, “recognizes the significant issues facing our internal affairs operations and the importance of correcting those issues as quickly as possible.”

Jablow said Harrison is “fully committed to establishing a more robust, efficient and effective internal affairs unit to make BPD a significantly better department and help rebuild our relationship with the community we serve.”

Jablow would not answer specific questions.

But the emails provide insight into the unit’s scramble to fix problems. In October — the same month the Sun began asking questions about expiring cases — Lansey-Delgado sent another email noting the “reoccurring issue” and again urging supervisors to better track each investigation’s progress.

“Please review all cases assigned under your supervision and double check with your detectives and sergeants that they are aware of the correct dates,” Lansey-Delgado wrote. “Please also provide an accurate listing of the cases that are due to expire . . . and a status of each case toward completion.”

In a January email after another case expired, Lansey-Delgado urged sergeants to carefully track the expiration dates on ­cases in part because “it was deemed too difficult for the detectives to do it for their own cases” — a claim the department would not explain.

The department repeatedly declined to make Lansey-Delgado available for an interview.

The emails do not identify accused officers by name or outline their alleged offenses, and the department won’t release information related to internal affairs complaints against individual officers.

Commanders hold a weekly meeting called IAstat at which they analyze and seek to improve internal affairs work. It is one of several departmental efforts to improve internal affairs operations in the face of scathing critiques in recent years from Justice Department investigators, federal consent decree monitors and members of the public — all of whom have watched repeated corruption scandals arise within the department.

The Justice Department, in its report precipitating the city’s 2017 consent decree mandating changes, identified internal affairs as a major problem area for the department.

Late last year, the city public defender’s office called for an investigation into what it alleged was a widespread police practice of wrongly expunging internal affairs files of officers accused of misconduct. Last month, a judge tossed out a dozen internal affairs charges against Baltimore police officers because the department filed them too late under the provisions of the state’s Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights.

“I do not grant relief gladly in these cases,” said Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill, noting some involved serious allegations against officers.

Sgt. Mike Mancuso, the president of the police union that represents rank-and-file officers, said the judge was right to throw out the cases, but the department’s failure to promptly adjudicate internal affairs cases does not benefit officers. The one-year limit on investigations was put in place to prevent cases from dragging on, but that’s happening anyway, Mancuso said — and not just in the expired cases.

Most cases in which officers are exonerated, or in which complaints are not sustained, are ruled on only in the final days before they are set to expire, leaving officers to “sit suspended or with a bogus charge hanging over their head for that long,” Mancuso said.

He said the department doesn’t vet the cases for legitimacy early on, as it should. He also said the department is being “unreasonable” with disciplinary offers when it does try to settle cases, resulting in more cases going before full administrative boards than ever.

All of that contributes to morale among officers being “the lowest I have ever seen,” Mancuso said.

Internal affairs is not the only area in which the department has struggled in recent years. Homicides and shootings have been at historic highs. And both the police department and the police union have suggested crime is out of control in part because the department — with a half-billion-dollar annual budget — is understaffed and can’t recruit fast enough to outpace attrition.

The work of the internal affairs unit has long been clouded in secrecy, both for the heightened sensitivity around the investigations it conducts and the state’s protective laws around police personnel files, which are not subject to disclosure under public information laws. Public defenders have accused the office of State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby of further obfuscating the public record of police misconduct by withholding internal affairs files of officers they are putting on the witness stand in criminal cases, though Mosby’s office said it has increased transparency in recent years.

The department also has promised increased transparency as part of its efforts to change and regain the public’s trust under the consent decree. But it hasn’t budged on internal affairs issues.

Harrison has said in previous interviews that internal affairs detectives should be the best of the best, and that he is taking a careful look at the unit and its leadership. The department said this week that Harrison is “in the final stages of concluding a national search” to appoint a new deputy commissioner in charge of the Public Integrity Bureau, which oversees internal affairs.

The five-year Crime Reduction & Departmental Transformation Plan that he released last week said the department is moving forward with an “Internal Affairs Modernization” and building an “Early Intervention System” to better track misconduct allegations. It provided no timeline for those improvements.

The total number of internal affairs employees has increased in recent years, even as the total number of complaints against officers has declined, according to department data.

However, the department said those figures are misleading. Individual internal affairs detectives handle more cases than in the past because of a 2016 decision requiring they handle all complaints, including those originating with command staff, it said. Each police district’s staff previously handled such command complaints, which represent the bulk of all complaints, the department said.

The median number of cases being worked on by internal affairs detectives is 58, police said. Figures for past years were not available.

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ACLU MOUNTS TWO-PRONGED ATTACK TO MAKE RECORDS OF POLICE MISCONDUCT PUBLIC

JULY 22, 2019

Calling it “one of the most damaging decisions affecting the public’s right to know that has been issued, and a significant obstacle to holding police departments accountable,” the ACLU of Rhode Island has launched a two-pronged attack on a 2017 Attorney General ruling that allows police to keep secret some of its reports of police misconduct. In simultaneous appeals to the Rhode Island Supreme Court and the Attorney General, ACLU of RI cooperating attorney James Cullen is asking for a reversal of that ruling.

In two major Access to Public Records Act (APRA) lawsuits filed in past years by the ACLU, the R.I. Supreme Court has ruled that the public is entitled to obtain final reports of investigations of police misconduct. Although both cases involved requests for reports involving citizen-generated complaints of misconduct, the court rulings did not propound any distinction between investigations prompted by civilians and those initiated by a police department itself. However, a 2017 APRA advisory opinion by the Attorney General’s office, Piskunov v. Town of Narragansett, approved such a distinction and held in that case that the Narragansett Police Department could withhold their final reports of misconduct investigations if they were initiated internally. Until that ruling, police departments had routinely provided those reports. That quickly changed.

Later that year, the ACLU filed an APRA lawsuit against the Pawtucket Police Department on behalf of Dimitri Lyssikatos, who was stymied from obtaining those internally-generated police misconduct final reports. Lyssikatos is a member of the Rhode Island Accountability Project, a non-partisan organization which promotes governmental accountability and maintains a publicly available database of police misconduct reports. However, Pawtucket police, relying on the Piskunov opinion, refused to turn over 57 separate internal investigatory findings, prompting the ACLU to sue. In March, however, RI Superior Court Judge Melissa Long sided with the police and held that additional hearings were necessary to determine whether those records had to be released under APRA.

In a court brief filed today, the ACLU has asked the R.I. Supreme Court to review and overturn that decision, stating that Long’s ruling “invites public bodies to use unnecessary procedural hurdles to block APRA requests [and]  imposes significant transaction costs that most applicants for the release of records cannot afford.”

Separately, Lyssikatos was denied access to similar records in April by the Woonsocket Police Department, which also relied on Piskunov in rejecting his request for misconduct reports. In response, ACLU attorney Cullen has filed with the Attorney General a formal appeal of that denial, asking that his office overturn its 2017 opinion. Calling the Woonsocket Police Department’s denial “a flagrant breach of Rhode Island’s Access to Public Records Act,” the appeal to the AG argues that it “highlights the faulty and problematic nature” of the 2017 opinion “which has become an increasingly-used tool by police departments to shield themselves from public accountability.”  The formal appeal to the Attorney General concludes:

“The Piskunov opinion has cast a pall over police department accountability and transparency and is being used to hinder the public’s right to know in significant ways. We request that your office take this opportunity to reconsider and reverse that pronouncement, and conclude that the text and intent of the APRA . . . compel the conclusion that internally-generated reports regarding alleged police misconduct, no less than citizen-generated reports, are public records.”

In seeking the records from both Pawtucket and Woonsocket, Lyssikatos agreed, to no avail, to allow personally-identifiable information from the reports to be redacted.

ACLU cooperating attorney Cullen said today: “There is no meaningful distinction between internal affairs reports generated as a result of citizen complaints and internal affairs reports generated without an underlying citizen complaint.  However initiated, these reports of investigations conducted by the internal affairs department shed light on one of the core functions of government – policing.”

Lyssikatos added: “The idea that internally generated investigations demand greater privacy than those initiated by the public only serves to foster the disconnect between the public and law enforcement. The Rhode Island Accountability Project was, and in some cases still is, receiving internally generated reports and feels strongly that their release is essential in maintaining a single standard of investigative integrity. As it stands now, all a law enforcement agency would have to do to withhold an investigation is beat the public to the initiation of the complaint.”
ACLU of RI executive director Steven Brown stated: “The 2017 Attorney General opinion is one of the most damaging decisions affecting the public’s right to know that has been issued, and a significant obstacle to holding police departments accountable. We are hopeful that the new Attorney General’s promise of greater transparency will lead to a reversal of that unfortunate opinion.”

Earlier this year, Judge Long upheld thousands of questionable redactions made by the previous Attorney General in releasing records regarding the AG’s expenditure of “Google settlement” funds. Those redactions included the complete blacking out of a two-page memo describing the Attorney General’s purchase of ceremonial lapel pins for the office. After the ACLU appealed that ruling, Attorney General Neronha reexamined the records and released almost all of them in unredacted form.

JULY 22, 2019, “ACLU MOUNTS TWO-PRONGED ATTACK TO MAKE RECORDS OF POLICE MISCONDUCT PUBLIC”, https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/aclu-mounts-two-pronged-attack-make-records-police-misconduct-public

Baltimore should move swiftly to stop police misconduct gag orders

By BALTIMORE SUN EDITORIAL BOARD

Baltimore should move swiftly to stop police misconduct gag orders
City Council President Brandon Scott, who recently assumed the position when former Council President Jack Young became mayor, conducts a council session. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

The Baltimore City Council should expeditiously work to pass legislation that would prevent the city from silencing people who settle police misconduct and brutality cases.

The longtime practice of forcing people to sign gag orders that prevent them from discussing their cases not only stomps on their free speech rights but allows police to hide from their bad behavior. (We should also point out the city is still allowed to talk freely about cases, and does insofar as it suits its interests.) The cops in essence are not held fully accountable, leaving the possibility that they will continue to brutalize other people. As a federal appeals court said, it becomes hush money. Talk and you lose half your financial settlement.

In a 2-1 ruling, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unequivocally declared the non-disclosure agreements to be unconstitutional. If only City Solicitor Andre Davis, who plans to appeal, would stop fighting the issue. He and the team of city lawyers say it will hurt the ability to negotiate future settlements and that these kinds of clauses are used by other cities.

That may be the case, but there are also cities without such agreements, and Baltimore should become one of those. And the city law department should continue to work as diligently for fair settlements with or without a gag order.

Kudos to Council President Brandon Scott and Councilwoman Shannon Sneed who plan to introduce legislation today that would prohibit restricting people from talking about their cases. We urge the rest of the council to support their legislation, which was spurred by the court’s decision. As Ms. Sneed said, speaking about their experiences can help victims move past the trauma of bad encounters with cops. It would also show the city is serious about cleaning up a police department plagued by a perception of corruption.

The legislation would also require the city to publicly release details about settlements, something we also support. Currently, little is known about the cases other than the dollar amount, which must be approved by the city’s Board of Estimates. That does not go nearly far enough.

In a city trying to mend relations and rebuild trust between cops and its residents, getting rid of the gag orders would help build more transparency into the system. What exactly is the city trying to hide if they are doing right by citizens with these settlements? They should want to track bad police officer behavior and show residents they are taking responsibility when officers misbehave.

Transparency is not a bad thing for police departments that want to operate openly and honestly. Police officers work for the taxpayers and act on the public’s behalf, and we have a right to know the full details of any misconduct, including how cases are investigated and if the settlements go beyond a slap on the wrist. The recent case of the Gun Trace Task Force, where rogue police officers assaulted, robbed and took advantage of citizens, showed police officers can’t monitor themselves.

The 4th Circuit’s decision should bring hope to people like Ashley Overbey, the city resident who joined with local news website, the Baltimore Brew, to sue the city in federal court. She sued three police officers claiming they beat, tased, verbally abused and arrested her in her home after she called 911 to report a burglary. She settled for $63,000, but was ordered to pay half of it back after talking to the media. The ACLU took the case, and more than two dozen other news media organizations, including The Baltimore Sun, joined the most recent appeal.

Various other groups have also pushed for an end to the gag order during the last several years, including the Center for American Progress and the Campaign for Justice, Safety and Jobs. The chorus is loud for this change. It is about time it happened.

 

Detroit cop allegedly sought phone numbers from women he stopped

A Detroit police officer accused of threatening to issue tickets to two women unless they gave him their phone numbers was formally charged Wednesday with misconduct in office.

Investigators allege that while pulling over a 21-year-old driver near Woodward and Congress on July 2, 2018, Chancellor Dmitri Searcy told  her to give him her phone number to avoid being ticketed, authorities allege.

“After doing so, it is alleged that the victim received unwanted calls and texts from Officer Searcy,” the Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement Tuesday.

Authorities accuse Searcy of acting similarly during a traffic stop near Woodward and Jefferson on Aug. 14, 2018.

The officer reportedly told  a 29-year-old driver “that she would go to jail, have her car impounded and receive a ticket unless” the woman gave Searcy her phone number, investigators said.

After doing so, the victim received unwanted calls and texts from him, according to the release.

Searcy was arraigned Wednesday in 36th District Court in Detroit on two counts of misconduct in office before Magistrate Laura Echartea. Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Searcy has been suspended with pay, department representatives said Wednesday. A request to suspend him without pay was expected to go to the city Board of Police Commissioners.

He is scheduled to be back in court at 8:30 a.m. July 24 for a probable cause conference and for a preliminary examination at 9 a.m. July 30, both before Judge Kenyetta Stanford Jones. A $15,000 personal bond was set.

The Detroit resident has faced other legal troubles while on the job.

In 2015, following a lengthy investigation, he and another city police officer were arrested and charged with embezzlement, larceny and filing a false felony report.

The two partners in the city’s tactical response unit were accused of taking money from three people, starting with a 33-year-old man arrested in March 2013 at a gas station.

In 2017, a jury acquitted both officers, who had been suspended. Police Chief James Craig said at the time that they could return to work.

 

Mark Hicks, The Detroit News, July 16, 2019, “Detroit cop allegedly sought phone numbers from women he stopped”, https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2019/07/16/detroit-police-officer-charged-misconduct/1749862001/

Philadelphia is about to fire 13 police officers for their racist, violent Facebook posts


Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross speaks during a news conference in Philadelphia on Thursday. (Matt Rourke/AP)

The Philadelphia Police Department will fire 13 officers who paired endorsements of violence with racism and homophobia in a slew of derogatory Facebook posts unearthed by an advocacy group, the city’s police commissioner said Thursday.

The officers, one of whom was a sergeant, were among the 72 removed from street duty and placed on administrative leave in June, when the department announced its sweeping investigation into social media activity published by the nonprofit Plain View Project. The group examined Facebook pages of 3,500 current and former officers at eight departments across the country, and its findings spurred internal investigations from Phoenix to Lake County, Fla.

In Philadelphia, the Plain View Project identified some 3,100 offensive or potentially offensive posts from 328 active-duty police officers. Of that number, the most offensive were placed on leave while a department-hired law firm probed the matter, Commissioner Richard Ross said at a news conference. In addition to the officers that will be dismissed, four others will be suspended for a month.

Their conduct, Ross said, “demonstrates the officers have little or no regard for their positions as police officers.”

“I continue to be very disappointed and angered by these posts, many of which violate basic human decency,” Ross said. “We need to move past this ridiculous hate that has consumed this country and has done so for centuries.”

The most egregious posts, he said, included Islamophobic cries such as “death to Islam,” references to African Americans as “thugs,” homophobic slurs, advocating violence against trans people and generally encouraging police brutality.

“The posts were deeply disturbing,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Our police officers are entrusted to serve and protect the people of Philadelphia — everybody, all the people of Philadelphia.”

The mayor and commissioner both pledged the city would do “better” going forward, and Ross announced a panoply of trainings that officers have already done or will undergo in the near future — including anti-bias and anti-racism workshops with input from the Anti-Defamation League. The department will also purchase or develop software that will allow officials to “data mine” officers’ social media accounts and flag hateful or harmful posts.

John McNesby, president of the Philadelphia police union, said in a statement that the Fraternal Order of Police is “disappointed that our officers will be terminated without due process” but added that they “condemn racist and hateful speech in any form.”

“We are currently meeting with each officer to prepare an appropriate response to protect our members’ rights under the contract,” he said. “The overwhelming majority of our members serve this city with integrity and professionalism.”

McNesby has previously said that, while “there may have been a few” racist posts, “a lot of this stuff, though, I think is just cops being cops and venting.”

Ross said the 13 officers, whom he did not name and who will be fired after a 30-day suspension, will probably be the last ones let go as part of this investigation, though he did say that officials were still looking into posts deemed less urgently offensive.

The commissioner conceded that, even after the department punished its worst offenders, the episode inexorably frays relations between the police and the community.

“We’ve made significant inroads, but this takes us back,” he said. “I’d be disingenuous if I didn’t acknowledge that.”

Kenney defended his commissioner’s handling of the investigation and reaffirmed that he remains confident in Ross’s leadership of the department, which he has helmed for 2½ years.

“I think people who have hate in their hearts have hate in their hearts,” Kenney said. “And I don’t think there’s anything they can do to get the hate out of their hearts other than fire them, discipline them and train them.”

 

Reis Thebault, July 18, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/07/19/philadelphia-is-about-fire-police-officers-their-racist-violent-facebook-posts/?utm_term=.d00ff94923e9

Police misconduct investigator forced out after accessing cops’ investigative records

A city employee who investigated misconduct allegations against Chicago police was forced to resign for improperly accessing investigative records on cops she knew and for falsely reporting that a co-worker planned a mass shooting at work, a report by the city’s inspector general revealed Tuesday.

The report by the office of Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson did not name the employee, but Alison Yohanna was later criminally charged by Cook County prosecutors in connection with the alleged false report.

Yohanna, 35, accessed the records of her brother, boyfriend and some of the boyfriend’s relatives — all Chicago cops — almost 70 times while working as an investigator for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, Ferguson’s office said.

The report did not explain the purpose behind Yohanna’s searches but said she also failed to reveal to COPA the personal ties to the officers that posed a conflict of interest for her investigative post.

While under investigation by Ferguson’s office, Yohanna anonymously sent a complaint to the IG from work, falsely accusing a co-worker she suspected of cooperating against her of plotting the mass shooting, the report said.

Prosecutors later indicted her on felony charges of official misconduct and false reporting of a crime for the December incident.

The false report prompted police, SWAT and tactical officers to swarm COPA offices and evacuate the building, prosecutors said. The phony email came back to Yohanna’s work computer, prosecutors said, and she admitted sending the email.

Alison Yohanna
Alison Yohanna (Chicago Police Department)

During her bond hearing in January, Yohanna’s lawyer, Robert Pervan, said in court that his client sent the email out of an “abundance of caution.”

“It wasn’t done with any malicious intent,’’ Pervan told Judge Stephanie Miller.

Yohanna remains free on $10,000 bail while awaiting trial.

On the recommendation of Ferguson’s office, COPA fired Yohanna. After she appealed her dismissal, the city settled the appeal by letting Yohanna resign instead, according to the report. She was also designated as ineligible for rehire by the city.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday from a mayor’s conference in New York, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she hadn’t yet discussed the matter with COPA Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts but called the allegations “disturbing.”

“Look, it raises questions that have to be addressed, not only about the individual but also about the policies and practices that are in place that would allow this kind of access seemingly unchecked,” she said. “So there’s work to be done, and I will be dealing with Sydney and her team to address them once I’ve had an opportunity to read in more detail the IG’s report.”

 

JEREMY GORNER, CHICAGO TRIBUNE |JUL 16, 2019, “Police misconduct investigator forced out after accessing cops’ investigative records”, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/criminal-justice/ct-copa-investigator-forced-out-20190716-bwpqh2t4lrdetmlcochzszakxq-story.html

Report: No Police Misconduct in Hospital Patient’s Arrest

By The Associated Press

CHICAGO — An independent investigator has found no evidence of police misconduct or racial bias in the arrest of a black patient who was accused by a white security officer of stealing equipment when he stepped outside a northern Illinois hospital last month while still attached to an IV stand, according to a report released Wednesday.

In his report for the city of Freeport, Hazel Crest Police Chief Mitchell R. Davis III said he found no evidence that race played any role in the security officer’s decision to stop 24-year-old Shaquille Dukes — who was still wearing his hospital gown — and two other black men as Dukes alleged at the time in a video of the incident that he posted on Facebook.

Instead, the security officer “would have been negligent in his duties had he not stopped to inquire into what Dukes was doing outside,” because he knew that leaving Freeport Health Network still attached to an IV is not allowed, Davis wrote.

In a brief telephone interview, Dukes, who now lives in Chicago, disputed many of the conclusions in Davis’ report and said he still believes that he was a victim of an “overzealous, racist, security officer.”

“When he stopped us he radioed the police and said, ‘I have three black males attempting to steal property from the hospital,'” said Dukes, who added that before the call the first thing the officer asked him was if he was trying to steal the IV stand to sell on eBay.

Dukes said he’s retained an attorney and plans to sue the police department, the city of Freeport, and the hospital where he was being treated for double pneumonia on June 9 when he and the two other men were stopped by the security guard and arrested by police on a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge.

Davis, who was asked by Freeport’s city manager to conduct an independent probe, suggested in his report that Dukes was less than fully cooperative in his investigation, saying that Dukes failed to show up for two scheduled interviews. He said a doctor said he didn’t give Dukes permission to walk outside the hospital attached to an IV stand as Dukes contends.

Dukes acknowledged that he didn’t show up for two interviews, but said the first time was because of a death in his family and the second because one a relative of one of his friends had been shot. He said it was “totally incorrect” that the doctor had not given him permission to go outside.

Also, Davis wrote that he was “unable to substantiate Dukes’ complaint of cruel and unusual punishment.”

Instead, after interviewing the security officer and watching the video, he believes the security officer “genuinely felt fear” for his own safety as Dukes and the other two men became increasingly angry.

Davis suggested that police could have deescalated the tense situation, particularly when Dukes was having trouble breathing.

“I believe … officers present during Dukes’ medical episode should have considered unhandcuffing him while he was in distress,” Davis wrote.

 

The Associated Press, July 10, 2019, Report: No Police Misconduct in Hospital Patient’s Arrest”, https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2019/07/10/us/ap-us-hospital-patient-arrested.html

Fired for shooting an unarmed man, officer was rehired so he could collect a lifetime pension

By Eli Rosenberg, July 12

An Arizona police officer who was fired and charged with murder for killing an unarmed man in a hotel hallway was rehired temporarily so he could collect a pension.

Philip Brailsford, who killed Daniel Shaver at a La Quinta hotel in Mesa in 2016, came to the agreement last year with the Mesa city manager’s office to be allowed to be rehired so he could apply for disability pension on the basis of a medical retirement, a striking reversal of his firing by the department after the shooting.

He will receive a lifetime pension of about $30,000 per year.

The agreement was first reported by local news outlets in Arizona, which obtained the settlement agreement that the city reached with Brailsford last August.

Shaver’s shooting captured national attention when it happened in 2016 and again after Brailsford’s trial, when his body camera video was released.

Police were called to the hotel in January 2016 on a complaint about a man with a rifle in one of the rooms. Shaver, 26, had been showing a legal pellet gun that he used in his job in pest control to a woman in the room with him.

The body camera footage begins with the confrontation between Brailsford, other officers, and Shaver and the woman. Shaver complies with the officers’ commands, putting his hands up and lying down on the ground. They threaten to kill him multiple times for not following their orders.

“If you move, we’re going to consider that a threat and we are going to deal with it and you may not survive it,” one says at one point.

“Please do not shoot me,” Shaver begs at one point, his hands in the air. Brailsford opened fire after Shaver appeared to reach behind himself while crawling toward the officers. He was struck five times.

Brailsford, who was carrying an AR-15 rifle with the phrase “You’re F—ed” etched into it, according to a police report, was charged with murder for the shooting and fired soon thereafter from his job. He testified in court that he believed Shaver was reaching for a gun and would have done the same thing again.

He was acquitted in November 2017 after a six-week trial on both second-degree murder and reckless manslaughter charges.

The settlement notes that Brailsford has been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, something his lawyer Michael Piccarreta told ABC 15stemmed from the shooting incident and criminal prosecution. Piccarreta did not return requests for comment from The Washington Post.

Mesa City Manager Chris Brady told the outlet that Brailsford’s PTSD claim dates to before his determination.

“So in fairness he was given the opportunity to make that appeal to the board,” he said. He did not return requests for comment.

The shooting prompted a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed by Shaver’s family, which is still pending.

 

Eli Rosenberg, July 12, “Fired for shooting an unarmed man, officer was rehired so he could collect a lifetime pension”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/07/13/fired-shooting-an-unarmed-man-officer-was-rehired-so-he-could-collect-lifetime-pension/

Fatal Force

487

people have been shot and killed by police in 2019

Updated July 15 at 1:31 p.m.

995people were fatally shot by police in 2018

As of a week ago, there this year than at the same time last year.

Fatal police shootings by year

Where the 2019 shootings took place

Each  marks the location of a deadly shooting.

Shootings per million people

There are shootings with unverified locations that are not shown on the map.

The Washington Post’s database contains records of every fatal shooting in the United States by a police officer in the line of duty since Jan. 1, 2015.

In 2015, The Post began tracking more than a dozen details about each killing — including the race of the deceased, the circumstances of the shooting, whether the person was armed and whether the person was experiencing a mental-health crisis — by culling local news reports, law enforcement websites and social media, and by monitoring independent databases such as Killed by Police and Fatal Encounters. The Post conducted additional reporting in many cases.

The Post is documenting only those shootings in which a police officer, in the line of duty, shoots and kills a civilian — the circumstances that most closely parallel the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., which began the protest movement culminating in Black Lives Matter and an increased focus on police accountability nationwide. The Post is not tracking deaths of people in police custody, fatal shootings by off-duty officers or non-shooting deaths.

The FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention log fatal shootings by police, but officials acknowledge that their data is incomplete. Since 2015, The Post has documented more than twice as many fatal shootings by police as recorded on average annually.

The Post’s database is updated regularly as fatal shootings are reported and as facts emerge about individual cases. The Post seeks to make the database as comprehensive as possible. To provide information about fatal police shootings since Jan. 1, 2015, send us an email at policeshootingsfeedback@washpost.com.

Research and Reporting: Julie Tate, Jennifer Jenkins and Steven Rich

Design and development by John Muyskens

 

 

“Fatal Force”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/national/police-shootings-2019/

Baltimore No Longer Able to Offer Police Brutality Settlements with Gag Orders

 

The Fourth Circuit Court has ruled 2-1 that settlement money cannot silence victims of police brutality in Baltimore, the Courthouse News Service reports.

The case began in 2012 when Baltimore resident Ashley Overbey accused three officers of beating her during a confrontation after she reported a burglary in her home. Overbey sued and ended up settling for $63,000. However, the settlement included a gag order which had a non-disparagement clause.

un featured Overbey in a 2014 story about the city’s police brutality settlement cases, other publications outlined her story. Anonymous readers took to the comment sections of these articles to troll and make racist comments toward Overbey. She responded, defending herself. As a result, the city withheld half of her settlement money for violating the agreement’s non-disparagement clause.

Commenters accused Overbey of initiating the violence to score a settlement, and she replied, recounting the facts of the case. One of the officers accused Overbey of pushing him after engaging in a verbal confrontation, but Overbey accused the officer of aggressively barging into her apartment without announcing himself, pulling her hair and hitting her. Another officer joined and a third tased her. Overbey was charged with assault and resisting arrest but the city later dropped the charges.

The court took back $31,500 in response to Overbey engaging in the comments of these articles. She sued for the $31,500 and was dismissed. The Fourth Circuit reversed the decision on July 11. The two judges who agreed to reverse the earlier decision claimed the settlement’s gag order violated the First Amendment.

“We hold that the non-disparagement clause in Overbey’s settlement agreement amounts to a waiver of her First Amendment rights and that strong public interests rooted in the First Amendment make it unenforceable and void,” U.S. Circuit Judge Henry Floyd and Judge Stephanie Thacker wrote. Judge Marvin Quattlebaum dissented.

The city argued Overbey was exercising her First Amendment rights by agreeing to refrain from speech in exchange for money. However, the majority ruled that the First Amendment did not apply to her refraining from speech, because her ordered silence did not protect any of the interests at stake in the case.

Overbey is not the only person who Baltimore has awarded a settlement in the wake of a police brutality case. The Sun’s 2014 article stated the city had paid about $5.7 million in settlements since 2011. In 2017, it reported another four cases in which the city settled for a combined $1.1 million.

 

 “Baltimore No Longer Able to Offer Police Brutality Settlements with Gag Orders”, https://www.diversityinc.com/baltimore-no-longer-able-to-offer-police-brutality-settlements-with-gag-orders/