Violent ‘Bacon Dispute’ at Georgia IHOP Raises Questions About Police’s Use of Force

“Reducing it to bacon is inflammatory, discriminatory and offensive,” said defense attorney Sarah Flack.

Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

Bettina Makalintal, Apr 3 2019

When local news stations picked up a story about a police altercation at a Georgia IHOP earlier this week, they wrote that a lack of bacon was to blame for the physical fight between the Marietta Police Department and local chef Renardo Lewis early Sunday morning. “Bacon Dispute At Marietta IHOP Lands Man In Jail,” wrote Patch; according to WSB-TV, Marietta police officers were called after Lewis allegedly “threatened to kill everyone inside over bacon.”

“Dispatchers advised officers that an employee from IHOP called 911 and stated a customer ‘had made threats, including gesturing like he (the suspect) had a gun,’” the Marietta PD wrote on Facebook. According to the department, Lewis’s wife had told them the issue “was not about threats, but that she needed IHOP employee names and their telephone numbers because she was upset they did not have bacon.” The department wrote that both Lewis and his wife became “more and more agitated” as the police gathered statements, and that they tried to place Lewis in handcuffs.

In the violent altercation that followed—which was caught on video and circulated on Facebook and Instagram—Lewis was allegedly “tased, punched, and kicked by up to six Marietta police officers,” 11Alive reported yesterday. According to Lewis’s attorney Sarah Flack, turning the fight into a “bacon issue” dismisses the department’s use of force.

“Marietta Police said it’s about bacon. This case has nothing to do with bacon,” Flack said in a press conference. “Reducing it to bacon is inflammatory, discriminatory and offensive.” (MUNCHIES has reached out to Flack for comment, but has not yet received a response.)

In response to the video, the Marietta PD has defended its use of force, claiming that officers were responding to a call that a customer “had made threats and motioned like he had a handgun.” The department further claimed that Lewis had attempted to strangle an officer while resisting arrest, which was why Tasers and punches were used. “While the video may seem shocking to some, we are very proud that all officers used only the force necessary to place Mr. Lewis in handcuffs,” the department added.

The Marietta PD characterized the fight as a “wrestling match,” but according to Flack, “It was a mob-style attack of five officers on one man. He never resisted.”

In a statement to WSB-TV, IHOP’s corporate office stated, “Our top priority is the safety of our guests and team members. […] The franchisee’s team quickly followed protocol and alerted authorities. We’re grateful to the police for their quick response and for keeping the guests and team members in the restaurant safe.”

Flack is pushing not only for the charges to be dropped, but also an investigation into the Marietta PD’s use of force, and an apology from IHOP. As Lewis’s wife told 11Alive, “He doesn’t even eat pork.”

Bettina Makalintal, Apr 3 2019, Vice.com, “Violent ‘Bacon Dispute’ at Georgia IHOP Raises Questions About Police’s Use of Force”,  https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/03/28/fairfield-cop-fired-for-sexual-misconduct-at-golf-course-was-called-creepy-joe/

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Court upholds broad release of police misconduct records in California

A new law granting public access to police misconduct records and investigations of officers’ use of force applies to all records that existed when the law took effect this year no matter when they were created, a state appeals court has ruled in a decision with immediate statewide impact.Police unions in numerous localities, including Contra Costa County and five of its cities in the current case, sued to block release of records created before 2019. The unions, which had opposed the disclosure law in the Legislature, contend the law was not drafted to apply to earlier records.

Superior Court judges around the state have generally disagreed with the unions. But in the first decision with broad impact, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco late Friday published an earlier two-page order in the Contra Costa case making all existing records available to the public.

While the police unions had argued that applying the law to pre-2019 records would make it impermissably retroactive, the court said it was applying the law to events that happened after it took effect — requests by members of the public for documents a police agency already possessed.

Making officers’ records public also doesn’t impose any new penalties or other legal consequences for the officers’ previous acts, the court said, but “changes only the public’s right to access peace officer records.”

By issuing the ruling, Presiding Justice Stuart Pollak and Justices Alison Tucher and Tracie Brown upheld a decision by Superior Court Judge Charles Treat. As the first published appellate decision on the issue, it is binding on trial courts statewide unless another appeals court publishes a contrary ruling or the state Supreme Court intervenes. Police groups in other counties have asked the state’s high court to take up their case, but the court has refused.

“For the first time in a long time, the Legislature has decided it’s really important for public trust in law enforcement and the administration of justice in this state for people to be able to obtain records of serious incidents of police misconduct,” Tenaya Rodewald, a lawyer arguing for release of the records, said Monday. The American Civil Liberties Union and the California First Amendment Coalition also participated, along with several news organizations. The Chronicle has filed public records requests under the new law.

Michael Rains, the police unions’ lawyer, said the ruling reflected courts that “I don’t think … give one hoot about the rights of police officers,” including the right to keep their personnel records confidential. He said he would not appeal the Contra Costa case, since the records would already have been released, but the issue is still pending in appellate courts elsewhere in the state.

For decades, California has had some of the nation’s most stringent confidentiality standards for police personnel records. The new law, SB1421 by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, allows members of the public to obtain records of police disciplinary agencies that found officers had committed sexual assault or engaged in dishonest conduct at work, and of all investigations of an officer’s use of a firearm or of some type of deadly force.

Records cannot be disclosed if they would identify a confidential witness or informant, endanger an officer or interfere with a criminal investigation.

Rodewald said police organizations around the state have filed about 18 lawsuits challenging disclosure of records created before 2019. She said many police agencies, including those covered by the Contra Costa ruling, have begun releasing their records. And in a separate ruling Friday, a judge ordered the San Francisco Police Department to make its records public.

 

“Court upholds broad release of police misconduct records in California”, https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Court-upholds-broad-release-of-police-misconduct-13733312.php?psid=1R145

Bay Area cop facing dismissal for sexual misconduct at golf course was called “Creepy Joe”

Officer denies allegations by multiple women of sexual misconduct, claiming he was the victim of a “witch hunt”

Three police officers in Fairfeld were found to have committed sexual misconduct, newly released records show
PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 

On the streets people called him officer, but out at the local golf links the female workers called him “Creepy Joe.”

Again and again, women who worked at the Paradise Valley Golf Course told investigators that Fairfield Police Officer Joe Griego harassed them, public records show. He grabbed one woman by the breast and asked her if her “boobs” were real. Another worker, who was nine months pregnant, said she overheard Griego saying falsely that he was her baby’s father. He also told his golfing partners, who included current and former officers and Fairfield City Councilman Chuck Timm, that “he wanted to get a piece of her,” according to detailed documents released by the Fairfield Police department Wednesday under Senate Bill 1421, the state’s new police accountability law.

Timm did not return a phone call Thursday.

Women also said Griego made lewd comments, slapped them on the behind and squeezed one of them on the shoulder so hard it hurt while telling he wanted to give her the “biggest tip of her life,” according to the documents.

The women told investigators that they dubbed Griego “creepy Joe.”

In addition to two separate investigations of Griego, the department also released records of two other findings of sexual misconduct by two other officers.

Facing termination in 2015 after an investigation of the women’s allegations, Griego left the department before he was disciplined. He’d already been suspended for a month without pay earlier that year after another woman who was taking a parenting class he was teaching for the department complained that he told her that even though she was divorced she could “still have lust.” The woman told investigators he tried to hug and kiss her, advances she resisted.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Griego called the investigations into his actions “witch hunts” motivated by complaints he made years earlier against the department  for allegedly violating his privacy rights. Yet he also said, “I played some sort of role in this,” but denied touching the women and making lewd comments.

“I was buried under these allegations,” he said. “I was a target.”

Fairfield Police Chief Randy Fenn did not immediately respond to a message Thursday afternoon.

Female employees said they learned how to “deal with” Griego, and at least one changed her work schedule to avoid contact with him, records show. Another woman refused to cooperate with investigators.

An expert in police sexual misconduct said many women are afraid to report officers’ behavior.

“Most of the instances of police sexual misconduct and police sexual violence that occur on duty are never complained about by the victims,” Bowling Green University Criminology Professor Phil Stinson said. “You know the police subculture, as I call it, is a closed-door society,” he said. “It’s an us vs. them mentality. It’s a boys club.”

In two others cases, through, women came forward with complaints against Fairfield officers.

In one, Detective Zachary Sandoval was suspended without pay for a day in 2015 for an unwelcome sexual advance he made on a Starbucks barista. The woman complained about an inappropriate encounter in August 2014 with the plainclothes officer, who was a regular at the coffee shop.The two had exchanged cell phone numbers, and Sandoval offered via text message to let her charge her phone in his car. Then Sandoval “asked her if he could give her a kiss,” the documents say.

“I was like, ‘I’m married.’ And he said, ‘I’m married, too.’ So I just gave him this really disgusted face and I just left the car,” the woman said, according to a transcript of her interview with investigators. But Sandoval told investigators he couldn’t remember if he asked the woman to kiss him.

“That is a rather large thing not to remember,” an investigator said.

Fairfield also released hundreds of pages on Darryl L. Webb, a former patrol cop who was fired after posting ‘revenge porn’ images and video on the internet of him and his ex-girlfriend.

Police searched his phone and found videos of him exposing himself in a patrol car, according to the records. Webb pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor in 2016, and was given community service, avoiding a possible sentence of one year in jail.

 

SWAT Team Takes Children after Parents Disagree with Doctor.

DIANNA M. NÁÑEZ | ARIZONA REPUBLIC

Updated 1:12 p.m. EDT Mar. 25, 2019
Police breaking down door to check on child
A Chandler father provided home-security video of Chandler police breaking down the door of a family’s home for a DCS-requested welfare check of a child with a spiking fever, after parents refused to give police permission to enter their home, saying their toddler son was fine.
COURTESY OF CHANDLER FATHER

After police officers busted down the door of a Chandler home to take a toddler with a spiking fever from his parents, advocates and a state legislator are questioning if a new law intended to protect families’ rights is failing.

Officers pointing guns forced their way into the family’s home in the middle of the night last month after the Arizona Department of Child Safety called police for a welfare check on a child with a 100 degree-plus fever and no vaccinations.

The parents had ignored a doctor’s recommendation to take their 2-year-old to the hospital, saying their son’s fever had decreased.

Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, who helped craft legislation requiring DCS to obtain a warrant before removing a child from their parents or guardians in non-emergency circumstances, said she was outraged by the response of police and DCS officials in the case.

“It was not the intent (of the law) that the level of force after obtaining a warrant was to bring in a SWAT team,” Townsend said. “The imagery is horrifying. What has our country become that we can tear down the doorway of a family who has a child with a high fever that disagrees with their doctor?”

DCS officials did not respond to The Arizona Republic’s questions about their policies for child-welfare checks and warrants, or whether their handling of this family’s case was in line with those policies.

Townsend said she wants lawmakers to review warrant procedures that led to police using force, left a family traumatized and placed three children in state custody. The fact that DCS obtained a court-approved warrant shows this wasn’t an emergency that threatened the child’s life or safety so there wasn’t time to file with the court, she said.

Child-welfare workers used to be able to remove children without warrants. But under a law that took effect in July Arizona lawmakers designated limited circumstances for removing a child from their parent without a warrant: DCS must have probable cause to believe a child is at imminent risk of harm and there’s no less-intrusive alternative to removal, or DCS must have probable cause to believe a child is a victim of sexual or physical abuse that can only be evaluated by trained medical personnel.

“What about parents’ rights to decide what’s best for their child?” Townsend said. “Parents felt the child was fine. Next thing we know, the Gestapo is at their door.”

The case has made its way to a juvenile court room and sparked conversation over the balance between parental rights to care for their children versus the power of DCS and doctors.

It could take months of hearings and DCS-mandated instructions before the parents regain custody of their children. Or maybe they never will.

Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, attended a juvenile hearing to see if the Department of Child Safety violated the rights of a Mesa mother and father when taking custody of their child.

Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, attended a juvenile hearing to see if the Department of Child Safety violated the rights of a Mesa mother and father … Show more 

DIANNA M. NÁÑEZ

Child-welfare warrants were supposed to protect parental rights

Lawmakers and family-rights’ advocates hoped the new law would reduce the number of children being removed by DCS. Child-welfare lawsuits in Arizona and across the nation, citing the First and Fourteenth amendment, argued for due process and protections against illegal search and seizure.

In 2016, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that removing a child without court approval violates parents’ constitutional rights.

You get your day in court for most crimes, advocates said, why wouldn’t the same apply when removing a child because of accusations of neglect or abuse?

By the time Arizona lawmakers approved a child-welfare warrant law in 2017, critics said it had too many loopholes and wouldn’t reduce unjust removals.

In fact, the total number of child removals has declined since the law took effect, but only slightly, and it’s unclear what role the new law played in the decline.

Despite lawmakers approving the warrant law to require greater transparency and address constitutional rights, DCS says it doesn’t track data for when children have been removed due to emergency situations without a warrant. And total removals include a variety of situations, including when parents voluntarily surrender their child, where the court — not DCS — orders the removal request and when a child is in the juvenile-justice system.

DCS placed 4,649 children into the foster-care system in the six-month period that ended December 2018, according to DCS data. In the six-month period prior to the July law, DCS removed 4,887 children.

That’s down from a high mark of 6,815 in fall 2015, when nearly 19,000 children were in the foster-care system and families and child-welfare advocates began pushing for a warrant law.

Concern over DCS abusing loopholes in the system prompted a second round of legislation in 2018. The restrictions designated “exigent circumstances” when DCS may remove children without a warrant. Removing the child must be so dire that there’s no time to use the electronic system to gain authorization from a judge who’s on call 24/7.

Family advocates calling themselves the Arizona DCS Oversight Group argue what happened to a Chandler family on the night of Feb. 25 is evidence the state is abusing its power and the rights of parents.

“If they can do this to one family they can do it to anyone,” said Lori Ford, a member of the self-appointed public watchdog group. “DCS took their kids and treated these parents like they were criminals.”

A fever, a doctor’s order, a parent’s right to choose medical care for their child

It started with a visit to the doctor for a fever.

On February 25, the mother took her 2-year-old boy to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine clinic in Tempe, according to Chandler police records.

It was dinner time. But the toddler’s fever had spiked to over 100 degrees.

The doctor asked if the child had his vaccinations.

The mother said no.

Concerned that a lethargic child with a fever and lacking vaccinations could have meningitis, the doctor instructed the mother to take the child to the emergency department at Banner Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa, according to attorneys at a March 7 court hearing following the removal of the children.

The Republic knows the names of the parents and child but it does not typically identify children in the child-welfare system.

The doctor contacted Banner physicians who recommended the child be “taken to the emergency room as soon as possible,” according to police records. The doctor told the mother that meningitis can be life-threatening and said the hospital would contact her when the mother arrived.

After they left the doctor’s office, the child was laughing and playing with his siblings. The mother took the child’s temperature again. It was near normal.

Shortly after 6:30 p.m., the mother called the doctor and told her that her toddler no longer had a fever so she wasn’t taking him to the emergency room.

The mother also said she was worried about getting in trouble with DCS because her child did not have vaccinations.

The doctor said the mother would not get in trouble. The mother again agreed to take her child to the hospital, according to police records.

In Arizona, a parent may decline vaccinations for their child based on personal, religious or medical exemptions.

About three hours later, the hospital contacted the doctor to advise her that the child had not shown up and the mother wasn’t answering her phone, according to police records. The doctor contacted DCS.

A DCS caseworker called Chandler Police and “requested officers to check the welfare of a two year old infant,” according to police records. A caseworker said he was on his way to the house.

Officers with ‘lethal coverage’ kick down door, enter home with DCS worker

Chandler police forced their way into a family's home for a DCS welfare check on a child with a spiking fever

Chandler police forced their way into a family’s home for a DCS welfare check on a child with a spiking fever
COURTESY OF FAMILY

It was about 10:30 p.m. when two police officers knocked on the family’s door. The officers heard someone coughing.

Officer Tyler Cascio wrote in a police report that he knocked on the door several times but no one answered.

A neighbor approached the officers and police explained the situation. The woman said she knew her neighbor and that “she was a good mother.” At the request of officers, the neighbor called the mother and said police wanted to speak with her.

The DCS caseworker arrived and updated police on the toddler’s fever and the mother choosing not to take her child to the hospital. The officer called the family’s doctor, who repeated her recommendation that the mother take the child to the hospital.

Police dispatch told the officers that a man at the home had called requesting that they call him. They called, and the man identified himself as the sick boy’s father.

The officer said they told the father they needed to enter the home for DCS to check on the child. The father refused, explaining that his son’s “fever broke and he was fine,” according to police records.

Officers tried to call the parents again, but no one answered. They told the caseworker the parents refused to open their door.

At about 11:30 p.m., the caseworker informed officers that DCS planned to obtain a “temporary custody notice” from a judge to remove the child for emergency medical aid.

The caseworker “advised they obtained a court order for temporary custody in order to take (redacted) to the hospital.” The order was signed at 12:04 a.m. by Judge Tracy Nadzieja, according to police records.

Cascio wrote that officers consulted with the police criminal investigations bureau and SWAT.

“Based upon the court order, the intent of DCS to serve the order, and exigency to ensure the health and welfare of the child, the decision was made to force entry to the home if the parents refused to respond to verbal requests,” according to police records. Police knocked, saying they had a court order and would force entry if needed, according to police records.

The Republic has requested the police-worn body-camera footage.

It was after 1 a.m. when officers kicked down the family’s door. One officer carried a shield, while another was described as having “lethal coverage.” Officers pointing guns yelled, “Chandler Police Department,” and entered the house.

The father came to the door. Officers placed him in handcuffs and took him and the mother outside. Inside, they found a juvenile who said she was sick and had thrown up in her bed.

Officers said the home was “messy” with clothing piles and concrete floors. In the parent’s room, a shotgun lay next to the bed, according to police records.

The caseworker spoke with two of the children without their parents present. He told officers it was “necessary to obtain a temporary custody order” for the parents’ two other children, according to police records.

Since there was no “criminal incident” and because the mother refused, no photos were taken inside the home, according to the police records.

Neither of the parents was arrested.

Officials took the parents’ three children to Banner Cardon Medical Center.

Inside a Mesa courtroom, the parents fight for their children to be returned

Families attend child-welfare hearings at Maricopa County Juvenile Court in Mesa.

Families attend child-welfare hearings at Maricopa County Juvenile Court in Mesa.
DIANNA M. NÁÑEZ/THE REPUBLIC

At a Mesa juvenile court hearing 10 days later, the parents got their first chance before a judge to fight for their children to be returned.

Each parent had an attorney. The parents had raised a family together but weren’t legally married.

The father’s parents sat on a bench next to a friend of the mother. Ford and Christina Lawler, with Arizona DCS Oversight Group, sat quietly listening and taking notes. Townsend, the state lawmaker, sat near the grandparents. She wanted to see whether the family’s rights had been violated.

A lawyer for the state Attorney General’s Office, representing DCS, asked the judge to close the hearing to the public.

In Arizona, we like our courts to be open, Judge Jennifer Green said. After listening to the lawyer’s reasoning — the attorney said members of the news media were in the courtroom and the family had spoken with the news media about the case, which he said wasn’t in the best interest of the children.

Attorneys for the parents said they hadn’t known of any restrictions on them speaking with media.

Green denied the request to close the hearing, but warned everyone that they could be held in contempt of court if they revealed personally-identifiable information about the children or any others mentioned in the hearing.

Attorneys for the parents said the children hadn’t seen each other since being taken from their parents’ home. The parents had only had one visit with their older children. DCS officials told the parents the toddler couldn’t make that visit because he was at a medical appointment.

The state’s attorney argued that the children shouldn’t be returned to their parents yet because they’d been hostile to DCS workers and weren’t cooperating. He said the parents had attended a DCS visit with members of Arizona DCS Oversight Group who were combative toward DCS workers. He said the grandfather had tried to videotape a meeting with DCS, and recording is not allowed to protect the privacy of the children.

DCS wanted the parents to undergo psychological evaluations.

Attorneys for the parents argued such evaluations were for people who had a history of mental-health issues, which neither parent had. They said the parents weren’t hostile, but they were living a nightmare that started with a child’s fever. They were woken up in the middle of the night, police busted down their door, brandishing guns and their three children were taken from them, attorneys said. The grandfather did what most people would think they had the right to do — record government officials.

The father had agreed to drug testing and the grandparents had agreed to background checks in hopes of becoming temporary caretakers for their grandchildren. Everyone was cooperating, the father’s attorney said.

A court-appointed guardian ad litem, who’s assigned to look after the best interests of the children, said he had one primary concern: Each child was still in a separate foster-care placement. Not only were the children separated from their parents, but this was also the first time they’d been separated from each other.

The judge asked the parties to attend an expedited hearing that afternoon.

After the hearing, in the courthouse hallway, the father held the mother in his arms. She cried and rested her hand on her pregnant belly.

Townsend spoke with the father about the road to getting his kids back.

“Why do they make it so hard?” he said with tears in his eyes. She tried to comfort him.

A lawmaker discusses parental rights

Outside the courthouse, Townsend said she didn’t know the parents personally but was disturbed by the case.

“It was brought to my attention that these parents may have been targeted by the medical community because they hadn’t vaccinated their children,” she said.

Townsend said parents who don’t vaccinate their children because of medical concerns aren’t criminals and shouldn’t be treated as such. She worried physicians were using it as a reason to refer parents to DCS.

“I think if DCS decides to use this as a factor they would be violating a parent’s right to have a personal exemption, a religious exemption and perhaps a medical exemption,” she said.

Townsend said the hearing opened her eyes to issues she will raise with fellow lawmakers. She questioned why the state’s attorney and DCS used the parent’s frustration with DCS to label the family as hostile and argue they weren’t cooperating with DCS.

“It doesn’t say anywhere that after your kids are taken, after police bust down your door, that you have to be nice to DCS to get your kids back,” she said.

A judge decides a family’s future

It was just before 2 p.m. when the parents walked back into the courtroom.

A DCS investigator, a former police officer, took the stand. She said upon visiting the hospital, doctors found the toddler had RSV, a respiratory virus that can cause serious illness in young children. She said the parents weren’t complying with DCS’ request to provide medical records for the children. She said they also weren’t following steps to regain custody of their children.

One of the parent’s attorneys asked the DCS investigator to outline specific steps the parents must follow to get their children back. The caseworker said she couldn’t remember any of them.

Attorneys for the parents claimed DCS was angry at the parents for speaking with the media and as retribution DCS officials were making it more difficult for the family to regain custody of their children. They said the child’s fever had gone down, as evidenced in medical reports.

The judge asked what was delaying placing three children with their grandparents. The state’s attorney said the grandparents still needed a home-safety check.

Green asked if that check could be expedited. The state’s attorney said DCS contracts with a company to conduct safety reviews and has no control over timelines but that it could take up to 30 days.

The guardian ad litem, representing the best interest of the children, told the judge he didn’t see why the children couldn’t be cared for by their grandparents while their parents worked with DCS to regain custody.

The judge said the removal was warranted, citing the mother’s refusal to follow the doctor’s orders. She said records showed the family had a history of domestic violence, noting an incident in which the father punched a wall.

She approved psychological evaluations for both parents, saying it would help identify the best services for the parents. She ordered DCS to complete a safety check of the grandparents’ home within four days. And she ordered the father to continue drug and alcohol testing.

She reminded the grandparents and parents that they were no longer in control of the children’s medical and health decisions. If a doctor orders treatment, the family must follow those directions, she said.

Then, she told the parents to remember that the state had them on a family-reunification plan and wants them to regain custody of their children.

After they left the courtroom, father and mother, both in tears, embraced.

The parents declined an interview with The Republic. They said they were afraid saying anything might upset DCS officials and hurt their efforts to regain custody of their children.

From left to right: Steven Isham, Karla Johnson, Lori Ford, Malinda Sherwyn, and David Watson are members of a group called Arizona DCS Oversight.

From left to right: Steven Isham, Karla Johnson, Lori Ford, Malinda Sherwyn, and David Watson are members of a group called Arizona DCS Oversight.
NICK OZA/THE REPUBLIC

Ford, with the DCS watchdog group, said this is how it goes.

“They (DCS) had no right to bust into this family’s home and take their kids,” she said in the courthouse parking lot. “But now, they (DCS) have control of this family. These children are traumatized, and all over a fever that wasn’t even a fever anymore when they went the hospital—just like the parents had said.”

She was upset with Townsend and other Arizona lawmakers who talk about holding DCS accountable but never do. Meanwhile, children and their families suffer, she said.

“They hold the purse strings, if they wanted to force DCS to make changes that would protect family’s rights they’d stop funding them,” she said.

Townsend hopes this case is an outlier, but the only way to know for sure is to review DCS child-welfare check policies, medical providers’ power over families and the DCS warrant process for removing children.

This case is more than enough reason to be concerned, she said.

“The fact that they got the warrant shows it wasn’t a matter of exigency by definition — it wasn’t something that they were rescuing this child from imminent death,” she said. “The expectation of child welfare is we’re thinking about the children in the family. We’re not talking cartels holding someone who’s been kidnapped, we’re not talking about a drug bust, we’re not talking about a flight risk. We’re not talking about any of that. This was a family with a child who has a fever. … We used a SWAT team on a family with a child with a high fever.”

The parents say they wonder if they’ll be a family again: ‘We love our children’

On March 15, the father told The Republic that DCS had placed their three children with his parents.

“We get to see them again,” he said. “Thank God.”

He still can’t shake the night police kicked down their door and entered his home with guns drawn. He still can’t believe they took all three of their children.

He said he has asked DCS why the caseworker never presented himself and showed a warrant for removal, but he hasn’t received a clear answer.

“I know people have the right not to let the police into their home,” he said. “But if the caseworker had called me or knocked, and shown me their warrant, I would’ve let them in.”

He said home security video showed police had stated they had a DCS warrant for removal, but the family didn’t hear them because they were sleeping in the back bedrooms with their sick children.

The judge’s approval of DCS’ request for psychological evaluations has created another barrier to regaining custody of their children, he said. The wait for an evaluation is months, he said.

The father sent The Republic a statement. His family is scared, he said, but they feel compelled to warn other families:

We have been through a very traumatic experience with our encounter with DCS. We would like other parents out there to know and realize the amount of power DCS has over the welfare of your children. Even though we remain confident in our innocence through our case, it is immediately an uphill struggle of what to do or not to do. Even if you do not agree with them or the process in which they follow. We thought they did not have the right to check on our children because they were getting better, from what they last heard about from us. We were in our home tending to our sick kids and did not want to be bothered in this tough time of illness.  With multiple children it is difficult to keep up their needs while they are ill, and to be bothered in the middle of the night by DCS was not something we were ready to tackle. No matter what we though was right, it turned tragic with the removal of all of our children. The process of removal in our opinion was uncalled for and we would like to see the laws/process change when dealing with expedited removal of children. Our children have sure been through a traumatizing experience and hope they have not been harmed psychologically or emotionally as we are a very happy family who love each other and would do anything for each other. We hope to see a positive outcome for our trial, but worry about what the kids have been though. We would like to see some sort of public service announcement by DCS to inform other parents out there that this could happen to them, because nobody, especially children should have to go through what we are going through. We love our children and are doing everything possible to get them back to us.

Reporter Mary Jo Pitzl contributed to this story.

 

DIANNA M. NÁÑEZ | ARIZONA REPUBLIC, Updated 1:12 p.m. EDT Mar. 25, 2019, “A couple decided not to take their feverish child to the hospital. Hours later police kicked down their door”, https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-child-welfare/2019/03/25/questions-due-process-rise-after-police-break-down-door-check-feverish-toddler/3223829002/

Video Showing NYPD Violently Arresting Delivery Worker Contradicts Police Account

nypdpar031919.jpeg
A still of the surveillance footage showing three police officers on top of Christopher Parham (Brooklyn Defender Services)

In September of last year, 19-year-old delivery worker Christopher Parham was inside a Williamsburg grocery store picking up ingredients for his boss when he was approached by a plainclothes police officer. The officer, Lieutenant Henry Daverin, claimed he’d seen the teenager driving recklessly and without a helmet on an illegal scooter. During the confrontation, Daverin and Officer Tyler Howe would later state, Parham pushed an officer’s hand, “violently resisted” arrest, and sparked a public disturbance that “caused a crowd to gather.” He was taken to the police precinct, where he allegedly lied about his identity.

On Monday, the Brooklyn Defender Services released surveillance footage of the incident that appears to contradict several aspects of the NYPD’s narrative. While the arrest report states that cops did not use force against Parham, the video shows three officers tackling the delivery worker to the ground. And contrary to their statement that a “a crowd of about 30 persons gathered” around the suspect — thereby triggering a disorderly conduct charge again Parham — the footage shows just a handful of people on the corner at the time of the arrest.

Still, the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez plans to prosecute the case next month, bringing eight separate charges against the now 20-year-old Parham. The slate of allegations includes four misdemeanors, and carries the possibility of one year in prison. He also faces three charges related to his employer’s delivery scooter: unauthorized use of a vehicle, motorcycle helmet violation, and reckless driving.

According to Maryanne Kaishian, a staff attorney at the Brooklyn Defender Services, the video proves that the NYPD’s description of events cannot be trusted.

“The police lied about everything that happened,” she told Gothamist. “From the very beginning, when they said he was driving recklessly, to the very end, when they alleged that they never used force.”

She says her client, who has no arrest record, was essentially jumped by the officers, tased without warning and beaten so badly that he was dazed for hours afterwards. According to the criminal complaint against Parham, when he was asked his name and date of birth at the precinct, he identified himself as “Christopher Perez,” and said he couldn’t remember his birthday — a consequence of the severe concussion he was later diagnosed with, according to his attorneys. As a result of the identification, he was charged with a misdemeanor “false personation.”

The surveillance footage also contradicts the NYPD’s justification for the police stop. In the arrest report, officers claimed they were at the intersection of Flushing Avenue and Humboldt Street when they “observed persons in a crosswalk move out of way to avoid being struck” by Parham. But video shows the delivery worker entering the crosswalk and parking his scooter without any pedestrian reaction.

Discovery materials obtained by Parham’s attorneys, meanwhile, suggest that the cops initially believed the scooter had been stolen, and were only persuaded otherwise after speaking with the owner of La Nortena 2, the nearby Mexican restaurant where Parham was employed (he’s currently a student).

Scott Hechinger

@ScottHech

Client was 19 y/o now 20. Working at La Nortena Restaurant as a delivery driver using the restaurant’s motorized scooter. His boss sent him to the grocery store to pick up shrimp, onions & avocados. Here he is parking the scooter & walking inside. Minutes before assault.

Embedded video

Scott Hechinger

@ScottHech

Seconds after he walks into grocery store, he’s followed in by a plain clothed officer. Wearing a “Don’t tread on me” shirt. Outside, a group of officers gather. pic.twitter.com/X3jsyCWEFI

Embedded video

227 people are talking about this

“They see a young person without a helmet driving a scooter and it’s grounds for them to initiate a conversation and rack up an arrest,” Kaishian told Gothamist. “It’s low-hanging fruit to them.”

As Mayor Bill de Blasio’s crackdown on e-bikes has continued to target delivery workers rather than the businesses that rely on the workers and their vehicles, the mayor has faced growing criticism for an enforcement framework seen by many as hypocritical. While the e-bikes traditionally used by delivery workers remain prohibited under the motorized scooter law, Citi Bike has expanded its fleet of pedal-assist e-bikes, and local officials have recently taken meetings with representatives of venture-capital-backed e-scooter companies like Bird and Lime.

Meanwhile, the moped-like vehicle used by Parham and many other delivery workers presents its own grey area: some certified models of “limited use motorcycles” can be registered with the DMV, but many others cannot, and it’s often unknown to workers whether their employers have received the proper registration. The technical differences in certification, along with the apparent confusion over the administrative code and de Blasio’s directives, has allowed cops to take a kitchen sink approach to applying the scooter law against delivery workers, according to some observers.

“They get ticketed for things such as riding an unregistered vehicle, not having vehicle insurance, or not having a driver’s license,” said Do Lee, a member of the #DeliverJusticeCoalition who wrote his PhD thesis in environmental psychology on delivery cyclists at the CUNY Graduate Center. “Many immigrant delivery workers have told us stories where the police charged or ticketed them for things that never happened.”

It is also relevant, says Kaishian, that Lieutenant Daverin, who appears to be wearing a “Don’t Tread On Me” t-shirt in the video, has a history of alleged brutality. According to a new police misconduct tracker released by the Legal Aid Society, he has been named in at least ten previous lawsuits, resulting in taxpayer-funded settlements of at least $77,500. In one federal case — which the city settled for $30,000 — Daverin allegedly oversaw the discriminatory arrest of a motorist, who was later falsely charged with resisting arrest.

“This kind of abuse happens all the time, we just happen to have footage in this case,” said Kaishian. “The word of a police officer is given more credence in our justice system, and so they don’t bother [telling the truth]. These officers were fully confident that they would never be held accountable.”

Sergeant Jessica McRorie, a spokesperson for the NYPD, told Gothamist that “the matter was immediately investigated, and it was determined no misconduct was committed” on the part of the officers. She did not respond to follow up questions about inconsistencies in the police report.

A spokesperson for the Brooklyn DA’s office said they were “looking into this incident.”

 

“Video Showing NYPD Violently Arresting Delivery Worker Contradicts Police Account”, http://gothamist.com/2019/03/19/surveillance_video_appears_to_under.php

Police Sergeant Fined For Telling City Employee: ‘I’m NYPD. I Shouldn’t Have To Follow Protocols’

 

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(Francis Dean/Shutterstock)

An NYPD sergeant with a for-hire vehicle side business and a history of alleged misconduct has been fined by the city for attempting to use his badge to curry favor with the city’s taxi regulator.

According to the Conflicts of Interest Board, Sergeant Howard Roth abused his city position and city resources while attempting to renew his for-hire vehicle license from a Taxi & Limousine Commission supervisor in 2017. In a settlement announced this week, Roth admitted to telling the supervisor, “I’m NYPD. I should not have to follow protocols,” after he was informed that he’d have to renew his license online.

When that didn’t work, Roth apparently informed the employee they “both work for the city and you should take care of this,” before fuming that he gets “no respect” from the TLC.

Roth had previously received the police department’s permission to operate the for-hire service on the condition he not use his police authority to “obtain any advantage for himself or his company, that he must not identify himself as a City employee, except in response to a direct inquiry, and that he must not use City resources, including his badge, in connection with his work for his company.”

As a result of violating that agreement, Roth was hit with a $6,000 fine by the Conflicts of Interest Board.

Asked whether the sergeant would face any additional consequences from the NYPD, a police spokesperson told Gothamist, “Internal Affairs investigated the incident and found that there was no cause for discipline.”

The sergeant, who has been on the force since 2010 and received a salary last year of $90,685, also has a history of alleged misconduct. According to a new database that tracks complaints against police officers, Roth has been named in at least six lawsuits, which have cost taxpayers $219,000.

Roth could not be reached for comment.

 

“Police Sergeant Fined For Telling City Employee: ‘I’m NYPD. I Shouldn’t Have To Follow Protocols'”, http://gothamist.com/2019/03/22/police_sergeant_fined_for_telling_r.php

NJ police misconduct: A lying cop ruined a man’s life. It could happen to you.

MICHAEL RYAN FOUGHT FOR YEARS TO CLEAR HIS NAME. HE DIDN’T KNOW THE COP WHO ACCUSED HIM OF A CRIME WAS DEEMED DISHONEST. TWO PROSECUTOR’S OFFICES ALSO DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT THAT COP’S DISHONESTY.

Michael Ryan spent 29 years as a public school educator, chaperoning band trips and senior proms. But his final day at work wasn’t a retirement celebration.

Instead, a Hammonton Public Schools official escorted Ryan out of the building, he said. The district suspended and later fired him following a lewdness charge he denies.

Eastampton Patrolman Michael Musser, an off-duty cop from another county, accused Ryan of committing an indecent sexual act in the parking lot of South Jersey Laundry and Dry Cleaning, less than three miles from Ryan’s school. Ryan said he never visited that laundromat.

Musser didn’t charge Ryan that day in 2015. He didn’t write anything down at the time about the episode. No license plate number. No physical description.

Weeks after the episode, Musser spotted Ryan at a ShopRite, determined “that’s the guy” and contacted local police to officially charge Ryan with a crime, according to Musser’s court testimony more than one year after the charge.

One man’s life was upended by a charge he denies. He later learned the cop who accused him was deemed dishonest.Andrew Ford, @AndrewFordNews

Unknown to Ryan, as he later fought to clear his name in court, Eastampton secretly determined Musser lied in a separate matter.

Township officials fired him for lying to internal affairs investigators over a sick leave issue, a document shows. The township decided it could no longer trust the officer’s word, concluding “the stain cannot be removed.”

The secrecy surrounding Musser’s firing highlights a major weakness in New Jersey’s oversight of police, one that can affect anyone’s life. Because a cop’s past is so well-hidden, neither Ryan’s attorney nor two prosecutor’s offices knew Musser had been fired for lying, a USA Today Network – New Jersey investigation found.

MORE: Your next NJ traffic stop could leave you face-to-face with a troubled cop

Ryan, 53, spent an estimated $40,000 in legal fees in appeals. Acting on a tip from a friend of the Ryans, their attorney uncovered documents that showed Musser’s dishonesty. A judge overturned Ryan’s conviction in 2018 after Musser’s lie to his department superiors came to light.

“What about the person who doesn’t have equity in their home, retirement savings, savings that they can draw from to file appeals or to hire an attorney?” Ryan asked. “What happens to them?”

Two of them went to jail.

Musser charged at least 56 other people after the dates of his lies, records show. Most were traffic offenses, but Musser charged two people with crimes. Both were represented by public defenders, both faced additional charges and both took plea deals, court records show. One was sentenced to 180 days in jail. The other was sentenced to five years in state prison, where he remains today. A spokesperson for the public defender’s office declined to comment on these cases.

In an apparent breakdown of state policy, a spokesman for the county prosecutor’s office that sent those two men to jail said the office didn’t know about Musser’s dishonesty until this month, after a Network reporter inquired.

MORE: Are NJ police officers in your town failing drug tests? Now we know

The prosecutor’s office had no record of telling the two men they jailed about Musser’s past. A spokesman said the office is reviewing those cases to determine if they should be told.

The Network revealed last summer 20 officers on duty with documented histories of lies or bias. But there may be more secretly troubled cops accusing citizens of crimes, the Network found.

While departments have sustained tens of thousands of cases of police misconduct in recent years, records show, New Jersey prosecutor’s offices can show few records for problem police officers who triggered notifications in court:

  • Thousands of sustained internal affairs investigations. More than 22,000 internal affairs complaints were sustained against police officers between 2011 and 2017, records show. More than 90 officers were convicted of crimes in Superior Court. Other sustained internal affairs findings include: 59 improper arrests, 37 improper entries, 103 improper searches, 1,639 issues with the officer’s demeanor and more than 19,000 “other rule” violations. Details about police misconduct are hidden by state law and available statistics don’t track officer credibility issues.
  • Few troubled officers outed in court. From 2010 to 2017, six prosecutor’s offices produced records showing they told defendants about credibility issues for a total of 20 police officers.
  • Lacking policy for notifications. Seventeen of New Jersey’s 21 county prosecutor’s offices have no policy addressing their responsibility to reveal in court a police officer’s credibility issues in keeping with decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court. There’s no statewide policy.
  • State considers certification for cops. In addition to leaving the state’s 21 county prosecutors in the dark about troubled cops, the absence of state oversight of police officers leaves New Jersey unable to contribute to a national list of bad cops. New Jersey remains one of just four states without a way to ban bad cops, though New Jersey passed laws this year to license “pool and spa service contractors” and “drama therapists.” The state attorney general said recently he’s considering the kind of certification system that many states use to keep track of cops and root out rogue officers. He also pointed to changes including an internal affairs reform and mandatory random drug testing of police officers, which he implemented last year following recommendations in the Asbury Park Press series ‘Protecting the Shield’.

Interested in supporting local journalism like this that makes a difference in people’s lives? Consider becoming a digital subscriber with this special offer today.

“That’s the guy”

Ryan, his wife and two kids live on a quiet Hammonton street, a South Jersey town of about 14,000 people that boasts it is the “blueberry capital of the world.”

Ryan had no prior criminal record in New Jersey, records show. He said he was never disciplined in his work with Hammonton Public Schools where he was hired as a chemistry teacher and rose to serve as guidance supervisor for the district.

Eastampton patrolman Michael Musser testified in court he saw someone committing a lewd act in September 2015 in a car parked at the Hammonton laundromat while he was off-duty, doing laundry. He said he looked the suspect in the eye and “remembered” part of the car’s license plate number.

IMPACT: State targets bad cops after Press investigation

Musser testified he didn’t immediately report the incident that “shocked” him to the local police. When he was pressed in court he testified he “wasn’t a hundred percent sure on the exact date.”

Flaws in New Jersey policing practices mean you could be accused by a dishonest police officer and never know about that cop’s history.Andrew Ford, @AndrewFordNews

But he testified he saw Ryan in the grocery store parking lot weeks later, snapped a photo of Ryan’s license plate and contacted local police to accuse Ryan of a crime.

“I don’t forget cars, I don’t forget faces,” Musser told the Network in a telephone interview.

About one year after Ryan was charged, a municipal court judge convicted Ryan of lewdness, finding that Musser’s identification of Ryan “is accurate and one which was to be believed,” a court transcript shows. The judge sentenced Ryan to one year of probation and charged him $664 in fines and court costs.

EXCLUSIVE: Killer cop Philip Seidle talks about day he killed his wife

After the conviction, Ryan’s school district fired him, cutting off his $112,000 salary. He struggled to find new employment while plagued by a record of sexual misconduct and toxic online search results, including news stories mentioning his conviction.

“It was like hitting a brick wall,” Ryan said. “Under no circumstances could I support my family.”

Secret misconduct

Ryan had no way to know at the time, but as his character was being publicly demolished, Musser was secretly being investigated by his police department.

Musser was accused by his department of misusing sick time, then lying about it, misconduct that would lead to his firing. New Jersey law broadly hides government records of police misbehavior and the department’s conclusion that Musser was dishonest was kept secret. A township hearing officer’s finding Musser should be fired was also kept secret.

“No amount of retraining will cure the ill,” the hearing officer concluded. “There is only one appropriate penalty to protect the taxpayers. Termination.”

Musser denied the department’s claims of misconduct in an interview with the Network.

“It was just a whole bunch of bulls—,” he said.

Musser’s problems weren’t revealed through official channels to Ryan, he said. Three legal experts told the Network that Musser’s dishonesty is the kind of material that should be disclosed to defendants.

Ryan’s attorney uncovered records of Musser’s dishonesty attached to Musser’s lawsuit publicly challenging his firing in Superior Court.

Ryan’s attorney was able to convince a judge to overturn Ryan’s conviction based on newly discovered evidence in March 2018. With little explanation, the state dropped Ryan’s charge in November.

In a statement, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said his office “reviewed the newly discovered evidence and dismissed the charges.”

Unknowingly facing a dishonest cop

Musser’s case shows a failure to follow existing state policy and a gap in state protocol.

One year passed between the dates of Musser’s dishonesty and the day the town fired him. Meanwhile, he was out on patrol and filing charges, records show.

Police departments are required to turn over to prosecutor’s offices information about issues with an officer’s credibility, including false reports.

But that didn’t happen for Musser until after the Network came asking, according to Joel Bewley, a spokesman for the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office.

INVESTIGATION: Secret settlements cost millions, keep bad cops on street

Bewley said in an email the office was notified of the township’s actions against Musser “earlier this month,” which is after the Network filed a records request related to Musser. It’s also at least five months after a Burlington County judge upheld Musser’s firing for dishonesty in a public court action that was covered by local news media and picked up by the Associated Press.

The prosecutor’s office is reviewing the two cases involving people jailed after charges by Musser to “determine whether disclosure obligations exist,” Bewley wrote in an email. The office also plans to reinforce state policies on the reporting of these types of issues with police departments in their county.

Eastampton Police Chief Joseph Iacovitti said Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office was made aware of the department’s investigation of Musser.

“They were definitely brought in for it,” he told the Network.

He declined to answer follow-up questions about when the department notified the prosecutor’s office.

Ryan’s case fell through a loophole.

Musser charged Ryan while he was off-duty in another county. State policy doesn’t call for departments to reach outside their county. Musser’s department didn’t bring the information about Musser to Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, the agency pursuing Ryan, the prosecutor’s office argued in court. Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office didn’t ask about Musser. And neither the department nor the prosecutor’s office told Ryan, his wife said.

IMPACT: Bad NJ cops won’t be able to job hop under bill inspired by Shield investigation

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal recently told the Network his office is working on a statewide policy to address issues with a prosecutor’s obligation to turn over information that would be helpful to a defendant. That can include material about a police officer’s credibility, in keeping with court precedent established over about 50 years, starting with the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland.

Grewal has the support of the state’s largest police union, the New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association.

“…we asked the AG’s office for a statewide policy because of the inequity in how the different prosecutors office’s treat Brady,” NJSPBA President Pat Colligan said in an email. “We are waiting for a statewide policy. I know a working group is in place and they are working on it.”

‘They’re trying to tarnish my reputation’

Musser, 48, served Eastampton for 13 years. He said he uses sick time “appropriately” and “no” he wasn’t dishonest about sick time or during an internal affairs investigation.

He described an occasion in which he stopped a man attempting to hang himself, providing an image of a lifesaving award Musser won.

He’s now fighting Eastampton before the appellate division.

“They’re trying to tarnish my reputation and make it like I’m this bad cop,” Musser said. “But like I said to you, I’ll give you the shirt off my back. I’ve helped so many people.”

 

Andrew Ford, Asbury Park Press, March 21, 2019, “NJ police misconduct: A lying cop ruined a man’s life. It could happen to you”, https://www.app.com/story/news/investigations/watchdog/shield/2019/03/21/nj-police-misconduct-lying-cop-ruined-mans-life-could-happen-you/3213964002/

Here are the stories about police misconduct uncovered so far by a new media partnership

By BEN POSTON and MAYA LAU

Here are the stories about police misconduct uncovered so far by a new media partnership
The California Reporting Project has filed requests with more than 600 law enforcement agencies and so far received records of hundreds of incidents in which officers used significant or deadly force, were found to have been dishonest or committed sexual misconduct. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Some police officers were disciplined for illegal sexual activity or dishonesty and evaded criminal prosecution. Others used deadly force but details of their actions have long remained out of the public’s view.

The California Reporting Project — a partnership of 33 newsrooms across the state — launched Tuesday in an effort to combine resources to review internal police records that became public under a new transparency law that took effect this year.

The Los Angeles Times is part of the collaborative, which has filed requests with more than 600 law enforcement agencies and so far received records of hundreds of incidents in which officers used significant or deadly force, were found to have been dishonest or committed sexual misconduct. Other members of the collaborative include KPCC, the Orange County RegisterKQED, the San Jose Mercury News, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and other media outlets.

The documents reviewed by the collaborative provide a window into how California police departments evaluate misconduct, shootings and other force by their officers — issues that have fueled criticism that law enforcement agencies aren’t open enough with the people they serve.

Here’s some of the stories that have relied on records released under the new transparency law:

  • The Times detailed an investigation into a South Pasadena police officer who was fired after he admitted fleeing the scene of an off-duty crash. Cpl. Ryan Bernal had been drinking with colleagues at an after-work gathering before he crashed into a pole, which struck and damaged a home, according to internal records. Hours later, he accompanied his mother as she falsely told sheriff’s officials that she had been behind the wheel, the records show.
  • San Francisco-based KQED and the Bay Area News Group reported that a Rio Vista police officer entered a home in 2017 and immediately put a man in a chokehold for 20 seconds, which was captured in body camera images. That officer was fired. The radio station also found that two officers in Watsonville in Santa Cruz County had been fired in recent years for repeatedly having sex with civilians while on duty.
  • The San Diego Union-Tribune found a San Diego County sheriff’s lieutenant had embezzled more than $100,000 in donations from her church, according to an internal affairs investigation. She agreed to pay back the missing funds and was not prosecuted. She retired from the department in 2013. The newspaper also reported about a Chula Vista police officer who was fired last year for having sex while on duty and in uniform in a public area.
  • Last week, The Times published details from the first records released by the Los Angeles Police Department, which included officers fired in connection with allegations of sexual assault and of making false statements under oath.

The disclosure of the records marks a stark departure for California. For years, the state had the nation’s strictest laws on disclosing police personnel records, due in large part to the lobbying efforts of powerful law enforcement unions that wanted to keep the files confidential. All internal disciplinary records were confidential.

That changed last year with the passage of Senate Bill 1421, which allows for the release of records of shootings by officers, severe uses of force and confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying by officers.

 

BEN POSTON and MAYA LAU, MAR 19, 2019, LATimes, “Here are the stories about police misconduct uncovered so far by a new media partnership”, https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-police-files-roundup-20190319-story.html


 

The Torture Machine: Flint Taylor on Chicago Police Brutality from Fred Hampton to Today

MARCH 20, 2019
GUESTS

We look at the Chicago Police Department’s long history of violence against African Americans, from the murder of Black Panther Fred Hampton to the reign of torture overseen by commander Jon Burge. The brutality of the Chicago police force is laid bare in a new book by leading civil rights lawyer Flint Taylor. It’s called “The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago.” The book exposes decades of corruption and cover-ups in the Chicago Police Department. We speak with Flint Taylor, who has represented survivors of police brutality in Chicago for nearly half a century.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, we spend the rest of the hour in Chicago, where the Illinois Supreme Court has let stand a less than 7-year prison sentence for former police officer Jason Van Dyke, who was found guilty last year of second-degree murder for killing African-American teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014. The Illinois Supreme Court denied a request by the state’s attorney general to resentence Van Dyke on Tuesday. Van Dyke, who is white, was found guilty on 16 counts of aggravated battery—one count for each of the 16 bullets he fired at McDonald. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul petitioned the state Supreme Court to vacate Van Dyke’s second-degree murder sentence and instead impose a sentence on each of the 16 counts. If the petition had been granted, Van Dyke could have faced to up 96 years in prison.

The news that Van Dyke will not be resentenced has sparked criticism throughout Chicago. The city’s mayoral candidates, who are both African-American women, have spoken out against the decision. Lori Lightfoot, the front-runner in the race, tweeted, quote, “Today’s ruling is the latest disappointment in the Jason Van Dyke sentencing, and a sad reminder of the work we must do to create a system that is free of institutional racism and truly holds police accountable for their misconduct, including criminal acts. We cannot build trust between police and the communities they serve if officers who commit crimes are not held to the same standards as [other defendants].” Lightfoot and her opponent, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, both have vowed to reform Chicago’s Police Department. Van Dyke is the first Chicago police officer to be sentenced for an on-duty shooting in half a century.

AMY GOODMAN: The decision is the latest in the struggle by activists, lawyers, journalists to hold the Chicago Police Department accountable for its long history of violence against the city’s citizens, particularly African-American men. Much of that history is chronicled in a new book by a leading Chicago lawyer fighting police torture. The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago exposes decades of corruption and cover-ups in the Chicago Police Department, from the murder of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton and Mark Clark to the reign of torture overseen by Commander Jon Burge. Under Burge’s reign, from 1972 to ’91, more than 200 people, most of them African-American, were tortured with tactics including electric shock and suffocation.

We’re joined now by the book’s author, Flint Taylor, an attorney with People’s Law Office who has represented survivors of police torture in Chicago for more than 25 years.

Flint, welcome back to Democracy Now! Why did you name your book The Torture Machine?

FLINT TAYLOR: Well, thank you, Amy and Juan. It’s a pleasure to be back with you.

I named it The Torture Machine for two different but related reasons. First of all is rather obvious. On the cover, the torture machine, that was the electric shock box that the notorious Commander Jon Burge and his men used on many African-American suspects over that 20-year period that you just mentioned. But also “the torture machine” refers to Chicago’s machine, the notorious political machine, often known as the Daley machine and the Democratic machine, here in the city, which not only countenanced this torture, covered it up, but also was involved at the highest levels of the police department and, yes, the State’s Attorney’s Office, when Richard M. Daley was the state’s attorney of Cook County—were involved in this conspiracy, this scandal, that has gone on for so many decades in this city.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Flint, I want to, first, congratulate you on the book. It is really a riveting account. It’s almost a forensic analysis of decades of collusion between judges, politicians, prosecutors and the police to basically engage in systemic human rights violation. But you start the book with an incident that, for many young people today, is not even part of history, but it’s not often covered history. And you make the statement that the killing of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark really was a seminal moment in the development of Chicago, in the modern history of Chicago. And I’m wondering if you could first give us a sense of why you believe that’s so, and then we’re going to do a clip of a documentary, from The Weather Underground, about that, the house where Fred Hampton was killed.

FLINT TAYLOR: Yes. On December 4th, 1969, 14 Chicago police officers working under the control of the state’s attorney of Cook County—at that time, Edward Hanrahan—raided a West Side apartment where Black Panthers were sleeping. And one of those Black Panthers was the chairman of the Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton, a charismatic young leader, who was targeted not only by the police, but by, it turns out, the FBI. And that raid, which was covered up, was claimed to be at first a shootout, was later shown to be a total shoot-in. And then, over the years, as we and others were able to litigate a case in federal court, we were able to show not only that this was a vicious, racist attack on the Panthers and its leadership, where two men were killed and many others wounded, but it was part and parcel of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program, the counterintelligence program devised and implemented by J. Edgar Hoover over the years, which in the late ’60s targeted the Black Panther Party, and specifically Fred Hampton in Chicago, and, in fact, that the raid on the apartment was part of this COINTELPROprogram.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, of course, you make the point in your book that that was the beginning of the resistance, mass resistance, of the black community, that eventually led to the election of Harold Washington as the first black mayor of Chicago. But I want to turn to the clip from the documentary The Weather Underground about the murder of Black Panther Fred Hampton nearly 50 years ago, on December 4th, 1969. This clip begins with Fred Hampton.

FRED HAMPTON: So we say—we always say in the Black Panther Party that they can do anything they want to to us. We might not be back. I might be in jail. I might be anywhere. But when I leave, you’ll remember I said, with the last words on my lips, that I am a revolutionary.

WALTER CRONKITE: In Chicago today, two Black Panthers were killed as police raided a Panther stronghold. Police arrived at Fred Hampton’s West Side apartment at 4:45 this morning. They had a search warrant authorizing them to look for illegal weapons. The State’s Attorney’s Office says that Hampton and another man were killed in the 15-minute gun battle which followed.

BOBBY RUSH: The pigs murdered Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton while he lay in bed. Their lies, their oinking to the people won’t—can’t bear up to the evidence that we have that they murdered our deputy chairman in cold blood as he lay in his bed asleep.

BERNARDINE DOHRN: The Panther Party organized tours of the apartment that they were in when they were murdered, and I went with a group of people from the SDS national office, which is a couple of blocks away.

BLACK PANTHER TOUR GUIDE: Don’t touch nothing. Don’t move nothing, because we want to keep everything just the way it is.

BERNARDINE DOHRN: It was a scene of carnage. It was a scene of war. You see this door ridden with bullets, not little bullet holes, but shattered.

BLACK PANTHER TOUR GUIDE: The room where first brother Mark Clark was murdered at.

BERNARDINE DOHRN: You walk through a living room into the bedroom, and there’s a mattress soaked in his blood, red blood down the floor.

SKIP ANDREW: Anyone who went through that apartment and examined the evidence that was remaining there could come to only one conclusion, and that is that Fred Hampton, 21 years old and a member of a militant, well-known militant group, was murdered in his bed probably as he lay asleep.

THOMAS STRIETER: This blatant act of legitimatized murder strips all credibility from law enforcement. In the context of other acts against militant blacks in recent months, it suggests an official policy of systematic repression.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was from the documentary The Weather Underground, directed by Sam Green and Bill Siegel. And so, Flint, the reality was, as you document in your book, that this was actually a direct assassination and that there was a long struggle, on your part, to—because you were there. You were able to get to the house the very day that Hampton was killed. Could you talk about this conspiracy to kill one of the rising radical leaders of the black community?

FLINT TAYLOR: Well, we see now—and it was uncovered during our trial in the ’70s—that the COINTELPRO program targeted black liberation organizations and leaders. And they specifically named targets—Dr. King, Stokely Carmichael, Rap Brown, Elijah Muhammad—and pointed to Malcolm X, as well. And as the Panthers rose and became powerful, first in Oakland and later in Chicago—as you can see from the clip what a charismatic, young leader, at 21, Fred Hampton was—Hoover and his people focused on the Black Panther Party and, specifically in Chicago, on Fred Hampton.

They had an informant in the Black Panther Party by the name of William O’Neal. He sketched out a floor plan that showed where Hampton would be sleeping. They went to the apartment. They supplied that floor plan to the police—the FBI did. They went to the apartment in the early-morning hours. And Fred was asleep. It appeared that he had been drugged by O’Neal or some other agent. And he was murdered in his bed.

Over the years, we uncovered documents that showed this floor plan. That was all covered up, as well. It showed that the FBI took credit for this raid as part of its COINTELPRO program. And it showed even that O’Neal, after the raid, was given by Hoover and the people in Chicago a $300 bonus, what we later called the “30 pieces of silver” for the informant, O’Neal, for setting up the raid. So, he was receiving from Hoover a bonus for the success of the raid at the same time he was serving as a pallbearer in Fred Hampton’s funeral.

AMY GOODMAN: Flint Taylor, you pursued this case civilly for 13 years. What came out of it?

FLINT TAYLOR: Well, a lot of what I’ve just mentioned came out of it. The narrative shifted over the years, thanks to the community, thanks to the Panthers and thanks to the lawsuit that we filed. And as you could hear from the clip, the position that the police took—and they thought they were going to get away with scot-free—was that this was a shootout, that these were vicious Black Panthers, all of that. Well, because we and the Panthers went to that apartment, we were able to show that it was a shoot-in. We were able to change the narrative to the fact that it was an unjustified and violent shoot-in by the police. But over the years, as we were able to join the FBI in the case, we were able to uncover these FBIdocuments that showed that, yes, it was not just a murder, it was not just a shoot-in, but it was an assassination. It was a political assassination straight from Washington and the FBI.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Flint, very shortly after the murder of Fred Hampton, you got involved in another case of the Wilson brothers, and which began the uncovering of the Jon Burge scandal, that, again, would take you decades, really, to finally get some measure of justice. Could you talk about that, the Wilson case?

FLINT TAYLOR: Yes. The Wilson case arose in February of 1982. Two white police officers were shot and killed. The two black perpetrators had escaped. And the city of Chicago, under Jane Byrne and Police Superintendent Brzeczek, set out on the most vicious and terroristic manhunt in the history of the city. They terrorized the black community. They kicked in doors. They dragged people out of their houses. If they thought that they had some information about the killings, they tortured them. They tortured them with suffocation. They tortured them with all kinds of medieval types of torture. They finally found the two people who the eyewitness identified as the persons who were involved in the crime. And the person who was identified as the shooter was Andrew Wilson.

Andrew Wilson was taken back to the police headquarters on the South Side of Chicago. And this notorious commander, who at that time was a lieutenant in charge of the manhunt, by the name of Jon Burge, led a torture of Andrew Wilson that included electric shock with the torture machine, that is mentioned and depicted in my book, and suffocation with a bag. They handcuffed him across an old, ribbed steam radiator and electric-shocked him so that he was burned across his chest. And they also burned him with cigarettes, beat him and got a confession from him.

This came out at that time, but nobody really cared. The state’s attorney of Cook County, Richard Daley, was informed specifically by a doctor and the police superintendent about this torture, and he chose to do nothing about it. Because he did nothing about it, Burge was able to, in the next 10 years, torture another 75 individuals—all African-American men.

And a few years after that, Andrew Wilson, who had been sentenced to death, filed a pro se complaint in federal court challenging his torture and suing Burge. That’s how we got involved. During his trial, an anonymous police source, who we later dubbed as “Deep Badge,” started to give me information that laid out exactly the map of what had happened, the systemic nature of the torture, the fact that Daley and his surrogates were involved, that the police superintendent, that the mayor were all involved.

And we followed that map, basically, for the next 20, 30 years, even as we sit here today, to uncover evidence that supported the idea that this was a systemic torture. This was something that sent people to death row. This was something that convicted innocent people. And, ultimately, all of this led to Burge’s firing. It led to, many, many years later, his conviction for obstruction of justice for lying about the torture. And, of course, it led to the remarkable reparations that the city of Chicago granted to the survivors of police torture and their families here a couple of years ago.

AMY GOODMAN: Flint Taylor, we’re going to break and then come back to this conversation, and we’ll also be joined by Lilia Fernández. This is Democracy Now!Flint Taylor, attorney with People’s Law Office, known as the PLO, has represented survivors of police torture in Chicago for nearly half a century. His new book, The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago. When we come back, Lilia Fernández will join us, as well. Stay with us.

 

MARCH 20, 2019, democracynow.com, “The Torture Machine: Flint Taylor on Chicago Police Brutality from Fred Hampton to Today”, https://www.democracynow.org/2019/3/20/the_torture_machine_flint_taylor_on

Sexual misconduct complaints flood police watchdog

The police Civilian Complaint Review Board fielded 83 complaints of sexual misconduct by cops since it began prosecuting such allegations in February 2018, the board’s chairman said Tuesday.

“More than one year later, the agency has received 83 complaints containing 126 allegations of sexual harassment, sexual or romantic propositions, sexual humiliation and sexually motivated strip searches,” CCRB chairman Frederick Davie testified at a City Council hearing.

Among the allegations investigated, 40 percent are pending, 10 percent were unsubstantiated, 6 percent were substantiated and 4 percent were unfounded.

The CCRB, an independent city agency that probes allegations of police abuse, previously referred sexual misconduct complaints to the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau.

Davie said his agency plans to eventually handle sexual assault cases as well after investigators complete the necessary training.

“Can we move expeditiously on this? I don’t want sexual assaults lingering out there,” said Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Queens), who chairs the Public Safety Committee.

“We share your desire to move as fast as possible, but we don’t want our haste to damage a case against an officer,” responded Davie.

Since February 2018, CCRB has referred 54 sexual abuse cases to NYPD Internal Affairs and another 42 to district attorney offices.

Davie said the CCRB, which has a $17.9 million budget, is seeking funding to “develop a victim advocacy and support program.”

Davie also said 4,745 complaints were filed against cops last year, compared to 4,487 in 2017.

He attributed the increase to the city’s Right to Know Act that took effect in October requiring that cops hand over a business card to people they question.

Davie said 137 complaints came in about cops who failed to do that.

 

Rich Calder, March 19, 2019, “Sexual misconduct complaints flood police watchdog”, https://nypost.com/2019/03/19/sexual-misconduct-complaints-flood-police-watchdog/