Forced Blood Draws & Implied Consent Laws Make a Mockery of the Fourth Amendment

“The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official.”—Herman Schwartz, The Nation

You think you’ve got rights? Think again.

All of those freedoms we cherish—the ones enshrined in the Constitution, the ones that affirm our right to free speech and assembly, due process, privacy, bodily integrity, the right to not have police seize our property without a warrant, or search and detain us without probable cause—amount to nothing when the government and its agents are allowed to disregard those prohibitions on government overreach at will.

This is the grim reality of life in the American police state.

Our so-called rights have been reduced to technicalities in the face of the government’s ongoing power grabs.

Consider a case before the U.S. Supreme Court (Mitchell vs. Wisconsin) in which Wisconsin police officers read an unconscious man his rights and then proceeded to forcibly and warrantlessly draw his blood while he was still unconscious in order to determine if he could be charged with a DUI.

To sanction this forced blood draw, the cops and the courts have hitched their wagon to state “implied consent” laws (all of the states have them), which suggest that merely driving on a state-owned road implies that a person has consented to police sobriety tests, breathalyzers and blood draws.

More than half of the states (29 states) allow police to do warrantless, forced blood draws on unconscious individuals whom they suspect of driving while intoxicated.

Seven state appeals courts have declared these warrantless blood draws when carried out on unconscious suspects are unconstitutional. Courts in seven other states have found that implied consent laws run afoul of the Fourth Amendment. And yet seven other states (including Wisconsin) have ruled that implied consent laws provide police with a free pass when it comes to the Fourth Amendment and forced blood draws.

With this much division among the state courts, a lot is riding on which way the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Mitchell and whether it allows state legislatures to use implied consent laws as a means of allowing police to bypass the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement in relation to forced blood draws and unconscious suspects.

Mind you, this is the third time in as many years that the Supreme Court has taken up the issue of warrantless blood draws.

In 2016, the Court ruled 7-1 in Birchfield v. North Dakota that states may not prosecute suspected drunken drivers for refusing warrantless blood draws when they are arrested. However, the Court also tossed the cops a bone by giving them a green light to require a warrantless breath test incident to arrest. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito rightly recognized the danger of allowing the government to warrantlessly take possession of—and preserve indefinitely—one’s biological and genetic material.

In 2013, a divided Supreme Court held in Missouri v. McNeely that people suspected of drunken driving can’t automatically be subjected to blood tests without a warrant and without their consent.

The differences between McNeely, Birchfeld and Mitchell are nuanced, but it is in these nuances that the struggle to preserve the Fourth Amendment can best be seen.

The Fourth Amendment has been on life support for a long time.

Our freedoms—especially the Fourth Amendment—continue to be strangulated by a prevailing view among government bureaucrats that they have the right to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

Forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, forced inclusion in biometric databases: these are just a few ways in which Americans are being forced to accept that we have no control over our bodies, our lives and our property, especially when it comes to interactions with the government.

Worse, on a daily basis, Americans are being made to relinquish the most intimate details of who we are—our biological makeup, our genetic blueprints, and our biometrics (facial characteristics and structure, fingerprints, iris scans, etc.)—in order to clear the nearly insurmountable hurdle that increasingly defines life in the United States: we are now guilty until proven innocent.

Such is life in America today that individuals are being threatened with arrest and carted off to jail for the least hint of noncompliance, homes are being raided by police under the slightest pretext, property is being seized on the slightest hint of suspicious activity, and roadside police stops have devolved into government-sanctioned exercises in humiliation and degradation with a complete disregard for privacy and human dignity.

Remember what happened to Utah nurse Alex Wubbels after a police detective demanded to take blood from a badly injured, unconscious patient without a warrant?

Wubbels refused to go along with the cop’s order, citing hospital policy that requires police to either have a warrant or permission from the patient in order to draw blood.

The detective had neither.

Irate, the detective threatened to have Wubbels arrested if she didn’t comply. Backed up by her supervisors, Wubbels respectfully stood her ground only to be roughly grabbed, shoved out of the hospital, handcuffed and forced into an unmarked car while hospital police looked on and failed to intervene (take a look at the police body camera footage, which went viral, and see for yourself).

Michael Chorosky didn’t have an advocate like Wubbels to stand guard over his Fourth Amendment rights. Chorosky was surrounded by police, strapped to a gurney and then had his blood forcibly drawn after refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test. “What country is this? What country is this?” cried Chorosky during the forced blood draw.

What country is this indeed?

Unfortunately, forced blood draws are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the indignities and abuses being heaped on Americans in the so-called name of “national security.”

For example, 21-year-old Charnesia Corley was allegedly being pulled over by Texas police for “rolling” through a stop sign. Claiming they smelled marijuana, police handcuffed Corley, placed her in the back of the police cruiser, and then searched her car for almost an hour. No drugs were found in the car.

As the Houston Chronicle reported:

Returning to his car where Corley was held, the deputy again said he smelled marijuana and called in a female deputy to conduct a cavity search. When the female deputy arrived, she told Corley to pull her pants down, but Corley protested because she was cuffed and had no underwear on. The deputy ordered Corley to bend over, pulled down her pants and began to search her. Then…Corley stood up and protested, so the deputy threw her to the ground and restrained her while another female was called in to assist. When backup arrived, each deputy held one of Corley’s legs apart to conduct the probe.

The cavity search lasted 11 minutes. This practice is referred to as “rape by cop.”

Corley was eventually charged with resisting arrest and with possession of 0.2 grams of marijuana. Those charges were subsequently dropped.

David Eckert was forced to undergo an anal cavity search, three enemas, and a colonoscopy after allegedly failing to yield to a stop sign at a Wal-Mart parking lot. Cops justified the searches on the grounds that they suspected Eckert was carrying drugs because his “posture [was] erect” and “he kept his legs together.” No drugs were found.

During a routine traffic stop, Leila Tarantino was subjected to two roadside strip searches in plain view of passing traffic, while her two children—ages 1 and 4—waited inside her car. During the second strip search, presumably in an effort to ferret out drugs, a female officer “forcibly removed” a tampon from Tarantino. No contraband or anything illegal was found.

Thirty-eight-year-old Angel Dobbs and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley, were pulled over by a Texas state trooper on July 13, 2012, allegedly for flicking cigarette butts out of the car window. Insisting that he smelled marijuana, the trooper proceeded to interrogate them and search the car. Despite the fact that both women denied smoking or possessing any marijuana, the police officer then called in a female trooper, who carried out a roadside cavity search, sticking her fingers into the older woman’s anus and vagina, then performing the same procedure on the younger woman, wearing the same pair of gloves. No marijuana was found.

Sixty-nine-year-old Gerald Dickson was handcuffed and taken into custody (although not arrested or charged with any crime) after giving a ride to a neighbor’s son, whom police suspected of being a drug dealer. Despite Dickson’s insistence that the bulge under his shirt was the result of a botched hernia surgery, police ordered Dickson to “strip off his clothes, bend over and expose all of his private parts. No drugs or contraband were found.”

Meanwhile, four Milwaukee police officers were charged with carrying out rectal searches of suspects on the street and in police district stations over the course of several years. One of the officers was accused of conducting searches of men’s anal and scrotal areas, often inserting his fingers into their rectums and leaving some of his victims with bleeding rectums.

It’s gotten so bad that you don’t even have to be suspected of possessing drugs to be subjected to a strip search.

A North Carolina public school allegedly strip-searched a 10-year-old boy in search of a $20 bill lost by another student, despite the fact that the boy, J.C., twice told school officials he did not have the missing money. The assistant principal reportedly ordered the fifth grader to disrobe down to his underwear and subjected him to an aggressive strip-search that included rimming the edge of his underwear. The missing money was later found in the school cafeteria.

Suspecting that Georgia Tech alum Mary Clayton might have been attempting to smuggle a Chik-Fil-A sandwich into the football stadium, a Georgia Tech police officer allegedly subjected the season ticket-holder to a strip search that included a close examination of her underwear and bra. No contraband chicken was found.

What these incidents show is that while forced searches may span a broad spectrum of methods and scenarios, the common denominator remains the same: a complete disregard for the dignity and rights of the citizenry.

In fact, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Florence v. Burlison, any person who is arrested and processed at a jail house, regardless of the severity of his or her offense (i.e., they can be guilty of nothing more than a minor traffic offense), can be subjected to a strip search by police or jail officials without reasonable suspicion that the arrestee is carrying a weapon or contraband.

Examples of minor infractions which have resulted in strip searches include: individuals arrested for driving with a noisy muffler, driving with an inoperable headlight, failing to use a turn signal, riding a bicycle without an audible bell, making an improper left turn, engaging in an antiwar demonstration (the individual searched was a nun, a Sister of Divine Providence for 50 years).

Police have also carried out strip searches for passing a bad check, dog leash violations, filing a false police report, failing to produce a driver’s license after making an illegal left turn, having outstanding parking tickets, and public intoxication. A failure to pay child support can also result in a strip search.

As technology advances, these searches are becoming more invasive on a cellular level, as well.

For instance, close to 600 motorists leaving Penn State University one Friday night were stopped by police and, without their knowledge or consent, subjected to a breathalyzer test using flashlights that can detect the presence of alcohol on a person’s breath.

These passive alcohol sensors are being hailed as a new weapon in the fight against DUIs. (Those who refuse to knowingly submit to a breathalyzer test are being subjected to forced blood draws. Thirty states presently allow police to do forced blood draws on drivers as part of a nationwide “No Refusal” initiative funded by the federal government.

Not even court rulings declaring such practices to be unconstitutional in the absence of a warrant have slowed down the process. Now police simply keep a magistrate on call to rubber stamp the procedure over the phone.)

The National Highway Safety Administration, the same government agency that funds the “No Refusal” DUI checkpoints and forcible blood draws, is also funding nationwide roadblocks aimed at getting drivers to “voluntarily” provide police with DNA derived from saliva and blood samples, reportedly to study inebriation patterns.

In at least 28 states, there’s nothing voluntary about having one’s DNA collected by police in instances where you’ve been arrested, whether or not you’re actually convicted of a crime.

All of this DNA data is being fed to the federal government.

Airline passengers, already subjected to virtual strip searches, are now being scrutinized even more closely, with the Customs and Border Protection agency tasking airport officials with monitoring the bowel movements of passengers suspected of ingesting drugs. They even have a special hi-tech toilet designed to filter through a person’s fecal waste.

Iris scans, an essential part of the U.S. military’s boots-on-the-ground approach to keeping track of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, are becoming a de facto method of building the government’s already mammoth biometrics database. Funded by the Dept. of Justice, along with other federal agencies, the iris scan technology is being incorporated into police precincts, jails, immigration checkpoints, airports and even schools. School officials—from elementary to college—have begun using iris scans in place of traditional ID cards. As for parents wanting to pick their kids up from school, they have to first submit to an iris scan.

As for those endless pictures everyone so cheerfully uploads to Facebook (which has the largest facial recognition database in the world) or anywhere else on the internet, they’re all being accessed by the police, filtered with facial recognition software, uploaded into the government’s mammoth biometrics database and cross-checked against its criminal files. With good reason, civil libertarians fear these databases could “someday be used for monitoring political rallies, sporting events or even busy downtown areas.”

While the Fourth Amendment was created to prevent government officials from searching an individual’s person or property without a warrant and probable cause—evidence that some kind of criminal activity was afoot—the founders could scarcely have imagined a world in which we needed protection against widespread government breaches of our privacy, including on a cellular level.

Yet that’s exactly what we are lacking and what we so desperately need.

Unfortunately, the indignities being heaped upon us by the architects and agents of the American police state—whether or not we’ve done anything wrong—are just a foretaste of what is to come.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the government doesn’t need to tie you to a gurney and forcibly take your blood or strip you naked by the side of the road in order to render you helpless. It has other methods—less subtle perhaps but equally humiliating, devastating and mind-altering—of stripping you of your independence, robbing you of your dignity, and undermining your rights.

With every court ruling that allows the government to operate above the rule of law, every piece of legislation that limits our freedoms, and every act of government wrongdoing that goes unpunished, we’re slowly being conditioned to a society in which we have little real control over our bodies or our lives.

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EXCLUSIVE: Body cam video shows alleged Hamden police misconduct

Cop threatens immigrant with I.C.E.

 

HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Last February, Hamden police Officer Andrew Lipford tried to pull over a BMW for a red light violation when the driver allegedly took off.  Cops say Victor Medina led them on a chase, ending in the man’s driveway where Ofc. Lipford threatened to shoot him.

“If you do something that you’re not told you’re gonna get shot!” yelled Lipford.

Attorney Frank Cirillo represents Medina.  “That is shocking to hear and it seems dangerous,” Cirillo said.

But it’s what the sergeant on scene says to Medina’s passenger, which was caught on body cam that has local Hispanic groups outraged.

“Three letters: I-C-E.”

“Using that as an intimidation tactic is a disservice to the community that the police department claims to protect and serve,” said Jesús Morales Sanchez of the group Unidad Latina en Acción.

The apparent reference to Immigration and Customs Enforcement came after police repeatedly accused the passenger of faking his inability to speak English.  Morales Sanchez said the officers’ conduct in the video is unacceptable.

“That just takes away a lot of trust from the police,” Morales Sanchez told us.

Civil rights expert, Attorney John Williams, reviewed the body cam video for News 8 and found multiple constitutional violations.  Williams indicated two specific concerns, including the level of force used on the driver and the alleged unlawful search of the man’s trunk.

Acting Hamden police Chief John Cappiello said he first learned of the video from News 8’s Mario Boone.  The chief released a statement saying, “I only looked at what you pointed out to us in the video and the two specific areas are concerning to me.  I am initiating an internal investigation into this incident,” referring to the shooting threat and ICE comment.

“I’m relieved that the chief is now taking a look at this case.  I think they would be foolish to take this lightly,” Attorney Cirillo said.

Medina was charged with multiple traffic violations, including DUI.  The passenger was released without charges.

On Wednesday morning, Hamden Mayor Curt Balzano Leng issued the following statement in reaction to News 8’s exclusive story:

“Actions taken by some involved were disgraceful, and certainly not representative of Hamden’s values.

I do not expect, and will not tolerate, these types of actions by any of our law enforcement personnel. Acting Chief Cappiello has launched an immediate internal investigation into this incident, and I will work closely with the Chief and the Hamden Police Commission to ensure that that the investigation is as thorough as the situation demands and deserves.

Appropriate action will be taken. As many know, I am a strong supporter of our local law enforcement and respect so many of our public safety men and women that work tirelessly for our community every day. Certain actions taken and words spoken in the video shown today have no business being part of Hamden law enforcement. Period.

Connecticut law clearly dictates our State’s legal policy, which every local law enforcement agency must follow related to detaining an individual based on their immigration status. It makes detaining unlawful, with few and very specific exceptions, such as a violent criminal actions or known gang activity. Our local Police follow this policy; we follow it because it is law, because it increases the safety of all our residents and because it reflect our values.”

Fellow officers testify as police brutality case continues

 

Prosecutors and defense attorneys dissected video footage taken outside bars on Chippewa Street during testimony on Tuesday in the alleged brutality case against a Buffalo police officer.

The focus on the second day of testimony in Corey R. Krug’s trial – in which two fellow officers took the witness stand – centered on the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day 2014, as what’s known as the biggest bar night of the year was winding down in downtown Buffalo.

The civil rights case against Krug centers on what happened on Chippewa more than four years ago, along with two other separate allegations that he used excessive force. Krug’s defense attorneys argue his force was justified.

Jurors on Tuesday repeatedly were shown footage taken by a WKBW-TV photographer before, during and after Krug allegedly pushed a man against a car, took him to the ground and repeatedly hit him with a nightstick.

Devin Ford, of Lackawanna, the man seen in the video with Krug, had just been ejected from a Chippewa bar, along with another man after the other man sucker punched Ford inside, according to the testimony of two men who were out with Ford that night.

After the parties exited the former Indulge Bar & Night Club sometime around 3 a.m. on Nov. 27, 2014, the two sides nearly got into another physical confrontation in the middle of Chippewa Street, but were dispersed after police officers used pepper spray.

Men on each side of the dispute, despite the urging of officers to leave the area, seemed to be close to fighting again when officers intervened near the corner of Chippewa and Pearl streets, witnesses testified.

Officer Anniel Vidal, who was Krug’s partner that night working a special police detail in the Chippewa area, testified the apparent dispute that started inside Indulge lingered out on the street.

Police intervened because it appeared the men were going to start fighting again, Vidal told the court.

“All I saw was Officer Krug standing and I saw the guy on the ground,” Vidal testified. As he approached, Vidal said he ordered Ford – who was on his back – to get onto his stomach because he thought he was going to be arrested.

But Ford was not arrested and was allowed to walk away.

Officer Maurice Foster, who was stationed at the corner of Chippewa and Pearl that night, said he first noticed the WKBW cameraman walking down Chippewa. When Foster noticed the videographer was following Krug, he said he approached Krug to tell him the cameraman was following him.

Foster, who testified he had just separated two men involved in the dispute from inside the bar who had thrown punches, said he wasn’t telling his fellow officer because he felt Krug was doing anything wrong, but he wasn’t sure if Krug had heard him.

Krug’s defense attorneys grilled the day’s two other witnesses: Ford’s best friend, Sean M. Dechent, and his older brother, Justin Dechent, both of whom had accompanied Ford to a bar in Lackawanna before the trio came to Chippewa and visited two bars.

Ford’s injuries, including cuts and bruises on his legs, made him decide to sit out an annual football game played among friends later on Thanksgiving morning, Sean Dechent testified.

Ford, now 26, testified Monday about his encounter with Krug. “I just remember being on my back, saying ‘I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything,’ ” he said in court.

After video footage of their encounter first became public, the FBI investigated and found evidence of two other alleged incidents of brutality, both of them documented in earlier civil suits against the officer.

Krug, a Buffalo officer since 2000, was charged in August 2015 with deprivation of rights under color of law and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara at several points during Tuesday’s testimony found problematic some defense attorneys’ questions of witnesses about what was seen in the footage.

“The video speaks for itself,” the judge said at one point.

Defense attorneys argued Ford was lying in his accusations in order to bolster his pending lawsuit against Krug, the Buffalo Police Department and the City of Buffalo. The defense is also expected to introduce evidence of Krug’s record, including having made more than 1,000 arrests and his reputation for working in the city’s toughest neighborhoods and the everyday risks that go along with the job.

Krug’s trial is scheduled to resume Wednesday.

Prosecution witnesses are expected to be called about an August 2010 incident in which Krug was accused of hitting a man with a metal flashlight during an alleged confrontation at the man’s Langmeyer Street home.

|Published |, Buffalo News, “Fellow officers testify as police brutality case continues”, https://buffalonews.com/2019/02/05/fellow-officers-testify-as-police-brutality-case-continues/

Jury awards $1 to man in wheelchair who sued Rochester police for excessive force

Gary Craig and David Andreatta, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Published 10:11 p.m. ET Feb. 4, 2019 | Updated 7:30 p.m. ET Feb. 5, 2019

A federal jury on Monday mostly exonerated three Rochester police officers involved in a highly publicized arrest six years ago of a man in a wheelchair.

Jurors found that the man, Benny Warr, was not wrongfully arrested and that two of the officers — Joseph Ferrigno and Mitchell Stewart — did not use excessive force.

The jury did conclude that the third officer, Anthony Liberatore, used excessive force in arresting Warr, but awarded Warr just $1 in what are known as nominal damages.

The phrase means jurors felt a legal wrong occurred but found no harm was done.

At the same time, the jury declined to award compensatory damages but voted to award punitive damages in the amount of $0.

Liberatore was accused of shoving Warr from his wheelchair and also used an “elbow strike” — properly used, police said — to Warr’s head when Warr was on the ground.

Warr’s attorney, Charles Burkwit, called the outcome “an inconsistent verdict.”

“Obviously we were all in shock,” Burkwit said. “What’s the point of a making a punitive damages finding if you’re not going to award any money?”

Warr brought his lawsuit against the officers, the city of Rochester and former Police Chief James Sheppard in 2013, about four months after his arrest. The allegations that Sheppard improperly supervised officers were dismissed at trial.

Police officers contended that Warr punched and fought them as they tried to arrest him for allegedly causing a scene by shouting profanities. Warr maintained that he did not resist, that he was quietly waiting for a bus when arrested, and that he was in a fetal position when allegedly beaten.

“While, the city agrees with this decision, I cannot comment further on this matter in the interest of protecting our taxpayers in the event of potential appeals,”  Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin said in a statement in which he also thanked the jury and city’s legal team.

Burkwit said Tuesday that the jury seemed to ignore evidence that Warr suffered from post-traumatic stress after the incident. He also contended that “inflammatory” statements from the city’s legal team, including mentioning that Warr had once been jailed despite a judge’s ruling that the information not be mentioned at trial, may have influenced the jury.

“There was a lot of prejudicial and inflammatory information, which I think as a whole prejudiced Mr. Warr,” Burkwit said.

Testimony at trial showed that Warr had previously suffered from chronic pain, and had also battled drug addiction, though, records indicated, he has been clean for years. He has worn a prosthesis on one leg since childhood.

Warr’s arrest and the events that preceded it were caught on cellphone cameras and widely shared on social media, but there were strikingly different interpretations of what the video showed. A city Blue Light camera also captured some of the confrontation.

More:Jury to decide police brutality, wrongful arrest allegations from Benny Warr

2017:Lawsuit by wheelchair-bound man who alleged police abuse can go to trial

In his closing arguments last week, Burkwit said the video supported Warr’s story and proved that the police had lied in their claims about the incident.

Meanwhile, city attorney Spencer Ash told jurors, “This video footage is an ally of ours,” in his summation.

Warr resolved the criminal charges against him by agreeing to what is known as an “adjournment in contemplation of dismissal,” which allows for charges to be dismissed after six months if there are no other charges during that stretch.

A police review board exonerated the officers of misconduct, a decision upheld at the time by Sheppard.

However, Burkwit said, the jury’s finding that Liberatore used excessive force showed the lapses in the city review, which determined just the opposite.

“There’s something to be said that the jury agreed … that the city brushed this under the rug,” he said.

The trial coincidentally came at the same time as the city is considering an overhaul of its police disciplinary process.

“The Mayor remains committed to a transparent police accountability process, which is why she introduced legislation for the creation of a Police Accountability Board with unprecedented investigative authority,” Curtin said in his statement, mentioning a recent proposal from Mayor Lovely Warren.

City Council, meanwhile, has proposed legislation that would allow the Police Accountability Board to decide discipline for police. Warren’s proposal would allow the board to recommend discipline, but the police chief would still have the final say.

Burkwit said he planned to ask the court to set aside the verdict.

“An appeal is always an option as well,” he said. “Due to the shocking nature of the award, at this point we need to let a little time go by and let the court address the verdict.”

Gary Craig and David Andreatta, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Feb. 4, 2019, “Jury awards $1 to man in wheelchair who sued Rochester police for excessive force”, https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2019/02/04/benny-warr-rochester-police-brutality-verdict-federal-jury-wheelchair-dollar-james-sheppard/2769182002/

Police misconduct and crime : bad apples or systems failure?

Dean, Geoff, Gottschalk, Petter, & Glomseth, Rune (2012) Police misconduct and crime : bad apples or systems failure? Journal of Money Laundering Control, 15(1), pp. 6-24.

Abstract

There is a debate in the research literature whether to view police misconduct and crime as acts of individuals perceived as ‘rotten apples’ or as an indication of systems failure in the police force. Based on an archival analysis of court cases where police employees were prosecuted, this paper attempts to explore the extent of rotten apples versus systems failure in the police. Exploratory research of 57 prosecuted police officers in Norway indicate that there were more rotten apple cases than system failure cases. The individual failures seem to be the norm rather than the exception of ethical breaches, therefore enhancing the rotten apple theory. However as exploratory research, police crime may still be explained at the organizational level as well.

police misconduct and crime bad apples or systems failure

 

Cop who shot fellow officer dead was drinking on duty, internal report alleges

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St. Louis — In an internal police misconduct report obtained by CBS St. Louis affilitate KMOV-TV, a police lieutenant alleges both Officer Nathaniel Hendren and his partner “consumed alcoholic beverages” while on duty the night Officer Katlyn Alix was shot and killed by Hendren during a game of Russian roulette.Lieutenant William Brown filed the complaint at 1:30 a.m. on January 24, alleging “Conduct Unbecoming an Officer,” and suggesting both men also violated a regulation that says, “No employee shall report for duty or remain on duty with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater. Moreover, no employee shall consume alcohol while on duty and/or engaged in City business.”

In a news conference Thursday, Police Chief John Hayden said, “The circumstances around the shooting were much more reckless and dangerous than what I had originally understood.”

Hendren’s partner’s lawyer says his client had a few sips of beer at Hendren’s home but poured out the rest down the sink.

Police say Alix, Hendren and his partner met at Hendren’s apartment while Hendren and his partner were on-duty and Alix was off-duty.

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Nathaniel Hendren, the St. Louis police officer accused of shooting and killing an off-duty officer in a Russian roulette-game, bonded out Thu., Jan. 31, 2019, and was seen leaving jail in this image provided by CBS affiliate KMOV-TV. KMOV-TV

The apartment is three miles outside the district to which Hendren and his partner were assigned.

Hendren reportedly produced a revolver, emptied the cylinder and then put one bullet cartridge back in the cylinder.

Hendren then spun the cylinder, pointed the gun away and pulled the trigger but it didn’t fire.

Alix then took the gun and pointed it at Hendren and pulled the trigger but the gun again didn’t fire.

Hendren then took the gun back from Alix and pulled the trigger, shooting Alix in the chest, police say. She later died at a hospital.

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Katlyn Alix in undated photo CBS News

Hendren, charged with manslaughter, made bail Thursday after a judge raised his bond from $50,000 to $100,000. Only 10 percent of that amount was needed to make bail.

Hendren is under house arrest and can’t have access to firearms but it was unclear if he’s confined to his home,  with nearby relatives or somewhere else.

Hayden said effective immediately, supervisors and commanders will be present at all roll calls to reinforce with officers that they must stay in their assigned districts.

Watch commanders will also confirm the location of their officers every hour using radios and GPS tracking information.

/ CBS News, “Cop who shot fellow officer dead was drinking on duty, internal report alleges”, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/russian-roulette-st-louis-police-nathaniel-hendren-katlyn-alix-drinking-on-duty-internal-report/

Jury awards man $250,000 in police brutality suit

January 31, 2019

BOSTON (AP) — A federal jury has awarded $250,000 to a Massachusetts man who said Springfield police used excessive force when they responded to his home for reports of a domestic disturbance.

Lawyers for Lee Hutchins Sr. told Masslive.com that the jury found Wednesday that one of the three responding officers used excessive force and the other two unlawfully entered Hutchins’ home in January 2015.

Hutchins said in the suit that police pepper-sprayed his eyes and beat him with batons while he was trying to defuse a domestic melee.

The jury also found that “the city of Springfield had a custom of failing to discipline officers and this custom demonstrated deliberate indifference to the rights” of citizens.

A city lawyer said Springfield is “reviewing all of its options for post-trial motions and appeals.”

January 31, 2019, Associated Press, “Jury awards man $250,000 in police brutality suit”, https://www.apnews.com/25ccb302f60143dcb5ec092de89ad435

Tucson police officer arrested on suspicion of sexual misconduct with female suspect

 

A Tucson police officer accused of committing sexual misconduct with a woman he was investigating was arrested Sunday evening.

The Tucson Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards Unit was told on Thursday that Officer Richard Daniel committed “unlawful sexual conduct” with the woman on Jan. 13.

Daniel, a three-year veteran with the department, was arrested after detectives were able to establish probable cause, police say.

Pete Dugan, a spokesman with the Tucson Police Department, said Daniel was booked into Pima County Jail with one count of unlawful sexual conduct as a peace officer and one count of tampering with physical evidence with additional charges pending as the investigation continues.

Dugan said Daniel has been placed on administrative leave without pay and was served a notice that he would be terminated.

Police didn’t elaborate on the investigation Daniel was conducting when the incident allegedly occurred.

Dugan said the allegations against Daniel don’t reflect the rest of the department.

Perry Vandell, Arizona Republic, Jan. 21, 2019, “Tucson police officer arrested on suspicion of sexual misconduct with female suspect”, https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona/2019/01/21/tucson-officer-accused-sexual-misconduct/2636481002/

New Orleans police pioneer new way to stop misconduct, remove ‘blue wall of silence’

‘Ethical Policing Is Courageous’ encourages officers to stop colleague misbehavior, and chief says he will bring it to Baltimore.


New Orleans police officers patrol Mardi Gras in 2014. The New Orleans Police Department launched Ethical Policing Is Courageous, a program to encourage officers to stop or report misbehavior by other officers. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

The New Orleans Police Department was deep in the hole. Some of its officers ran into legal trouble in the wake of Hurricane Katrina: Some ultimately pleaded guilty to charges in the shooting of six people, and the Justice Department charged others with covering it up. Hundreds simply deserted the force during the 2005 storm. An officer killed an unarmed man during a raid in 2012. The department was placed under a federal consent decree that year, and public trust in the New Orleans police hit rock bottom. Its commanders were looking for a way out.

They needed to change their culture, said former New Orleans superintendent Michael S. Harrison, who will take the top police job in Baltimore next month. “The culture of policing was the ‘blue wall of silence,’ keeping secrets even when people do things wrong,” Harrison said. “That’s an old culture.” When police misconduct becomes public, Harrison said, “we get black eyes. It takes us years to recover from that. Sometimes you never get the citizens’ trust back.”

So the New Orleans police devised EPIC — “Ethical Policing Is Courageous.” Crafting a training program for officers that emphasized “active bystandership and peer intervention,” New Orleans created an expectation that officers should step in when a colleague is misbehaving — assaulting a citizen, lying on a report, planting evidence — and stop the bad acts before they happen or else report them. “When they see misconduct potentially about to happen,” Deputy Superintendent Paul Noel said, the goal is “to step in and say, ‘I got this. Back off.’” The idea is that once one bystander steps in, others often follow suit, and the peer pressure keeps the bad act from occurring.

“Active bystandership is contagious,” Noel said. “It’s hard to resist an outspoken co-worker who is intent on doing the right thing.”

New Orleans police are starting to build up anecdotes of EPIC in action. In one instance, officials said, officers had handcuffed a man after fighting, and a sheriff’s deputy from another department walked up and kicked the man in the face. “We don’t roll like that anymore,” one of the officers told the deputy, and then they arrested him. “Previously, everybody would have looked the other way,” Noel said.

At a recent Fourth of July festival, a handcuffed man spit blood and saliva in an officer’s face. “The officer was about to respond,” Noel said. “Then he thought about the EPIC program and walked away.” Trainers in the program use spitting in role-playing as a way of persuading officers not to respond with force that can ultimately harm the officer as well as the spitter.

Police officials say they see signs the program is having a positive impact. Citizen complaints have dropped significantly, from 850 in 2016 to 734 in both 2017 and 2018, they said. Citizen satisfaction with the police has risen, Harrison said. He said some citizens have called to offer an “attaboy” after watching one officer prevent another from misbehaving. “It hasn’t happened often,” Harrison said of the public calls, “but it’s happened.”

And Harrison said he will be taking EPIC with him to Baltimore. “I want to bring every best practice available that’s not there already,” Harrison said in an interview.”

The Baltimore Police Department has struggled with its own internal wall of silence, most notoriously in a federal investigation of the department’s gun task force, which was accused of planting evidence and covering up its own misdeeds. Two detectives were convicted of robbery and racketeering and six officers pleaded guilty to charges including robbery and obstruction of justice. Harrison said in an interview that he was not closely familiar with that case but would address internal corruption when he arrived in Baltimore.

Other cities have noticed the impact of EPIC and are taking steps to adopt the program and take down their own blue walls, including Honolulu; Albuquerque; Baton Rouge; and St. Paul, Minn., Noel said.

The program was created in part by studying the science and impact of active bystandership and also by involving officers from the start, Noel and Harrison said. The department sought out officers who were respected among the rank-and-file, whose support for EPIC would carry weight on the street, and recruited them to teach the program during in-service training. And the department pitched the program to union leaders as a way for officers to avoid disciplinary problems by not getting reported in the first place.

“This is designed to save officers’ careers and save their lives,” Noel said, by keeping officers out of the disciplinary system. “What union leader is going to say, ‘I don’t want that’?”

And the program launched by training the department’s top commanders first. “Chief Harrison’s been phenomenal for this,” Noel said. “He sat through eight hours of this. He doesn’t have eight hours to himself on a Sunday. He made it a point to sit in that class, and that set the tone for the program.”

New Orleans officers now wear an EPIC pin on their lapels, declaring their commitment to acting ethically and reporting any misbehavior they see. Body-camera footage of incidents where officers have intervened to stop bad actions is used in training sessions, and officers who successfully intervene are honored, Harrison said.

The success of the program is hard to measure, the New Orleans commanders said, because preventing episodes from happening means no written record is made. “It’s not about IA [Internal Affairs],” Noel said, though there is the incentive of not writing reports and undergoing internal investigations by not misbehaving. “What we can measure is the citizens’ complaints that have gone down dramatically, and the citizen satisfaction has steadily risen.”

And now New Orleans is adding a second component to EPIC — intervening with officers who may be depressed or suicidal. “We know that officers are more likely to die by suicide than being shot by a perpetrator,” Noel said. “We train extensively about how to deal with dangerous suspects. But what training do we do to recognize the signs of suicide, depression and mental illness?”

So now EPIC is also being used to encourage officers to spot troubling or self-destructive behavior by their colleagues. “If I see an officer going through a divorce, or using unhealthy means to cope, it’s easy to look the other way,” Noel said. EPIC pushes officers to intervene and suggest fellow officers get help. “We wanted to continue to find ways to save officers’ careers and lives.”

Tom Jackman, January 24, Washington Post, “New Orleans police pioneer new way to stop misconduct, remove ‘blue wall of silence’”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/crime-law/2019/01/24/new-orleans-police-pioneer-new-way-stop-misconduct-remove-blue-wall-silence/?utm_term=.9552b81dbbc6

‘We want justice’: Family of George Robinson calls for JPD officers to be jailed

Alissa Zhu, Mississippi Clarion Ledger Published 5:24 p.m. CT Jan. 24, 2019 | Updated 9:25 a.m. CT Jan. 25, 2019

More than a dozen members of George Robinson’s family gathered in front of a white and light blue house in Washington Addition on Thursday afternoon.

A white Chevy Impala — with two San Francisco 49ers hats peaking out the rear window — was parked out front, next to a large evergreen tree.

News cameras surrounded the sunlight-bathed scene.

Attorney Dennis Sweet IV, with Sweet and Associates, addressed the onlookers.

“You all are not at a press conference today. Today, we are at a crime scene,” Sweet said.

Sweet announced that he and his father are representing Robinson’s family. They have hired an independent investigator to look into the death of the 62-year-old, who died of a head injury two days after he was arrested by Jackson police officers.

“Upon our preliminary investigation, we believe that Mr. Robinson died as a result of police misconduct. We believe that Mr. Robinson died as a result of the use of excessive force by Jackson police officers,” Sweet said.

Last week, the Jackson Police Department announced it launched an internal investigation into Robinson’s death.

Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart confirmed Wednesday Robinson’s death was ruled a homicide. That same day, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba announced three officers involved with Robinson’s arrest have been placed on paid administrative leave.

Sweet said Robinson was sitting in the car the night of Jan. 13, when officers approached him.

“(They) pulled him out of the car, and beat him — brutally beat him. And that beating resulted in his death. To add insult to injury, they gave him a citation for disobeying a police officer,” Sweet said.

Police said those officers, who are part of JPD’s K-9 unit, were searching for the men suspected of killing the Rev. Anthony Longino as he opened his church, one block away from Robinson’s home, earlier that Sunday. Two men have since been charged with Longino’s murder.

Robinson was arrested for failing to obey an officer and resisting arrest, police said. He was released, with the expectation he would show up for a later court date.

Robinson’s sister, Bettersten Wade, said the officers involved “should be in jail.”

JPD is not releasing the officers’ names. Sweet also declined to identify them at this point.

“We want justice for George,” Wade said. “…(Police) are supposed to protect and serve us. But instead, we did not get protected, we did not get served. We did not get justice. Not yet.”

Wade said Robinson had suffered a stroke on Christmas, which he was still recovering from at the time of his arrest.

Wade said their mother, who has lost two sons in recent weeks, is “suffering.”

Sweet said independent investigator Tyrone Lewis, a former Hinds County sheriff, has conducted several interviews and is in the process of collecting statements.

“We want to see these officers prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Sweet said. “This man was brutally beaten. That caused his death. That is a murder.”

WAPT-TV reported witnesses saw police slam Robinson to the ground and hit him in the head with a flashlight. During last week’s press conference, Jackson Police Chief James Davis said it was too early in the investigation to confirm if that’s what happened.

A JPD spokesman said he is not aware of any body camera footage of the arrest.

Robinson was kind, generous and uplifting, his friends and neighbors said.

One friend called him a “source of happiness” in the neighborhood.