Why Are So Many ‘Bad Apple’ Police Officers Bad in the Same Way?

Brian Encinia, a former trooper with the Texas Department of Safety, confronting Sandra Bland at a traffic stop.

Brian Encinia, a former trooper with the Texas Department of Safety, confronting Sandra Bland at a traffic stop. Photo: Sandra Bland

Brian Encinia said that he ordered Sandra Bland out of her vehicle, forced her to the ground, and handcuffed her on July 10, 2015, because he feared for his safety. “My safety was in jeopardy at more than one time,” the former–Texas Department of Safety trooper told the agency’s Office of Inspector General. “I had a feeling that anything could’ve been either retrieved or hidden within her area of control.”

But newly released footage contradicts this account. On Monday, reporters with Dallas television station WFAA aired a 39-second cell phone videocaptured by Bland that had not been previously made public. It depicts an irate Encinia threatening to “light … up” the black 28-year-old with his stun gun and demanding that she exit her car and “get off the phone,” all while Bland asks him repeatedly why a “failure to signal” called for such treatment. “The video shows that [Encinia] wasn’t in fear of his safety,” Cannon Lambert, a lawyer for Bland’s family, told the New York Times. “You could see that it was a cell phone. He was looking right at it.”

Bland was found dead in a Waller County jail cell three days later; authorities ruled her death a suicide. Nationwide protests followed. The Naperville, Illinois, native — who, before her arrest, was en route to start a new job at Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas — became the most prominent woman to die in police custody as a result of police violence during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Encinia was charged with perjury for lying about the circumstances surrounding Bland’s arrest, but the charges were dropped on the condition that he never seek a job in law enforcement again. As a result, Encinia — whose former lawyer told the Times that he is now “working in the private sector, supporting his wife and family and living a quiet life” — became one of the countless American police officers to face no legal consequences for demonstrated misconduct.

The gravity of Encinia’s behavior falls short of the murderousness shown by Michael Slager and Jason Van Dyke, police officers who were convicted of crimes after shooting and killing black men. But it is an edifying example nonetheless in the debate over whether cases of police misconduct are a series of isolated incidents or part of a systemic problem. Public opinion is divided on the issue — but perhaps predictably, the divide is largely racial and politically partisan. According to a 2015 PRRI survey conducted after the killings of Mike Brown and Freddie Gray, 74 percent of black Americans believed that such killings were part of a broader pattern of police behavior, compared to 43 percent of white Americans. Thirty percent of Democrats felt they were isolated incidents, compared to 65 percent of Republicans.

The position held by most whites and Republicans can be summarized as the “bad apple” theory of law enforcement — the idea that a few bad actors exist but should not reflect poorly on an otherwise-good bunch. Prominent subscribers include former–U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has deployed this argument to discredit federal oversight of local police departments. “I think there’s concern that good police officers and good departments can be sued by the Department of Justice when you just have individuals within a department who have done wrong,” the then-senator said in 2017. About 67 percent of police officers agree with Sessions that these occurrences say little about policing as a whole.

But what happens in their immediate aftermath is just as illuminating in uncovering the truth as the incidents themselves. Encinia did not just order Bland out of her car, threaten her, and arrest her for apparently frivolous reasons. He lied to investigators about the threat that he believed she posed. His official account of the exchange hinged entirely on the assertion that his actions were justified because he thought he was in danger. And he is not alone in pursuing this line of reasoning. Almost every prominent police killing or assault of an unarmed black person in recent years has been followed by official claims that the officer feared for his or her safety. In cases as disparate geographically as the shooting deaths of Mike Brown in Missouri, Terence Crutcher in Oklahoma, Sam Dubose in Ohio, and the 15-year-old boy attacked in April by sheriff’s deputies in Broward County, Florida, police have invoked the fear they purportedly felt to justify their violence.

This approach has yielded dividends. Department policy and Supreme Court precedent have combined to render more or less legal the brutalization of civilians, as long as the officer in question can demonstrate that their actions were “objectively reasonable.” Of course, what is considered “objectively reasonable” shifts from state to state and case to case — such that more often than not, merely claiming to have felt fear is treated as objectively reasonable grounds for murder.

We can say with confidence that this is a systemic problem because letting these officers off the hook is a systemic act — enshrined in law and practice across the United States and carried out in official press conferences, departmental investigations, and grand jury proceedings. “A few bad apples” are not to blame for a system-wide mechanism which police can so reliably turn to for exoneration that they do so almost every time they are caught doing wrong. There is something fundamentally nefarious about the whole institution when so many such cases follow a familiar script: Commit violence against an unarmed civilian, then claim — often dishonestly — to have been so frightened that no other option was available.

Sandra Bland may have been mistreated by a lone officer on the street that day. But it was the system that empowered Encinia to treat her as he did in the first place — and that gave him confidence that even if the encounter ended with her dying, he could lie and expect to be protected.

 

“Why Are So Many ‘Bad Apple’ Police Officers Bad in the Same Way?”, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/05/sandra-bland-footage.html
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Houston Police Shot Man Killed in Fraudulent Drug Raid at Least Eight Times

Dennis Tuttle and his wife, Rhogena Nicholas, who was shot twice, were pronounced dead shortly after police invaded their home based on a “controlled buy” that never happened.

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Houston narcotics officers shot Dennis Tuttle at least eight times during the January 28 drug raid that killed him and his wife, Rhogena Nicholas, at their home on Harding Street. The no-knock raid, based on allegations that Tuttle and Nicholas were selling heroin, found no heroin and no evidence of drug dealing. The officer who obtained the warrant, Gerald Goines, reported a “controlled buy” at the house that apparently never happened.

According to an autopsy report dated March 19, Tuttle suffered gunshot wounds in his head and neck, chest, left shoulder, left buttock (which was struck twice), left thigh, left forearm, left hand, right wrist, and right forearm (two graze wounds). The report says the chest injury “may represent a re-entrance wound of a fragmented bullet associated with one of the gunshot wounds of the upper extremities.” The officers reported that they shot Tuttle after he fired at them with a .357 Magnum revolver in response to their armed invasion of his home, during which they killed a dog with a shotgun immediately after crashing through the door.

Another autopsy report, also dated March 19, says Nicholas was shot in the torso and right thigh. Police said they shot her after she moved toward the officer with the shotgun, who had collapsed on a couch after being shot by Tuttle. They said they believed she was trying to take away the shotgun. There is no video of the raid to corroborate that account. Both Tuttle, who was 59, and Nicholas, who was 58, were pronounced dead at 5:15 p.m., shortly after police broke into their home.

The only drugs that police found in the house were 18 grams of marijuana and 1.5 grams of cocaine. Those are also the only drugs detected by the toxicology tests described in the autopsy reports: THC and a THC metabolite in Tuttle’s blood and benzoylecgonine, a cocaine metabolite, in Nicholas’ blood. Notably, the tests found no traces of heroin, fentanyl, or other opioids.

Although Police Chief Art Acevedo has said the affidavit for the search warrant was falsified, he continues to defend the investigation that led to the raid, citing a January 8 call from an unnamed woman who reported that her daughter was using drugs at the house and described Tuttle and Nicholas as armed and dangerous drug dealers. Acevedo also said neighbors had thanked police for raiding the couple’s home, which he said was locally notorious as a “drug house” and a “problem location.”

Those claims are inconsistent with the accounts of neighbors interviewed by Houston news outlets. They said that Tuttle and Nicholas, who had lived in the house for two decades, were perfectly nice people and that they had never noticed any suspicious activity at the house.

KTRK, the ABC station in Houston, reported in February that the woman who called police on January 8 was Nicholas’ mother, who was concerned about her own daughter’s drug use. But that report is inconsistent with Acevedo’s account and with what Nicholas’ mother, Jo Ann Nicholas, has told reporters. “I want her name cleared,” the grieving 84-year-old woman said in a March 25 interview with KTRK.

Four officers, including Goines, were injured by gunfire during the raid, but it is not clear where those rounds came from. It seems implausible that Tuttle, even if he fired all six rounds from the revolver, was able to hit his targets four times in the chaotic circumstances of the raid. Acevedo initially responded indignantly to the suggestion that officers were hit by “friendly fire,” but that question is part of the Houston Police Department’s ongoing investigation. This morning I asked the HPD whether the issue has been resolved but have not heard back yet.

After I requested copies of the autopsy reports on April 1, Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan claimed the documents were not subject to disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act. Citing the law’s exception for information that “would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime,” Ryan sought an opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who I gather disagreed.

Update, May 7: HPD spokesman Kese Smith said the department is not releasing any information on the “friendly fire” issue until it completes its internal affairs and criminal investigations of the operation. He said those investigations should be completed by mid-May, at which point the department will report its findings to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, which is conducting its own investigation. The FBI is also looking into potential civil rights violations.

 

| “Houston Police Shot Man Killed in Fraudulent Drug Raid at Least Eight Times”, https://reason.com/2019/05/06/houston-police-shot-man-killed-in-fraudulent-heroin-raid-at-least-8-times/

Dallas Citizen’s Police Review Board Wants More Power: ‘There Is Little We Can Do’

by Erin Jones | CBS 11

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – About 200 people attended a town hall meeting, hosted by the Citizen Police Review Board, where Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall was a speaker.

“There is no secret that I do support restructuring of this board,” Hall said.

The board was created almost 40 years ago to give residents a place to voice their concerns about police misconduct.

Members say in order to do their job effectively, change needs to happen.

“There is little that we can do,” Chairman of the City of Dallas’ Citizen’s Police Review Board Dr. Brian H. Williams said.

Williams said right now, all the board can do is review police complaints and make recommendations.

“The hope is moving forward that we can empower the board and make it more efficient and effective to serve the needs of the public,” he said.

Thursday he presented what the board itself wants to see.

“We need a staff – period.” Williams said. “We have no staff now. We have no budget. We have limited subpoena authorities.”

Williams said the board is made up entirely of volunteers. He said the board can subpoena witnesses, but not police and that needs to change.

“In order to get to all the facts, the board must have some avenue to get all the information,” Williams said.

The community weighed in.

“How do you make sure that people who make the complaints feel safe enough to trust you?” one woman said at the town hall meeting.

“My concern is that you’re being appointed by someone voted into office,” another woman said.

“We do need a review board that has subpoena power. Too many people have died and lost their lives,” another man said.

“This is a step in the right direction to ensure that you have the kind of trust in us that makes us the best police department in the country,” Hall said.

There are several more town hall meetings planned during the next couple of weeks across Dallas.

The goal is to give all communities the opportunity to voice their opinions.

Erin Jones | CBS 11, , “Dallas Citizen’s Police Review Board Wants More Power: ‘There Is Little We Can Do’”, https://dfw.cbslocal.com/2019/01/03/dallas-citizens-police-review-board-power/

After Fatally Shooting Man in His Apartment, Ex-Dallas Cop Indicted for Murder

by Tribune News Service | December 3, 2018 AT 10:30 AM

By Nichole Manna

A former Dallas police officer who walked into an unarmed man’s apartment on Sept. 6 and shot him while wearing her police uniform has been indicted on a charge of murder.

The Dallas County grand jury began hearing the case against Amber Guyger, 30, on Monday. Guyger was originally charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean. She was released from jail on a $300,000 bond about an hour after turning herself in.

District Attorney Faith Johnson said that by 3 p.m., Guyger had turned herself back in on the murder charge. Her bond was transferred and she has been released.

Asked why the grand jury indicted Guyger on a murder charge, Johnson said, “We presented the evidence and explained the law.” She added that the law prohibits her from talking about the evidence presented to the grand jury.

She said her office had a “very spirited conversation” with the Texas Rangers, the lead investigators in the case, back in September.

“They chose to file this case as manslaughter,” she said. “We did our own investigation.”

She said that prosecutors talked to more than 300 witnesses.

Guyger has said she mistook Jean’s apartment at the South Side Flats for hers that night after getting off a long work shift, Dallas police said. Court documents have varied on the story of how Guyger got Jean’s door open.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, along with several other media outlets, have requested copies of the 911 call Guyger made after the shooting, along with body camera footage worn by the officers who responded. The Dallas Police Department has declined to release that information and sent the open records requests to the attorney general for final determination.

Guyger was not wearing a body camera. The department said officers leave their body cameras at work after their shift.

Johnson, who was voted out of office in the Nov. 6 election, will not see the case through to a trial and said Friday that she “trusts the DA-elect will continue to represent this family (and all of Dallas County) as he seeks justice for victims.”

Johnson also spoke about why it took her office two months to bring the case in front of a grand jury. She said she wanted to make sure the jury had everything they needed to “make the right choice.”

“We thought it was murder all along,” she said. “But we didn’t file this case … but we did what we had to do get this case ready for the grand jury. Justice is never too long.”

Moving forward, it could be more than a year before Guyger sits in front of a judge and jury. It took 16 months, Johnson said, for the case against former cop Roy Oliver to go to trial. Oliver shot and killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards while on duty as a Balch Springs police officer. He was found guilty of murder.

Jean was a native of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. After graduating from college in Arkansas, he moved to Dallas to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Jean’s family filed a lawsuit against the City of Dallas and its Police Department in late October.

Jean’s family says in the suit that Guyger had a history of violence and used excessive force against Jean that fateful night in September, resulting in his wrongful death.

The family also says the Dallas Police Department “has a pattern, practice, history and custom of using excessive force against minorities,” and accuses it of not providing proper training or discipline for Guyger in the use of deadly force.

“By simply following proper police procedures and the best police practices and not the protocol of the DPD to ‘shoot first and ask questions later,’ Defendant Guyger would have not shot Jean,” the lawsuit states. “Essentially, Officer Guyger was ill-trained, and as a result, defaulted to the defective DPD policy: to use deadly force even when there exists no immediate threat of harm to themselves or others.

By Nichole Manna, Tribune News Service | December 3, 2018, “After Fatally Shooting Man in His Apartment, Ex-Dallas Cop Indicted for Murder”, http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/tns-dallas-police-murder-trial.html

Dallas Police shooting illustrates dangers of police brutality and victim blaming

Guyger+was+charged+with+manslaughter+and+was+later+released+on+bond.

Guyger was charged with manslaughter and was later released on bond.

Carrie Pommerening,

 

Dallas police officer Amber Guyger’s story sounds like a dark plot of a Saturday Night Live skit, and it contradicts what the neighbors claimed to have heard.

On Sept. 6, Guyger, 30, shot and killed Botham Jean, 26, in his own apartment at South Side Flats.

Guyger claims to have mistaken his apartment for her own, and that the door to the apartment was already open when she tried to insert the key. This made her suspicious. According to Guyger, she didn’t know she was in the wrong apartment until she turned the lights on after shooting Jean from across the room.

According to Lee Merritt, the attorney for Jean’s family, two neighbors heard someone knocking on the door before the shooting. One witness says they heard someone shout “Let me in! Let me in!” Another claims to have heard Jean yell out “Oh my God! Why did you do that?” after hearing shots fired.

It’s sickening to think of the possible reasons why Guyger would want to kill Jean. Family and friends of Jean have spoken highly of his character to the news. Alyssa Kinsey, a neighbor of Jean’s, told CNN that he was a “quiet, friendly and super chill” neighbor. She also said they would “talk about life together, smiling and laughing. He had a huge smile.”

The police wasted no time in trying to find ways to smear this friendly character. According to an article from Fox News, within hours of Jean getting shot, the police asked a judge for a search warrant to search his apartment for drugs and other things. On Thursday, Sept. 13, the results of the search warrant were released. Investigators had found 10.4 grams of marijuana and a marijuana grinder.

Seems like the new way to investigate murder is to criminalize the victim.

This trend of victim-blaming has plagued the justice system. Most of the black men killed by police officers have been criminalized in some way. Back in 2014, the Ferguson police tried to criminalize Michael Brown after he was shot and killed by officer Darren Wilson. According to the New York Times, they claimed that he had stolen cigarettes, and even punched Wilson before being shot. The reports from witnesses say otherwise. How dare victims like Michael Brown get shot? Police only protect and serve, and they never do anything wrong.

How dare Jean get shot in his own home.

The only right thing the police have done in this case was arrest Guyger. If only this didn’t happen three days after the shooting or in another county. This is probably why we haven’t heard about the investigation of claims that Guyger and Jean were previously in a relationship. Even if they start investigating that, they’ll likely point the finger at Jean somehow. Until then, Jean’s family does not know what happened that night, or why Guyger killed their loved one.

Carrie Pommerening, “Dallas Police shooting illustrates dangers of police brutality and victim blaming”, https://www.hilltopviewsonline.com/16205/viewpoints/dallas-police-shooting-illustrates-dangers-of-police-brutality-and-victim-blaming/

 

Dallas police officer arrested days after she killed a man in his apartment

0:09 / 1:54
Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was arrested Sept. 9 and charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of her neighbor, Botham Shem Jean.

September 10, 2018

A Dallas police officer who authorities said entered an apartment she thought was hers and killed a young man has been arrested on a manslaughter charge.

Amber Guyger, 30, was taken into custody Sunday evening amid intensifying calls for her arrest and accusations that police are showing deferential treatment to one of their own. The shooting death of Botham Shem Jean, 26, also has become a rallying cry for advocates against police brutality — although much is still unknown about the circumstances surrounding his death.

Jean was shot Thursday night in his apartment building near downtown Dallas. Guyger, still in uniform after working a shift, went inside Jean’s apartment, thinking it was hers, police said. Guyger fired her service weapon and struck Jean, her neighbor. She called 911, and Jean died at a hospital. A video taken from outside the building shows the officer on her phone, pacing back and forth outside the apartment and crying. Paramedics were later seen moving a man on a gurney and performing CPR on him.

Despite the arrest, Jean’s mother, Allison Jean, said several questions about her son’s death remain unanswered.

“The number one answer that I want is, ‘What happened?’” Allison Jean told reporters Monday. “I have asked too many questions, and I’ve been told that there are no answers yet. I’m looking forward to the powers that be to come up with the answers to make me more satisfied that they are doing what is in the best interest of getting justice for Botham.”

Allison Jean stood in the middle of her two other children, a son and a daughter, as she spoke to reporters — her way of representing Botham, her middle child.


Allison Jean embraces her son’s friends after a prayer vigil for Botham Shem Jean at the Dallas West Church of Christ on Saturday. He was shot by a police officer in his apartment on Thursday night. (Shaban Athuman/Dallas Morning News/AP)

Officials were still tight-lipped Monday about what happened inside Jean’s apartment, what the officer’s physical and mental states were at the time, whether she was under the influence of a controlled substance, why she thought Jean’s apartment was hers, and why a trained officer seemed so quick to use deadly force. It also is still unclear why investigators held off for three days before charging Guyger with manslaughter.

Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall had said earlier that her office was in the process of obtaining an arrest warrant but that it was postponed after the Texas Ranger Division, a separate agency that took over the case, asked for more time. Hall said investigators had interviewed Guyger and sought more time to look into the information she gave them.

Things changed Sunday evening, when Guyger turned herself in at Kaufman County jail, just outside Dallas.

Around that time, Lee Merritt, a Dallas civil rights lawyer who represents Jean’s family, told reporters that his law firm had just presented a witness and video evidence to the district attorney’s office that “could change the course of the investigation” and lead to the officer’s arrest.

Merritt did not elaborate, citing the pending investigation.

A grand jury will ultimately decide on the final charges against Guyger. It could look at charges such as murder, a first-degree felony, or the lesser charge of manslaughter, a second-degree felony.

Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson vowed thoroughness and fairness as her office prepares to present the case to the grand jury.

“We’re going to unravel whatever we need to unravel. We’re going to unturn whatever we need to unturn. And we are going to present a full case to the grand jury,” Johnson told reporters.

Guyger, who has been with the police department for four years and is now on administrative leave, has since been freed on a $300,000 bail. The Dallas Morning News reported that her attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The delay in the officer’s arrest frustrated Jean’s family members, who arrived in Dallas from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, where Jean was born. It also raised questions about whether investigators were showing deferential treatment to the officer.

“In any normal case where there’s probable cause . . . you make an arrest,” Merritt told The Washington Post earlier Sunday, before Guyger was arrested. “When law enforcement [is under investigation], for some reason, we don’t use the normal protocol in dealing with criminal activity.”

Merritt said Jean and the officer did not know each other. The officer’s apartment was directly below Jean’s, he said.


Civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt talks to reporters after a prayer vigil for Botham Shem Jean on Saturday in Dallas. (Shaban Athuman/Dallas Morning News/AP)

A police spokeswoman referred questions to the Texas Ranger Division. The Texas Department of Public Safety, which oversees the rangers, declined to comment beyond a brief news release announcing Guyger’s arrest. The district attorney’s office also has not responded to a request for comment.

Jean’s death renewed calls for policing reform and places the national spotlight back on a police department that, just two years ago, lost five of its officers in a shooting. A gunman who “said he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers,” opened fire in July 2016 in the middle of what had otherwise been a peaceful protest of police shootings.

During a criminal justice panel Saturday, Hall said she did not know whether race was a factor in Jean’s death and asked the public for patience as investigators do their work. Jean was black, and Guyger is white.

“There is so much rhetoric surrounding this incident. We have a lot of questions that are unanswered,” Hall said. “Allow us to get to the bottom of those answers that we could give to you, and then let’s have a discussion.”

Merritt, who also represents the family of Antwon Rose II, an unarmed teenager who was shot by an East Pittsburgh police officer, said race and police officers’ use of force are deeply intertwined in this country. On the night of the shooting, Guyger’s apartment key was found in Jean’s door, suggesting that she had tried to open it, Merritt said. Seeing a black man inside an apartment she thought was hers influenced her actions, Merritt concluded.

“I have to believe based on experience that her decision to use deadly force in the way that she did was influenced by the fact that she was standing in front of a black male and that our society has allowed law enforcement to use deadly force in unnecessary situations against black men with impunity,” he said.

Jean moved from St. Lucia to Arkansas and later became a naturalized U.S. citizen, Merritt said. He graduated in 2016 from Harding University, a private Christian school in Searcy, Ark., where he was a member of an a cappella group that performs spiritual songs for churches. Jean frequently led singing at the university chapel and during campus events.

“The entire Harding family grieves today for the loss of Botham Jean, who has meant so very much to us,” university officials said.

Bruce McLarty, president of the university, said he once asked Jean to lead the singing of an unfamiliar old hymn. Jean was eager to sing it, even though he had not heard of the song. The day he was to perform it, McLarty recalled, Jean called his grandmother in St. Lucia, and she taught him the song over the phone.

“Allison did an incredible job of raising her son,” St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet told reporters. “We at St. Lucia are extremely proud of Botham.”

Jean was an accountant at the Dallas office of PricewaterhouseCoopers, an international company that does assurance, tax and advisory work for firms around the world.

“This is a terrible tragedy,” the company said in a statement. “Botham Jean was a member of the PwC family in our Dallas office, and we are simply heartbroken to hear of his death.”

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings described Jean as a model citizen. In a statement Sunday, he thanked the Texas Rangers and asked that people “continue to pray for the family of Botham Jean tonight and in the weeks and months ahead.”

Texas ex-officer is sentenced to 15 years for killing an unarmed teen

(CNN)A Texas jury sentenced a former police officer to 15 years in prison Wednesday night for the shooting death of an unarmed African-American teen in a Dallas suburb.

The jury deliberated for 12 hours before deciding the fate of former Balch Springs officer Roy Oliver. In addition to the prison term, it imposed a fine of $10,000.
Oliver was convicted of murder Tuesday by the same jury for the killing of high school freshman Jordan Edwards, 15. He fired into a car full of teens on April 29 last year, saying he believed it was moving aggressively toward his partner.
Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson described Oliver as a “killer in blue” who violated his oath to protect citizens. Prosecutors sought a sentence of at least 60 years while the defense argued for 20 years or less.
Johnson said she wished Oliver’s sentence was much longer, but she respected the jury’s decision and realizes a guilty verdict for an officer is rare in police shootings.
Charmaine Edwards said she would have preferred a sentence of 25 to 30 years for the killer of the stepson she raised.
“He actually can see life again after 15 years,” she said. “And that’s not enough because Jordan can’t see life again.”

‘This case is not just about Jordan’

A day before the sentencing, the rare guilty verdict in the trial of a police officer prompted gasps and sobs in the courtroom.
Few police officers face trial in shooting deaths, and even fewer are convicted. Most police-involved shooting deaths, including Philando Castile’s in Minnesota and Alton Sterling’s in Louisiana, have ended in acquittals or no charges despite national protests condemning police brutality.
“We don’t want another parent to have to go through what this family has had to deal with,” Jordan’s family attorney, Daryl Washington, said. “This case is not just about Jordan. It’s about Tamir Rice. It’s about Walter Scott. It’s about Alton Sterling. It’s about every African-American … who have been killed and who have not gotten justice.”

Private party turns deadly

Jordan’s family said he was at a private party with his two brothers and two friends when someone announced that police had been dispatched. The group headed to the car.
Around 11 p.m., Oliver and another officer responded to the home after reports of underage drinking. While in the residence searching for the homeowner, they heard what they believed were gunshots nearby, police said.
One officer went to the area where he heard the gunshots, and Oliver went to his squad car and retrieved his patrol rifle, according to an arrest warrant by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.
The officer who was with Oliver saw a Chevrolet Impala reversing and repeatedly ordered it to stop. He then approached the vehicle from the passenger side with his weapon drawn, police said.
The vehicle stopped, then slowly moved forward as the officer punched the passenger door window, breaking it, the arrest warrant said.
Oliver discharged multiple rounds from his patrol rifle as the vehicle drove past him, the arrest warrant said. One bullet struck Jordan, who was a passenger in the car.
Jordan’s father said neither the teen nor his group posed a threat to the officers’ safety.

Defense: Officer had to make a quick decision

During closing arguments, Johnson described the teen as a model student — hardworking, smart and always smiling.
“He was a great athlete, football player, student,” she said. “”This man right here, Roy Oliver, took his life. He’s a police officer that we trusted to protect us, to keep us safe.”

Roy Oliver

Defense attorney Bob Gill said there was no question Jordan was an exceptional teen. However, he said, Oliver had to make a split-second decision to protect his partner.
“He did not know who Jordan was. His loyalty and fidelity to his partner caused him to act,” Gill said.
After the shooting, Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber initially said the car Jordan was riding in was moving aggressively toward police — leading Oliver to fire his rifle.
But days later, Haber said he misspoke, adding that body camera footage showed the car was driving forward, away from the officers — not reversing toward them. Haber fired Oliver shortly afterward.
The jury convicted Oliver of murder, but found him not guilty of two lesser charges of aggravated assault and manslaughter. His legal team said it plans to appeal the verdict, CNN affiliate KTVT said.

Body cameras played a crucial role

Police body camera footage played a crucial role in the conviction.
Calls for police body cameras have grown as incidents of police brutality make headlines nationwide, with dozens of major police departments using them to provide transparency and accountability.
Jordan’s shooting was one of several recent deaths of African-American men at the hands of police, which have sparked national protests and a debate on police conduct.
Convictions such as Oliver’s are rare mostly because when an officer says the person flashed a gun or made a sudden move, jurors tend to side with them, said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
“At the end of day, officers in their badge and uniform enjoy the benefit of the doubt,” Clarke said last year.
In one case, former South Carolina officer Michael Slager was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for the 2015 shooting death of Walter Scott. Before the sentencing in December, his 2016 state murder trial had ended in a mistrial.

August 30, 2018, “Texas ex-officer is sentenced to 15 years for killing an unarmed teen”, https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/29/us/texas-jordan-edwards-death-sentencing-phase/index.html

Officer convicted in killing of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards — a rare outcome in police shootings

Aug 28, 2018 | 6:35 PM

Officer convicted in killing of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards — a rare outcome in police shootings
Lead prosecutor Michael Snipes delivers his closing argument in the murder trial of Roy Oliver, a former police officer in Texas who shot and killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. (Rose Baca / Dallas Morning News)

A former police officer in Texas has been found guilty of murder in the high-profile shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards — a rare victory for civil rights activists seeking justice for the dozens of unarmed African American men and boys who have been killed by police officers in recent years.

As Judge Brandon Birmingham read the verdict Tuesday against Roy Oliver, who worked in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs, sobs came from the gallery of the packed courtroom. The last time an on-duty police officer in Dallas County was convicted of murder was in 1973. Oliver could be sentenced to life in prison.

“I’m just so thankful,” Jordan’s father, Odell Edwards, told reporters. “Thankful, thankful.”

Daryl Washington, an attorney representing the family, said the verdict meant more than justice for Jordan.

“It’s about Tamir Rice. It’s about Walter Scott. It’s about Alton Sterling,” he said, naming victims of police shootings in recent years. “It’s about every, every African American, unarmed African American, who has been killed and who has not gotten justice.”

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted a link to a news story about the conviction, saying that Jordan’s “life should never have been lost.”

On the night of April 29, 2017, Oliver fired an MC5 rifle into a Chevrolet Impala carrying Jordan and two of his brothers as it pulled away from a high school house party. Jordan, who was struck in the head, died later at a hospital.

Police initially said the vehicle had backed up toward Oliver “in an aggressive manner,” but body camera video showed the car was moving away from him and his partner. Days after the shooting, Oliver, who had served in the department for six years, was fired.

Jordan’s stepbrother, Vidal Allen, was driving the car the night of the shooting.

“I was very scared,” Allen testified. “I just wanted to get home and get everyone safe.”

Oliver, 38, has said he feared for his life and his partner’s safety.

“I had to make a decision. This car is about to hit my partner,” Oliver testified in the trial. “I had no other option.”

After a weeklong trial, it took the jury one day to reach a verdict.

Jordan’s death echoes other police shootings involving black boys and men. But no convictions were handed down in most of those cases.

In November 2014, Cleveland police got a 911 call about someone brandishing a pistol near a park — the weapon, the caller said, was “probably fake.” But in an incident captured on camera, a police cruiser pulled into the park and Officer Timothy Loehmann jumped out and opened fire. Within seconds, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who had a toy gun, was dead.

Even before Tamir’s death, the U.S. Department of Justice had been investigating the Cleveland Police Department. A month after his shooting, it released a report saying Cleveland police displayed a pattern of using unnecessary force.

A year later, a grand jury decided not to indict Loehmann in Tamir’s death, saying he had reason to fear for his life.

In September 2016, in Columbus, Ohio, police shot and killed Tyre King, 13, who was carrying a BB gun while running from police. A grand jury declined to file criminal charges against the officer who killed him.

And in May 2017, an Oklahoma jury acquitted an officer who shot and killed Terence Crutcher, 40, as he stood with his hands above his head along a rural highway.

Those cases and others illustrate the difficulty of convicting police officers. The law in most places gives them the benefit of the doubt.

Prosecutors usually must show that an officer knowingly and intentionally killed without justification or provocation. A fear of harm has been successfully used as the justification for many shootings, even when the victim turned out to be unarmed.

The most recent case that ended in a conviction came last year when Michael Slager, a former officer in North Charleston, S.C., was first tried on murder charges in the April 2015 shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man who was stopped for a driving with a broken taillight. But after those proceedings ended in a mistrial, Slager pleaded guilty to a civil rights violation and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The last Dallas County police officer convicted for murder while on duty was Darrell Cain, who shot and killed 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez after forcing him to endure a version of Russian roulette while handcuffed inside a patrol car.

There was no immediate reaction to Thursday’s verdict from local or national police groups.

John Fullinwider, a longtime Dallas activist and co-founder of MothersAgainst Police Brutality, said Oliver’s conviction came as a surprise.

“I expected to see an angel fly over City Hall before I saw this murder conviction,” he said. “This is a victory, but we really need independent federal prosecutors in all fatal police shootings.”

Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney who represents the Edwards family, said the conviction was justice for the country.

“We’ve seen time and time again, no charges, let alone convictions, in these high-profile shootings,” he said. “It is my hope that this is a turning point in the fight against police brutality against blacks.”

Odell Edwards, father of Jordan Edwards, hugs Dallas County District Atty. Faith Johnson after hearing the verdict Aug. 28.
Odell Edwards, father of Jordan Edwards, hugs Dallas County District Atty. Faith Johnson after hearing the verdict Aug. 28. (Rose Baca / Pool Photo)

6:35 p.m.: This article was updated with reaction to the verdict and background on the difficulty of convicting police officers in on-the-job shootings.

Two Willis PD officers indicted for misconduct following arrest in July 2017

Two Willis police officers have been indicted on criminal charges by a Montgomery County grand jury for alleged misconduct during a chase last summer where they used a Taser on a fleeing resident.

The two officers were indicted as a result of their actions on July 29, 2017, when they used the taser during their the arrest of Kendric Kizzie as he fled from a home in Willis. The grand jury charged both officers with official oppression, a class A misdemeanor, and a second charge of tampering with a governmental record, a state jail felony, court records show.

GALVESTON: Police officer charged with organized criminal activity 

The grand jury returned the indictments against the officers Kenneth Elmore, 32, and John McCaffery, 30 on June 28, and both men have been released after posted a $1,500 bond. Efforts to reach the men for comment were not successful.

Elmore and McCaffery were previously terminated from the department in May, confirmed Willis Police Chief James Nowak.

Latest Local And State News

Media: Houston Chronicle

The circumstances of Kizzie’s arrest by the Willis officers was investigated by the Public Integrity Division of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office with the assistance of Texas Rangers.

During Kizzie’s arrest, the officers intentionally subjected the man to mistreatment after they were called to a home in the Willis area, the indictment alleged. The officers arrested Kizzie for evading arrest after they deployed a Taser to detain him, according to court documents, and booked him into the Montgomery County jail.

The indictments also allege the two officers made false entries on the police arrest reports regarding the incident, claiming they told the victim to stop several times.

“This incident was brought to our attention late last year through a number of sources and we began our investigation,” said Tiana Sandford, chief of the Public Integrity Division, noting the Texas Rangers did a full investigation of the incident. “The allegation is these two officers made an unlawful arrest of this individual and falsified documents as part of their investigation.”

Sandford added: “Obviously these are serious charges and allegations against these officers and we look forward to presenting the evidence to a Montgomery jury.”

The evading arrest charges brought against Kizzie were later dismissed by the DA’s office.

The criminal indictments against two of his former officers took the Willis police chief by surprise.

“It kind of leaves you speechless,” said Chief James Nowak., adding this is the first time he has had officers indicted during his tenure as chief of the Willis PD. “We try and hire the best people we can. We try to give them the best training and policy guidance we can.”

Catherine Dominguez, , the courier, “Two Willis PD officers indicted for misconduct following arrest in July 2017”, https://www.yourconroenews.com/neighborhood/moco/news/article/Two-Willis-PD-officers-indicted-for-misconduct-13054961.php

‘Police brutality first hand’: Shocking Austin arrest video sparks internal review (VIDEO)

‘Police brutality first hand’: Shocking Austin arrest video sparks internal review (VIDEO)
Startling video footage of an Austin police officer repeatedly punching a restrained man has prompted an internal probe.

The footage was captured outside Rain nightclub in downtown Austin, Texas on Wednesday by bystander Patrick King, who posted it online expressing his rage at the “beating”.

The video shows the man, who is on the ground, being punched at least five times as he is surrounded by officers during an arrest.

“So last night I was out with some friends in Austin and witnessed police brutality first hand for the first time,” King wrote on Twitter. He admitted that he was unsure what the man in the video did but added that he was angered by the police response. “I left the scene with rage, anger, and disappointment,” he said.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Last night I was out with some friends in Austin and witnessed police brutality first hand for the first time. It’s a different feeling when you see it on tv or all over the internet than when you actually witness it happening no less than 10 feet in front of you. <a href=”https://twitter.com/Austin_Police?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Austin_Police</a&gt; <a href=”https://t.co/MEXc1l5OtS”>pic.twitter.com/MEXc1l5OtS</a></p>&mdash; Patty🎂’s (@YingYangPK) <a href=”https://twitter.com/YingYangPK/status/1014520260542820354?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>July 4, 2018</a></blockquote>
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An investigation into the Independence Day arrest is now underway, according to Austin Police chief Brian Manley. “As is standard protocol, the officers chain of command is reviewing all details surrounding this incident,” he explained.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Thank you for bringing this video to our attention and allowing us time to look into the incident. As is standard protocol, the officers chain of command is reviewing all details surrounding this incident. <a href=”https://t.co/bum5XKMAkC”>https://t.co/bum5XKMAkC</a></p>&mdash; Chief Brian Manley (@Chief_Manley) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Chief_Manley/status/1014572826232328192?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>July 4, 2018</a></blockquote>
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However, the head of the Austin Police Association, which represents around 1,800 officers, has said that there is more to the situation than meets the eye. Ken Casaday said that the footage does not show the lead up to the flurry of punches nor that the suspect was in possession of a knife.

“I’ll tell you, as the union president, it looks bad,” Casaday told KXAN news. He suggested that the presence of a knife could have seen police use deadly force. However, he said he is thankful that “they just had to use their taser and punch him a couple of times.”

READ MORE: Texas justice? Video emerges of police chief telling homeless man to leave town

“When he was on the ground, you can see the officers punching, which they freely admit to. What you can’t see is the subject grabbing for a 6-inch knife that he had on his waistband, that the officers not only saw, but were told that was there by people from the nightclub,” Casaday said.

RT.com has contacted the Austin Police Department for further details on the incident but has yet to receive a response.

 

RT.com, , “‘Police brutality first hand’: Shocking Austin arrest video sparks internal review (VIDEO)”, https://www.rt.com/usa/431773-austin-police-punch-casaday/