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Friday, October 31, 2008

NewsWatch Halloween 2008 Edition

In Local News:

Son Of... Peaches?
47 year old James Gilligan of Lake Stevens Washington has been sentenced to 4 years of prison and judge Ellen Fair is proposing to cordon off sections of the county as "James Gilligan-free zones"...

Gilligan's crime? He stole a child's backpack at a bus stop and a young girl's backpack off of a school bus after his pet poodle, Peaches, told him that the kids were transporting drugs on the bus. Peaches, sadly, had no comment.

Seriously though, perhaps everyone would have been better served if Gilligan was referred to get mental health treatment instead of risking him doing something else on the advice of his pets after he's released in 4 years.

Seattle Police In Trouble Again For Interrogation Practices
Ashley Howes, once accused of murdering a local infant she was babysitting, is now suing the Seattle Police Department for violating her rights when they denied her a lawyer and failed to inform her of her rights during a grueling 19 hour interrogation.

Ashley was 13 when questioned over the death that was ruled a result of shaken baby syndrome. A judge dismissed the case due to the coercive interrogation and the SPD's failure to rule out other possible suspects in it's investigation. This isn't the first time the SPD has jeopardized or lost a case due to interrogation techniques that violated civil rights.

King County Cuts Public Defender Services
King County's swath of budget cuts are now targeting the county's public defender's office and may stick 2,900 cases a year on the desks of just two defense attorneys. Lisa Daugaard of The Defender Association says the budget would undercut public defense by $2mil and runs counter to a 2005 promise to improve the county's public defense program.

Part of the problem, says Daargaurd, is a new fast track program that allows prosecutors to push drug or property crime suspects to plead to misdemeanor charges or face felony charges in court, which could add up to 1,800 cases to defense workloads. This may force innocent people and those facing flawed cases to be pushed into a guilty plea without understanding the consequences, says attorney Don Madsen, director of Associated Council for the Accused.

This comes after cuts to drug diversion programs and the dropping of a proposed police accountability program for the King County Sheriff's Department. The Washington Criminal Defense blog has more information along with a link to information about how you can help stop these cuts.

Victim Of Violent Contempt Of Cop Arrest Talks About What Happened

Marcel Richardson, who's arrest we covered here, talks about what led up to his violent arrest, which was video taped by a local news station, where he was punched in the back of the head, sprayed twice with pepper spray, and then tasered in the back while he was on the ground. All this in the context of the finding by the OPA that most mistaken stand-alone obstruction arrests in Seattle are made "in good faith".

Gee, does that mean it's ok for anyone to go out and beat the crap out of someone on the grounds of a mistaken claim of wrongdoing as long as you do it "in good faith"?

National News:

Fraternal Order Of Police Complains About Chief For Supporting Barack Obama
The Police Chief for the Chicago Police Department has had a complaint filed against him by the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police for allegedly making comments that were construed as a vote of support for US Presidential candidate Barack Obama. While there is no word on who the FOP endorsed, the dispute was apparently spurred by the chief filing a misconduct complaint against an officer who appeared in a commercial endorsing a local alderman.

Third Officer Pleads Guilty In Atlanta Botched Drug Raid Death Case
A third officer, Aurther Tesler, who was involved in the fatal shooting death of 92 year old Atlanta Georgia resident Kathryn Johnston as well as the subsequent efforts to cover up the botched no-knock raid by planting drugs in her home has finally plead guilty to federal charges of conspiring to violate civil rights. He now faces a possible sentence of 121 months in prison. The two other officers involved, Jason Smith and Gregg Junnier, both plead guilty but have not been sentenced as they are still cooperating with feds in other investigations, presumably into the Atlanta Police Department which employed them.

More Citizens Demand Police Accountability
Citizens of Chula Vista California demand that the city implement a civilian review board to investigate complaints of police misconduct after city pays out $400,000 to a 2006 brutality victim who was beaten unconscious by police who mistook him for a "trailer thief". The department's chief responded that there are few complaints but, when pressed, admitted he had no figures for complaints made over the last two years.

It's A PoliceMAN's World?
An officer in Crescent City California has filed a million dollar discrimination suit against the Crescent City PD in what the lawsuit describes as a pattern of intentional gender discrimination which details allegations of 3 years of ongoing physical and verbal abuse.

Who's policing the Police's Police?
Henry O'Bryant has retired from the Cleveland Police Department's Office of Professional Standards after agreeing to repay $2,286 in "stolen overtime pay". The OPS investigates allegations of police misconduct in the CPD, but apparently has a hard enough time policing itself.

Have a safe and happy Halloween, folks.

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