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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Police Misconduct NewsWatch For 12-06-08

Picture taken outside of the US Federal Courthouse in Seattle Washington

In Local News:

Seattle Officer Remained In SPD With Outstanding Warrant For Two Years
In October of 2005 Seattle officer Francis Estrada became so inebriated that he drove the wrong way on the I-5 freeway and crashed into a number of different vehicles on is way home. While drivers did get the number for his truck and charges were filed, the authorities reportedly sent the summons to the wrong address and Estrada remained an SPD officer for two years.

That ended when a routine background check spotted the warrant and Estrada turned himself in. Estrada entered a deferred prosecution for the charges which means his record will allow him to retain his police certification and he'll be able to be an officer elsewhere since he was allowed to resign from the SPD. As part of the deal the Seattle police guild agreed not to appeal on behalf of the officer.

Estrada claims he was in a "dark place" back then after he and his partner, Gregory Neubert, had hit an innocent bystander when shooting at a fleeing motorcyclist who they witnessed fire a shot at a crowd. The, then 19 year old, woman shot that night has a $500,000 civil suit pending against the city of Seattle for that incident that left a bullet lodged in her lung. Estrada and his partner were the only officers out of 7 who responded who fired on the suspect, the others reported that there were too many bystanders in the line of fire so they held their fire. However, Estrada and his partner were still cleared by an internal investigation into the incident.

In National News:

FBI Closes Police Department For Day While Executing Search Warrant
The FBI has conducted a search warrant on the Harvey Police Department in Illinois. Harvey, a suburb near Chicago, was without a police department for most of the day while the FBI conducted a search of the department related to the drug traffic sting operation that netted 4 Harvey police officers and 10 Cook County Sheriff's Department corrections officers.

This isn't the first time the Harvey PD has been in the midst of a corruption scandal as their department was raided by Illinois State Police in 2007 and has been shunned by other area police departments who refuse to cooperate with that department because of the sheer number of misconduct allegations filed against that department.

Six Innocent People Convicted On False Confessions Finally Cleared Of Wrongdoing
This stunning case of misconduct that forced 6 people into a false confession wasn't due just to aggressive police interrogation practices, but this time was the result of a police psychologist using knowledge gained from treating some of those who were falsely accused in his private practice to coerce them into falsely confessing to crimes they never committed.

Citizens Catch Police Misconduct In Elaborate Sting Operation
Anti-drugwar activists/self-help "" video salesperson set up a sting operation in an Odessa Texas house with two "grow lights" that were setup up over a couple pine tree saplings and waited for the police... The police obliged and, for reasons yet unknown, they raided the house as a marijuana grow operation. A lawyer for the organization was waiting along with sophisticated surveillance equipment streaming to an off-sight location to catch officers in the act of a supposedly illicit raid based on no real evidence of illegal activity.

The organization's CEO says this is just the beginning of a nation wide series of sting operations to highlight police misconduct in the obtaining and execution of drug raids on citizens. This first site was chosen as a response to the conviction of a woman who allegedly had drugs planted on her by a police informant and who was convicted even though the informant admitted that he planted drugs on the woman at the request of arresting officers.

The police department caught in the sting has said it's currently in the process of determining what charges they can press against the organization for catching them in the act.

Police Union Vows To Defend Infamous Torture Cop At All Costs
The Fraternal Order of Police union for Chicago has pledged to pay for the defense of infamous Chicago police officer Jon Burge who is accused of purjury related to allegations of torture his unit was accused of during the 1970s and 1980s.

While federal prosecutors did find evidence that Burge's officers in his Area 2 unit did torture suspects into making false confessions, they could not bring charges due to statutes of limitations on those charges. However, this year, Burge was arrested at his Florida home for lying during that investigation. The union states these charges are politically motivated and that "The FOP will stand with the (accused) Police Officer every time."

Baton Rouge Media Still Battling For Police Department Transparency
Media outlets in Baton Rouge Louisiana are still fighting the Baton Rouge police department over access to disciplinary records related to allegations of police misconduct that occurred during Hurricane Katrina. The claims of misconduct were made by out-of-state police officers who volunteered to assist local departments during the crisis but then withdrew that assistance over the incidents of misconduct they witnessed.

The police department has refused to release records related to those incidents in the face of a legal battle and media pressure, even after other cases of misconduct have come to light, including an officer accused of raping a 16 year old girl and another officer with a history of misconduct being arrested for DWI.

Palo Alto Police May Have Used Illegal Tactics To Coerce Homeless Man Out Of His Van
On December 15th a Judge will decide whether police should be allowed to cite non-existent laws in order to coax civilians into following orders they would not have otherwise been allowed to make, essentially bypassing constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

The case revolves around an incident where a resident complained about a homeless man parked on the street who was sleeping in his van. When police arrived the man told them he wanted to be left alone and the police had no grounds on which to do anything else. But, not satisfied, the police told him they were towing his van based on a non-existent law against overnight parking in order to trick him into leaving his van. Once he opened the door the police tasered him and arrested him for resisting arrest... again, resisting an arrest that originally had no basis in law.


Karl Mansoor said...

All I can say is…outrageous…unbelievable… ridiculous…amazing…incredible…

Packratt said...

You know, as I keep tracking national stories I begin to notice patterns, the same cities tend to keep popping up over and over again... but nothing changes.

One would think that, eventually, citizens in those areas would get tired of being known as corrupt or recognized for the abuses of their governments more than anything else... but they don't.

I think that's more outrageous, incredible, etc... than anything else I report.

Wish there was something else I could do to help solve these problems, I really do.

Thanks for the comment, always appreciated!

Karl Mansoor said...

After reading the posts and regularly reading so many others, it was all I could do to blurt out a few words expressing frustration.

How true it is, and just as frustrating if not more so, that so many people sit idly by.

...Please folks, wake up before it is too late. You should demand accountability from government authorities in the matter of law enforcement before the right to demand accountability is completely taken away.

...sorry Packratt, I couldn't help it...

Packratt said...

Please feel free to can't help it anytime the urge strikes.

I dunno, I keep looking at the news from Greece. There they are rioting in several city over one teenager being shot by police... a teenager who reportedly tried to throw a petrol bomb at officers before they opened fire!

While I don't condone it by any means and I personally think resorting to anything more than a peaceful protest ends up being counter productive... it's hard for me to determine what's so different between the Greeks and Americans

Here in the US, we've seem to have suffered much more police violence than the Greeks over the years, but we're much more tolerant of police abusing our rights... and we supposedly value and fight for our freedoms more than any other nation?!?

*sigh* just a topsy-turvy world I guess.

Thanks, as always, for the comments!

akahn said...

Hey Packratt,

Here's one you may not have heard of:

And another one from our area:

akahn said...

Whoops, forgot that second link:

We heard recently that a restaurant that the three (migrant, undocumented) workers who got their money taken by the cops used to hang out at just got their door kicked in and harassed by some cops recently.

It's crazy what the cops' lawyers are saying about this case. They act like its ridiculous that these cops would be taken to court by some undocumented immigrants. They want to put the victims on "on the hot seat," when really its the cops who need to put in check.

Packratt said...


Thanks for the info, I read the first story but wasn't aware of the second one. I'll definitely mention both in the next NewsWatch segment.

Thanks for the comment, and keep up the good work!

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