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Friday, January 9, 2009

Police Misconduct NewsWatch for 01-09-09

A review of police misconduct and jail abuse stories making the headlines

Why Prosecuting Police Misconduct Is So Difficult In The US
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, with the American Chronicle, offers a brutally honest and realistic look at why it is highly unlikely that the BART police officer who shot Oscar Grant in the back and killed him will ever be convicted, even if he's ever charged, for the killing... and yes, this assessment holds true, and has held true so far, for any officer who is criminally charged with police misconduct.

It's a very difficult thing for a willing prosecutor to do, and most prosecutors tend to be very unwilling to file charges against officers because they're records depend on a close working relationship with the police... that's why it certainly appears as though the Alameda County District Attorney who claims to be investigating the Oscar Grant killing is dragging his feet on this case while he was all too quick to file charges against people protesting the shooting of the restrained and unarmed Oscar Grant on New Years morning.

But sadly the Oscar Grant case is not the only police-involved shooting incident that closed out 2008 and brought us into the new year...

FBI Asked To Investigate Undercover NOPD Officers Who Shot Man In Back
One of the police departments on our list of candidates for the 10 worst in America starts off the New Year on the wrong foot as 9 New Orleans Police Department's undercover narcotics officers have been reassigned pending an investigation by the FBI into the shooting death of Adolph Grimes Jr.

Grimes, with no criminal record, was shot 14 times, 12 of those shots hit him in the back, and his family says police executed him as he ran for his life. Suspiciously, the NOPD has not commented on why the narcotics officers stopped Grimes and there has been no mention of any drugs involved in the incident.

Police In Texas Accused Of Racial Profiling And Misconduct In Shooting Of Unarmed Man
Reason Online has the story of Robbie Tolan, who was shot by a Bellaire Texas police officer in his own driveway on December 31st under allegations that he was driving a stolen SUV... which happened to be Tolan's.

Tolan's family alleges that the officer shoved Tolan's mom up against their home before shooting Tolan when Tolan, the son of a former major league baseball pitcher who was just starting his own baseball career, before shooting Tolan when he stood to ask the officer why he was hurting his mom. The shooting has sparked allegations of racial profiling by Bellaire Police.

But it's not the first time such allegations have been made...

The shooting prompted another famous athlete to come forward with his own account of why he left the Houston area even though he's a former Houston Astros player... he was the victim of racial profiling by police too.

Sheriff Who Starved Detainees For Profit Jailed For Contempt
Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett was released, well fed, from a federal prison after sent there by an Alabama judge for his refusal to properly feed the prisoners in his jail. Most sheriffs in Alabama are rewarded financially if they skimp on detainee meals and Bartlett turned a healthy $212,000 profit for his own personal gain in the last three years by feeding his detainees starvation rations.

The detainees he starved had filed suit in federal court to force the sheriff to at least feed prisoners meals that met USDA nutritional requirement guidelines. But the sheriff's failure to do so so caused the judge to send him to jail for contempt of court until he came up with a plan to meet this demand, which he finally did a day after being sent to federal prison.

In case you feel bad for the sheriff, don't. He wasn't forced to stay in the same jail as his detainees and eat the starvation rations he forced his prisoners to eat.

Officer Accused Of Lying On Police Report Faces Criminal Charges
Rarely are officers caught "testilying", where officers perjure themselves on arrest reports or in criminal cases, but it appears as though a Pohatcong Township police officer in New Jersey is facing criminal charges on allegations that dashboard cameras caught him lying about obtaining permission from a driver to search his vehicle during a 2007 traffic stop.


Police Chief Accused Of Criminal Misconduct Sues Police For Excessive Force
The embattled police chief of New Richmond, Ohio who has been on paid leave for over three months due to an investigation by the state's bureau of criminal investigations on allegations of criminal misconduct is now suing the state for excessive force.

The police chief, Dave Willoughby, is saying that the police who raided his home to gather evidence of criminal menacing, stalking, and voyerism used excessive force by handcuffing him and pointing guns at his 7 and 12 year old children...

One wonders if, as part of the lawsuit, the defense would ask the police chief how his own officers performed such raids against suspects in his jurisdiction?

St. Paul Police Release RNC Videos For Public Review
The St. Paul Police Department in Minnesota has finally made video that the city recorded during the 2008 Republican National Convention available to the more than 30 individuals and groups that requested access to those recordings under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act in September of 2008.

Michelle Gross, the president of Communities United Against Police Brutality, says that the videos should have been made available immediately since the cameras were purchased with taxpayer money.

Groups, that include CUAPB, will begin organizing volunteers to come in shifts to catalog and flag videos that show police misconduct and might exonerate some of the more than 800 people who were arrested during the RNC and say that they have already collected several pieces of damning video evidence that show misconduct and false arrests from citizen reporters and others

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I certainly believe that many of our police are out of control. Because none of them are ever convicted of murder it allows them to act without any fear of criminal prosecution. It seems that all they have to say is they were afraid for their life, or I thought he had a gun, ect... and then it's ok. I believe that if I thought someone had a gun and I killed them the police would arrest me and I would be charged with murder. If the cops were killing rich white kids like this you can bet your life savings that this would be put to a halt in no time. There is still too much racial prejudice in this county and it allows this type of action to go unchecked. I am white and most of my friends and family has the attitude that they probably deserved it, since we know most blacks are drug dealers and criminals. It's the old saying, kill em all and let god sort it out. It makes me sad to be an american when these types of crimes go unpunished.

Packratt said...

It happens quite often under questionable circumstances, and I think that's what the videos of Oscar Grant's murder shows us. That what BART officials would have likely, and appeared to have tried to initially, sweep under the rug as another justified case of deadly force wasn't justified at all.

It's that incredibly rare piece of evidence that shows what some of us know already, but most refuse to believe... that unjustified officer-involved shootings happen more often than we think or hear of.

Sadly, though, I think we'll see Mehserle and his partner go free on this one, even if charges are made in that case... Same with the Adolph Grimes case and Robbie Tolan case... and many other cases just like this, but without video evidence.

Thank you for your comment.

 
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