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Friday, January 16, 2009

Police Misconduct NewsWatch for 01-16-09

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

Site News
The first annual 2008 worst police misconduct video of the year reader's poll has ended, expect results from that poll to be posted later along with additional information about the stories behind those videos. To see the candidates again, read here.

In Local News

A Year In King County Jail For A Crime He Didn't Commit
21-year old Glenn Proctor was released from King County Jail today after spending a year there for a crime he never committed. King County Prosecutors built their case mostly around eyewitness testimony but a video tape taken from security cameras was analyzed by an expert who concluded Proctor was not the shooter shown on that surveillance tape.

Ex-Cop Lawmaker Wants GPS Devices Surgically Implanted In Sex Offenders
Washington state legislator and ex-Seattle police officer Al O'Brien is proposing legislation to have GPS devices surgically implanted in sex offenders in Washington State.

The proposal stems from news reports of three offenders cutting off their GPS bracelets last year, two of which did so after probation officers ordered them to sleep under bridges when they failed to find housing for them after release from prison.

O'Brien claims he intends to only have the devices implanted in what he considers to be the worst of the worst and is proposing funding for a study to be performed by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, a political lobbyist group representing several different police unions across the state, in order to determine if implants would work better than bracelets.

In National News

Tennessee Officer Indicted For Sexually Assaulting A Minor
A Hamilton County deputy, James Spates, in Tennessee has been indicted for two counts of sexual battery by an officer and a count of official misconduct for allegations that he pulled off the road and then performed an inappropriate strip search on a juvenile female suspect and then gave her his name and number in hopes for a date.

Iowa Cop Charged With Assaulting A Woman Who Said No
A Poweshiek County deputy in Iowa has been charged with assault after attempting to sexually assault a woman in October. Apparently the deputy, who has since resigned, tackled a woman after she refused his advances.
I know it's a hard thing for some officers to understand, but no still means no even if you're a cop.

Witnesses Claim Police In West Virginia Brutally Beat Mentally Ill Teen
The mother of 19 year old Calvin Wilkerson and at least two other unrelated witnesses are claiming that officers from different agencies in Williamson West Virginia used racial slurs as they beat, kicked, and then released a police dog on her son when she had called for them to detain him on a mental health warrant because she ran out of his medicine.

From the article in the Williamson Daily News:
"The alleged witness had a different story regarding the scene. He said he watched Calvin hobble out of the back door, but was unable to run because of injuries to his leg. He said he watched as close to eight officers from all three law enforcement agencies in Mingo County allegedly beat and kicked the young man while the dog was let loose on him once again.

“They kept yelling, ‘Why don’t you run now, you black SOB?” the witness said he heard.

Another witness, who also asked to remain anonymous, said he drove upon the scene and saw something completely different than described in the criminal complaint.

The witness said when he first saw the commotion he thought it was a training session – until he heard the screams. When he heard the man writhing on the ground and screaming while officers kicked him and the dog bit him, he realized it was real, but said he still found it hard to believe it was happening.

“This only happens in movies,” he said. “Not here at my home.”"

Two Nevada Officers Arrested For Slapping Handcuffed Detainee And Lying About It
Two North Las Vegas police officers in Nevada have been arrested on charges of official misconduct after they allegedly attempted to goad a bar patron, Luis Enrique Vargas, into fighting them. One of the officers is accused of repeatedly striking the man after he was handcuffed and both are accused of filing a false police report in the case when surveillance video contradicted their reports.

From an article in the Las Vegas Journal:
"At one point, Miles told Vargas to stand up. Vargas tried to comply and answered, "I'll sit down. I'll sit down for you homie," the report states. Miles then slapped Vargas and said, "I'm not your homie."

Miles then put his face in Vargas' face and said "what-don't-you-get," -- slapping his face four times to punctuate each word -- "I'm not your homie," according to the report.

Later, when Balelo told Vargas he was under arrest for assault with a deadly weapon, Vargas remarked that the officers were "some crooked (expletives)."

Miles replied, "Oh (expletive) dude, what did you say?"

Vargas replied, "Crooked."

Miles then said, "We're some crooked (expletives)," and grabbed Vargas, who was on his knees, by his handcuffed wrists. He slammed Vargas to the ground face-first, according to the report."

Massachusetts Judge Hears Case In Battle Over Redacted Police Files
A judge in Worcester MA heard arguments today in a case between the city of Worcester and The Telegram & Gazette, a local paper there, over how much public records can be redacted by police.

The paper issued a request for internal investigation histories for an officer with a history of complaints and, in return, the paper got 764 completely blacked-out pages.Lawyers for the police union and city argue it's to protect the officer's privacy and the privacy of complainants but the paper says the redacting hid complete cases, not just identifiable information. The judge says he may issue a ruling at a later date.

Ultimately, in this case, it's a question of how much misconduct the police can keep hidden from the public... generally the answer ends up being quite a lot.

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