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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Worst Police Misconduct Video of 2008 Reader Poll

So much happened in 2008 and it seems like we've been losing the battle against police misconduct because of all the stories we've seen...

Or is it just that these stories have always been here and that we're just now hearing more about the stories that usually get covered up thanks to brave citizens out there who videotape the police when they misbehave and because surveillance technology has become so ubiquitous?

Do these show us how bad misconduct is, or how much misconduct out there happens without us ever knowing about it?

So, let's take a look back at the stories of police misconduct in video that happened in 2008...

After watching these feel free to vote for the worst... not just by how much brutality officers display, but also the level of disregard for society and the law they show and how badly their actions violate the public trust that was granted to them.


West Palm Beach Florida officers repeatedly and viciously punch a handcuffed robbery suspect in the head until he falls to the ground face first. Then, if that wasn't enough, while he's face down on the ground they kick his head hard enough to make it visibly bounce in the video. Truly disturbing to watch... at least it was for me.


NYPD officer body-checks a bicyclist at a Critical Mass ride in New York City. The officer initially claimed the rider attempted to assault him and filed charges against him... at least until this video surfaced. Now the officer has been indicted for providing false testimony.


Then there's the video of a Hillsborough County, Florida Sheriff's deputy dumping a paralyzed man out of his wheelchair at a Tampa area jail because she didn't believe he was paralyzed. Even after dumping him out she never stops to think that maybe she's wrong as she began to rifle through his clothes while he laid on the floor with broken ribs.


NYPD officers repeatedly striking a man's legs during an arrest. Officers claimed he was resisting and attempted to hit them with an umbrella while the victim and his relatives say he was stopped by police suspecting he had alcohol when he tried to bring ice into a park on July 4th.


Even though this incident occurred in November of 2007, the video was not made available until February of 2008. This video captures a portion of the beating Mark Hays suffered at the hands of the Seattle Police Department's "elite" Anti-Crime Team not even two months after the ACT got bad press for beating a Canadian couple for jaywalking. This incident was also sparked by Hays and his friend jaywalking in front of an unmarked ACT SUV and escalated from there.


This other Seattle Police video came at the very beginning of the year on January 1, 2008. Marcell Richardson was trying to get into a local McDonalds after he had to step out and shut off his car alarm when police decided to shut the place down for crowd control. Officers stopped Marcell and when he tried to explain he had already ordered food he was pepper sprayed and grabbed. He became disoriented and he ran. Officers caught him and then punched and pepper sprayed with a large OC canister until he was left face down on all fours gasping for air and apparently compliant. But that wasn't enough for the officers who then fired a taser into his back. Prosecutors later dropped the obstruction and resisting charges they filed against him.


In a case that highlights the amount of animosity the police have for news reporters, Denver police officers arrest and choke ABC reporter Asa Eslocker during the Democratic National Convention for standing on a public sidewalk while trying to do a report.


In this double-feature, highlighted by Amy Goodman's reporting on the video of her own arrest as well as video of the violent arrest of Democracy Now! producer Nicole Salazar provide just a highlight of Minneapolis and St. Paul police abuses that included the arrests and assaults of several credentialed reporters during the Republican National Convention in 2008, including several videographers and a reporter from The Stranger from Seattle.


The well publicized incident in Philadelphia where several officers pulled three suspects from a car and brutally kicked and beat them. Officers claimed they were suspects in a shooting but never found a gun until several weeks later, supposedly, and conveniently, under a blanket in the field next to where the beating took place.


This shocking video shows Stark County Ohio Sheriff's Deputies forcibly stripping a female detainee who was arrested after she called police to stop a relative who attacked her. After a complaint was filed by her husband the police exonerated all officers, saying the abuse never took place... until this disturbing video surfaced that is.


This video shows a Shreveport Police officer attempting to interview a DUI suspect turn off the video camera and then turn the camera back on again to show the handcuffed woman laying on the floor in a pool of her own blood. The officer claimed that the woman just fell down... The officer was eventually fired after an investigation showed the shocking extent of the woman's injuries from the officer beating her. No criminal charges were filed though.


This video captured during the 2008 Democratic Presidential Debate at Hofstra University shows Iraq War veteran Nick Morgan's head being crushed by a Nassau County New York police horse's hoof. Sgt Morgan suffered a broken cheekbone and permanent brain damage from the incident and from a subsequent denial of medical care when he was arrested after being trampled and knocked unconcious. The veterans were merely asking to be let into the debate so they could ask the candidates a question about the Iraq war and how veterans would be taken care of after they returned home.


One of the more infamous officers of the year was Baltimore Maryland's officer Salvator Rivieri who was caught on this video in the summer of 2007 harassing and then assaulting a teenage skateboarder. When the video was released in 2008 the national news picked up the story, which prompted another video to be released by a artist who was threatened by the same officer at the same location that same summer.

The officer got a paid vacation and a lot of attention... so much so that the police department used it as an excuse to keep the names of officers involved in shootings or misconduct secret from the public... talk about the police learning the wrong lessons.

Note: This reader's poll has ended and the results will be posted shortly in a different article.


Karl Mansoor said...

I was going to say that you left an important one out, the Salvatore Rivieri skateboard incident. The incident is believed to have occurred in the summer of '07 but the video did not surface until Feb '08.

As I said, I was going to say you left one out but then I got to thinking, there is probably no way you could include all of them. I know there are many more incidents out there caught on video but the Salvatore Rivieri incident struck me as very telling for this reason. We have the skateboard video which shows Rivieri engaging in complete disdain for the young kid he assaults and we have another video of Rivieri engaging in more contempt of citizens. The videos together show a pattern.

I think that is an important point because when police officers, in my experience, engage in true abuse of their authority, it often is not isolated. Habits are developed.

Police administrators, if they even own up to the misconduct at all, like to claim the one bad apple theory or an incident was an anomaly. I just don't think those are accurate theories.

I am not saying every LEO is involved in abuse of their authority but when videos surface of misconduct, I strongly suspect there is at least a certain amount of similar history with the involved officers. I also strongly suspect, again based on personal experience, that many incidents of misconduct unfortunately remain hidden from public knowledge and remain unresolved.

Packratt said...

Thanks Karl, I think you're right about the dates, I thought it was 2007 as well. I'll see what I can do to add it to the list.

Also, I think you're right... it's not a question of what these videos show, it's how one can't help but wonder how bad the incidents we don't get to see might be, and how commonplace it all really is.

Thank you again for the link and the comments, truly appreciated!

ludditerobot said...

Another story of police brutality from this year that demands attention is the story of Duanna Johnson, a black transwoman from who was beaten in custody by the Memphis police who later turned up murdered.

Packratt said...


You're right, I thought that was 2008 but for some reason I couldn't locate the video. Thank you for finding that one, very sad and somewhat suspect what happened to Duanna later, especially given that there's been no real investigation into Duanna's death.

I'll have to think about how to add this one since the voting period is almost up. Bit upset with myself since I'm pretty sure I posted about this when it happened.

Thanks again for finding it, and thank you for reading!

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