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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Police Misconduct NewsWatch - Catching Up Local Edition

Hey folks, sorry it's been a while since I posted anything substantive, been busy at work and just now caught a break to give you some updates and newer news...

Speaking of news, catch us on Twitter and get all the latest police misconduct news stories as we see them. Just follow Injust_Seattle and keep up on all the bad stuff going down.

On to it then...

Catching up…

First, there’s been a lot of response to an article I published about how different it is when police officers threaten police accountability activists and writers as opposed to when they reportedly receive threats in response to highly publicized stories of abuse that those police officers committed.

One officer took the time to write in response to that piece after it appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, it was a really positive response and I appreciated it so much that I put it up as a post, if you haven’t yet, go read it… it’ll make you feel better after reading all the other bad stories I have to post here.

Over at Five Before Midnight, the author of that blog responds to the article by going through a brief history detailing some of her more persistent harassers who attack her simply for writing about some of the same issues I write about… Some disturbing incidents there.

But, I wanted to post an addendum to that article I did. I’d like to draw people’s attention to a more recent related development down in Arizona. Apparently the owner of a site devoted to covering corruption and misconduct in the Phoenix Police Department suffered some serious civil rights violations when the police raided his home and confiscated all of his computer equipment and several files related to a civil lawsuit he was filing against the city.

Not only that, but the police also took computers belonging to their children and detained them and a guest who was visiting for three hours while refusing to allow them access to their lawyers while the politically motivated raid was taking place.

Now, I read his site,, and it is peppered with some pretty strong language and strong allegations, but it’s still protected speech and it’s incredibly disturbing if this kind of activity is allowed to stand without any legal recourse. It jeopardizes anyone who writes or speaks out about police misconduct if what’s going on down there isn’t stopped.

About that new chief…

Seattle Mayor Nickels’ appointment of John Diaz as interim police chief raised some serious hackles within the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild, but nobody can figure out exactly why this is. The rumors and innuendos continue to fly out from anonymous sources within the police department about his supposed nickname, “Shotgun Johnny”, as if this was connected to some alleged act of misconduct, but nothing can be substantiated… (so persistent and secretive were these rumors that even local news outlets were reduced to searching this site for info on these allegations, and I know they hate this site with a passion.)

Interestingly, those disgruntled sources can’t reveal why they oppose Diaz because of the union’s own efforts in forcing the city to keep misconduct records secret. So, to reveal why they oppose Diaz, they would need those records to be public, which puts them in the bind of opposing their own opposition to allowing such records to be accessible to the public… so the guild itself yielded and chose to support Diaz instead of fighting against their own fight for secrecy... Funny, isn’t it?

Better Later Than Never…

There was an incredible post put up a few days ago by Karl Mansoor over at Blue Must Be True about how systemic and pervasive police misconduct might really be based on disciplinary statistics already available to us. I really suggest that people go read it and think about exactly what those statistics might really mean when we look at how many people are employed in the law enforcement, corrections, and justice departments in the country. It’s pretty thought provoking.

Also local community radio station KBCS FM is holding their annual fund drive which started a few days ago. They are behind right now and really need everyone’s support to keep delivering their great content to the area. They were the only news outlet in the Seattle area that ever bothered mentioning us (on their news program called One World Report last year in response to the contract between the city and the police guild)… ever. So their commitment to deliver important news about civil rights issues in this area can’t be understated. Go and give what you can, they have some neat gifts too!

And Some Local News too…

Malika Calhoun Arrested Again

The now well-known victim of police brutality at the hands of King County Deputy Paul Schene, 15-year-old Malika Calhoun, was arrested and charged with felonious harassment and trespassing for an altercation she got into with another teenage girl at a local mall. Apparently Malika threatened to come back with a gun and shot the girl in the face for an alleged slight against one of her friends.

Apparently Malika and her friend were banned from that mall the day previous to this encounter, hence the trespassing charge in addition to the felony harassment charge filed against her by the Tukwilla Washington Police. The incident apparently occurred on February 2 of this year, three months after her arrest for allegations of auto theft in November where she was attacked in a holding cell by Deputy Schene and about 10 days before the details about the beating started to go public.

We never said she was an angel, but it does go to show that two wrongs don't make a right and if Deputy Schene thought that beating the snot out of her for kicking off a tennis shoe in his direction was going to teach her a lesson, he was horribly mistaken. However, we should keep in mind that the local PDs have a history of filing retaliatory charges against people who report misconduct as well, so we'll see how this develops.

SPD Officer Arrested for Alleged DV

A Seattle Police Department officer was arrested over the weekend over an alleged early-morning domestic violence incident where he supposedly grabbed his spouse’s arms during an argument and cut her hand with a knife. That officer, Scott Moss, was arrested on Saturday and charged with 2nd degree felonious assault.

Officer Moss is a 15 year veteran of the SPD and previously served as a spokesperson for the department and was most currently assigned to the department’s internal investigation division, the Office of Professional Accountability. This, however, isn’t the first time Moss has been in trouble as he was arrested previously in 2005 for a DUI.

Seattle PD Forced To Rehire Officer Accused of Excessive Force

Ex-SPD officer Don “Diamond Don” George will soon be current SPD officer Don George again after he appealed his termination from the SPD to the department’s Disciplinary Review Board, where it was promptly overturned and the city was forced to hire him back and pay his back-pay, benefits, etc… even though the arbiter in the case found Officer George’s testimony in response to allegations that he bounced the head of a 17-year-old suspect’s head off of a police cruiser’s partition when the boy asked for an attorney.

As you might have guessed, this isn’t the first time officer George has been in trouble, he has a long history of misconduct allegations that include one that earned him the nickname of Diamond Don where he was alleged to have stolen a diamond ring from a suicide victim’s body over 20 years ago. The chief at the time intervened and protected him from disciplinary action in that case, over 20 years ago.

Gig Harbor Police Department Sued In Perjury Case

A convicted drug dealer whose case was overturned when the officer involved in the case, Sgt Matthew Dougil, was accused of perjury for falsifying police reports and now faces trial himself is now suing Gig Harbor because the informant used in his case to buy drugs from him already had drugs on her before she bought anything from him.

The failure of Dougil to account for the drugs the informant already had meant that the suspect served an extra year for selling drugs he never sold. Another man involved in the case has already settled with the city for $45,000 in a similar suit related to Dougil’s perjury allegations.


Five Before Midnight said...

Interesting on the police union and it's almost funny because there's elements of what you wrote that are parallel to what's going on here with the police union and a former officer turned political candidate running against the incumbent who's backed by the union. There's some online harassment of this candidate as well including insinuations of misconduct and personal stuff about an earlier marriage. Innuendo and daring him to provide the "facts" for them.

The officers who really liked this guy have gone awfully quiet lately and given the current climate, I can't blame them. But the police union is so divided right now as it was when the latest president was elected two years ago. It will be interesting to see what happens.

What do police unions do when they want to release information from the same records they spend the rest of their time and money fighting to keep closed? That's an interesting issue.

But "Shotgun Johnny", wow. That reminded me of L.A. Confidential when they called Guy Pierce's character, "Shotgun Eddie" after he shot some people in one scene. One of the warning signs for abuse of force given by one expert was nicknames like this one.

Packratt said...

Yeah, now that you mention it the situations are very similar. I had been reading about that on your site but didn't put the two together until you mentioned it.

As for the whole "Shotgun Johnny" thing. I still don't know how much stock to put into it since I've not heard anything other than the under-the-table comments made on various sites, similar to the one left on this site.

If he really does have that nickname within the department and there's some sort of reason for it... I think we'll never know about it. If there was some misconduct allegations against him at some point, I'd be worried...

Of course, needless to say, I'm more worried that we can't know whether there's some sort of history here or not, but it is interesting to see that the guild that fought to make it this way is now seeing some folly in their ways.

Doubt it will change their behavior though.

Thanks for the comment!

Carlos Miller said...

Congratulations on getting published in the Sun-Times. I bet that delivered good traffic.

Packratt said...

Thanks Carlos, though it's not really a matter of "being published" in the Sun Times as it is that some of the blog content is syndicated there.

It doesn't necessarily lead to any new direct hits on the site... but it does mean that some of the stories get bigger exposure out there, which is more important to me really.

The more people hear and read about incidents of police misconduct and the underlying problems, the more people start to understand the scope of the problem and the dire need for reforms...

at least, that's the hope.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for the comment!

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