Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Australia: No jail time for killing a woman??

This is preposterous. It is plea-bargaining gone mad. But even after the plea bargain, a jail term could have been imposed

A SECOND man charged over the cruise ship death of Dianne Brimble has pleaded guilty in a Sydney court to involvement in the incident. Letterio "Leo" Silvestri, from South Australia, pleaded guilty in the Downing Centre District Court today to concealing a serious indictable offence.

Ms Brimble, a 42-year-old Brisbane mother of three, died 100 nautical miles out to sea on board the P&O liner Pacific Sky in September 2002. She had ingested a toxic mix of alcohol and the date-rape drug known as fantasy. Her body was found in a cabin belonging to Silvestri, Ryan Kuchel and one other man, who were also charged after a 16-month inquest into Ms Brimble's death.

Last week, Kuchel also pleaded guilty to hindering a police investigation. Kuchel was sentenced to an 18-month good behaviour bond. Kuchel and Silvestri had both been due to face trial in the NSW District Court today charged with perverting the course of justice. Lawyers for Silvestri said the trial could have lasted up to four weeks.

Judge Greg Hoskins has adjourned the matter until 2pm (AEST) while he sees if a pre-sentence report investigating sentencing options can be obtained for Silvestri.

Original report here. (Via Australian Politics)

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Police lose it after car chase

I am actually rather glad that these low-lifes got a good thrashing and there appears to have been some provocation but the police are not judge and jury. I suspect that the police would have been let off except for the race angle

Three men charged in a triple shooting wept openly in court yesterday as a videotape of their beatings at the hands of Philadelphia police officers was screened at the Criminal Justice Center. [Three big brave black men who can dish it out but can't take it]

Dwayne Dyches [above], Brian Hall, and Pete Hopkins are charged with attempted murder and other counts in connection with a May 5, 2008, shoot-out that injured three men in the Feltonville section. After the shooting, the men allegedly led police on a high-speed chase in a tan Mercury Grand Marquis. The chase ended at Second and Pike Streets with the men being dragged from the vehicle, and beaten and kicked by tens of Philadelphia police officers. A Fox29 news crew in a helicopter captured much of the pursuit and the beating that followed. That video resulted in the firing of four officers and the demotion of four others.

As the video was screened, Hopkins, the alleged gunman, used his necktie to dab away his tears. Dyches and Hall choked back sobs as family members seated in the courtroom gallery cried and groaned.

The video followed testimony by the three victims wounded in the shooting at Fourth and Annsbury Streets. Gerald Cooper, Brandon Crow, and D'Angelo White had been hanging out on the corner when they were sprayed with bullets. Each was hit, but not one of the three recalled seeing the gunman. "I didn't see nothing," said Crow, who was struck in his lower back, both sides of his buttocks, and his right foot. "I heard gunshots, then ran . . . and I just kept running."

Two officers involved in the chase also testified. Officer Mario DeLaurentis, driving an unmarked car, was the first to follow the Marquis as it left the scene of the shooting. DeLaurentis said he had activated his car's siren and front grille lights when he saw one of the car's occupants toss a "six- or seven-inch-long object" from the front passenger-side window. At another point in the chase, DeLaurentis said he watched as a backseat passenger in the Marquis opened a door.

Officer Lisa Pittoulis was driving the first of more than a dozen marked police cruisers that joined the pursuit. Pittoulis said the Marquis disregarded stop signs and reached over 60 m.p.h. before it was blocked and stopped by another marked cruiser on Second Street.

Pittoulis recalled the chaos that ensued. At least 10 uniformed police approached the Marquis and, with guns drawn, ordered the occupants to show their hands. "I saw multiple officers giving multiple commands to put their hands on their heads," Pittoulis said. When the men did not respond, they were dragged from the Marquis, she said.

During what she described as "a violent struggle," Pittoulis said, she watched the backseat passenger, Dyches, assault one of the officers by trying to pull him inside the car and punching him in the face. She said officers kicked the three suspects because they refused to show their hands. "The hands are what's going to hurt you," she said.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Forensic science — it ain’t CSI

William Dillon spent 27 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit. Wilton Dedge spent a similar stretch behind bars before finally being exonerated. Juan Ramos was sentenced to death before being freed from prison over a crime he didn't commit. The three men are linked not just by their innocence, but by the role played in their cases by dog handler John Preston, a one-time Pennsylvania state trooper, and his amazingly talented dog, Harass II. Preston was only one of many "scientific" experts later exposed as a fraud, some of whose victims may still wait to be revealed.

Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel has the details regarding Preston and the wreckage he left behind. But the fact that Preston and his "wonder dog" were so relied upon by prosecutors and courts until exposed in the media and humiliated by one judge demonstrates just how much suspension of disbelief (or outright dishonesty) is behind the acceptance of "forensic science" that too often turns out to be either poorly applied -- or even pure hocum.

Reason magazine's Radley Balko has made justified waves in recent years by exposing the nonsense disguised as medicine peddled by Dr. Michael West, a dentist who offered scientifically implausible evidence of guilt (in several cases, of defendants later proven innocent), based on his exclusive bite-mark "technique."

Balko was also largely responsible for (hopefully) ending the career of the notorious Dr. Steven Hayne, a medical examiner without credentials who seemed to customize his testimony to meet the needs of prosecutors.

But it's not just corrupt individuals who deserve skepticial consideration -- so do whole areas of forensic "science." Drug testing, for instance, is a highly subjective "science" that has a lot to do with the skill -- and honesty -- of technicians. It's not at all uncommon for ordinary soap to test positive for illegal intoxicants.

A report on the state of forensic medicine for the National Academies of Science concedes that "The fact is that many forensic tests -- such as those used to infer the source of toolmarks or bite marks -- have never been exposed to stringent scientific scrutiny."

Overall, says the report: "[I]n some cases, substantive information and testimony based on faulty forensic science analyses may have contributed to wrongful convictions of innocent people. This fact has demonstrated the potential danger of giving undue weight to evidence and testimony derived from imperfect testing and analysis. Moreover, imprecise or exaggerated expert testimony has sometimes contributed to the admission of erroneous or misleading evidence."

"Faulty" science has to include the evidence of dogs, which have become so ubiquitous in recent years because of their supposed ability to connect defendants to crime scenes, or to simply detect forbidden substances.

But, despite the legendary power of their noses, canine-based evidence has to be taken with a grain of salt. For starters, dogs' "testimony" is highly dependent on the word of their handlers. In fact, there's no standard way for a dog to tell us that something has been detected. Some dogs just sit, others jump up and bark -- interpretation is in the eye of the handler.

Dogs, also, are notoriously easy to manipulate, since they develop close bonds with their handlers. For a 2004 report on the unreliability of detection dogs, Auburn University professor Larry Myers, a leading expert on canine detection programs, told CBS News, “They can tell you that something's there, that's not there, simply to get praise, to get food, to get whatever they're working for.”

Through improperly training his dogs, or simply lying about their alerts, it was easy for John Preston to manufacture evidence of the guilt of innocent men.

But fallibility can be as dangerous as fraud. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled in 2007 that canine testimony was acceptable in a case where the dog was only 54% accurate.

How many years of prison time are we willing to let ride on a 54% accuracy rate?

None of this is to say that forensic science is worthless. Properly used and understood it's absolutely necessary. After all, William Dillon and Wilton Dedge were freed of the shackles placed on them by bogus canine testimony because of the more rigorous standards set by DNA evidence.

But presenting fallible and sometimes fraudulent evidence as if it's beyond question runs the risk of discrediting good science along with the bad. The damage done by the John Prestons of the world can only be undone if we treat science as an imperfect part of an imperfect world -- not as the magic so-often peddled by charlatans.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

“Someday they’ll break from the weight of their sins”

On July 27, 2009, a parole hearing will be held for Leonard Peltier. Mr. Peltier has served 33 years in federal confinement for a crime I believe he did not commit. The preponderance of evidence supports my belief. Peltier’s last parole hearing was held in 1993.

Leonard Peltier is not in prison for killing the two Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Agents as is alleged, he has been incarcerated for 33 years because he belonged to a group (American Indian Movement) that dared to challenge the federal government and their lies. When one has the audacity to challenge the fedgov, he/she becomes a target for malicious prosecution, fabricated evidence, witness tampering and illegal imprisonment. Leonard Peltier has experienced all of these in the extreme.

AIM was founded in 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1972, AIM staged a "Trail of Broken Treaties" march that terminated in Washington, D.C. They simply marched to demand a series of treaties that had been signed between various American Indian Tribes and the fedgov be honored. A revolutionary idea is it not to demand the fedgov honor its promises! The fedgov negotiated with AIM, not to honor the treaties, but to end their occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) building, which was rapidly becoming a major embarrassment for the government.

The fedgov promised to "look into AIM’s grievances." Like the previous treaties, this promise too was broken. AIM quickly became the target of the FBI; the agency’s corrupt and illegal activities in this matter are well documented.

On June 26th, 1975, two FBI agents, supposedly in pursuit of a thief who had stolen a pair of boots, entered the Jumping Bull Ranch (private property) on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. They were in civilian clothes, driving an unmarked car. This act in itself is suspicious, for the FBI is tasked with investigating felonies on Indian Reservations and their pursuit of someone who had stolen a pair of cowboy boots does not ring true. Most FBI agents consider themselves above pursuit of a common thief. Perhaps this was a ruse to check out members of AIM who were camped on the Jumping Bull Ranch.

There is no record of who fired the first shot, or why the firing started. A family with children reportedly yelled they were under attack and many present at the time rushed to their defense. When the shooting stopped, the two FBI agents and a young Indian laid dead. All were shot through the head. Ironically, there has never been an investigation into the murder of the young Indian.

In what, almost two decades later, would be seen at Ruby Ridge and Waco, the FBI surrounded the area with SWAT teams and agents. Reportedly, for the next few days FBI agents terrorized local residents with no-knock raids and home and property searches, all without warrants.

While there will be some who question my assertions of illegal activities by federal agents, I would suggest any who fall into that camp read this 10 part investigative article on federal law enforcement and prosecutorial misconduct. This quote from that article tells it all: "They lied, hid evidence, distorted facts, engaged in cover-ups, paid for perjury and set up innocent people in a relentless effort to win indictments, guilty pleas and convictions, a two-year Post-Gazette investigation found."

Without any corroborating evidence, warrants were quickly issued for Leonard Peltier, Darrelle "Dino" Butler, Bob Robideau and Jimmy Eagle for murder. Prosecutors would later drop the charges against Eagle when it was proved he was not even on the reservation the day of the shooting. Since no warrant shall issue without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, someone lied to obtain the warrant on Eagle. Why, then, should anyone believe the facts presented in the warrants for the other three?

Butler and Robideau would stand trial separately from Peltier because Peltier had fled to Canada. The FBI reverted to standard operating procedure (SOP) by demonizing the suspects before their trial in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Local authorities were told by the feds that large groups of AIM members/terrorists (they love that word) would be descending on the town. Employees in the Court House were told to prepare for shooting incidents and the seizing of hostages by marauding Indians.

The trial began on June 7, 1976 with Judge Edward McManus presiding. McManus, under vigorous objections of federal prosecutors, allowed a broad range of evidence to be introduced. Testimony was given concerning the "Reign of Terror" in and around Pine Ridge Reservation and the FBI’s tactics operating under their COINTELPRO directives.

During the trial, a federal witness admitted to being threatened into changing his testimony by FBI agents and to have provided testimony as instructed by those agents.

The jury returned a verdict of innocent, ruling there was no evidence shots fired by Butler and Robideau killed the two FBI agents and furthermore, their return fire was an act of self-defense.

Leonard Peltier was captured in Canada in 1976 and extradited to the US. The affidavit for extradition was one of three prepared by the FBI. In the affidavit finally filed with the Canadian government, focus was directed towards eyewitness statements from Myrtle Poor Bear, who claimed to have been Peltier’s girlfriend and present at the time of the shooting. It was necessary for the FBI to provide this testimony to the Canadian authorities, for it was their (Canada) legal position the FBI did not have enough evidence to warrant extradition.

It is important to note that Poor Bear later sought to recant her testimony (she claimed she was coerced and threatened by FBI agents) and appear as a defense witness at Peltier’s trial. The trial judge ruled she was mentally incompetent and could not be called as a witness. The fedgov today admits Poor Bear was not present at the Jumping Bull Ranch on the day of the shooting. They obviously fabricated evidence and suborned perjury to facilitate Peltier’s extradition.

In March of 1977, Leonard Peltier was found guilty of the murder of two FBI agents and given two life sentences. Peltier was found guilty without any witness testimony placing him as the shooter of the two agents. Exculpatory ballistics evidence was withheld and the new judge refused to allow testimony showing FBI tampering or witness intimidation. In short, Peltier was found guilty on the same testimony that set Butler and Robideau free. The difference was in the evidence that was allowed by the judge in Peltier’s trial.

Famed attorney, William Kunstler, would discover in 1982, in a telephone conversation with Judge Edward McManus, (who had presided over the Butler/Robideau trial) that McManus, not Benson, had been scheduled to try the Peltier case. Judge McManus had been astonished, he said, to find himself arbitrarily removed in favor of Judge Benson.

There exists zero evidence that Leonard Peltier was responsible in any way for the deaths of those two FBI agents. He has spent the last 33 years in confinement because the fedgov found it necessary to cover its crimes and malicious prosecution and to "get" someone for the deaths of two agents who were operating outside of the law and their oath to "uphold and defend" the constitution.

When President Reagan and Soviet Premier Gorbachev discussed human rights and political prisoners, Mikhail Gorbachev evoked a wave of protest from the U.S. press when he responded to Reagan's "human rights agenda" by suggesting the U.S. clean up its human rights violations, citing Indians in general and Leonard Peltier in particular.

I enthusiastically support the immediate release of Leonard Peltier and the prosecution of those who wrongfully caused his imprisonment. What I do vehemently oppose is the allegation by many American Indians that Leonard Peltier was convicted and imprisoned because of the color of his skin and that President Obama, himself a victim of racial prejudice, will move to pardon Peltier. Is it not absurd to claim the elected leader of the "free world" to be a victim of racial prejudice? Does his white half discriminate against his black half?

I would remind those who believe Leonard Peltier was targeted because of the color of his skin that Samuel Weaver, who was shot in the back by federal agents at the age of 14, was white. It was a federal agent (FBI agent Lon Horiuchi) who later shot his mother, Vicky, in the face, as she held Samuel’s younger sister; both were white. Although there were several minorities among the men, women and children incinerated or shot by federal agents at Waco, the majority of the 82 who died were white.

Indians, your fight is with the federal government, not a race of people. To allow your fight to be framed by those who profit from the polarization of the races is pure folly and plays into the federal government’s hands; it is possible Leonard Peltier will remain in prison as long as the race card is employed, because, to do so benefits those who put him there.

It is obviously hard for American Indians to challenge and lay at the feet of the federal government the blame for the above listed atrocities, considering a large number of American Indians are in the employ of the fedgov. The great majority of Indians employed by the fedgov have those jobs because of "Indian preference" hiring policies. Simply stated, many have these jobs, not because of their qualifications for the job, but because of the color of their skin. Has the fedgov purchased the right to wrongfully imprison Indians because they provide many of them with a paycheck?

Is it not racism when one reads the following in published employment ads: "We are an equal employment opportunity employer (EEO), Indian preference observed?" Does this mean a less qualified person should have the job if they are of the preferred skin tone? (Would Indians accept this practice in their brain surgeon; they accept it in those who teach their children.) It is impossible to claim racism when one claims preference in anything because of the color of their skin. Only the federal government could get away with claiming racism while practicing racism!

It is imperative all races stand together for justice and place the blame for corruption and criminality where it belongs. A thorough reading of the investigative articles in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will show the victims of fedgov misconduct and criminal activity to be of all races; a large number of them white.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Friday, June 26, 2009

FL: Cop shoots Arab tourist

Killed for uttering unknown words

A tourist visiting Miami Beach was shot and killed by a police officer Sunday, and family members say it was due to a grave mistake. Miami Beach police said they were looking for a man who was reportedly walking with a gun about 4 a.m. near Washington Avenue and 15th Street.

Minutes later, a police officer stopped Husien Shehada, 29, a limousine chauffeur from Woodbridge, Va., who was nearing the end of a five-day vacation clubbing in Miami Beach. Shehada and the officer spoke. Unknown words were exchanged. A confrontation followed. Then, according to police, the officer shot Shehada, who later died at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center.

All other details remain shrouded in mystery. Police and family members have different accounts of the shooting and what happened next. After the shooting, police arrested Shehada's brother, Samer, and charged him with battery. Police said he was beating a woman and kicking her head. But Samer Shehada's girlfriend, Karlia Karpel, denies the allegations, saying she was with him all Saturday night and Sunday morning. ''Can you look at me?'' she asked Monday evening, sitting in the lobby of the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. There were no visible bruises or cuts on her face, arms or legs. ``Do you see any bruises? Nothing.''

Samer Shehada, a 31-year-old engineer, was arraigned Monday morning and posted $1,500 bond.

The Shehada brothers were born in the United States to Palestinian immigrant parents. Two of their uncles traveled to Miami on Monday to piece together why Husien Shehada was shot by police minutes after he, his brother and their girlfriends left their hotel.

His cousin, Najwa Ghannam, said police stopped the wrong man. ''How can an officer shoot an unarmed person to death?'' she wrote in an e-mail to The Miami Herald. ``They shot to kill. My cousin didn't stand a chance.''

Police did not provide additional details about the shooting and had not released the officer's name by Monday night. The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office is investigating the shooting. In addition, the Miami Beach Police Department's internal affairs unit is investigating what led to the shooting, according to Detective Juan Sanchez, a department spokesman.

Family members said an autopsy had not yet been done, but they had still made funeral plans, which included returning Shehada to Virginia on Tuesday. The vacation, Karpel said, was supposed to be an unforgettable gift from Husien Shehada to his girlfriend, who accompanied them on the trip. The plan was simple: two brothers, their girlfriends, the beach and clubs. The shooting changed everything, Karpel said. ''Sunday was going to be an all-beach day,'' she said. ``It was the worst day of my life.''

The family has hired criminal defense attorney John Contini to sort out what they allege is police wrongdoing. ''I think it's clear the police are desperately trying to cover up a police killing of an unsuspecting, innocent citizen,'' Contini said.

Contini said that after the shooting, police individually questioned the brother and both women, asking them whether Husien spoke Arabic. He said he had already been contacted by worried representatives of the Arab League in Washington, D.C. According to Contini, several people witnessed the shooting, and he urged others to contact him at his Fort Lauderdale office to provide testimony.

Original report here

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Crooked British police cover up evidence to hide their social class bigotry

An opera singer who became a policewoman was sacked for cowardice after allegedly failing to help a colleague when he was attacked by yobs. Alison Wheeler, 39, was accused of standing by instead of using her CS spray as PC Rory Channon was punched and kicked to the ground outside a police station.

Former public schoolgirl Miss Wheeler, however, has launched an employment tribunal fight against her dismissal, claiming £350,000 in compensation, and saying her sacking was sexist and ageist, and that she had been bullied throughout her time in the force.

She claims CCTV footage of the incident which showed her intervening in the fight was kept secret from her. And her friends have claimed many officers wanted to force her out, believing that because she had been an opera singer and owned a grand piano she was 'too posh' to be in the police. Miss Wheeler gained a diploma from London's Trinity College of Music and worked as a mezzo soprano for ten years - appearing in operas including the Magic Flute and Eugene Onegin - before joining Surrey Police in January 2006.

A tribunal in Croydon, South London, yesterday heard that a month before her two-year probationary period was up she was told she was being sacked for cowardice, dishonesty and incompetence. Central to the allegations - all of which she denies - was a fight outside the police station in Walton, Surrey, in the early hours of a Sunday in October 2007.

According to PC Channon, who was off duty at the time, he found up to five young men fighting outside the doors of the station, and attempted to arrest one of them. He was then attacked, and tried to make his way into the station while being punched and kicked.

He said he saw Miss Wheeler, in uniform, standing nearby and sought her help. He went on: 'She was shaking her CS gas but was not moving. When she did come, she kept to the other side of the barrier where I was struggling with the male and made no attempt to keep the other males away. She did not use the CS spray and did not use her radio to contact anyone.'

Miss Wheeler's superiors went on to claim that she had shown a 'lack of courage, and failed to take appropriate action to support a colleague'. When she disputed this version of events, she was accused of dishonesty.

But Miss Wheeler, of West Molesey, Surrey, told the tribunal that when she asked for CCTV footage of the fight to help her case, she was told she could not be seen on screen. Months later, however, she saw a copy of the film and it clearly showed her in the middle of the melee, attempting to physically restrain one of the men involved. She said she did not use her gas on one yob because he put his hands up in surrender.

An internal report, completed six months after she was sacked, found the allegation she showed a 'lack of courage' to be unfair. A friend of Miss Wheeler told the Daily Mail: 'Because Alison didn't drop her aitches and once took a day off to have a grand piano fitted, some people thought she was too posh to be a police officer. 'She made the mistake of going to private school too. She is fighting this case to show she was not a coward, or dishonest.'

Original report here

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chicago again: No jail time for brutal cop

The video is horrifying. It's lucky the victim survived. The cop is quite simply a dangerous animal who needs to be put down

The videotape of an off-duty Chicago police officer beating up a female bartender half his size was seen on the internet around the world. Now Anthony Abbate, 40, has been sentenced to two years probation and anger management classes for the attack on Karolina Obrycka. Judge John Fleming also gave Abbate a home curfew of 8pm to 6am and ordered him to do 130 hours of community service.

Prosecutors and Ms Obrycka said they were disappointed with the sentence. Her attorney, Terry Ekl, said he expected the lawsuit Ms Obrycka filed against Abbate and city to go to trial this year. "No one in recent memory ... has done more to tarnish the reputation of the Chicago Police Department than Anthony Abbate," Cook County Assistant State's Attorney LuAnn Snow said.

Prosecutors had asked for prison for Abbate - he could have been sentenced to up to five years behind bars - but the judge said he didn't see aggravating factors to justify a prison term. The judge said Abbate had a clean record before the incident, did not seriously injure the bartender, and underwent alcohol rehabilitation "and has not had a relapse". "If I believed sentencing Anthony Abbate to prison would stop people from getting drunk and hitting people, I'd give him the maximum sentence," Fleming said.

Earlier this month, the judge rejected Abbate's claim he acted in self-defence and convicted him of aggravated battery. A tavern security video shows a drunken Abbate punching and kicking Ms Obrycka as she tended the bar in February 2007. The altercation happened after she refused to serve him more drinks.

The video received a lot of attention as it was seen as another example of misconduct by Chicago police. Then-Superintendent Phil Cline suddenly announced his retirement shortly after the video surfaced and former FBI official Jody Weis was appointed to the spot with an order to clean up the department's image.

Abbate acknowledged during the trial that he was drunk during the incident. But he said Ms Obrycka pushed him first as she tried to remove him from behind the bar.

Ms Obrycka said during the hearing that she continues to suffer psychological wounds, often has nightmares and has trouble trusting people, including her husband.

Abbate declined comment as he walked out of the courtroom holding his girlfriend's hand. "He's not a bad man, he did something bad," said his defence attorney, Peter Hickey. He characterised the incident as "one silly, stupid act". Abbate has been relieved of his duties and pay, Chicago Police Department spokesman Officer Robert Perez said. The department is looking into "separation proceedings", Mr Perez said. Mr Weis has said he wants Abbate fired.

Original report here

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

British police goons again

Cameras are continually throwing new light on unlawful police behavior which would once have simply have been denied

Dramatic footage has been released of two women protesters being bundled to the ground after asking a policeman for his identification number. The video shows one of the climate change protesters being held by the throat by a police officer. The footage shot by police, who were policing the protest at the Kingsnorth power station in Kent last August, has been handed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, according to the protesters.

The pictures show Emily Apple, 33, asking one of the policemen for his number. He responds: 'I don't have to tell you.' She insists he does and asks her fellow protester, Val Swain, 43, a mother of three from Cornwall, to take a picture of the officer. Moments later both are dragged to the floor and put in the stress position.

Mrs Apple, a mother of one from Cardiff, told The Guardian newspaper, which obtained the footage, that within seconds of her request she had been thrown to the floor. 'The first shot she [Mrs Swain] tried to take was blocked by the officer and the second shot she was grabbed and bundled across the road,' Mrs Apple said. 'Within seconds I was also on the floor being restrained.' When told she is being arrested, Mrs Swain cries out: 'Arrested for what? Taking a photograph?'

The footage also shows the officer holding her by the throat and pulling her head up, seemingly to show her face to the camera. Mrs Swain is later shown having her legs bound and being carried into the back of a police van by several officers. The video also shows officers applying pressure to stress points on the women's body as fellow protesters are heard in background demanding to know why they are being arrested.

Both women insist they were deliberately targeted by officers for their involvement in Fit Watch, an organisation which opposes heavy-handed policing and surveillance filming. The pair were held for four days after being arrested for obstructing police officers but were eventually released without charge, they claim.

A spokesman for the IPCC said last night that the video had not yet been received. 'Today is the first I have heard of the video. But we will look at anything that comes to us,' said Trish Keville, IPCC press officer.

West Yorkshire Police could not be reached last night and a Kent Police spokesman said he did not know how the video, shot by police officers, ended up with the Guardian.

Original report here

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Surveillance video nabs crooked NY cops

When undercover detectives busted Jose and Maximo Colon last year for selling cocaine at a seedy club in the New York City borough of Queens, there was a glaring problem: The brothers had not done anything wrong. But proclaiming innocence was not going to be good enough. The Dominican immigrants needed proof. "I sat in the jail and thought ... how could I prove this? What could I do?" Jose, 24, recalled in Spanish during a recent interview.

As he glanced around a holding cell, the answer came to him: Security cameras. Since then, a vindicating video from the club's cameras has spared the brothers a possible prison term, resulted in two officers' arrest and become the basis for a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.

The officers, who are due back in court June 26, have pleaded not guilty, and New York Police Department officials have downplayed their case. But the drug corruption case is not alone. On May 13, another New York Police Department officer was arrested for plotting to invade a Manhattan apartment where he hoped to steal $900,000 in drug money. In another pending case, prosecutors in Brooklyn say officers were caught in a 2007 sting using seized drugs to reward an informant for information. And in the Bronx, prosecutors have charged a detective with lying about a drug bust captured on a surveillance tape that contradicts her story.

Elsewhere, Philadelphia prosecutors dismissed more than a dozen drug and gun charges against a man last month when a narcotics officer was accused of making up information on search warrants.

The Colon brothers' harrowing experience began on an ordinary evening at a Delicias de Mi Tierra, where they would sometimes drink and play pool in the evenings. This night, the pool table was closed. They instead sat at the bar. Security cameras ended up filming their every move. The brothers barely moved from the same spot for about 90 minutes as the undercovers entered the bar and mixed with the crowd. Moments after the officers left, a backup team barged in and grabbed six men, including the brothers.

But what the surveillance tape doesn't show is striking: At no point did the officers interact with the undercovers, nor did the brothers appear to be involved in a drug deal with anyone else. Adding insult to injury, an outside camera taped the undercovers literally dancing down the street.

The revelations in New York have triggered internal police department inquiries, transfers of commanders and reviews of dozens of other arrests involving the accused officers. Many drug defendants' cases have been tossed out. Others have won favorable plea deals.

The misconduct "strikes at the very heart of our system of justice and erodes public confidence in our courts," said Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson.

Despite the fallout, authorities describe the corruption allegations as aberrations in a city where officers daily make hundreds of drugs arrests that routinely hold up in court. They also note none of the cases involved accusations of organized crews of officers using their badges to steal or extort drugs or money for personal gain — the story line of full-blown corruption scandals from bygone eras.

Peter Moskos, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, agrees the majority of narcotics officers probably are clean. But he also believes the city's unending war on drugs will always invite corruption by some who don't think twice about framing suspects they're convinced are guilty anyway. "Drugs are a dirty game," Moskos said. "Once you realize it's a game, then you start playing with the rules to win the game."

Life quickly deteriorated for Max and Jose Colon after their arrest. They owned a successful convenience store in Jackson Heights, but lost their license to sell tobacco, alcohol and lottery tickets. The store closed a week before their case was dismissed. "My life changed completely," Jose said. "I had a life before, and I have a different existence now. ... Now, I'm not able to afford to live in my own house or care for my children."

Jose has found construction work, while Max commutes two hours to Philadelphia to work at a relative's bodega. They stay away from the old neighborhood, where they say ugly rumors about them persist. The brothers have filed a $10 million false arrest lawsuit against the police department, the officers involved and the city. "I'm angry because, why'd it happen to me? I know a lot of people ... they don't go the right way and they can get away with it," Max said. "I'm young and I try to go the right way and boom, this happened to me. So I'm angry with life, too."

Original report here

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another cop who thought he was God

A Denver police officer has been suspended after allegedly brandishing his gun at a McDonald's restaurant in Aurora after his order took too long to fill.

Aurora police confirmed the CBS4 investigation saying the incident occurred May 21 at the McDonald's at 18181 East Hampden Avenue.

A spokesperson for the Aurora Police Department said they plan to present the case -- now classified as a felony menacing incident -- to the Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office Thursday for possible filing of criminal charges.

Sources familiar with the case, and the fast food worker's account of what happened, say two off-duty Denver police officers placed an order from their car in the early morning hours of May 21. But once at the drive through window, the employee said the men became agitated and angry at how long their food was taking. The men thought they were being ignored, according to contacts familiar with the worker's account. The male clerk then said one of the officer's flashed his police badge and pointed a pistol through the drive through window in a threatening manner, before driving off without paying.

Both officers are assigned to Denver International Airport although only one has been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of the case.

Original report here

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Abuse of Tasers by British cops

Recorded by one of those pesky cellphone cameras again!

There was fresh controversy over police methods last night after officers shot a man three times with a Taser gun and punched him repeatedly as he writhed on the ground. Shocking footage shows one officer repeatedly stunning the 40-year-old man with the high-voltage weapon as he lies in the middle of a busy city centre. His colleague then appears to punch the man with considerable force three times in the neck and shoulder.

As a crowd gathers round the man, an onlooker is heard to shout: 'He don't look like he is resisting.' The footage, captured by a taxi driver, was referred voluntarily to the Independent Police Complaints Commission by Nottinghamshire police, who said the man had earlier struck an officer.

But it sparked alarm over a decision by ex-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to arm police with the stun guns, which fire two darts on the end of wires carrying a 50,000-volt shock. She made 6,000 extra Tasers available to forces across the country only last month.

It also revived controversy over police tactics in the wake of allegations that officers assaulted protesters near the G20 summit in London, in April. Liberal Democrat spokesman Chris Huhne said: 'This shocking footage calls into question the wisdom of issuing more and more police officers with Tasers.

'These are dangerous weapons that have killed 334 people in the United States, yet the Home Office seems to be treating them as standard issue for routine matters. 'Tasers should be treated like firearms and used as a last resort, not the first port of call.' The incident happened in Nottingham city centre at around 12.30am on Sunday.

Police said they were called out by door staff at one of the city's nightspots. One officer was assaulted and needed hospital treatment, they said. Nottinghamshire Assistant Chief Constable Peter Davies said: 'We understand that some members of the public may be concerned about this. 'The public's trust and confilisheddence is very important for us, which is why we have referred this matter for an objective investigation to the IPCC. 'We are looking at other CCTV in the area to ensure we have a clear picture of events leading up to the arrest and I would ask anyone in possession of such evidence, including the person who took the footage that has been pubto come forward as witnesses.'

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: 'Whilst video images rarely tell a complete story, these pictures give cause for serious concern. 'Tasers are supposed to be a safer last resort than firearms, but there was always the danger they would become too easy to use routinely.'

Police said a 40-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and released on police bail. A spokesman said no complaint had been made against the officers involved and no one had been suspended.

Taser guns - which consist of two darts on the end of wires containing a 50,000 volt shock - can be lethal. They have a range of around 20ft, have been linked by human rights groups with hundreds of deaths in the U.S. and Canada. They are now widely used across the UK, with the Government in the process of issuing forces around the country with a further 10,000. But experts here have also warned that using tasers on children and vulnerable adults could trigger a heart attack.

Last week, a policeman in Texas, U.S. caused outraged after tasering a 72-year-old woman when he stopped her for speeding at 60mph in a 45mph zone. He had written out a ticket but the great-grandmother then refused to sign it.

In January, an 89-year-old war veteran was shot with the stun gun in Llandudno, North Wales after he left his care home and threatened to cut his throat with broken glass.

According to guidelines from the Association of Chief Police Officers, Tasers must not be used indiscriminately. They state: 'Its purpose is to temporarily incapacitate an individual in order to control the threat that they pose. It must not be used to inflict severe pain or suffering in the performance of official duties.'

Original report here

And a Taser killing by Australian police goons

They Tasered their victim 28 times -- until his heart gave out

A woman claiming to have witnessed a fatal Taser incident in north Queensland last week says she begged police to stop continuously zapping him with the electric stun gun moments before he died. Antonio Galeano, 39, died after being shot with a 50,000-volt Taser stun gun during a violent confrontation with police at a unit in Brandon, near Townsville last Friday. Police initially said Mr Galeano was shot three times but data recorded by the Taser showed it operated on 28 separate cycles during the confrontation.

The Australian newspaper says a post-mortem examination by pathologists found the man - had a pre-existing heart condition - died in handcuffs just 10 minutes after being shot with the Taser. A police source told brisbanetimes.com.au Mr Galeano was "talking and lucid" before he suffered the heart attack.

Brandon woman Sandra Winn - who has made a statement to the Queensland Police Ethical Standards unit - reportedly said she saw police Taser Mr Galeano seven times, and begged the officers to stop. "The police officer states that he only used that Taser ... three times," Ms Winn told The Townsville Bulletin. "He hit him through the window here, the first time, hit him in the chest. "Toni fell down, he hit the ground, I heard him."

Ms Winn declined to speak to brisbanetimes.com.au when contacted this morning, as she was on her way to Mr Galeano's funeral, to be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Ayr. Mr Galeano's parents Carmelo and Agata said their son was "dearly loved". His son Blake and sister Giovanna and extended family will pay their final respects at Ayr Cemetery.

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson last week said Mr Galeano, who was clutching shards of glass and an iron bar, had assaulted a woman before she ran to a nearby unit and called police. However, police have been unable to confirm how many people were in the unit at the time of the incident.

"I stood up on that chair (and looked through the window from outside) by that time they'd gone in," Ms Winn told The Townsville Bulletin. "The police officer was standing over him and going (makes Taser motions) on his back. "I was screaming (at) this window ... at the police officer stop, stop, stop you are supposed to be helping me. How many times can you hit him with that before you're going to kill him?"

Ethical Standards Command Assistant Commissioner Peter Martin said an investigation into the man's death would endeavour to compare the number of Taser "bite marks" on Mr Galeano's body with the data obtained from the Taser.

More HERE. (Via Australian Politics)

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Black drunk driver negligently burnt to death in a prison van

Not in Tennessee. In Australia

THE Director of Public Prosecutions will be asked to consider criminal charges in the case of an Aboriginal elder who was effectively cooked in the back of a prison van on a scorching day in the West Australian outback. WA Coroner Alastair Hope said yesterday he would ask the DDP to consider whether charges should be laid after finding the death of Mr Ward, 46, whose first name cannot be released for cultural reasons, was “unnecessary and wholly avoidable”.

Mr Hope found “inhumane treatment” led to Mr Ward's death from heat stroke in the pod of the commercially owned prison van, which had no air conditioning and little or no air flow. He criticised the transport company, Global Solutions Ltd (GSL), for arranging Mr Ward's horror 360km journey between the Goldfields towns of Laverton and Kalgoorlie, and accused its custodial guards of colluding in their evidence.

He found the company, the two guards, Nina Stokoe and Graham Powell, and the Department of Corrective Services had all contributed to Mr Ward's “terrible death” on January 27 last year. The coroner found the father of four, from the Goldfields town of Warburton, died of heat stroke when he succumbed to temperatures of 50C inside the van on a searing day, after being picked up for drink-driving the previous day.

Mr Hope said Ms Stokoe and Mr Powell, who provided Mr Ward with only a 600ml bottle of water and did not check on him throughout the journey, had breached their duty of care. He said Mr Ward had no proper method of communicating with the guards, who had colluded before giving unreliable evidence to police about the death. The hearing was told that when Mr Ward eventually arrived unconscious at Kalgoorlie hospital, his body was so hot that staff had been unable to cool him down. Even after an ice bath he had a body temperature of 41.7C. He had a laceration to his head from falling in the vehicle and a 9cm third degree burn to his stomach from lying on its hot metal floor.

Mr Hope said the department had failed to provide GSL with proper means of transport and that the vehicle was “not fit for humans”. The prison van did not have a spare tyre, indicating GSL's “reckless approach” towards the transport of prisoners, he said. “In my view, it is a disgrace that a prisoner in the 21st Century, particularly a prisoner who has not been convicted of any crime, was transported for a long distance in high temperatures in this pod,” Mr Hope said. Among his 14 recommendations, he said the state government must improve its handling of prisoners and review its justice system.

In response, WA Attorney-General Christian Porter said action had already been taken to prevent another “tragic incident” and pledged $3 million and a rollout of 40 new custodial vehicles by December 2010. “Things have improved substantially and I intend to see they improve further,” Mr Porter said. “But it now falls to this government to repair the system that allowed this quite shocking event to occur.”

About 40 protesters demonstrated outside Perth's Central Law Courts, where the coroner delivered his findings. The Deaths in Custody Watch Committee called for improved human rights for Aboriginal people, while Amnesty International called it “a disgrace that a prisoner should be transported in this way in the 21st century”. Aboriginal Legal Services of WA CEO Dennis Eggington said Mr Ward's family was happy with the recommendations but wanted criminal charges laid against the Government.

Original report here. (Via Australian Politics)

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dubious conviction of a black man in Alabama

The end of Valerie Findley’s life began with a single shot from a 9-mm hand gun. But it took years for her to die. She had been on the phone with one of her best friends, her sister, when there was a knock at the door of her home in Whistler, Ala. It was March 2, 1992 between eight and nine in the morning.

The two men outside were there under false pretenses. That there were two men is not disputed. Their identities are. The reason they were there is also not in question. They came to steal the gun collection belonging to Mike Finley — Valerie’s husband — and they did. They stuffed the guns in a pillowcase and before both men left, one of them tried to snuff out Valerie’s life with a single gunshot in the style of an executioner. But to their chagrin, and to the surprise of many others, Valerie Finley lived. She lived long enough to remember, speak of, and testify about the crime.

At the end of it all, Rodney Stanberry was jailed for the crime. He was Mike Finley’s best friend. They collected guns together and had many of the same guns. After so many years, two questions remain: Why would Rodney Stanberry have an interest in stealing the guns of his best friend — many of which he already owned — and, why would he condone the shooting of his best friend’s wife?

The answer, according to Stanberry, is that he didn’t. He wasn’t even there when the crime happened, he says. At the time, Rodney Stanberry was a driver for BFI, the waste disposal service. Documents and statements from Stanberry’s bosses show that when Valerie Finley was shot, Stanberry was miles away at a BFI facility having his sanitation truck repaired. While those documents and testimony from a BFI manager were considered by the jury Rodney Stanberry was convicted anyway — some three years after the shooting of Valerie Finley — of being an accessory. While the jury saw that evidence, something they did not see was the confession of a man who admitted in a recorded conversation to being in Valerie Finley’s home when she was shot. Those two issues, and many more discrepancies contained in court records and witness testimony over several years, reveal that this man may now be in jail for a crime he did not commit, though certainly some would argue that is just not the case.

Not Quite Perfect

In the background I can hear the meanderings of a prison cellblock. Rodney Stanberry is on a prison phone with me, taking me through the day Valerie Finley was shot. I have questions — a lot of them. I ask him about getting kicked out of Mary Montgomery High School shortly after moving to South Alabama from New York. Stanberry, a young black man was dating a young white girl. This is not a practice that would seem to go over well at the time in Semmes, Ala., I tell him. He agrees and admits to being expelled for skipping school with the young lady he’d taken up with.

Aside from the race component, Rodney Stanberry is guilty of being a hormonal teenager. But there is nothing else on Stanberry’s record. Unable to go back to school, Stanberry found a job. He worked for the sanitation company, BFI. He drove a truck emptying those big, green dumpsters familiar to businesses around Mobile. By all accounts, he was a model employee.

A ‘Black Redneck’

When Rodney was 17, his father moved the family from New York to the community of Axis. The elder Stanberry feared the emerging street culture of New York City and the effect it might have on his son. Rodney reveled in the move, taking up hunting and fishing. A self-described “black redneck,” he loved guns and shooting and quickly became familiar with a South Alabama way of life. After having trouble with his infatuation with a white girl and finding work as a sanitation truck driver, he settled down to enjoy life. Then he met Mike Finley, a kindred spirit. They enjoyed guns, ate dinner on Sundays, went shooting as much as they could, and owned many of the same types of weapons. Valerie knew him as part of the family. Mike and Valerie lived in a small house at the end of a cul de sac in Whistler.

Rodney says it was simple happenstance that caused his former New York friend Rene (pronounced Rennie) Whitecloud Barbosa to call. Barbosa was looking to come south from New York and he had a friend he was bringing along — Angel Melendez. Melendez, known as “Wish” was also connected to Rodney’s past life in New York. Stanberry had gotten Melendez’s sister pregnant and had a child with her as a teenager. Now, Barbosa and Melendez were headed to Mobile, for a Mardi Gras visit with their old friend.

Their visit was fast and furious. Stanberry was not a happy host. Reluctantly, he introduced his old friends from New York, Melendez and Barbosa to his new southern friend, Mike Finley. Stanberry says at some point during the visit, Finley, Barbosa and Melendez went to a shooting range and Finley showed off many of his guns to the visitors, even though Stanberry says he admonished him not to bring more than one or two. Stanberry was not at the shooting range at the time.

The record of Barbosa and Melendez’s visit to Mobile is a gray area. However, Stanberry says at some point they became acquainted with a man named Terrell Moore. But it’s not just Stanberry who confirms that Moore met Barbosa and Melendez. Moore’s own tape-recorded statements also confirm that he knew the visitors from New York and that he was at Valerie Finley’s home at the time she was shot.

By all accounts from Stanberry’s defense team, Moore should have become a prime suspect at least as an accessory in the shooting of Valerie Finley. But he didn’t. In fact, he was never arrested or charged for any crime connected with Finley’s assault. Moore’s account of what happened on that March morning was recorded by Mobile private detective Ryan Russell.

Russell, a middle-aged white man, says he made a late-night venture into an all-black nightclub in Prichard in order to detain Moore to question him. The private eye who was working for Rodney Stanberry’s defense lawyer, said he was shaking and sweating as he initiated the confrontation. In the end, Moore went with him peacefully.

The Crime

Stanberry says he went to work early in the morning the day Valerie Finley was shot, waking up the neighbors of businesses, pounding the big BFI dumpsters on the rim of his truck, emptying the trash, then moving on to the next one. He says later in the day, perhaps noon, he heard about Valerie being shot. In the morning, he says, he’d been to several businesses before the hours of eight and nine when the shooting reportedly happened. Documents from BFI that were introduced as evidence at his trial show that Stanberry was having a tire repaired in the BFI shop during the hour Valerie was believed to have been shot. Afterward, he was reportedly at Degussa, a plant far south of the Whistler community, where Valerie lived.

This was the day Barbosa and Melendez were supposed to be leaving Mobile by bus to go back to New York. They had been staying at a Beltline motel. Another friend of Stanberry’s, a man named Taco, was to drive them from their motel to the bus station on Government Boulevard. Taco was there at the appointed time, but he was forced to wait on one of the two men to show back up to the hotel. It is unclear, even today which of the two men, Barbosa or Melendez, he was waiting for.

A few miles up I-65, something else was happening. According to witness testimony, a man who was working on a car in front of the Finley home described two other men. Court documents reveal those two men matched the description of Terrell Moore and Angel Melendez. The witness described the car in which the two men arrived, and it matched the description of the car driven by Moore.

The witness said the two men knocked on the door of the Finley home and entered. Court documents of the eyewitness testimony reveal a short while later the men emerged from the home carrying something similar to a pillow case, consistent with Moore’s confession that the stolen guns were stuffed into a pillow case from the Finley’s bedroom.

Moore acknowledged in his interview with private investigator Ryan Russell that there were people working on a car in the middle of the cul de sac in front of the Finley home. “I noticed that it was a man working on his car in the circle,” Moore said.

But, also of importance is what happened while the two men were inside the home. Moore described how Valerie, screaming and yelling at the two men, led them to Mike Finley’s gun safe and opened it for them. Her sister, Brenda Gay, reported hearing on the phone what sounded like someone going through drawers in the house. She said she hung up because it took so long for her sister to return to the phone.

Moore also told how Melendez held a gun on Valerie while Moore retrieved a pillow case from the couple’s bedroom and stuffed the guns inside of it. The two men began to back their way out of the house, Valerie still screaming at them. Then, Moore said, he heard the shot. Valerie was quieted.

News accounts at the time say she was found at about 11:20 a.m. by the son of a neighbor, with one gunshot wound to the head.

The Confession

Russell says it was months after Finley’s shooting when he interviewed Moore. He provided the videotape recording of that interview in which Moore described who was at Valerie’s home on that March morning in 1992.

Russell: “You and Wish were there, right?”

Moore: “Yeah, just me and Wish.”

Russell: “Was Rodney Stanberry there?”

Moore: “No he wasn’t.”

Russell: “You never saw Rodney at all that morning?”

Moore: “Right.”

Russell: “You never saw him at all that day?”

Moore: “Right.”

Terrell Moore told a private investigator Rodney Stanberry had never been involved in Finley’s shooting and that he had been one of those inside her home when she was shot. For some reason his testimony was never admitted in court.....

Much more here

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lying coverup attempt from trigger happy cops

They should be prosecuted for murder

WITNESSES to the fatal police shooting of a young man have contradicted claims the officer had no choice but to shoot him. Two women have independently sworn they did not see Elijah Holcombe armed with a knife and said he was at least 15m away from officers when he was shot in the chest. In statements obtained by The Daily Telegraph, the women claim Mr Holcombe, who suffered from mental illness, was "calm" when ordered to stop by police in Cinders Lane, Armidale, this month.

"The second person (a plain clothes police officer) was moving fast but never caught up with the first person (Elijah)," one witness said. "I estimate the distance between them to be four or five car widths."

The second witness said Mr Holcombe's "demeanor seemed casual" and he was "in no hurry just strolling along". She said he had complied with an undercover officer's orders to stop and was calm, contrary to police claims that he ignored warnings to drop his knife. "The young man turned around casually and I would say he had a look of bewilderment on his face - but he was fairly calm and casual," the woman said. "He just turned around and stood still. I can't remember anything about his hands - I was looking at his face. He didn't say anything."

On the day of the shooting Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie said the officer had no choice but to shoot Mr Holcombe because he had made threats with a knife and refused to put down the weapon.

One witness said there was no attempt by the undercover officer to negotiate with Mr Holcombe. "The gun discharged immediately after the third warning. I remember also that the third warning was immediately after the second warning," she said. "The young man came off the footpath into the gutter. He fell into the gutter. His head moved around a bit. His body moved slightly. I did not see the young man with a weapon."

The sworn statements were made independently by two women who had parked their cars near the scene of the shooting behind the Armidale shopping centre.

Mr Holcombe's widow Allison Garvey had told The Daily Telegraph she is "completely devastated". "The police were presented with many choices and in every instance they (made) the most careless choice they could make," she said.

A NSW Police spokesman last night refused to comment. "An independent Critical Incident Investigation team is preparing a report," the spokesman said.

Original report here. (Via Australian Politics)

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Australia: Troubles escalate when police look the other way

It's a rich irony that the Prime Minister and police commanders in Sydney and Melbourne are now admonishing Indian students who have decided to take responsibility for their own security instead of continuing to be passive victims of violent crime. Sound familiar?

Assistant Police Commissioner Dave Owens warned Indian students protesting at Harris Park not to be "vigilantes" and "leave the detection of offenders and their arrest to us".

In Victoria, a police spokeswoman said Indian students doing their own security patrols at crime-ridden western suburbs railway stations should "leave and let police do their jobs".

Well, if the police had done their jobs in the first place Indian students wouldn't feel like they have to escort each other home from railway stations late at night. Nor would 1000 Indian students have gathered on Sunday at Town Hall and this week in Harris Park to protest about the lax policing.

But now that Australia's not-so-secret suburban law and order problem has become an international scandal, it's remarkable how vigilant the police can be. The Victorian commissioner, Simon Overland, was this week boasting about a "major crackdown" on crime, with uniformed police, rail transit officers, the dog squad, mounted police and the air wing to patrol the stations where Indian students have been mugged with impunity for years. In Harris Park, Sydney's new Little India, police were out in force this week as young Indians gathered to protest about the latest harassment by what they described as a gang of "Middle Eastern men".

Regardless of whether the attacks on Indian students are racially motivated, or whether the violence is being committed by Middle Eastern, Caucasian or any other ethnic group, the fact is our governments and police forces have been turning a blind eye to it. It seems that allowing our cities to become no-go zones at night is easier than enforcing the law.

Indian students in Sydney and Melbourne have simply decided they have had enough. Saurabh, who has just completed a masters at the University of Western Sydney, has been aware of attacks on his fellow Indian students since at least 2004. In an email in response to my column last week, he described a bus trip from the city to western Sydney late one night when "a group of five teenage guys were troubling this lone nightshift Indian worker who was sitting in the front … He didn't resist and just ignored them … Right when they left the bus they spat on the Indian guy and ran away laughing."

He says that in Harris Park, "muggings are a common occurrence". "I see the police as very vigilant only during protests like the G20 and the recent one by the Indian students … Also, the traffic police are very vigilant in giving tickets. But the normal police are not in giving public protection."

It's not just Indian students complaining about police inaction. It's young Chinese as well. Yuening, for instance, a student from China studying at the University of NSW: "I can tell you that every international student studying in Australia is worrying about safety every day. I think more than one-third of us would have the unpleasant experience." Recently, he says, two friends were robbed on campus, on the main road. But he claims police "tolerate modest robbery".

Murtaza, an Indian student, was mugged 18 months ago on a Saturday night about 8.30 in the heart of Melbourne's CBD. "They broke my nose and ran away and as I called the police little did I know that my complaint will be just going to deaf ears and blind eyes," he said. He went to the police station the next day but was told the offenders had not been found. "I went to the police station two more times in the same week to get my complaint in, not because I expected the police to actually nab those guys, but just wanted a recognition by the law that such an incident had occurred. But every time I went there, I was greeted by a different officer who told me that they were too busy. "It's funny how the police seem to be so busy, considering that such incidents keep occurring in various parts of the city, with the lawbreakers getting away on most of the occasions."

Another Indian student, Ajay Kumar, who was at the Harris Park protest this week, says he is so afraid of being assaulted on his way home from work at night, he doesn't go home. "If I finish my work, I stay there," he told the ABC. "Why? Because I know if I come back, someone will smash me, someone will take my money. I know. Because I'm not safe here. Because Australian police is shit, fully shit."

In a strange twist of fate, Superintendent Robert Redfern, the Parramatta local area commander who was hard at work at the Harris Park protests at midnight on Tuesday, was also police commander at Cronulla during the 2005 race riots. We saw then the dangers of vigilantism.

Back then, Cronulla locals had been complaining for months that police were playing down assaults and menacing behaviour by what they described as "Middle Eastern" youths from south-western Sydney. There was a protest, which turned into an ugly riot with racist violence against anyone who looked Middle Eastern, followed by revenge attacks as young men from the south-west drove to Cronulla damaging property and assaulting people, with police nowhere to be seen.

In Harris Park, the script is familiar. Police play down crime problems, victims lose faith in the authorities to protect them, start to protest, take matters into their own hands, attack innocent passers-by. So far there have been no revenge attacks but it's unlikely police can guarantee they won't occur.

Original report here. (Via Australian Politics)

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Big brave police shoot another tiny dog

I wasn't joking when I said on 10th that American cops shoot dogs "at the drop of a hat". Even the cop concerned admitted that the dog's only offense was to bark

Police in Danville, California are defending the fatal shooting and killing of an 11 year-old miniature dachshund, claiming that the police officer who shot the 12-pound dog, acted reasonably and in self-defense. "Shooting a dog which is actively presenting a threat to an officer is within the department's policy," states a press release issued by Danville Police Chief Phillip Broadfoot.

The diminutive dog, who had the ironic name of "Killer", was known in the upscale suburb as a "sweet, mild-mannered dog," reports the Richmond-Times Dispatch. "He just kind of walked up and down the neighborhood and didn't bother anybody," said neighbor Jenine Edmunds. "He was just a little house dog."

Killer and his family --- Tawalin Harper, his wife and two kids --- live on a quiet cul-de sac. "He was the security guard around here," Harper said, explaining that Killer would bark whenever a strange car entered the cul-de-sac.

How did the shooting happen? Earlier this week, a police officer pulled into the cul-de-sac to serve two warrants to a neighbor. As the officer --- whose name the police department is refusing to release --- returned to his car, "he was surprised by a growling dog running through the yard directly at him from the rear, leaving him with just seconds to consider his options," reads the police statement.

Police Chief Broadstreet said the officer's options in that instance were to run to the squad car, distract the dog, or use pepper spray, his baton or his firearm.

After Killer, allegedly "lunged at the officer and attacked him," the officer decided to draw his gun and shoot the aging 12-pound mini dachshund. Apparently, the officer feared great bodily harm --- perhaps to his ankles.

Harper's children, who were inside the house, heard the gunshot and called their father, who raced home to find Killer laying on the ground "with his guts hanging out.“

According to the NBC4i, the officer leaned against his patrol car, smoking a cigarette. He refused to give Harper his name and badge number and said "he had to shoot the dog because he was barking at him."

When the officer's supervisor arrived on the scene, the supervisor/lieutenant was very sorry. "“He kept apologizing," recalls Harper. "And he said I know apologizing can’t bring the dog back, but I just don’t know what to say.“

The Harpers remain devastated at the loss of the dog they have had and loved for 11 years. "He was a family member," says a bewildered and saddened Harper. "They took a family member away."

Original report here

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Abusive Oklahoma cop obstructs ambulance mission and attacks paramedics

An Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper at the heart of a May 24 confrontation with a Creek Nation paramedic has been placed on administrative leave, authorities said Wednesday. OHP Capt. Chris West said Trooper Daniel Martin was put on paid administrative leave June 1 while the patrol's internal affairs investigation into the incident continues. West emphasized that the leave is not punishment -- the trooper is still being paid -- but only routine while an investigation is conducted.

However, West was unable to explain why it took the patrol a week to put Martin on administrative leave. He continued working after the confrontation on U.S. 62 in Paden, seven miles east of Prague. West said he didn't know how long Martin would be on leave. But he did say that a Tulsa World request under the state's Open Records Act for the video from the trooper's dashboard camera is being denied. West did not elaborate on the reason for the denial.

Okfuskee County District Attorney Max Cook said last week that the Highway Patrol should release the dashboard-camera video. Cook said he would not charge either the trooper or the paramedic, Maurice White Jr., in connection with the confrontation. "Although I do not condone their actions, I do not believe that filing charges at this time would serve the best interests of the public or the interests of justice," he said last week.

The confrontation occurred as a Creek Nation ambulance was taking a woman to the hospital in Prague. The ambulance was not using its emergency lights or siren. Martin was en route to help the Okfuskee County Sheriff's Office with a stolen-vehicle call and was using his lights and siren, he said in his report. He said the ambulance didn't immediately pull over to let him pass. Eventually, the ambulance did let him pass.

Martin said he radioed the ambulance crew that they should be more vigilant. White acknowledged receiving that transmission and said his driver, Paul Franks, threw up his hands in surprise at the call. White said the trooper might have mistaken Franks' response as an obscene finger gesture. Martin claimed that as the ambulance passed by in Paden, Franks gave him the finger. Franks denies that.

Martin said he gave chase and pulled over the ambulance. He said he approached Franks and told him he would be cited for failure to yield and asked why he flipped him off. White got between Franks and Martin, telling Martin that they were on their way to the hospital and that "we can continue this there." Martin said that after White ignored repeated requests to back off, the trooper tried to arrest White for obstructing an officer.

That's when the scuffle broke out, with Martin claiming that White grabbed him around the neck and White claiming that Martin put him in a choke hold. Eventually, the ambulance was allowed to go on its way. White was not arrested, and Franks received a written warning for failure to yield.

Part of the confrontation was captured on a cell-phone camera at the scene by a relative of the patient in the ambulance [which clearly shows the cop with his hands around the black paramedic's neck].

Original report here

Dashcam Video now released. See here.

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

London police tortured us, claim drug suspects: Victim 'screamed for mercy as head was shoved into toilet'

Suspects arrested by Scotland Yard's 'waterboarding torture squad' told yesterday of their claims of humiliating ordeals at the hands of the suspended officers. One man allegedly had his head pushed down the toilet and screamed for mercy as the officers flushed it. A woman, who was seven months pregnant at the time, was allegedly forced to dress in front of the police team during a drugs raid on her home. In separate claims, it was alleged that another man was savagely beaten in a car park.

Officers from the same squad have been suspended over claims that they inflicted torture by waterboarding three African drug suspects. The technique, which simulates drowning, became notorious for its use by U.S. agents on terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay. It is claimed the Met officers also ducked some of the suspects' heads in water.

All the suspects are likely to press for compensation which could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Their lawyers are awaiting the outcome of an Independent Police Complaints Commission probe into the raids in North London last year, in which four men and a woman were arrested.

The IPCC is also investigating wider allegations of corruption by the officers, including that evidence was fabricated and suspects' property stolen including lap tops and iPods. All six of the officers, who include a detective sergeant, face prosecution if there is enough evidence against them, and ultimately the sack.

All the abuse is alleged to have happened as officers from the Enfield borough crime squad, based at Edmonton police station, North London, searched two addresses for cannabis last November. The suspects had been charged with running a cannabis smuggling racket. The case was dropped at Wood Green Crown Court, North London, in March after defence lawyers were told the allegations against the officers.

Yesterday, as Met chiefs staged a series of crisis meetings, insiders accused senior officers of 'lacking grip' and predicted that heads would have to roll. Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said the claims were 'appalling and shocking'. He said: 'It beggars-belief that Metropolitan Police officers can have used torture techniques like waterboarding when they must have known that such behaviour was itself criminal and would wreck any trial.' London Mayor Boris Johnson said: 'Clearly these allegations are extremely serious and need to be thoroughly investigated.'

Jenny Jones, of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said: 'If these accusations are substantiated then serious disciplinary action must be taken. 'The police should be a public protector, ensuring community-safety, not an organisation that uses criminal torture tactics.'

Suspicions arose over the behaviour of the six officers shortly after the raids. Police claimed to find a large amount of cannabis and the suspects, all foreign nationals, were charged with the illegal importation of a class C drug. It is understood that a Met officer later came forward to internal investigators with information against several colleagues.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Suspects denied basic justice in Britain

If someone thinks you might be a terrorist in Britain, you can be detained without trial indefinitely. Too bad if you are innocent. There are no safeguards whatever

Up to 20 men regarded as Britain’s most dangerous terror suspects can challenge their detention after Britain’s highest court ruled that three of them had been denied a fair trial. The men, who have been held under virtual house arrest under the Government’s control order regime, won the unanimous backing of a panel of nine law lords, on the grounds that the suspects did not know what they were accused of or what evidence was being used against them.

The judgment, hailed by human rights groups, means that other suspects who have not been given sufficient evidence to enable them to defend themselves can now challenge the control orders in court. One of the panel, Lord Hope of Craighead, said: “If the rule of law is to mean anything, it is in cases such as these that the court must stand by principle. It must insist that the person affected be told what is alleged against him.”

The ruling prompted calls for the scrapping of control orders, which restrict suspects’ movements on the basis of secret hearings without charge or a trial, and the acceptance instead of evidence based on intercepts, which is currently inadmissible in court.

Lord Pannick, QC, the crossbench peer who represented the lead appellant, AF — the three men are known only by their initials — said that Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, ought to scrap the regime entirely. “Since the Home Secretary can no longer impose control orders without telling the controlees the substance of the case they have to meet, the right decision — legally and politically — would be to abandon the discredited control order regime and concentrate on prosecuting in the criminal courts those against whom there is evidence of wrongdoing.

Mr Johnson made clear that the Government would contest each case vigorously. “This is an extremely disappointing judgment. Protecting the public is my top priority and this judgment makes that task harder. The Government will continue to take all steps we can to manage the threat presented by terrorism.” He said that all control orders would remain in force for the time being: “We will continue to seek to uphold them in the courts. In the meantime we will consider this judgment and our options carefully. “We introduced control orders to limit the risk posed by suspected terrorists whom we can neither prosecute nor deport. The Government relies on sensitive intelligence material to support the imposition of a control order, which the courts have accepted would damage the public interest to disclose in open court. “We take our obligations to human rights seriously and, as such, we have put strong measures in place to try to ensure that our reliance on sensitive material does not prejudice the right of individuals to a fair trial.”

Control orders were introduced in March 2005 as a means of holding terror suspects who had not been charged or tried and where the evidence was largely sensitive and derived from intelligence sources. Suspects are electronically tagged and held under curfew. They are also restricted in whom they can meet and where they can go.

This is the third setback for ministers in their efforts to deal with terror suspects. The law lords had previously ruled that to hold foreign terror suspects without charge or trial in Belmarsh prison was a breach of their human rights and unlawful. The lords have also ruled that the most draconian element of the control order regime — an 18-hour curfew — is a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The subjects of control orders are allowed to challenge the order, but are not allowed to see any of the secret intelligence assessments that led to the decision to restrict their liberty. But yesterday Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the senior law lord, said: “A trial procedure can never be considered fair if a party to it is kept in ignorance of the case against him.”

The eight other lords agreed. “The principle that the accused has a right to know what is being alleged against him has a long pedigree . . . The fundamental principle is that everyone is entitled to the disclosure of sufficient material to enable him to answer effectively the case that is made against him,” Lord Hope said.

“The consequences of a successful terrorist attack are likely to be so appalling that there is an understandable wish to support the system that keeps those who are considered to be most dangerous out of circulation for as long as possible. “But the slow creep of complacency must be resisted. If the rule of law is to mean anything, it is in cases such as these that the court must stand by principle. It must insist that the person affected be told what is alleged against him.”

The cases must now return to the lower courts to be reheard. The Home Office will need to decide either to release more material to the men and to the public, or rescind the orders.

Lord Pannick argued that it was procedurally unfair to order his client to stay in his flat on the outskirts of Manchester for up to 16 hours a day. AF, who was born in 1981 in Derby and has dual Libyan and British nationality, cannot see anyone without permission or use the internet. These conditions could not be right if his lawyers were not told why he was suspected of terrorism so they could respond, Lord Pannick said.

Mohammed Ayub, the solicitor for another of the three men, AE, said that his client had been under virtual house arrest for more than three years and had every aspect of his life restricted and monitored “on the basis of a threshold no higher than suspicion”.

The law lords followed a recent ruling in the European Court of Human Rights that held that a controlled person must be given sufficient information about the allegations against him so as to instruct a lawyer to challenge the case brought against him. However, Lord Hoffman said: “I think that the decision of the European Court of Human Rights was wrong and that it may well destroy the system of control orders, which is a significant part of this country’s defences against terrorism.”

A report published today by the human rights group Justice calls for an end to “12 years of secret evidence”, dating from its use in the first hearings before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. Eric Metcalfe, director of human rights policy at Justice, said: “In the past 12 years the British traditions of open justice and the right to a fair hearing have increasingly been undermined by the use of secret evidence in closed hearings.” There needed to be reform, he said, so that “all defendants are able to know the evidence against them”.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: “I can think of no better way for the Prime Minister to make a fresh start for his Government than to abandon the cruel and counter-productive punishments without trial instituted by his predecessor. This is also a great opportunity for the new Home Secretary to prove his commitment to human rights and fighting terrorism within the rule of law.”

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How do you behave when (you think) nobody's looking?

How well do we behave when nobody is looking? The answer isn't important if you're surfing the Internet while the boss is out to lunch, but it means a lot when it involves the misuse of state-licensed coercive force out of public view. And, as in the case of Police Officer Joseph Rios III, who apparently beat Ronnie Holloway with little cause, some people entrusted with authority seriously misbehave when they think they act unseen.

As is increasingly the case, Officer Rios wasn't unobserved. In fact, he and his partner were recorded by a security camera at a nearby bar when they pulled up to the corner in their patrol car and confronted 49-year-old Ronnie Holloway. Holloway wasn't obviously doing anything out of the ordinary in the video. The most animation he shows is when he fastens his jacket -- under instructions from Rios's female partner, he says.

Immediately thereafter, Rios emerges from the car and proceeds to push Holloway, punch him, and beat him with a night stick. If Rios felt sufficiently threatened that he needed to use violence to subdue Holloway, it's worth asking why his partner stood by as a spectator throughout the extended confrontation.

Did Holloway say something to provoke Rios? What words could have passed his lips that could possibly have justified the beating?

Holloway, whose mother says he suffers from schizophrenia, has been charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and wandering for the purpose of obtaining controlled dangerous substances. Maybe he was looking for drugs; it's impossible to tell from the video. But disorderly conduct and resisting arrest seem a stretch for a man who never raised a hand during the incident -- unless police are offended that Holloway's jaw bruised Rios's knuckles.

With increasing frequency, misbehaving police officers have been captured on camera phones, private security cameras and even their own video equipment. Five Birmingham, Alabama, officers were fired after their own dashboard cameras recorded them beating an unconscious man. New York City cops were caught looting a bar by the establishment's security cameras. And passersby recorded former police officer Johannes Mehserle shooting Oscar Grant in the back in a California train station (Mehserle's supervisor concedes that Grant posed no threat).

The world has changed. For better or worse, there are a lot more eyes watching us at times and in places that were previously unobserved. So when will the conduct of people in authority change to match the new reality?

Original report here. (Video at link)

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Big brave American police had "no choice" but to shoot a fearsome chihuahua three times

What were they doing on the dog's porch anyway? The brave little dog was just defending his patch. There is no doubt that many American police Depts. are out of control predators. They shoot dogs at the drop of a hat

US police in Cincinnati killed Jack, the Bullock family's Chihuahua-mix pet, after an officer was bitten on the hand, WCPO reports. The small dog had been tasered, then shot at twice by police. A third gunshot killed the dog.

Scott and Sharon Bullock discovered the dog's blood and three bullets on their porch after returning from a funeral last Friday. They called the local police station and discovered what had happened to Jack, who was a birthday present for their 12-year-old son. They said they were told that two officers had cornered the dog, when it began biting one on the hands. Police said the officers had "no option" but to shoot the dog.

Mr Bullock said his five-year-old son was distraught by the killing. "He 'barks' for him," Mr Bullock. "He'd 'bark' and Jack would always come to him, so he's outside going 'Bark bark bark,' hoping he's gonna come back. "It's heartbreaking." His wife said the child had cried himself to sleep after the shooting.

Lieutenant Paul Hartinger from the Blue Ash police department told WCPO that the officers had no choice but to shoot the dog after it had attacked them and other people. "As badly as the officer was getting bitten, he had to do something to protect himself," Mr Hartinger said. [What about walking away from the property?] "They first chose physical means, then a Taser, and when those two didn't work, he had no option but to shoot the dog." Police say the dog had bitten the officer 17 times on one hand and nine times on the other.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

And we, like sheep …

After leading police on a long chase near the same Slauson Cutoff made famous by Johnny Carson (and jazz trombone virtuoso Bill Watrous), Richard Rodriguez was obviously going to jail. At the end of a vehicular pursuit that endangered the lives and property of several people, Rodriguez – an accused street gang member – side-swiped a parked car before coming to a stop near a small cluster of buildings. The driver bolted from the car and a brief foot chase began.

Surprisingly fleet and agile, Rodriguez sprinted a quarter-mile or so before cornering himself in a fenced backyard. Taking a deep breath, and being familiar with the drill, Rodriguez flattened himself on the ground, arms outstretched, palms down, waiting for the police to arrive.

First on the scene, several seconds later, was George Fierro, a 15-year veteran El Monte, California police officer who, seeing the prone and unresisting suspect flat on the ground, nonetheless hauled off and kicked him full in the face. Another officer quickly joined Fierro, giving Rodriguez a couple of shots with what appeared to be a small club as the two cops handcuffed the suspect. With Rodriguez in shackles, Fierro waddled over to a nearby K-9 officer to indulge in a triumphant high-five.

The real scandal here, insists retired LA Sheriff's Department investigator Dean Scoville, was not the unnecessary use of physical force by Fierro, but rather the "conspiracy" he discerns on the part of "the f___ing news media that's putting the boot to our collective heads because of it."

Officer Fierro's only offense, Scoville sneered in the pages of Police magazine, is "Working in the wrong era." "There was a time when post pursuit ass-kickings were obligatory," Scoville writes wistfully. "Cops knew it, suspects knew it, and there are enough old timers on both sides of the fence that will verify the assertion when I say that what this officer did was NOTHING compared to what would have happened in another place and time.... I'm nostalgic for the days when the pursued feared the judicial system if for nothing but the inevitable ass-kicking and street justice."

Society is no safer now that police have supposedly abandoned those wise old ways, insists Scoville; instead, we've empowered the criminal element and enhanced the peril faced by the law-abiding.

There are two factual problems with that analysis. Scoville's first error – as can be amply documented, thanks to the near-ubiquity of cell phones and the blessing of on-line file-sharing sites – is to claim that the practice of "street justice" by police officers has gone the way of the vinyl LP; in fact, it may be more widespread today than in any previous era. What’s wrong with this picture? If you answered, "Police are supposed to be peace officers and not `troops’ acting as an army of occupation," you’re right.

The second problem with Scoville's assessment is this: violent crime by private-sector criminals is less of a threat now than it has been in quite a while. Note carefully the qualifying phrase "private sector criminals"; we'll return to that distinction in a second.

Lt. Col. David Grossman, a West Point instructor and retired Army Ranger who provides combat instruction for police officers nation-wide (put a bookmark by that critical thought as well), points out that while we "may be living in the most violent times in history ... violence is still remarkably rare."

True, an estimated two million Americans are victims of violent crimes each year, but with a population of some 300 million Americans "the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year," Grossman observes. "Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million."

From this we see that violent crime, while a problem of considerable magnitude, is hardly an omnipresent threat. Yet many commentators, including Grossman himself, treat this containable social problem as if it were a relentless onslaught carried out by a huge, well-organized enemy, and insist on examining it in military terms. The police, according to Grossman, are "Sheepdogs," people specially endowed by God, or evolution, or something, with "the gift of aggression." The rest of us are mere "sheep" who "live in denial ... [not wanting to acknowledge] that there is evil in the world."

Oh, but let not your pitiful ovine heart be troubled; Grossman soothingly assures the rest of us that Sheepdogs "would no more misuse this gift [of aggression] than a doctor would misuse his healing arts," even though Sheepdogs understandably "yearn for the opportunity to use their gift to help others."

From this perspective, when the Sheepdogs get a little rough with their charges – say, body-slamming a woman face-first into a restaurant floor, leaving an innocent young man in a coma after body-checking him head-first into a wall, or putting a 12-year-old girl skateboarder in a chokehold – this isn't abuse; it's an outgrowth of their irrepressible "yearning for an honest battle." Ah.

As mentioned earlier, Grossman has been heavily engaged in providing combat instruction to police officers across the country, particularly since 9-11. That fact offers a partial answer to a question increasingly on the lips of Americans unsettled by the ever-growing tide of police abuse: Why do police increasingly behave like an occupying army, rather than civilian peace officers?

Grossman has done as much as anybody to infect police officers with the conceit that they are a warrior caste, apart from and – by virtue of their capacity to inflict violence – superior to the "sheep" they supervise. That conceit was on display in a recent Police magazine essay by trumpeted retired SWAT officer Robert O'Brien, who described police as "society's sheepdogs, [who] willingly and selflessly protect your flock – with your lives if necessary.... You are our nation's domestic warriors and heroes."

O'Brien's psalm of self-praise ventures into frankly fascist territory when he describes the fraternity of armed tax-consumers as "a thin blue line [that] strengthens into a solid steel band of brothers" in the face of danger and adversity. Now, I admit that there have been exceptional cases in which police have risked life, limb, and health in genuinely heroic service to innocent people – just as there are good and conscientious people employed in the hopelessly corrupt and collectivist public school system. There are some remarkable individuals in police work who perform their duties with a commendable combination of boldness and self-restraint, and then are killed in the line of duty at a tragically early age.

The late Officer Randal Simmons of the LAPD – ironically enough, a SWAT commander – appears to have been such a genuinely exceptional individual. Simmons was killed in a standoff with an armed, violent criminal who had killed two members of his own family. He was, signficantly, the first LA SWAT operator to be killed in the line of duty since the unit was formed forty years earlier. Talk about "Old School": Officer Simmons once ended a stand-off with a criminal suspect by testifying to him about Jesus. Obviously, he was not someone eager to blow "perps" to hell, unlike too many of the Sheepdogs praised by Grossman and O'Brien.

Simmons's apparent reluctance to use unnecessary force was the most important of several traits that set him apart from the rising crop of police officers. Too often, the "solid steel band of brothers" extolled by O'Brien displays its determined solidarity by defending each other against accountability, rather than intervening to protect the innocent from criminal violence. For too many, "officer safety" is the prime directive, whether the situation at hand is a Columbine-style shooting rampage or an inquiry into an act of criminal abuse by a fellow officer.

Consider the former example, the murder rampage at Columbine, during which heavily armed police and sheriff's deputies valiantly arrested fleeing teenagers while the shooters gunned down victims without opposition.

Here's Grossman's view of that episode: "The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer..... When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about the sheepdog when the wolf is at the door."

What the "sheep" didn't know at the time was that the "wolves" were already dead at their own hands, a development not brought about in any way by the actions of the "sheepdogs." The only contribution made by the "warriors" at Columbine was to plant the flag after the battle was over, and the enemy had moved on.

Of course, the Sheepdogs have been eager to capitalize on the actions of the Wolves at Columbine and elsewhere, to enhance their warrior cred. This underscores a cynical symbiosis between the sheepdogs and the wolves: The former need the latter, or at least the threat of the latter, in order to define themselves and justify their growing presence and influence in society.

As noted above, the "private" criminal element of American society, by Grossman's estimate, amounts to "considerably less than two million." As of 2005, the total population of state and local American police personnel was just under a half-million. (That figure obviously doesn't include the ever-expanding number of federal law enforcement personnel.) How many of the "sheepdogs" are actually latent Wolves, lacking only the right set of circumstances for their lethal lupine nature to assert itself?

When Officer Fierro kicked an unresisting suspect in the head, was he acting as a Sheepdog "yearning for a righteous battle," or as a Wolf exploiting an opportunity? In his particular case, there's evidence to believe that Fierro is the latter. When he's not patrolling the mean streets of El Monte, Officer Fierro brings in the bucks as owner of Torcido clothing, a specialty shop catering to gang-bangers and ex-convicts. "Torcido" (Spanish for "torqued" or "twisted") is Chicano slang for being imprisoned. Among the products offered by Fierro's company is a t-shirt bearing the inscription "186.22," with a bullet for the decimal point. The number refers to the penal code section dealing with gang crimes.

Local newspaper columnist Frank Girardot points out that Officer Fierro's company "caters to gang members and glorifies the Mexican Mafia." Girardot quotes LAPD Detective David Espinoza: "I understand the gangs really love this cop. I understand the clothing has hiding places for contraband, guns and dope. Things that can hurt our real cops on the street." (Note well that even here the first priority is "officer safety.")

When Fierro kicked Rodriguez in the face, was he guilty of abusing a customer, as well as police brutality? It's tempting to imagine him sharing lunch or hoisting an after-work beer with some of the same street criminals he pursues while on the clock. There's certainly something about his situation that gives off an odor reminiscent of the relationship depicted in Chuck Jones's classic "Ralph and Sam" cartoons.

Fierro's case resonates with a familiar cinematic cliche, that of the "supercop" with friends on "both sides of the law." Much celebrated in film and television, this affinity actually exists, according to a study published ten years ago in the Journal of Police a Criminal Psychology. The problem, according to that study, is that this demonstrates the prevalence of a certain type of sociopathic personality in both crime and law enforcement, since "the characteristics of `supercops' [are] similar and perhaps even interchangeable with those of habitual criminals." Among the salient traits of both groups are "a disposition toward control, aggressiveness, vigilance, rebelliousness, high energy level ... high self-esteem, feelings of uniqueness ... and a tendency to avoid blame."

Catherine Griffin and Jim Ruiz, authors of the study, point out that police work tends to select for potential and latent sociopathic personalities, since it "offers unlimited opportunities for corruption and deceit" coupled with a very tribal professional culture. "The extent to which police officers may abuse their authority seems limitless as does the extent fellow officers will go to protect each other," they observe. "The loyalty and `brotherhood' of the police that appeals to so many has caused many officers to neglect their primary duty to protect and to serve."

The problem is that many, perhaps most, of those employed in law enforcement do not see "protecting and serving" as their primary duty, but rather as one incidental to their fraternal responsibilities to each other and their obligations to the state that employs them. Wherever the interests of the two groups collide, we can expect the Sheepdogs to look out for each other at the expense of the Sheep. It's worth remembering that canines and lupines, as distant relatives, are both potential threats to the flock.

It's also worth remembering that the Regime ruling us coddles wolves, both the literal predator and their human equivalent. Sheep, on the other hand, are suitable only to be herded, sheared, and butchered – and one purpose of Sheepdogs, after all, is to keep the flock together on the way to the slaughterhouse.

One of the pleasant side-effects of the ongoing depression, ironically, is a wave of law enforcement cut-backs by revenue-starved municipalities. And this trend has helped fuel a large and continuing increase in gun purchases by Americans. This is all to the good, although we need much more of it to happen very quickly. We desperately need a radical thinning of the ranks of state-employed Sheepdogs, and for Americans by the tens of millions to discover their inner wolves.

Original report here

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