Sunday, July 31, 2011

Justice delayed shouldn't be justice denied

Exoneration of the innocent is a paramount act of conscience

Last week, the mid-Atlantic Innocence Project ( hosted a lunch to honor two very different men. One is black. The other is white. One has served 27 years in Virginia prisons for crimes he didn't commit. The other is Virginia's chief law enforcement official.

Their story began one evening in 1984, when 18-year-old Thomas Haynesworth went to a Richmond store to buy sweet potatoes for his mother. He'd never been in trouble, but as he left the store, a rape victim spotted him, called the police and mistakenly identified him as her attacker. Mr. Haynesworth was quickly arrested, jailed, tried, convicted of raping three women, sentenced to 84 years, hustled off to a state penitentiary and promptly forgotten.

Cops and prosecutors alike rolled their eyes at his protestations of innocence. Mr. Haynesworth said that although few people can imagine what it's like to serve time in prison, it is impossible to imagine what it's like for someone like him who finds himself facing life behind bars for a crime he didn't commit.

Years later, the staff of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project took a fresh look at his case and became convinced that he might be innocent. They sought DNA tests of evidence still in police files, and the tests proved another man already serving time for serial rape was the perpetrator in one of the cases in which Mr. Haynesworth had been convicted.

This led to the likelihood that his other two convictions resulted from mistaken identity as well. There was, however, no DNA evidence to test in the other two cases. Still, under 2004 Virginia law, Mr. Haynesworth had a chance to be cleared and win his freedom by seeking a "writ of actual innocence for non-biological evidence" and convincing a state appeals court that newly discovered non-DNA evidence would have made it impossible for a "rational trier" to have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt had it been available at his original trial.

Until last March, it seemed Mr. Haynesworth would remain in prison unless his lawyers could persuade an appeals court to grant such a writ, even though law enforcement officials and prosecutors familiar with his case already were persuaded that he was a victim rather than a criminal.

At that point, Virginia's attorney general, a fire-breathing conservative best known for filing the first constitutional challenge to the individual mandate in President Obama's health care law, got involved. As a state senator, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli had been a key supporter of the 2004 legislation that would give Mr. Haynesworth a chance at exoneration. After reviewing the evidence, he signed on as Mr. Haynesworth's most important supporter.

When he discovered in March that in spite of all that had happened, Mr. Haynesworth had been denied parole, Mr. Cuccinelli persuaded Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell to revisit an earlier parole denial so that on his 46th birthday, Thomas Haynesworth walked out of prison. He's still a convicted felon and has to register as a sex offender, but he's free, and Mr. Cuccinelli swears he will do everything in his power to clear Mr. Haynesworth's name.ress on the need to allow post-conviction DNA testing in death-penalty cases when there was any possibility that such tests might prove that a prisoner facing execution might, in fact, be innocent. I just couldn't understand how a prosecutor or anyone involved in such a case wouldn't want to be sure before taking a human life, but members of the prosecutorial community almost unanimously opposed such tests.

They said they did so in the name of certainty, finality and respect for the juries that decide questions of guilt or innocence, but I couldn't help thinking it had as much to do with ambition, ego and the prosecutorial batting average, combined with government's knee-jerk unwillingness under virtually any circumstances to acknowledge a mistake.

Mr. Cuccinelli agrees. He told those gathered to recognize him for his efforts on Mr. Haynesworth's behalf that his "somewhat idealistic view is that `justice' is still a part of our criminal justice system."

Fortunately for Mr. Haynesworth, Mr. Cuccinelli is one attorney general who believes that while our criminal justice system works pretty well most of the time, it isn't perfect. "We have to remember" he told his audience last week, "it was designed by human beings and is staffed by human beings, who sometimes make mistakes." This simple and obvious fact, he argues, means those working within the system have an obligation to keep in mind the possibility that mistakes might be made and do all they can to rectify them when they occur.

Mr. Cuccinelli was on that stage last week with the man he helped free because those interested in such issues know that too many in his position would, like those who put Mr. Haynesworth away almost three decades ago, simply have rolled their eyes, rejected the accused's protestations of innocence and gone on to other things.

Because Mr. Cuccinelli didn't look the other way, Thomas Haynesworth is free after 27 years in prison, looking forward to complete exoneration and reporting to work five days a week - in the office of Virginia's attorney general. It seems that idealism and justice are still compatible.

Original report here

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Disgrace of stormtrooper cop lingers in Ohio

Founded in 1999, Ohioans for Concealed Carry is one of the largest civil rights organizations in Ohio, serving the state's 210,000 concealed carry licensees. We have worked successfully with Ohio's legislators and governors for more than 10 years to ensure that all Ohioans are able to safely and lawfully protect themselves and their families.

Today, OFCC calls on Allen Schulman and Daniel Harless to immediately resign from their positions as president of the Canton City Council, and member of the Canton Police Department, respectively. Their recent conduct demonstrates that they are no longer worthy of the public trust.

* Schulman recently refused to denounce the unlawful behavior of police officer Daniel Harless, who threatened an unarmed, handcuffed citizen with execution (video here). Harless also threatened to "blast [the citizen] in the mouth," "cave in [the citizen's] head," and "step back and put 10 rounds in [the citizen]." By remaining silent during one of the worst cases of police abuse in recent U.S. history, Schulman has given the unmistakable impression of protecting – and even condoning – his employee's behavior. Moreover, Schulman's arrogant silence during this tragedy has set off a chaotic loss of public confidence in Canton's police force – a dangerous scenario and threat to public safety.

* In remarks to WHLO News (audio here), Schulman announced his contempt for Ohio state law that guarantees the basic human right of self-defense. Firearm laws that allow licensed, law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families in dangerous locations are "not acceptable in our society," he said. We believe that his contempt for the right of self-defense is morally identical to a hatred of the free practice of religion, or an attack on the right of journalists to report news and opinion at will. All these activities are Constitutionally enumerated rights; an elected official who discloses their contempt of a basic human right is unfit for public office in the United States and should be removed forthwith.

Over the past several days, the behavior of Harless has been roundly condemned by civil rights leaders, attorneys, law enforcement officers and administrators, law professors, news commentators, and ordinary citizens across the country; Schulman, too, has frequently been named. We are dismayed that City of Canton leaders have not responded to this crisis with the urgency it demands, and that organizations like ours have to call for decisions to be made.

Schulman and Harless should resign immediately. We hope that these changes will at once bring renewed stability, and accountability, to the City of Canton.

Original report here

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Friday, July 29, 2011

CA: Boy Shot By Off-Duty cop gets payout

A young boy shot by an off-duty San Diego police officer in March 2008 spoke to 10News about his ordeal. 10News talked to 12-year-old Johnny Silva on Wednesday, one day after the city of San Diego settled a lawsuit over the shooting for $500,000.

"I didn't actually believe I got shot," Johnny said. "I thought it was just a dream." Johnny described the incident that happened when he was 8 years old: "The cop cut my mom off and then we went to the parking lot and he pulled his gun out, shot and we tried to go in reverse and he just kept shooting. And at the end he finally said he was a cop when he could have said that in the beginning instead of shooting."

White claimed he fired his gun five times into Silva's windshield in self defense. He said Johnny's mother, Rachel Silva, turned her car toward him, revved the engine and hit the gas after she had sideswiped him on the road.

White was acquitted of all criminal charges, and authorities said Silva was drunk during the incident.

When asked what he would say to White, he said, "I don't know. I'd just ask him why did you shoot me?"

Johnny told 10News he would use the money for college and try to become a doctor. After legal expenses, Johnny will end up with a little more than $300,000. The money will go into a trust until his 18th birthday.

Original report here

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Caught on tape: CA Police beat and taser 'gentle' mentally-ill homeless man to death

A shocking video has been released allegedly showing police officers tasering and beating a homeless man to death who they claim was resisting arrest. Though the video is not clear, eye witnesses say the homeless man - Kelly Thomas, 37 - was unable to put up any resistance and was lying on the ground on his front when the attack took place on July 5.

His screams and cries for his father can be heard amid the tasering noises.

The video was shot by a student in Fullerton, California. Kelly Thomas was beaten so badly he died in hospital several days later.

According to Gawker, Thomas - who suffered from schizophrenia - caught the attention of the police after someone reported that a burglar was breaking into cars parked near a Fullerton bus station. When officers approached Thomas in the depot parking lot and tried to arrest him, he resisted.

After that reports diverge.

Police will not issue a statement saying the issue is under investigation but they did say that six officers were involved and two 'suffered broken bones in the fight'. However, they recently retracted that statement saying that it was only 'soft tissue damage'.

Eye witnesses at the scene claim the six officers tasered him five times and beat him beyond recognition, which the disturbing photo of him in hospital shows.

Mark Turgeon, who was there, said: 'They kept beating him and tasering him. I could hear zapping, and he wasn't even moving. 'He had one arm in front of him like this, he wasn't resisting. And they kept telling him, "He's resisting, quit resisting", and he wasn't resisting.'

Many members of the Fullerton community described Thomas as a passive, peaceful person. On the website Fullerton Stories, several people have shared their experiences interacting with Thomas, describing him as 'very quiet and polite', 'gentle and childlike', 'sweet', and 'never a threat'.

Thomas has a previous conviction for assault with a deadly weapon 16 years ago, according to Gawker, which has been attributed to the onset of his illness.

Since his death, his family and members of the community have held protests outside the police department headquarters, looking for answers. Two officers were suspended shortly after the attack but police will not confirm if it was related to the 37-year-old's death.

Speaking about his son's death, Thomas's dad, Ron Thomas, a former sheriff's deputy, said: 'His death was gang-involved, the way I see it. A gang of rogue officers who brutally beat my son to death.' He said he now feels ashamed for having ever been a law enforcement officer.

He has been in the area his son was attacked handing out flyers and asking people for help. He said: 'The only thing we have left of our son is the blood in the gutter, that's all we have left.'

Local city council member Bruce Whitaker has called for a 'clear, factual and complete explanation of events which led to the death of Kelly J. Thomas.' He also wants the D.A. to release a police video that apparently shows the actual beating taking place.

Fullerton police Sgt Andrew Goodrich said that Thomas began to fight officers as they tried to search him. He said: 'We don't know why he was so combative and resistant to the officers, but it took upwards of five to six officers to subdue him. 'Sometimes when we take people into custody who don't want to go into custody, we have to use force. It is never the preferred way of doing things.'

He said police are conducting an internal investigation into the officers' actions and the District Attorney's Office is conducting a criminal investigation. The DA's office said they cannot comment on details of cases until they are completed.

Original report here

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

MD: Mount Rainier police officer, indicted

The slime should not still have been in the police after his previous behavior. No doubt his skin color protected him

A grand jury indicted a Mount Rainier police officer on multiple charges, including attempted murder and sexual offense, in connection with a July shooting in Capitol Heights.

27-year-old Gene Gillette, a 3 and ½ year veteran with the police, faces 12 counts of attempted second-degree murder, attempted voluntary manslaughter and multiple counts of assault and sexual offenses. He is expected to appear in court Wednesday for a bond hearing.

"We don't take lightly our responsibility to enforce the law - even against a law enforcer," Angela Alsobrooks, the State's Attorney for Prince George's County, said in a statement. "No one is above the law."

Sources tell ABC7 that on July 2, the victim in the shooting, a 20-year-old male, was lured over to Gillete's residence when he was told there would be girls there to shoot a pornographic film.

Once the victim arrived, he found no girls at the residence. Instead, sources say, Gillette wanted him to perform sexual acts with him. When the victim tried to flee in Gillette's personal car, the officer opened fire, hitting him in the torso.

"I woke up hearing some screaming," Bryien Gray, Gillette's neighbor, said. "Another gunshot...and the guy hits the ground."

Gillette originally said that he had shot the victim in self-defense while he was being carjacked.

He faces life in prison if convicted on all counts.

Mt. Rainier Police Chief Mike Scott says that Gillette was a two-time Officer of the Year, earning the honor in 2009 and 2010. He called him a "very proactive" cop and said he was very disappointed.

However, a Northeast D.C. resident says she was harassed two years ago when Gillette arrested her. She took video of the incident with her cell phone.

Charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest against her were later dropped.

Gillette has been suspended without pay.

Original report here

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Missing Lesson From Norway: Never Trust a Man in Uniform

According to the narrative provided by Norwegian investigators, Breivik detonated a remote-controlled bomb in downtown Oslo before traveling to Utoya, an island resort that was hosting a retreat for young activists affiliated with the Labour Party, many of whom had parents or relatives who had been employed at the government offices targeted in the bombing. When he arrived a few hours after the blast, Breivik was disguised as a policeman. This allowed him to gain access to the facility, and the confidence of his victims: Trained to defer reflexively to someone wearing the insignia of "authority," the young campers were psychologically disarmed when the assassin told them he had been sent to check on their "security."

By the time a SWAT team managed to arrive an hour and a half later, Breivik had mowed down scores of innocent youngsters.

"It was a slaughter of young children," one witness said following the massacre. They were sheep who had fallen prey to a wolf wearing what the victims had been taught to perceive as the attire of a "sheepdog."

The uncomfortable but irrepressible fact is that every state-licensed "sheepdog" is a potential murderer, and should be treated as such. We have this on the unimpeachable authority of "Jack Dunphy," an active-duty officer in the employ of the Los Angeles Police Department.

In every encounter between a police officer and a "civilian," Dunphy writes, the officer is "concerned with protecting his mortal hide from having holes placed in it where God did not intend. And you, if in asserting your constitutional right to be free from unlawful search and seizure fail to do as the officer asks, run the risk of having such holes placed in your own." What this means is that a Mundane who displays anything other than abject servility is perceived as a threat to "officer safety" – and, by Dunphy’s calculation, a suitable subject for immediate termination.

As is demonstrated by the actions of Patrolman Daniel Harless of the Canton, Ohio Police Department, that assessment is not hyperbole. In a June 8 traffic stop that was captured on video, Harless repeatedly threatened to murder the driver, William E. Bartlett, for carrying a concealed handgun for which he had obtained a the appropriate license. At the time, Bartlett was attempting to comply with the state ordinance by notifying Harless that he was carrying a weapon, and displaying his concealed carry license. Bartlett was composed and deferential; Harless’s behavior was that of a borderline psychotic eagerly seeking an excuse to kill somebody.

"As soon as I felt your gun I should have took [sic] two steps back, pulled my Glock 40 and just put 10 bullets in your ass and let you drop," snarled Harless. "And I wouldn’t have lost any sleep." Thus did Harless slay the diligently propagated fiction that police officers are burdened with a bone-deep dread of pulling their firearms.

After threatening to "put lumps on" a witness to the incident, Harless told Bartlett, "I’m so close to caving in your f*****g head…. You’re just a stupid human being…. F*****g talking to me with a f*****g gun. You want me to pull mine and stick it to your head?" He later threatened to stop Bartlett every time he saw him, towing – that is, stealing – his car and taking him to jail.

After the video was made public by the civil liberties group Ohioans for Concealed Carry, Harless was put on paid vacation.

"Obviously, whatever transpired on that video was an isolated incident," sniffed Bill Adams, commissar of the local police union. The "whatever" Adams blithely dismissed was aggravated assault with a deadly weapon: Rather than continuing to receive a paycheck for sitting at home swilling beer and consuming internet porn, Harless should be in jail awaiting trial. Furthermore, this incident was an "isolated" one only as that term applies to those individuals and that particular location; it is anything but atypical of the behavior of the State’s thuggish enforcer caste.

Harless merely threatened to pull his gun and stick it to William Bartlett’s head. According to the eyewitness testimony of his former partner, Officer Sergio Vergillo, that’s what Phoenix Police Officer Richard Chrisman did to 29-year-old Danny Rodriguez just seconds before he gunned down the family’s dog and murdered the unarmed man.

Chrisman and Vergillo had responded to a call from Rodriguez’s mother, who was upset with her son’s behavior. Rodriguez demanded that Chrisman present a warrant. Drawing on the same lexicon of public service used by Patrolman Harless, Chrisman shoved a gun against Rodriguez’s temple and sneered, "I don’t need no warrant, mother****r." Within minutes, Chrisman had shot the dog, which – according to his partner – exhibited no threatening behavior. This left Rodriguez understandably upset.

"Hey, why did you shoot my dog?" Rodriguez bellowed at the intruder. Five seconds later, he was dead – thereby validating Officer "Jack Dunphy"’s warning that summary execution is considered condign punishment for any Mundane who annoys a member of the Exalted Brotherhood of Coercion by asserting his rights.

Chrisman, who had previously been captured on video planting drug paraphernalia on a homeless woman, was fired and charged with second-degree murder. Significantly, the local police union, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA), held a barbecue at its headquarters to raise money on behalf of Chrisman. Following Chrisman’s arrest, PLEA commissar Mark Spencer, commissioned a fishing expedition in Vergillo’s background in the hope of impeaching his credibility as a witness. Even after the net came up empty, Spencer publicly denigrated the character of Officer Vergillo, who had violated the most important canon of police conduct by telling the truth about a fellow officer’s criminal conduct – in this case, aggravated murder.

In New Orleans, the trial continues of five police officers accused of murdering two people, and grievously injuring four others at the Danziger Bridge in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The victims were unarmed refugees seeking to flee to higher ground. The police officers responsible for this atrocity concocted a cover story – complete with planted weapons and fabricated "witnesses" – in which the victims supposedly opened fire on the police and were killed in self-defense. One of the victims, a 40-year-old disabled man named Ronald Madison, received a shotgun blast to the back of his head, and then was shot at least three more times while he was face-down on the ground. Lance Madison, an eyewitness to the murder of his brother by the police, was arrested and charged with "attempted murder of police officers" – a charge that was eventually dismissed.

While the murders at Danziger Bridge differed in scale from the bloodletting in Norway, it was also a fatal ambush in which the perpetrators were attired in a costume signifying "authority" -- and they behaved with the same pathological ruthlessness displayed the perpetrator of massacre on Utoya.

Whenever an innocent person is confronted by an armed stranger in what appears to be a government-issued costume, one danger is that he is an imposter. An even more dangerous possibility is that he isn’t.

Original report here

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Monday, July 25, 2011

The Policeman is Not Your Friend

After writing so many columns on police issues, I suppose I should make the disclaimer that my dad was a cop. I’m morally certain he was a good man, and that — however much we might differ on politics were he still alive — he was scrupulously just by his standards.

But when I see a cop in my rearview mirror, I don’t like having to hope it’s a decent person. And there’s good reason to assume any cop you see is a bad person.

The town where my dad worked as a cop topped out at under 20,000 people when he retired in the 1970s. The kinds of people who chose to work in small towns, policing their neighbors in communities where everyone knew everyone else, were a lot different from those who find police work appealing today.

Urban police forces are disproportionately attractive to people who get off on wearing black uniforms and making displays of force to terrorize the local population into submission (er, “compliance”). They appeal to people who enjoy stomping around in loud boots and kicking in doors at 3AM, terrorizing children and shooting pets.

They appeal, in short, to sociopaths.

Here’s a quote from a Cato study on police militarization: “We send out two, two-to-four-men cars, we look for minor violations and do jump-outs. … After we jump-out the second car provides periphery cover with an ostentatious display of weaponry. We’re sending a clear message: if the shootings don’t stop, we’ll shoot someone.”

In 2009 Homer, Louisiana’s police chief stated: “If I see three or four young black men walking down the street, I have to stop them and check their names. I want them to be afraid every time they see the police …”

In that context consider the recent arrest of Emily Good, in Rochester, NY — while standing in her own front yard — for filming cops making a bust. The arresting officer claimed she was “interfering” with the arrest and he “didn’t feel safe” with her back there. He initially told her it wasn’t legal to film him from the sidewalk, but he escalated matters after she stepped back onto the grass.

Now, in most jurisdictions, there is — as civil liberties advocates have made themselves hoarse repeating — no law against filming public servants in a public place performing their official duties. They have, in the phrase so dear to police statists, “no reasonable expectation of privacy.” The police chief, after the fact, claimed the arrest wasn’t about filming the officer as such. He was lying.

Ms. Good was arrested, quite simply, because she didn’t properly cower and abase herself, didn’t show proper deference and submission (er, “compliance”) before an Alpha Male. So like a Rottweiler with his adrenaline up, Officer Friendly went off on her. You’ve got to expect that sort of thing — it’s in the breed.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter what the “law” is about recording cops. If you’re spotted doing it, be prepared to have your face smashed into the concrete and your phone stomped to pieces.

What was the local police reaction to the controversy? Did they respect Ms. Good’s legal right to challenge the arrest, to speak her mind on public policy? Did they agree, as public servants subject to civilian authority, to abide by the outcome of any official inquiry? Does the Pope in Rome run a madrasa?

During a public meeting in support of Ms. Good, police carefully used a ruler to determine which cars were parked more than a food away from the curb. Do you think they enforce deviations from the parking regulations so scrupulously when ticketing random cars downtown?

This was retaliation, pure and simple. One of the sheep defied a beast of prey, and his pack turned on her. Likewise, in other cases where cops are recorded in the commission of similar wrongdoing — like public drunkenness and urination, abusive behavior toward the public, etc., during Police Week celebrations — members of the Brotherhood react by leaving threatening messages on websites where the footage is posted.

On occasion, some cop’s instincts toward decency cause him to violate the code of silence and report misconduct by another member of the Brotherhood. This is the unpardonable sin for which there is no forgiveness, either in this world or in the next.

So next time you interact with a cop, don’t stand on your rights. If you film him, make sure it’s as unobtrusive as possible. Say “yes, sir,” smile an ingratiating smile, and act properly intimidated. By all means, make an example of him — memorize his badge number — but do it after the fact. Otherwise, you may wind up explaining your “legal rights” to Saint Peter.

Original report here

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pete Eyre & Ademo Freeman: NOT GUILTY

What did they do? They filmed police in Greenfield, MA. That's all

Justice is so rare today. Here we have two Davids who made Goliath stumble, however slightly. Pete Eyre and Ademo Freeman were found NOT GUILTY of the 3 charges that Greenfield, Mass prosecutor Jeffrey Banks tried them on. NOT GUILTY of wiretapping, NOT GUILTY of resisting arrest.

Real justice requires that Todd M. Dodge and cohorts never would have harassed, kidnapped or caged them. Real justice would not have required a night’s stay in a cold cage. One year of fighting these ridiculous charges tooth and nail – real justice laughs at that. The monstrous crime of putting these fine gentleman in jeopardy of a felony conviction and possibly years in jail? Unspeakable. Real justice won’t hear of it.

This is not justice. This is a landmark on the way towards healing injustice.

There is a great value in the learning experience Pete and Ademo have undertaken. Maybe now they can help other victims of the police state. But there is also great risk. We could easily be talking about how to get money into their prison commissary accounts, instead of celebrating.

Celebrate. Congratulate Pete and Ademo. Learn from them. I salute them. I doff my hat to them. Congratulations, gentleman. You have taken chains and turned them into gold.

But take great pains before engaging in the same risks they take. There are other, less risky ways to advance the cause of liberty and dignity.

Original report here

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

More on the Ohio goon -- update from yesterday

He has lots of form but has always got off so far. Only the fact of the video seems to have trapped him this time. Even his fellow cops are not defending him. Seems they knew he is a bad 'un

Yesterday, we brought you the video of an irate Canton, OH police officer threatening to kill a concealed carry gun owner. It went viral. Today, we learn that the officer involved has been placed on leave. But we’re also learning a lot more about the officer himself, including his reported history of being the focus of internal affairs investigations.

WJW-TV reports Officer Daniel Harless was placed on leave after the June 8 incident, although it doesn’t note how soon after the incident the action took place.

However, a report by the Canton Repository reveals more details. According to its story, Harless was placed on leave on June 20 pending the completion of an internal investigation. And according to the paper, Harless has a history of complaints against him — he has faced 16 internal affairs investigations since 2000 and been reprimanded in the past:
Harless, 45, an Ohio native and former Marine worked as a police officer in Virginia for four years before coming to Canton in 1996.

During his career he has earned several commendations. One was from a Virginia judge, who praised the way Harless handled a situation involving a man with a gun, according to records in his city personnel file.

Canton’s internal affairs unit has investigated 16 complaints involving Harless dating back to 2000. He was reprimanded in one 2003 case. Harless and another officer were exonerated of using excessive force, but were given a letter of reprimand for not activating the in-car video camera at the scene per department policy.

Once the investigation into Harless is completed he will face a disciplinary hearing, Police Chief Dean McKimm told WJW.

“I think it’s important for citizens to understand that the behavior demonstrated on the video is wholly unacceptable, and it violates many of our rules, our regulations and standards we demand of our officers,” the chief told the Repository.

“The city administration, in conjunction with the police department, recognizes the seriousness of this matter,” he added.

Perhaps surprisingly, the Repository reports the police union head — Bill Adams — is not throwing his support, at least publicly, behind Harless:
“Obviously whatever transpired on that video is an isolated incident,” Adams said. “It happened and it’s being handled properly right now and the chief is doing what he feels is necessary.”

Adams said calls involving guns can be emotional and dangerous situations, but he wasn’t condoning anything that might have happened on the recording.

“We’re a very well-trained and well-rounded police department that has solid officers that can make good, solid decisions every day,” he said. “You can’t (take) one incident like this and make it like every (officer) is out of control.”

The gun owner’s full name has also been revealed. He is 52-year-old William E. Bartlett, of Brewster, OH.

The story has quickly become a staple on the internet. Ohioans For Concealed Carry, which first posted the video and is raising money for Bartlett’s defense, says that the response was so large it shut down the group’s website temporarily.

“Shortly after 7:00pm Thursday our website could no longer handle the volume of visitors we were receiving,” the group says on its website. “We promptly quadrupled the resources behind in light of the popularity of this story.”

“The video and story has gone both viral and national crossing over to websites not typically affiliated with the pro-gun movement,” it added.

Original report here

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Friday, July 22, 2011


EXTREME language warning.

This is a cop in Ohio pulling over a man in who has a CCW license. In Ohio, CCW holders are legally required to notify police officers that they are carrying. The man tries to tell the cop repeatedly, but the cop won't let him speak.

1. The cop is obviously of below-average intelligence as evidenced by his language and demeanor, and should have washed out of the academy screening process. Law enforcement is an extremely subtle social art. This guy probably can't even spell "art".

2. The cop is obviously a moral degenerate. Listening to him and observing him, would you feel safe letting your daughter go out on a date with him? Is there anything about him that you would characterize as virtuous and trustworthy? Can you imagine what he is like in his personal life? Just guessing, I would say that he probably consumes massive amounts of pornography. Again, just a guess, but I doubt any of you would bet against me on that one.

3. The cop has serious, serious psychological problems and is clearly all about trying to play the "bad@$$". All of the screaming and raging and cursing and bullying has exactly one objective: bolstering his own ego. He is obviously compensating for something. The 13:20 mark is the money quote with regards to that.

4. People like this are exactly the type that become brutal enforcers under Marxism. Understand that the politics really wouldn't have anything to do with it. I doubt very seriously that this guy has ever in his life compared and contrasted political systems, or given the least bit of thought to it. If the Obama regime offered this guy free license to beat the crap out of people, and even kill people under the guise of "policing", he would jump at it. It wouldn't matter to him what the regime's politics were - all that would matter to him would be the sanctioned brutality that he could engage in, coupled with the paycheck. It is violence for violence's sake with jerks like this.

5. History clearly shows us that Marxists have NO PROBLEM whatsoever recruiting brutes. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot - these men didn't murder over 100 million people with their own hands. They had ARMIES of "state police" do it for them, and they never were in want of people who were willing to brutalize and slaughter their neighbors. It also bears mentioning that most law enforcement officers in this country are unionized, and thus are already sympathetic to the Marxist grievance-mongers.

6. People think that a Marxist police state could never happen here because "Americans just aren't like that." Baloney. Watch the video above over and over again until you understand. Obama's Gestapo is here, walking among us. All they need is the go-ahead to start terrorizing people, and this cop is the perfect example of that.

7. Obviously, there are good, intelligent, morally upright cops, too. But, history has repeatedly shown that when Marxists unleash their tyranny, those good men either have to flee or are purged.

Update: The officer has been suspended with pay. Also, there is a lot of chatter on the internet that the cop looks and acts like he is on steroids. Re-watching the video, yes, I can see that. Guys on steroids definitely have a different "look" from guys who just work out. I've seen it. This guy definitely has that steroid "look". The raging demeanor also matches.

Original report here

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Life Worth Less Than Train Fare

This article is from a Leftist source so is more dogmatic about the Harding case than it should be. Contrary to what they say, there is some evidence that Harding fired first. The police treatment of him after he went down did however seem to be aimed at making sure he died

Another young, unarmed black man, Kenneth Harding, has been gunned down, shot numerous times in the back as he fled, his empty hands in the air in broad daylight. His crime had been a simple train fare evasion for which San Francisco police executed him in the street.

Dozens of witnesses saw a sight that has become commonplace in US cities, capturing images with cell phones of police surrounding the man and watching him struggle and writhe from a distance, in a swelling pool of his own blood. Without either offering the severely wounded man assistance, searching him, or otherwise looking for the supposed weapon, the police, most of whom had their backs turned to the suspect, would later try and say that he had fired at the them and randomly into the crowd that had assembled.

No one in the crowd said anything about him having or firing a gun. Police would later say one had mysteriously appeared, via an informant. The police publicly named Harding as a "person of interest" in a Seattle killing, a day after he had been shot dead by police. They are using a criminal conviction to attempt to further devalue his life. This piece is not about previous convictions, or the "official story" which the police are constructing as I write, about post-mortem murder suspicions and mystery guns. One thing is clear, as far as police knew he was a simple fare evader. As far as multiple witnesses could see, Harding had no gun and the shots all went one way.

Whether BART police, Oakland PD, or SFPD, the stories have been very similar. Suspects are gunned down in the street, no weapon, usually shot in the back as they ran, almost all men of color, a homeless or mentally-ill white man here or there. We get a similar story each time. One that is weak, lacks probable cause for lethal force, and is based on the opinion of the offending officers whose word is unquestioned by superiors, city officials, or the corporate press. Unless there is a video.

Mehserle, the cop who shot Oscar Grant, thought his glock was a lighter and larger and fluorescent tazer, though it had a completely different grip. An exception to the rule, Mehserle did time for his crime – a few paltry months. He was recently released. The OPD shot Derrick Jones in the back, he was carrying a scale. No charges were filed. Several killings of unarmed men of color in Oakland have yielded temporary suspensions, followed by reinstatements with back pay. Some acting, individual OPD officers have killed more than one unarmed man on separate occasions and still patrol the street, guns loaded, and ready to go.

The root causes of these murders by the police are multiple and far too complex to be fully discussed here: insulated and unaccountable police power committed to upholding a particular racial and economic order; psychological fear-turned-violence or plain hostility among the police; white supremacy at several levels of society from the motivations of suburban law-and-order voters to the historical legacies of the police in this country; to geographies of segregation, of which the Bayview is a prime example.

The result is a system of violence that is specifically targeted, on one level, and completely indiscriminant on another. Targeted in the sense that concentrated police presence, aggressive police tactics (profiling, checkpoints, not so random Muni train inspections for tickets, etc.), and police self-conceptions as occupiers of hostile territory are all almost entirely exclusive to poor, urban communities of color.

The nature, logic, tactics and history of the police in communities of color is not a few bad apples, related to violent crime rates that have fallen, or a new phenomena. Within these targeted communities the violence of the police is often completely indiscriminate. A simple traffic stop, a response to a domestic argument, a skipped train fare. Case, after case, after case. Candlelight vigil, after community mural, after RIP rap, it is the same over and over. No gun. Hands up. Running away. Shot in the back. No accountability.

Some people use the words "police terrorism" to describe this reality. You don't see this in the mainstream news, or on the lips of aspiring city council people, or from most non-profits in the community. Even people within movements against police violence get silenced for using this language by people who deem themselves more responsible or better educated. We have sketched the nature of the police in the city. What is the definition of terrorism? The US State Department defines terrorism as:

"Premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets… usually intended to influence an audience."

The police in the Bayview or East Oakland understand themselves as occupiers of the community, a premeditated understanding, though not inaccurate, of an enemy relationship – not between cops and robbers, but between cops and communities of color. The political motivation is one of containment – containment of a community plagued by unemployment, failing schools, anger, hopelessness, drug abuse, and violence. Police respond to crimes to an extent, but their more general responsibility is to control space, maintain order, and intimidate. This process is one of dehumanization of communities through social and economic exclusion enforced through various forms of containment, of which the police are the most visible.

People not subjected to this reality have the luxury of imagining it as something other than it is. Many can blindly accept law enforcement arguments, however unlikely. Many can actively or tacitly support the social relationships that have one group of unaccountable, overpaid men with guns, who almost always live in some other community, containing and terrorizing neighborhoods because the people who live there are poor, and of color, and somehow still considered worth less - worth less than a train fare apparently.

A vicious cycle of racialized poverty is interwoven with a vicious cycle of police occupation and terror. This is a war with several fronts of various direct and indirect forms of structural violence – schools, employment, housing, etc. – of which the police are the most visible and dramatic. The solution to this war is a just peace. A just peace is not possible without self-determination. Unarmed teenagers getting gunned down for not paying train fare is not a mistake, or an aberration, or "bad apples", it is a discrete, everyday act of war, the inevitable outcome of every occupation. Enough innocent blood has been shed, it is upon us to not only bring an end to this ongoing madness, but to foster self-determined communities which unravel and dismantle the vicious cycles of violence of which the police are but the armed guardians.

Original report here

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

NY: Diabetic $core$ on NYPD

A diabetic woman from Philadelphia scored a sweet deal from the city yesterday after she was arrested for smoking pot on the Lower East Side.

Jaime Rutkowski, 30, is getting $125,000 because she had to be rushed to the hospital last year after cops refused to let her check her sugar level while she was in lockup.

Rutkowski was jailed at the Seventh Precinct station on Oct. 16, where she felt her sugar level soaring, according to Manhattan federal court papers.

Rutkowski begged for her confiscated glucose meter and insulin, but was left to suffer. Her sugar count rose to over three times the normal level before EMTs were called.

"Any endocrinologist will confirm that this is enough for a Type-1 diabetic to go into shock, slip into a coma, and die," said her lawyer, Joel Berger.

After treatment at Bellevue Hospital, Rutkowski was granted a conditional discharge.

Original report here

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A charming dickless tracy -- and friend

Australia: A Perth man faces extradition to the United States after being considered "a big part" in the brutal spanking torture of two underage girls that was recorded by a disgraced Florida policewoman.

Christopher Donald Lobban, 53, of Mullaloo is alleged to be the online boyfriend of Polk County Sherriff's detention deputy Robyn Leigh Pagoria, after meeting her on a fetish website.

The 45-year-old divorcee, who served 20 years in the marines, has been accused of abusing her position over the girls - described as being aged between 10 and 18 – by subjecting them to multiple torture sessions at her house and then sharing with her online boyfriend video taken using her mobile phone.

The woman, who is also the mother of five daughters and one son, has been charged with three counts of aggravated child abuse, three counts of producing child pornography, three counts of the promotion of child pornography and three counts of possessing child pornography.

In her arrest report, it said that on May 20 of this year, Pagoria made an unnamed girl get naked in a special room in her house and bend over a desk, which had two legs sawn off so that her head was close to the ground and her wrists could be handcuffed to the desk and her ankles bound to the remaining table legs.

She then used her mobile phone to record her spanking the girl 50 times "for being disrespectful", the report said.

It was the second time the girl had allegedly been spanked by Pagoria and the other girl told a child protection investigator that she too had been subject to the same treatment on the same day. The girls received injuries including haemorrhaging and minor lacerations due to the beatings, the report said.

The report went on to detail the Perth man's alleged involvement in the crime. "...Robin's online boyfriend, ..., 'is a big part' in the disciplining process. Robin and [he] ... decide together what the punishment should be." While he played no part in the actual beatings, it was alleged he influenced the events through his internet relationship with Pagoria.

During a taped interview with two fellow officers, Pagoria admitted to the spankings and said that regular spanking had not changed their behaviour so "she needed to do something to embarrass them".

She initially denied to investigators that her online boyfriend, whom she has never met in person, saw the videos or requested the videos of the spankings. But in a second interview, she admitted she uploaded the videos of the two girls to her account for her boyfriend to download.

Pagoria was arrested "without incident" on May 26 and when she appeared in a county court shortly afterwards, she told the judge that she would not fight the charges and had every intention to plead "guilty or no contest".

Yesterday Mr Lobban made a brief appearance in the Perth Magistrates Court after being arrested on a provisional extradition warrant to face child-exploitation charges in the US.

Wearing a striped polo shirt, Mr Lobban sat quietly in the dock and showed no emotion on his face. He was remanded in custody to await extradition papers, which are expected to take five weeks, and will face court again on August 4.

Original report here

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Monday, July 18, 2011

When British political correctness delivers obnoxious "justice"

Father fined 1,000 pounds and found guilty of harassment for warning families about a paedophile

A father who warned another parent about a convicted paedophile has been fined œ1,000 and found guilty of harassing the sex offender. He was horrified to find his ex-wife's new husband - stepfather to his daughter, 11 - had served three jail terms for sex crimes.

A reporting restriction imposed to protect the stepfather's identity means that none of the family members can be named. One of the stepfather's sentences was for molesting two 12-year-old girls as they slept at his house.

A court heard the father raised the alarm after discovering four of his daughter's friends had been invited to the family home for a sleepover to celebrate her birthday. When he showed the mother of one girl a newspaper clipping revealing the stepfather's convictions, all the parents stopped their children going to the sleepover.

Following that action, as well as repeated phone calls to the home of his ex-wife and her husband, the father was arrested and convicted of harassment at Worcester Magistrates Court and fined œ1,000.

The father told the court he spoke out because he would have `felt responsible' if one of the children at the sleepover had been harmed. He added: `My decision was to speak up to one of the parents and leave it up to their discretion. `I was concerned for her daughter as I always have been for my own. My daughter is open to quite considerable harm in my eyes.'

A judge heard how the defendant's ex-wife began a relationship with the convicted paedophile in 2007 and is now married to him.

The defendant said he initially socialised with his ex-wife and her new partner, but relations soured when he learned of the man's past.

The stepfather was convicted of attempted rape in 1980 as a teenager. He was convicted of the same offence in 1988 and was jailed again in 1996 for molesting the two girls.

The court heard the defendant had signed a police harassment notice after earlier claims that he may have discussed the stepfather's past with others. The notice required him not to reveal the stepfather's convictions to anyone, including his own daughter.

But he breached the order last September by alerting the other parent. Prosecutor Owen Beale said the father, frustrated at what he saw as decreasing access to his daughter, also called his ex-wife's home 14 times in two hours one evening the same month, and rang her mobile phone three times.

In one message he said of the stepfather: `You are a self-confessed paedophile, rapist, fraudster, the lot... I just want to speak to my daughter.' In another, he threatened to come `round to sort things out once and for all'. The couple were at home but did not answer the phone. Instead they noted down the content of the messages and informed police.

The father told the court on Thursday that he made the calls as he had been unable to reach his daughter on her mobile because of poor reception in the area where she lives, and did not contact police or social services about the sleepover because he `didn't think they would act quickly enough'.

Mr Beale said of the fact the defendant's daughter was under the same roof as a convicted sex offender: `The authorities were not concerned that there was a risk because they left her there.'

District Judge Mark Layton described the case as `hugely difficult' but said the charges against the father had been proved. He must pay œ775 costs and a œ15 victim surcharge, and banned from contact with the stepfather

Original report here. (Via POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Man exonerated but still penalized by a huge debt

Time slowed for Harold Fish as the man rushed toward him on the hiking trail outside Payson. His gun drawn, Fish had time to do all the things his self-defense instructors had taught him, the ones it seemed he never would have time to do in the heat of the moment.

Fish already had fired at the ground in front of three growling dogs running toward him, scaring them away. But it didn't deter the man running toward him.

Fish looked at the man's hands, which were clenched into fists. Maybe, he thought, to hide a small knife. He locked on the man's eyes and didn't see any sense of him backing down. It wasn't the look an unarmed man would have in the face of a weapon.

"A switch just gets thrown in your head," Fish, 64, said as he remembered the May 2004 incident. "All of a sudden, the gun comes up and you start seeing yourself pull the trigger. "In the back of your mind, a voice is there saying, 'You have to stop this now.' " Fish did, with three shots. Grant Kuenzli, 43, collapsed at his feet.

It was the quintessential situation cited by gun-carrying citizens. Fish was able to defend himself against an imminent attack.

He had gone through training to ready himself for such a scenario. But Fish was not prepared for what was to follow.

He was put on trial and found guilty of murder. He was imprisoned. He faced the possibility of a civil trial from Kuenzli's family. He still finds himself in deep debt to pay his attorneys, who were able to get an appellate court to toss his conviction in 2009.

"What nobody teaches is what happens when you use that firearm," Fish said, speaking from his Glendale home. "They focus on you surviving the incident."

Those who carry a gun for self-defense do so because of the off-chance that they will need to protect themselves. Imagined scenarios involve someone breaking into their home or accosting them.

That is why Fish started carrying a gun for self-defense, including while camping or hiking. But he thought that most likely he would only use it to shoot a rabid coyote or a skunk that wandered into his camp. "It was like a spare tire in the car," he said. "In case something happened."

Something happened on May 11, 2004. Fish was completing a 10-mile hike near Strawberry. He waved to a man camped outside his car with three dogs. It was Kuenzli, the man he would kill minutes later.

Kuenzli, who was living out of his car, volunteered at an animal shelter and had picked up two of the dogs to give them a day of exercise. He had his own dog, as well. None was leashed. Fish saw the dogs running toward him, the lead one snarling, and fired at the ground. The dogs turned tail.

Then, Fish saw Kuenzli run at him. Fish lifted his gun and fired three times.

Fish believes Kuenzli would have tried to knock him out or done damage with the screwdriver Kuenzli had in his back pocket. Fish figured a rational person would have stopped once the person had seen his weapon and heard it fire. "He crossed the threshold in his mind somewhere," Fish said. "At some point, he decided to go all in and take me out."

The detective investigating the scene initially told Fish the shooting would probably be ruled self-defense. But the story drew state and national attention, and the Coconino County Attorney's Office was flooded with phone calls and e-mails demanding prosecution.

The county attorney charged Fish with murder. A jury convicted him, and Fish was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Being in prison let Fish see that there is truly a criminal element in society that cannot be reasoned with. "I met guys by the dozen that I hope and pray should never get out of prison," he said.

It's part of the reason he still carries. He's allowed to because his felony conviction was erased.

Fish's conviction was tossed out by the Arizona Court of Appeals, which ruled that the jury wasn't told enough about Kuenzli's violent past or the aggressive nature of the dogs and didn't get proper instructions about what constitutes an attack.

Fish was released from prison in July 2009. Prosecutors said they would not prosecute him again.

Upon his release, Kuenzli's sister, Linda Almeter, told The Republic that she didn't want Fish free and that he never took responsibility for his act. "My brother can never reclaim his life," she said.

Fish has his freedom, but he can't recoup the dollars he spent fighting the case. He took out a second mortgage on his house. Relatives did the same with theirs, including his retired father. Fish estimates he spent about $700,000 on legal fees. He expects he'll die before all of it is paid back.

"I can't afford to go to court again," he said. "I cannot withstand another prosecution."

He still hunts with a gun and carries a handgun for protection. But if he's ever confronted again, he said he'll try a different self-defense tactic. "He's going to be shooting me in the back because I'm running away."

Original report here

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Like hell you will!

As readers of The Libertarian Enterprise know, last January I was involved in an incident in which libertarian activist Shaun Lee was sent to a psychiatric ward on entirely trumped-up charges. In that instance, she was released in a matter of hours thanks to the activism of libertarians around the world. It was, as we termed at the time, “a win for the good guys.”

On July 2, 2011—the 235th anniversary of the approval of the Declaration of Independance (it was signed on July 4)—we scored another win, using the same methods. Freedom movement activists should take particular note of how this was accomplished. This is how we win.

On Saturday, an activist who uses the online alias Ethan Lee Vita was hitchhiking through central Illinois with his friend Nicola Zawsome. They were stopped by Officer John C. Mobeck of the Bartonville, Illinois police. Mobeck asked Ethan if Ethan had ever been fingerprinted: Ethan replied that he had. Mobeck asked why: Ethan replied that he didn't see how it was relevant.

At that point, Ethan was arrested for obstruction of justice. Nicola was cited on lesser charges—though she was repeatedly threatened with arrest. Only her acceptance of citations kept her out of jail.

Keep in mind that at no time were either Ethan or Nicola in violation of any law, nor were they uncooperative. Ethan simply wondered why it should be necessary to provide information about a prior fingerprinting that had absolutely no bearing on the current circumstances.

Also keep in mind that this was a three-day holiday weekend. Businesses (including attorneys) were closed for the Independance Day holiday. By arresting Ethan on the first day of the long weekend, Mobeck’s explicit intent was that Ethan should rot in a cage for a full three days, pending a hearing on Tuesday.

Nicola was summarily abandoned. She had few resources, no money for a motel room, no friends in the area, and nowhere to turn. The officer’s intent was that she sleep alone in the ditch, in a strange city, hundreds of miles from home.

She sent a plea for help on Twitter and Facebook using Ethan’s accounts.

This crossed the news feed of Shaun Lee, Jim Davidson, and myself. While we’re not local to Peoria by an means, we are at least in the same general vicinity (give or take a State). We re-broadcast her call for help.

Phone calls were made—including a cold-call to McLean County, Illinois Libertarian Party Chairman Lex Green, who sent out feelers. A Facebook friend, Josh Carter, offered to drive three hours from St. Louis to Peoria. Ultimately an anonymous, kind-hearted local Peorian took in Nicola for the weekend.

A ChipIn was started for Ethan’s bail of $244. Four hours later, we had the money in a PayPal account. Unfortunately, it takes several days for money to be transferred out of a PayPal account and into a brick-and-mortar bank.

Requests were made for someone to cover the amount with physical cash in exchange for transfer into their PayPal account. In minutes, Brad Spangler announced that he had a PayPal debit card.

Come morning, the cash was transferred to Brad in Kansas City; Brad ordered a Western Union wire transfer online, and Nicola posted bail in Peoria.

The result: the bad guys’ villainous plans were foiled in less than eighteen hours.

As with all unwarranted arrests, it isn’t a complete win. Unfortunately, a complete win became impossible the moment this particular police officer was given a badge. However, in this case, the bad guys had intended that Ethan rot in a cage for three straight days—over the Independance Day holiday.

Allow that to sink in for a moment:

This is the holiday in which Americans celebrate the birth of the only nation on Earth in which an individual is free to own him or herself. Two centuries later, conditions have degraded so badly that peaceful, non-violent individuals’ lives may interrupted for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

One was intended to spend three days in a cage. The other—well, frankly, they could have cared less about her. They took Ethan to a cage and left Nicola to sleep in the ditch.

But we stopped them.

Using the power of the Internet, social networking, and free online services, we stood up and told the bad guys, “Like hell you will!”

Ethan still faces a hearing. Hopefully he’ll get a judge with some sense, who will realize that John Mobeck is a cruel, heartless excuse for a human being who wouldn’t comprehend the meaning of “To Protect and Serve,” if you branded it across his forehead. Unfortunately, in this day and age, one can never be sure. Freedom activists are being jailed ever more frequently and for increasingly immoral reasons.

But this is how we win. This is how we stop the bad guys in their tracks and foil their plans. We talk to each other, we broadcast to our social networks, and we use the tools that run on the Internet—they are, after all, free. We don’t leave each other behind, under any circumstances. When one of us has a problem, the rest of us pull together, shout our injustice from the rooftops, and we come running.

Most of all, we use our brains. We think through the possibilities. We throw our individual talents and ideas at a problem until the problem is solved.

Amazingly, it’s easy. Throughout all this, the only individual who had to so much as leave their computer was the person who came to Nicola’s aid in Peoria. The rest of us just kept our eyes open, pointed, clicked, typed, and made phone calls. Some generous souls gave money for bail, but with only one exception these were small amounts. Because of the nature of ChipIn and social networks, even the large donors didn’t have to contribute much: no single donation exceeded $80.

My deepest thanks go out to everyone who participated, particularly the ChipIn donors and the individual who came to Nicola’s aid in Peoria. As always, my sometimes-cohorts Shaun Lee and Brad Spangler deserve a big pat on the back.

Once more, it’s a proud day to be a libertarian. A vicious law enforcement agent intended that a peaceful individual should spend his Independance Day in a cage—and his friend should spend her nights alone in a ditch. As individuals, we stood up, stood together, and said, “Like hell you will!”

Original report here

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Dozens of searches failed to find kidnapped Jaycee

Prosecutors have released videos recorded by the Northern California couple who abducted Jaycee Dugard and held her captive for nearly two decades, including footage of one of dozens of home searches by a parole officer that never found the kidnapped girl.

The videos recorded by Dugard's abductors, Phillip and Nancy Garrido, also provide chilling details about the two and their outings to stealthily shoot footage of young girls frolicking.

Three video clips were among several pieces of evidence released on by El Dorado County prosecutors "to highlight the gravity and severity of the mistakes made" and to improve the supervision and detection of sexual predators.

The video of a parole officer's visit shows yet again how the state botched chances to find Dugard as she was kept hidden for 18 years in the backyard of the couple's home in Antioch, North Carolina.

Throughout the years, parole officers had paid dozens of visits to the home to check on Phillip Garrido and give him drug tests but none of the officials reported any irregularities.

The footage was recovered from videotapes found in trash in the Garridos' backyard. They had apparently tried to destroy many of the tapes with chemicals.

But investigators, with the help of NASA technicians, were able to recover footage from the damaged tapes. Still photos of the partially destroyed tapes were included in the released evidence.

One of the videos, taken sometime between 1989 and 1993, shows Phillip Garrido playing a guitar and singing while sitting against a tree at a park.

His wife and accomplice Nancy Garrido is behind the camera and appears to be pretending to record him, though the focus is on the children behind him.

"What you need to do, you need to make it look like you're pointing at me," Phillip Garrido is heard saying. "Further you are away from me, they can't tell exactly where it's pointed."

As he plays guitar, he is heard asking, "You got me real good?" "Yes, I can see you really good!" replies a woman's voice, as the camera zooms in on a girl in a red tank top swinging on a bar on a play structure.

Another clip taken around the same time features close-ups of girls' legs as they stand in a parking lot. Phillip Garrido is heard asking on the tape: "You think anybody can see me?"

Other footage shows a parole officer following Phillip Garrido through his Antioch home during a routine search done under terms of his parole after a 1976 rape and kidnapping conviction.

The video, first aired Sunday by ABC News, was taken by Nancy Garrido between 2000 and 2007.

It shows the parole officer searching rooms of the house but never looking in the backyard, where Dugard was being held with her two daughters fathered by Phillip Garrido after she was kidnapped in South Lake Tahoe in 1991.

Officials blurred the parole officer's face before releasing the images.

"So right now, it's just you, your wife and your mother in here?" the parole agent asks Phillip Garrido. His response is not clear, but the officer can he heard saying, "OK".

Phillip Garrido later confronts the officer as he leaves the home. "I don't understand. I'm doing everything I'm supposed to do," Garrido says. "No one's ever talked to me like this."

Phillip Garrido was sentenced last month to 431 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to kidnapping and rape in the Dugard case. Nancy Garrido was sentenced to 36 years to life after pleading guilty to similar charges.

Other released evidence includes several pages of federal parole documents, a 1972 booking photo of Phillip Garrido, and a photo of a handwritten note with Dugard's name, which she wrote down when she was discovered by parole officers in 2009.

A report by a federal judge found that parole agents failed to properly monitor Garrido and to stop his crimes against Dugard.

Dugard already has received a $US20 million ($A18.65 million) settlement under which the state acknowledged repeated mistakes were made by parole agents responsible for monitoring Phillip Garrido.

Dugard - whose memoir, A Stolen Life, was released the same day as the videos - told ABC News she had even talked to an agent during one home visit. "He made me feel like he didn't really care," she said.

Dugard was reunited with her family in August 2009 after her whereabouts was discovered during a meeting with a parole agent who had summoned Phillip Garrido to his office.

The meeting came after two University of California, Berkeley police employees grew suspicious when Garrido showed up at the campus with the two girls he fathered with Dugard and asked for a permit to hold a religious event.

Original report here

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jailed footballers freed as British judges in rape appeal say girls of 12 wanted sex

Six footballers jailed for their part in a midnight orgy in a park with two 12-year-old girls were freed yesterday after a court ruled their victims ‘wanted sex’.

The men – several of them former members of Reading FC’s academy – were locked up for two years after admitting various counts of rape four months ago. But they were released by Appeal Court judges who ruled their victims ‘wanted to have sex’ and ‘it is what young people do’.

Both girls had told the men they were 16 and had put fake ages on their Facebook accounts.

Yesterday, in a ruling which freed the men, Lord Justice Moses said: ‘If you have casual sex with someone you don’t know, you run the risk of having sex with someone who is under age.’

The comments provoked outrage from a rape campaigner who said she was absolutely disgusted by the decision. Jill Saward, who was raped at her father’s Ealing vicarage 25 years ago, said the girls were extremely vulnerable.

A panel of judges agreed with their lawyers that their sentences should be suspended and released the men from prison immediately.

Ashley Charles, 20, Courtney Amos, 20, Jahvon Edwards, 19, Dennis de Sousa, 19, Luke Farrugia, 21, and Jahson Downes, 20, were jailed for two years in March after admitting rape.

The six promising young footballers picked up the two girls and drove in two Vauxhall Corsa cars to a recreation ground in Reading in February last year. One of the 12-year-olds, described as more sexually experienced, was raped by five of the men and the other girl was raped by one.

The girls told the men they were 16, had dressed to look older and put fake ages on their Facebook accounts. They sneaked away from a party to be with them after exchanging suggestive text messages in which one girl said she wanted to have sex with more than one of the men.

When the girls were reported missing by one of their mothers, police found them wandering in the street at 2.20am. An appeal was launched to find those involved and soon all six had handed themselves in and made full confessions. They were said to have been shocked and disgusted to learn the true ages of the girls, with one stating: ‘I’ve got a little sister about that age.’

Lawyers for the six men told the Appeal Court that the trial judge did not take enough account of the fact the men believed the girls were 16 and that they gave full confessions. Lord Justice Moses, who sat with two other judges, said the sentences were excessive in a ‘difficult’ case. He added: ‘We do not believe it was right to impose immediate detention. The girls wanted to have sex and they had pretty miserable, fleeting, sex in a freezing cold park.

‘It is what young people do, but they are not allowed to do it until they are 16. The law is there to protect them.’

Miss Saward, who once stood against Tory MP David Davis in a by-election, added: ‘The law is there to stop cases such as this. They aren’t even old enough to have Facebook accounts, and using the belief that by having Facebook they are old enough is a disgrace. ‘If there is any doubt men should say no.

‘It is also quite disgusting to think that inexperienced men think that young girls would want to have sex with multiple partners.’

Barrister Felicity Gerry, an expert on sexual offences, said the men were duped, have served time in custody and now have criminal records.

She said: ‘The courts recognise the difference between rape of a child in these circumstances and rape without consent where a perpetrator knows his victim is under age.’

The men’s sentences were cut to one-year jail terms, suspended for a year, during which they will remain under supervision of probation officers.

‘The judges have set a highly dangerous precedent by suggesting that raping vulnerable children is not punishable by the severest sentencing,’ she added.

Relatives of the men celebrated by cheering and hugging each other as the decision was announced at London’s Criminal Appeal Court yesterday.

Judges heard the six had no previous convictions and were all of 'positive good character' before their rendezvous in the park.

Lawyers acting for the men urged them to consider suspending the sentences, claiming the two-year jail terms were 'too long'. They argued the crown court judge in Reading had not taken sufficient account of the fact the men believed the girls were 16 or that they all gave full confessions.

Their legal teams claimed prosecutors would not have had a case if the men had not confessed because the first girl's testimony was unreliable while the second did not mention any sexual activity with Amos in her statement to police.

Announcing his ruling, Lord Justice Moses said the men and their families had suffered as a result of their jail terms when it had been their own 'frank confessions' that landed them in court.

Their sentences were cut to one-year jail terms, suspended for a year, during which they will remain under probation service supervision.

Original report here

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Police caught on CCTV tape manhandling teenage woman in South Australian country station

POLICE officers shown in CCTV footage of the violent arrest of a teenager at a country station are now being investigated. Sent anonymously to The Advertiser yesterday, the footage shows the 18-year-old woman being pushed against the charge counter by a male officer while her arms are pinned, even though she appears to be compliant and non-aggressive.

Five male officers are present during the ordeal, which unfolds over more than 10 minutes. At one stage, the teen's shoulder and body are roughly forced against the counter, while an officer puts his right arm into her neck.

The same officer also kicks the girl's legs apart on two occasions and pins her left hand against the counter, clearly causing her discomfort.

The woman was subsequently charged with three counts of assault police and is due in court in October.

She was taken to the station after having been arrested for disorderly behaviour while in the driveway of the block of flats where she lives.

The Advertiser understands the incident was initially investigated by the police station's operations manager, and an officer subsequently placed on a personal learning and performance program. A new internal investigation is under way, following a fresh complaint from an anonymous officer.

Assistant Commissioner Madeleine Glynn last night admitted police's Internal Investigation Section and the Police Complaints Authority had been advised of the incident. "Police take complaints of excessive force seriously and, as such, a thorough investigation is being undertaken into all aspects of this incident," Ms Glynn said in an emailed statement to The Advertiser. "As this is an active investigation no further comment will be made."

Yesterday, the woman declined to comment, following advice from her lawyers. A friend was keeping her company and a number of young people visited her flat. The woman's lawyers are preparing to defend the three charges of assault police that the teen faces.

They were aware some CCTV footage had been leaked from the police station - understandably by police - but were not aware if it had been sent to Police Commissioner Mal Hyde. The woman's lawyer, Karen Koerner, said her client would "vigorously defend" the assault charges against her.

It is understood a police officer visited the girl about two days after the May 3 arrest and handling of the girl in the police station, and gave her paperwork to make a formal complaint about her treatment by police officers. A document accompanied the CCTV footage sent to The Advertiser, which names the officers shown in the footage.

The footage shows the woman at the charge counter; she appears upset, but at no stage during the footage does she appear to be a threat to the five male officers present. The girl is eventually taken to a cell, where another male officer removes her necklace. She is clearly agitated and appears to hyperventilate.

Opposition Police spokesman David Ridgway said Police Minister Kevin Foley should demand an inquiry into the incident and the officers involved should be stood down pending the outcome.

"From what I've seen, the force that was used seems to be unreasonable," Mr Ridgway said. "It is alarming that someone within SAPOL has felt the only solution is to go to the media," he said. "That does bring into question their internal investigations and the validity of those investigations."

Original report here

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Orlando CopWatch activist not guilty, goes to jail anyway

Orlando CopWatch founder John Kurtz announced on July 7 that he is appealing his sentence of 30 days in jail and one year probation after being found not guilty of his felony charge of battery on a law enforcement officer.

The quixotic outcome is the result of a June 30 trial in Orlando FL.

Kurtz was arrested in the early hours of New Years Day in downtown Orlando while filming police officers who were making "a violent arrest," according to a news release from Orlando Copwatch.

Refusing to accept a plea bargain, Kurtz went to trial. He was subsequently found not guilty on the felony charge, due primarily to video evidence from a street corner surveillance camera that "effectively disproves all three versions of arresting officer Adam Gruler's story as to where, when and how the supposed battery took place."

However, no one in America is ever arrested on a single charge anymore, and Kurtz was found guilty of an accompanying misdemeanor charge of Resisting Arrest Without Violence.

The "resisting" consisted of John Kurtz pointing his camera at officers and speaking the words, "calm down, I am filming you" which is usually considered protected free speech under the US and Florida Constitutions, but evidently not in Orlando.

Apparently, in Orlando, as explained in the news release, "that act by itself was interfering, obstructing or opposing a police officer, and thus, the form of resisting arrest without violence."

Kurtz has no expectation of getting out of jail before serving the full 30 days. "The reason I seek appeal is primarily because of the unreasonable probation conditions of Judge Alan Apte, which for the next 12 months doesn't allow me within 100 feet of a Law Enforcement Officer, effectively ending my participation in Orlando Copwatch," Kurtz said in a statement.

His appeal could cost between $10,000 and $15,000. Kurtz will cover some of the cost but needs significant donations from the community. He is also seeking assistance from the ACLU and is petitioning pro-bono help. If he is able to raise $5,000 by July 25 he will commit to appealing his case.

The Libertarian News Examiner was unable to determine whether Adam Gruler suffered any legal consequences after "all three versions" of his "battery on a law enforcement officer" testimony proved to be false.

Original report here

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Monday, July 11, 2011

The devil’s bargain

How plea agreements, never contemplated by the Framers, undermine justice

Most Americans are under the mistaken impression that when the government accuses someone of a crime, the case typically proceeds to trial, where a jury of laypeople hears arguments from the prosecution and the defense, then deliberates over the evidence before deciding on the defendant’s guilt or innocence. This image of American justice is wildly off the mark. Criminal cases rarely go to trial, because about 95 percent are resolved by plea bargains. In a plea bargain, the prosecutor usually offers a reduced prison sentence if the defendant agrees to waive his right to a jury trial and admit guilt in a summary proceeding before a judge.

This standard operating procedure was not contemplated by the Framers. The inability to enter into plea arrangements was not among the grievances set forth in the Declaration of Independence. Plea bargaining was not discussed at the Constitutional Convention or during ratification debates. In fact, the Constitution says “the Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment; shall be by Jury.” It is evident that jury trials were supposed to play a central role in the administration of American criminal justice. But as the Yale law professor John Langbein noted in a 1992 Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy article, “There is an astonishing discrepancy between what the constitutional texts promise and what the criminal justice system delivers.”

No one ever proposed a radical restructuring of the criminal justice system, one that would replace jury trials with a supposedly superior system of charge-and-sentence bargaining. Like the growth of government in general, plea bargaining slowly crept into and eventually grew to dominate the system.

From the government’s perspective, plea bargaining has two advantages. First, it’s less expensive and time-consuming than jury trials, which means prosecutors can haul more people into court and legislators can add more offenses to the criminal code. Second, by cutting the jury out of the picture, prosecutors and judges acquire more influence over case outcomes.

From a defendant’s perspective, plea bargaining extorts guilty pleas. People who have never been prosecuted may think there is no way they would plead guilty to a crime they did not commit. But when the government has a “witness” who is willing to lie, and your own attorney urges you to accept one year in prison rather than risk a 10-year sentence, the decision becomes harder. As William Young, then chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, observed in an unusually blunt 2004 opinion, “The focus of our entire criminal justice system has shifted away from trials and juries and adjudication to a massive system of sentence bargaining that is heavily rigged against the accused.”

One point often stressed by progressives is that trials bring scrutiny to police conduct. But when deals are struck in courthouse hallways, judges never hear about illegal searches or detentions. This only encourages further misconduct. Conservatives, meanwhile, are right to wonder whether overburdened prosecutors give the guilty too many lenient deals. Why should an armed robber get to plead guilty to a lesser crime such as petty theft?

It is remarkable how few people will openly defend the primary method by which our courts handle criminal cases. The most common apologia for plea bargaining is a pragmatic argument: Courthouses are so busy that they would grind to a halt if every case, or even a substantial share of them, went to trial. But there is nothing inevitable about those crushing caseloads. Politicians chose to expand the list of crimes, eventually turning millions of Americans into criminals. Ending the disastrous war on drugs would unclog our courts in short order.

In any case, trials are one of the few things the government indisputably should be spending money on. If additional funds are needed, free them up by stopping the nation-building exercises abroad and the corporate welfare here at home. The administration of justice ought to be a top priority of government.

Original report here

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Much-disciplined public defender still gets Wayne County cases

Attorney Robert Slameka has amassed quite a record: He has been admonished 11 times, reprimanded four times and had a client's conviction overturned because of his poor performance.

And the record could get worse: The state's Attorney Grievance Commission is prosecuting him on charges that he improperly revealed a client's purported confession when the man tried to back out of a plea deal in 2007.

He was tried on those charges in May and written arguments are due this month. There is no timetable for a decision. If he is found in violation of professional rules, Slameka could be reprimanded again or have his license suspended.

Slameka's 42-year legal record stands out among Michigan lawyers. A review of Attorney Disciplinary Board records shows only four other lawyers in the state have been reprimanded as many times as Slameka, but three of them also have been suspended.

"Its inexplicable how (Slameka) has avoided having his license suspended," said Larry Dubin, a University of Detroit Mercy law professor and ethics expert who helped set up the state's system for policing attorneys.

Slameka repeatedly declined to speak to the Free Press about his past troubles, the current complaint -- which he briefly described as "political in nature;" retribution for a more than two-decade-old murder case -- or the impact of a 2009 National Public Radio report that made him the face of bad court-appointed lawyers: "A lot of lawyers in Detroit say if you want to see what's wrong with this country's public defender system, just take a look at Bob Slameka: He has gotten into trouble a lot during his 40 years as a public defender, but the county still appoints him to cases."

Slameka's lawyer, Thomas Loeb, said that "four reprimands in 42 years of practice doesn't trouble me at all."

He added that two reprimands dealing with clients' fees probably wouldn't be problematic under recent court rulings. Loeb said Slameka is a solid attorney often dealing with difficult clients in serious trouble. "He's a good guy," Loeb said. "He knows (criminal) court as well as anyone else."

What some may see as brusque or uncaring, Loeb said, is a seasoned professional "who knows how to try a case without fluff." "Sometimes it's the nature of the practice that you have to get to the point," Loeb said. "Other lawyers may have better bedside manners or some clients hear what they want to hear."

A private attorney, Slameka remains on Wayne County's list of lawyers eligible to be appointed to represent indigent clients because the sheer amount of cases moving through the county's criminal justice system far outpaces the number of public defenders, and each defendant is entitled to counsel.

The standards aren't stringent. To be on the list, a lawyer has to be a member in good standing of the state bar and Wayne County criminal bar associations, attend ongoing education programs and have an office in Wayne County, said the county's Presiding Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny.

Suspended attorneys are ineligible to be assigned cases, but that standard does not cover lawyers who have been reprimanded, Kenny said.

Defending the record

Attorney Grievance Administrator Robert Agacinski chalked up part of Slameka's woes to his caseload and longevity, saying a busy criminal defense lawyer can get many complaints from unhappy convicted clients.

And recently retired Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Augustus Hutting stuck up for Slameka: "He's straight to his word. In 15 years, I've never had a problem with Bob."

Hutting said Slameka can size up a case quickly and cut a realistic deal when necessary. The brusqueness, he said, may seem insensitive or cold to someone expecting a table-thumping shouter. But Hutting said he has never seen Slameka act contrary to his client's interests.

Politics -- or not?

Despite Slameka's assertions, "there's nothing political" about his current disciplinary case before the state, scoffed John Burgess, the Attorney Grievance Commission lawyer prosecuting him.

At his disciplinary hearing in May, Slameka said he was trying only to keep his client, Demetrius Hamilton, from hurting himself when he mentioned Hamilton's alleged confession.

In 2007, Slameka was hired to represent Hamilton on charges of sexual assault, assault with intent to murder, armed robbery and a firearm offense, which could have landed him in jail for life.

In a deal before former Wayne County Circuit Judge Diane Hathaway, Hamilton -- then 20 -- was to plead no contest to sexual assault, assault with intent to murder and the firearm violation. He was to get 10-20 years for the shooting, plus two years for the gun violation.

But at sentencing, Hamilton, who was under oath, said he didn't do the shooting and that Slameka didn't share evidence with him.

"Let's stop right there," Slameka interjected, according to the transcript, and asked if Hamilton wanted him to repeat their private talk about the shooting.

"I mean, whatever you want to do," Hamilton said.

Slameka then continued with Hamilton's supposed confession: " 'Yeah, I did it. I shot the guy because years before he beat me up and I waited to get back to him.' "

"You a liar, man," Hamilton said. "What the (expletive) is you talking about, man? (expletive) you."

"Thank you," said Slameka.

That, according to the grievance commission charge, violated a lawyer's duty to guard a client's secrets.

Slameka told the panel that he was trying to protect Hamilton because clients sometimes "make foolhardy statements and decisions." If Hamilton had canceled one portion of the deal, Slameka said, the whole plea bargain would have fallen apart. "In fact," Slameka told the panel, "he got one heck of a break.

Original report here

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