Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Daniel Chong left in cell for days by US Drug Enforcement Agency gets $4m

Daniel Chong who was forgotten in Drug Enforcement Administration holding cell for more than four days with no food or water

THE US Justice Department will pay $US4.1 million to a California college student left in a holding cell for four days without food or water.

Daniel Chong, 23, was detained in an April 2012 drug raid in San Diego and left in the 1.5-metre x 3-metre windowless holding cell. He said he drank his own urine to stay alive and tried to write a farewell message to his mother with his own blood.

Chong's attorney, Eugene Iredale, said on Tuesday that no one has yet been disciplined for the April 2012 incident, and no criminal charges will be filed.

Iredale says the Justice Department's inspector general is investigating what caused Chong's near-death experience.

Chong's attorneys say the Drug Enforcement Administration had no policy on the treatment of detainees at the time. It does now, and that policy includes cameras in cells and daily inspections.

Chong, who was an engineering student at University of California, San Diego, was at a friend's house in April 2012 when a US Drug Enforcement Administration raid netted 18,000 ecstasy pills, other drugs and weapons. Chong and eight others were taken into custody.

Agents told Chong he would not be charged and had him wait in the cell at DEA offices in San Diego. The door did not reopen for four days, when agents found him severely dehydrated and covered in his own feces.

Chong said he began to hallucinate on the third day. He urinated on a metal bench to drink his urine. He stacked a blanket, his pants and shoes on the bench and tried to reach an overhead fire sprinkler, futilely swatting at it with his cuffed hands to set it off.

Chong said last year that he gave up and accepted death. He bit into his eyeglasses to break them. He said he used a shard of glass to carve "Sorry Mom" onto his arm so he could leave something for her. He managed to finish an "S."

Chong was hospitalised for five days for dehydration, kidney failure, cramps and a perforated esophagus. He lost 7 kilos.

The DEA issued a rare public apology at the time.

Chong had filed a $US20 million claim against the federal government a year ago.

A DEA spokesman, Rusty Payne, referred questions on Monday to the Justice Department, which handled settlement negotiations. A call to the Justice Department's public affairs office was not returned.

Original report here

Another account:

Student abandoned in DEA cell describes 'screaming for days' before he was found

25-year-old college student Daniel Chong, who has reached a $4.1 million settlement with the US government after he was abandoned in a windowless Drug Enforcement Administration cell for more than four days without food or water, has described his ordeal.

Daniel Chong said he drank his own urine to stay alive, hallucinated that agents were trying to poison him with gases through the vents, and tried to carve a farewell message to his mother in his arm.

Mr Chong was taken into custody during a drug raid and placed in the cell in April 2012 by a police officer authorised to perform Drug Enforcement Administration work. The officer told Mr Chong he would not be charged and said, "'Hang tight, we'll come get you in a minute,'" Mr Iredale said.

The door to the five-by-ten-foot cell did not reopen for four-and-a-half days.

Justice Department spokeswoman Allison Price confirmed the settlement was reached for $4.1 million but declined to answer other questions. The DEA didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

"I didn't just sit there quietly. I was kicking the door yelling. I even put some shoestrings, shoelaces through the crack of the door for visual signs. I didn't stay still, no, I was screaming," said Mr Chong.

It remained unclear how the situation occurred, and no one has been disciplined, said Eugene Iredale, an attorney for Mr Chong, The Justice Department's inspector general is investigating.

"We hope that at some point there can be at least the individual attribution of responsibility for what happened and some kind of appropriate administrative sanction if nothing more than to rebuke the suggestion that when you put someone in a holding cell without food or water, you should let them out before five days at best," said Mr Iredale.

Mr Chong, now an economics student at the University of California, San Diego, said he planned to buy his parents a house.

Original report here

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

AL: Cop Fired for Speaking Out Against Ticket and Arrest Quotas

Auburn, Alabama is home to sprawling plains, Auburn University, and a troubling police force. After the arrival of a new police chief in 2010, the department entered an era of ticket quotas and worse.

“When I first heard about the quotas I was appalled,” says former Auburn police officer Justin Hanners, who claims he and other cops were given directives to hassle, ticket, or arrest specific numbers of residents per shift. “I got into law enforcement to serve and protect, not be a bully.”

Hanners blew the whistle on the department’s tactics and was eventually fired for refusing to comply and keep quiet. He says that each officer was required to make 100 contacts each month, which included tickets, arrests, field interviews, and warnings. This equates to 72,000 contacts a year in a 50,000 person town. His claims are backed up by audio recordings of his superiors he made. The Auburn police department declined requests to be interviewed for this story.

“There are not that many speeders, there are not that many people running red lights to get those numbers, so what [the police] do is they lower their standards,” says Hanners. That led to the department encouraging officers to arrest people that Hanners “didn’t feel like had broken the law.”

Former Reason staffer Radley Balko, now an investigative reporter for the Huffington Post and author of the new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop, says that this isn’t just a nuisance, it infringes on public safety.

“You have a policy that encourages police to create petty crimes and ignore serious crimes, and that’s clearly the opposite of what we want our police to be doing,” says Balko.

Hanners repeatedly voiced his concerns through his chain of command, and the department responded that these requirements are necessary for increasing productivity.

Yet Hanners firmly believes that the quotas are entirely revenue driven.

“I had no intention of dropping it,” says Hanners, “This is a problem in more places than Auburn, and I think once the people know that they can hold their public officials accountable, it’ll change.”

The police chief singled out by Hanners retired this July, citing medical reasons.

Original report here

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Monday, July 29, 2013

American court official fired after video of woman complaining of assault goes viral

Lawless Las Vegas again

A highly disturbing video of court officials seemingly abusing their positions in Clark County, Nevada has gone viral after being aired on a Las Vegas TV station.

The clip features a 28-year-old woman Monica Contreras who appeared in the Clark County family court in August 2011, accompanied by her two year old daughter for a routine divorce hearing.

During the tape Mrs Contreras alleges that a marshall of the court, Ron Fox, fondled her buttocks and breasts and ordered her to lift up her shirt after she was taken into a side room for a drugs search.

When she returned to the open court, she complained to the woman judge Patricia Donninger, saying she felt uncomfortable and “offended” by the search, and that a female office had not been present.

As she complains, the marshall orders another court official to arrest and handcuff Mrs Contreras for making “false allegations” against an officer of the court.

Mrs Contreras then begs for mercy and asks to be allowed to go but, amazingly, the judge takes no notice of her pleas, and continues to ignore the crying woman, occupying herself playing with the woman’s daughter up on the judge’s dais.

Under duress, Mrs Contreras offers to take back her complaint - “Let me go please, let me go, it was all lies,” she pleads, crying but when she is ordered to a court microphone to formally recant, she refuses and again repeats her allegations and complaint.

She is then handcuffed while she screams at the female judge “How could you do this to me? How could you watch?” Her daughter then begs the court officer 'Sir, don’t take momma’, but the woman is led away to jail and the child taken into temporary custody.

Two months later, Contreras filed a complaint with Clark County Court Marshal Internal Affairs, according to the report on KLAS-TV Las Vegas.

After a six-month investigation into her complaint, the Marshall, Ron Fox, was sacked while other court marshals are reportedly being investigated as well for attempting to cover up incident. Mr Fox reportedly maintains his innocence and is suing Clark County for wrongful dismissal.

Original report here

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

TX: Cops Shot an Innocent Guy at the Wrong House Because It Was Dark, Say Fort Worth Police

As Scott Shackford noted at the time, Fort Worth, Texas, police shot 72-year-old Jerry Waller to death on his own property in May while responding to a reported burglary across the street. What they were doing on the man's property was an open question. Now, from a search warrant affidavit police wrote up to allow them to gather evidence that they had plugged the guy that they had just plugged, we know that the cops say they were lost because it was dark. And, there are a few questions about the veracity of their version of events.

From the just-released search warrant affidavit (PDF):

"On Tuesday May 28, 2013, at approximately 0051 hours the Fort Worth Police Department Communications Division received a Residential Burglary Alarm originating from ADT Security Systems at 409 Havenwood Lane.

Fort Worth Police oficers, Officer B.B. Hanlon, ID 4080, and R.P. Hoeppner, ID 4066, assigned to the East Patrol Division were dispatched at approximately 0051 hour and arrived on the scene at approximately 0058 hours. Due to poor lighting conditions and officers attempting to arrive on the scene undetected by potential criminals and the need for officer safety confitions, Officers Hanlon and Hoeppner inadvertently began searching 404 Havenwood Lane, directly across the street from 409 Havenwood Lane.

Officers approached the west side of the house near the garage that is located on the southwest corner of the home with the knowledge that there was a possible burglary in progress. There is no lighting around the home and the officers had only the use of their flashlights.

As the officers approached the garage they encountered a subject who was armed with a handgun standing near the corner of the home. Officers identified their selves as police officers and ordered the subject to drop the handgun. The subject failed to comply and pointed the handgun at Officer Hoeppner and Officer Hoeppner fired on the subject fatally wounding him."

Note that the affidavit asserts that Kathleen Waller, Jerry Waller's freshly minted widow, "has possession of and is concealing evidence of a homicide." That homicide presumably being the killing of her husband by Forth Worth police. This is probably standard phrasing for these legal documents, but still ...

So, we know that Officers and Hanlon were at the Waller residence because they were so concerned for "officer safety conditions" that they didn't use their flashlights to check the street address. They then prowled around a property, the owner of which had no reason to expect visitors. As his family said in a statement:

"On the night of his death, Jerry heard noise behind the house, and went to investigate. He picked up his gun as protection. While no one in the family was present at the instant of his death, his body was witnessed immediately after, inside his own garage. We were disturbed by suggestions that police may have felt threatened by a man in his own garage faced with unknown trespassers wielding flashlights."

The family says that Waller was "inside his own garage," while police say he was "standing near the corner of the home." Family members flat-out accuse the police of lying, with son Chris Waller asserting, "“My father never stepped outside of his garage. He was shot multiple times in the chest only a few steps away from the doorway to his kitchen."

In the latest news report, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says, "Waller was pronounced dead at 1:26 a.m. inside the garage." Unless he crawled there with a reported six wounds to the chest...

I'm not sure it should matter, either way. The officers were stamping around a private residence, in the dark, without permission.

The Star-Telegram also reports:

"An autopsy on Waller has also been completed.

On Wednesday, however, the Tarrant County district attorney’s office sent a letter to the attorney general’s office, contending that the autopsy report should not be released to the Star-Telegram because of the pending investigation."

By the way, many of the businesses in my town use ADT Security. The systems falsely alarm so often that the police department started charging for responses. They're generally pretty good about checking the street address, though."

Original report here

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Confiscation cops lose one

Judge orders strippers $1 million cash life savings returned with year after state trooper confiscated it as drugs money

A Californian stripper will have her life savings of over $1 million returned to her almost a year after it was confiscated by a Nebraska State Trooper who thought it was drugs money.

Exotic dancer, Tasha Mishra, 33, of Rancho Cucamonga, will be reunited with $1,074,900 plus interest, after Judge Joseph F. Batailon today found no evidence that the money was to be used in a drug dealing operation.

The million dollar fortune had been amassed by Mishra over the course of 15 years and was intended by her to be used to buy a nightclub in New Jersey and get her out of the stripping business.

Nebraksa State troopers confiscated the cash on March 3rd 2012 when they pulled over Rajesh and Marina Dheri, of Montville, New Jersey, for speeding according to court documents.

The Dheri's are friends of Mishra and had been handed the cash by Mishra two days earlier and they were transporting the money across the country after flying into Los Angeles to meet the millionaire dancer.

Nebraska State Patrol Trooper Ryan Hayes issued Rajesh Dheri with a speeding ticket and then asked the couple if they were carrying anything illegal in the car such as drugs.

The Dheri's said no and gave Hayes permission to search the Mercedes SUV they had rented two days prior.

The troopers discovered two drawstring bags containing rubber-banded bundles of cash in $100s and then seized it, believing it was related to narcotics.

The Dheri's told the troopers that the money was for a nightclub that they and a friend were to buy in New Jersey but a drug sniffing dog found traces of narcotics on the money.

Objecting, the Dheri's told the troopers to phone Mishra who informed them the money was hers. Regardless, the U.S. Attorney's office proceeded with confiscating the cash - telling Mishra she had no legal right to object because she was not in the car.

Beginning almost a year-long legal fight to reclaim the money, Mishra told the court in May that the money was her life savings from stripping in Southern California.

'In any event, that claimant Tara Mishra earned her money by lap dancing and nude dancing does not mean that a Nebraska State Trooper can take her life savings,' Mishra's attorney Roger Diamond told the Journal Star.

U.S. attorney Nancy Svoboda said that in any event there was probable cause to believe that in the 'commonsense view of the realities of normal life, it was probable the money was either earned by and being used for illegal drug trade.'

Judge Bataillon ruled otherwise after Mishra provided evidence of earnings on tax returns and paper details of the agreement to buy the bar in new Jersey.

Bataillon criticized the Nebraska State Troopers for destroying the money to convert it into a check - pointing out that with that all evidence of any relation to drugs had gone. 'For all the court knows, there is a 90 percent chance that all money is drug tainted,' the judge said.

In general, Bataillon said, the government 'left too many unanswered questions and had a general failure of proof in this case.' - according to the Journal Star.

He directed the government to return the money, plus interest since the day it was taken.

Original report here

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Student banned from an entire county after waging hate campaign against man with learning difficulties

A university student has been banned from an entire county and branded 'pure evil' after she launched a hate campaign against a man with learning difficulties.

Melissa Thomas, 21, threatened to kill 31-year-old David Parnell despite already being put under a restraining order after targeting him over the course of 11 months.

A court heard how she had previously falsely accused innocent Mr Parnell of assaulting her and then was said to have created a Facebook page in his name so she could post abusive messages to her own account - and pretend they came from him.

As a result of her lies, Mr Parnell was arrested four times, charged with common assault and wrongly spent a total of 30 hours in a police cell before police found evidence which backed up his denials.

Last March Thomas - a tourism student - was given a suspended prison term and banned from contacting Mr Parnell under the terms of a restraining order.

But just two months later she ignored the court order and turned up drunk on his doorstep making threats towards him and kicking at his front door.

When police came to arrest her Thomas shouted: 'That fat ugly Parnell, I’ll f****** stab him when I get out I will say he raped me'. She later added: 'I hope David Parnell drops dead.'

Thomas, from Eccles, yesterday admitted breaching the restraining order at Manchester Crown Court, but escaped jail again after saying she had a 'very tough' childhood.

She was also ordered to live in a hostel in Liverpool and was banned from entering Greater Manchester for 12 months. Her sentence of four months in prison suspended for two years will continue.

After the case Mr Parnell said: 'It is an absolute disgrace that she has not been sent to prison. I’m in a living hell. When is it going to end? Melissa is pure evil and the last few months has been a nightmare. I don’t understand why she has been doing this.'

He said in recent months he had been the victim of mysterious, bogus and anonymous tip offs about his home in Eccles.

The RSPCA had been called to his home amid false reports a dog was being mistreated at the property. A large food delivery was ordered to the address and police were called to reports that there were offensive weapons at the home.

Detectives hunting a man wanted over the murder of a local barmaid also visited his home after a report came in the fugitive was hiding out in the property.

Mr Parnell’s friend Roy Townley said: 'This woman is a compulsive liar and a menace and she has made David’s life a misery for a very long time. It is so upsetting that she has not been sent to jail.

'We have had to put up with so much at her hands and there is no reason for it at all. She had made threats to David in the past and on that night I am certain that she came to David’s home to carry out those threats.

'He is now scared to go out. He just doesn’t leave the house anymore in case something happens. We are struggling to understand how she has possibly avoided jail.'

The court was told Thomas and the victim used to be friends but had fallen out in June when she was arrested and cautioned for damaging plant pots outside Mr Parnell’s home.

The following day Mr Parnell was arrested and bailed for common assault after wrongly being accused of hitting Thomas about the head.

She then made a series of bogus complaints to police between June and August, falsely claiming that he had breached his bail conditions by contacting her.

Mr Parnell was left feeling suicidal for fear of being falsely sent to prison suffered panic attacks and also became fearful of leaving the house amid fears he might be evicted. All allegations made against him by Thomas were later dropped.

She later pleaded guilty to four counts of perverting the course of justice. But in May, Mr Parnell called the police after she began hurling abuse yards from his front door.

Prosecuting Mr Jonathan Dickinson said: 'The defendant went outside Mr Parnell’s house shouting various insults at him. She had been drinking in Manchester and got drunk and was put into a taxi and sent home by friends.

'Her mother received a message to go and collect her but when the taxi arrived, Thomas was abusive and walked away. She spoke with a landlord, a friend of David Parnell and that she was on her way to stab him.

'She arrived outside Mr Parnell’s house and standing seven or eight metres away from his door said ‘come on you fat c***’. He looked out and saw the defendant staggering around and could tell that her speech was slurred and rang the police.

'He heard a bang on the front door which transpired it was her kicking at the front door. He waited for the police and when they arrived she had left, they searched the area and found her in the town centre shouting and screaming around. 'It was obvious to police that she was drunk.'

Thomas later claimed she couldn’t remember the incident due to her intake of drink and prescription drugs.

Her lawyer Martin Callery said: 'Melissa Thomas in her formative years endured a very tough time and it is very much to her credit that she managed to obtain a place at university.'

But Judge Robert Atherton said: 'This behaviour is not going to be tolerated whatever your background. Other people are entitled to lead their lives. This man no longer sleeps at night.'

Original report here

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rise of the Warrior Cop

Is it time to reconsider the militarization of American policing?


On Jan. 4 of last year, a local narcotics strike force conducted a raid on the Ogden, Utah, home of Matthew David Stewart at 8:40 p.m. The 12 officers were acting on a tip from Mr. Stewart's former girlfriend, who said that he was growing marijuana in his basement. Mr. Stewart awoke, naked, to the sound of a battering ram taking down his door. Thinking that he was being invaded by criminals, as he later claimed, he grabbed his 9-millimeter Beretta pistol.

The police say that they knocked and identified themselves, though Mr. Stewart and his neighbors said they heard no such announcement. Mr. Stewart fired 31 rounds, the police more than 250. Six of the officers were wounded, and Officer Jared Francom was killed. Mr. Stewart himself was shot twice before he was arrested. He was charged with several crimes, including the murder of Officer Francom.

The police found 16 small marijuana plants in Mr. Stewart's basement. There was no evidence that Mr. Stewart, a U.S. military veteran with no prior criminal record, was selling marijuana. Mr. Stewart's father said that his son suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and may have smoked the marijuana to self-medicate.

Early this year, the Ogden city council heard complaints from dozens of citizens about the way drug warrants are served in the city. As for Mr. Stewart, his trial was scheduled for next April, and prosecutors were seeking the death penalty. But after losing a hearing last May on the legality of the search warrant, Mr. Stewart hanged himself in his jail cell.

The police tactics at issue in the Stewart case are no anomaly. Since the 1960s, in response to a range of perceived threats, law-enforcement agencies across the U.S., at every level of government, have been blurring the line between police officer and soldier. Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment—from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers—American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop—armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.

The acronym SWAT stands for Special Weapons and Tactics. Such police units are trained in methods similar to those used by the special forces in the military. They learn to break into homes with battering rams and to use incendiary devices called flashbang grenades, which are designed to blind and deafen anyone nearby. Their usual aim is to "clear" a building—that is, to remove any threats and distractions (including pets) and to subdue the occupants as quickly as possible.

The country's first official SWAT team started in the late 1960s in Los Angeles. By 1975, there were approximately 500 such units. Today, there are thousands. According to surveys conducted by the criminologist Peter Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University, just 13% of towns between 25,000 and 50,000 people had a SWAT team in 1983. By 2005, the figure was up to 80%.

The number of raids conducted by SWAT-like police units has grown accordingly. In the 1970s, there were just a few hundred a year; by the early 1980s, there were some 3,000 a year. In 2005 (the last year for which Dr. Kraska collected data), there were approximately 50,000 raids.

A number of federal agencies also now have their own SWAT teams, including the Fish & Wildlife Service, NASA and the Department of the Interior. In 2011, the Department of Education's SWAT team bungled a raid on a woman who was initially reported to be under investigation for not paying her student loans, though the agency later said she was suspected of defrauding the federal student loan program.

The details of the case aside, the story generated headlines because of the revelation that the Department of Education had such a unit. None of these federal departments has responded to my requests for information about why they consider such high-powered military-style teams necessary.

Americans have long been wary of using the military for domestic policing. Concerns about potential abuse date back to the creation of the Constitution, when the founders worried about standing armies and the intimidation of the people at large by an overzealous executive, who might choose to follow the unhappy precedents set by Europe's emperors and monarchs.

The idea for the first SWAT team in Los Angeles arose during the domestic strife and civil unrest of the mid-1960s. Daryl Gates, then an inspector with the Los Angeles Police Department, had grown frustrated with his department's inability to respond effectively to incidents like the 1965 Watts riots. So his thoughts turned to the military. He was drawn in particular to Marine Special Forces and began to envision an elite group of police officers who could respond in a similar manner to dangerous domestic disturbances.

Mr. Gates initially had difficulty getting his idea accepted. Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker thought the concept risked a breach in the divide between the military and law enforcement. But with the arrival of a new chief, Thomas Reddin, in 1966, Mr. Gates got the green light to start training a unit. By 1969, his SWAT team was ready for its maiden raid against a holdout cell of the Black Panthers.

At about the same time, President Richard Nixon was declaring war on drugs. Among the new, tough-minded law-enforcement measures included in this campaign was the no-knock raid—a policy that allowed drug cops to break into homes without the traditional knock and announcement. After fierce debate, Congress passed a bill authorizing no-knock raids for federal narcotics agents in 1970.

Over the next several years, stories emerged of federal agents breaking down the doors of private homes (often without a warrant) and terrorizing innocent citizens and families. Congress repealed the no-knock law in 1974, but the policy would soon make a comeback (without congressional authorization).

During the Reagan administration, SWAT-team methods converged with the drug war. By the end of the 1980s, joint task forces brought together police officers and soldiers for drug interdiction. National Guard helicopters and U-2 spy planes flew the California skies in search of marijuana plants. When suspects were identified, battle-clad troops from the National Guard, the DEA and other federal and local law enforcement agencies would swoop in to eradicate the plants and capture the people growing them.

Advocates of these tactics said that drug dealers were acquiring ever bigger weapons and the police needed to stay a step ahead in the arms race. There were indeed a few high-profile incidents in which police were outgunned, but no data exist suggesting that it was a widespread problem. A study done in 1991 by the libertarian-leaning Independence Institute found that less than one-eighth of 1% of homicides in the U.S. were committed with a military-grade weapon. Subsequent studies by the Justice Department in 1995 and the National Institute for Justice in 2004 came to similar conclusions: The overwhelming majority of serious crimes are committed with handguns, and not particularly powerful ones.

The new century brought the war on terror and, with it, new rationales and new resources for militarizing police forces. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Department of Homeland Security has handed out $35 billion in grants since its creation in 2002, with much of the money going to purchase military gear such as armored personnel carriers. In 2011 alone, a Pentagon program for bolstering the capabilities of local law enforcement gave away $500 million of equipment, an all-time high.

The past decade also has seen an alarming degree of mission creep for U.S. SWAT teams. When the craze for poker kicked into high gear, a number of police departments responded by deploying SWAT teams to raid games in garages, basements and VFW halls where illegal gambling was suspected. According to news reports and conversations with poker organizations, there have been dozens of these raids, in cities such as Baltimore, Charleston, S.C., and Dallas.

In 2006, 38-year-old optometrist Sal Culosi was shot and killed by a Fairfax County, Va., SWAT officer. The investigation began when an undercover detective overheard Mr. Culosi wagering on college football games with some buddies at a bar. The department sent a SWAT team after Mr. Culosi, who had no prior criminal record or any history of violence. As the SWAT team descended, one officer fired a single bullet that pierced Mr. Culosi's heart. The police say that the shot was an accident. Mr. Culosi's family suspects the officer saw Mr. Culosi reaching for his cellphone and thought he had a gun.

Assault-style raids have even been used in recent years to enforce regulatory law. Armed federal agents from the Fish & Wildlife Service raided the floor of the Gibson Guitar factory in Nashville in 2009, on suspicion of using hardwoods that had been illegally harvested in Madagascar. Gibson settled in 2012, paying a $300,000 fine and admitting to violating the Lacey Act. In 2010, the police department in New Haven, Conn., sent its SWAT team to raid a bar where police believed there was underage drinking. For sheer absurdity, it is hard to beat the 2006 story about the Tibetan monks who had overstayed their visas while visiting America on a peace mission. In Iowa, the hapless holy men were apprehended by a SWAT team in full gear.

Unfortunately, the activities of aggressive, heavily armed SWAT units often result in needless bloodshed: Innocent bystanders have lost their lives and so, too, have police officers who were thought to be assailants and were fired on, as (allegedly) in the case of Matthew David Stewart.

In my own research, I have collected over 50 examples in which innocent people were killed in raids to enforce warrants for crimes that are either nonviolent or consensual (that is, crimes such as drug use or gambling, in which all parties participate voluntarily). These victims were bystanders, or the police later found no evidence of the crime for which the victim was being investigated. They include Katherine Johnston, a 92-year-old woman killed by an Atlanta narcotics team acting on a bad tip from an informant in 2006; Alberto Sepulveda, an 11-year-old accidentally shot by a California SWAT officer during a 2000 drug raid; and Eurie Stamps, killed in a 2011 raid on his home in Framingham, Mass., when an officer says his gun mistakenly discharged. Mr. Stamps wasn't a suspect in the investigation.

What would it take to dial back such excessive police measures? The obvious place to start would be ending the federal grants that encourage police forces to acquire gear that is more appropriate for the battlefield. Beyond that, it is crucial to change the culture of militarization in American law enforcement.

Consider today's police recruitment videos (widely available on YouTube), which often feature cops rappelling from helicopters, shooting big guns, kicking down doors and tackling suspects. Such campaigns embody an American policing culture that has become too isolated, confrontational and militaristic, and they tend to attract recruits for the wrong reasons.

If you browse online police discussion boards, or chat with younger cops today, you will often encounter some version of the phrase, "Whatever I need to do to get home safe." It is a sentiment that suggests that every interaction with a citizen may be the officer's last. Nor does it help when political leaders lend support to this militaristic self-image, as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg did in 2011 by declaring, "I have my own army in the NYPD—the seventh largest army in the world."

The motivation of the average American cop should not focus on just making it to the end of his shift. The LAPD may have given us the first SWAT team, but its motto is still exactly the right ideal for American police officers: To protect and serve.

SWAT teams have their place, of course, but they should be saved for those relatively rare situations when police-initiated violence is the only hope to prevent the loss of life. They certainly have no place as modern-day vice squads.

Many longtime and retired law-enforcement officers have told me of their worry that the trend toward militarization is too far gone. Those who think there is still a chance at reform tend to embrace the idea of community policing, an approach that depends more on civil society than on brute force.

In this very different view of policing, cops walk beats, interact with citizens and consider themselves part of the neighborhoods they patrol—and therefore have a stake in those communities. It's all about a baton-twirling "Officer Friendly" rather than a Taser-toting RoboCop.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Thug female cop in Sweden

RK Hendrick

Welcome to the modern nation of Sweden, where brutally beating an unarmed man without justification or cause (by a female police officer) is permissible and socially acceptable.

In my lifetime, I have been a prosecutor, a defense attorney and a Pro Tem (part-time) Municipal Judge. I have read tens of thousands of police reports, viewed hundreds of police videos, completed many “ride alongs” with on duty police officers, participated in countless criminal trials and hearings, conducted thousands of interviews with police officers, been through hundreds of hours of courtroom police officer testimony, and trained & advised police officers on Search and Seizure. To be candid, I tend to have a very favorable view of police officers, as I know and appreciate how difficult their jobs can be.

Unfortunately, there are exceptions to this perspective.

Take a moment to review (more than once) the YouTube video that accompanies this article. I reviewed this video well over a half-dozen times. Each time I see it, I get completely appalled and outraged! To be candid, the police officer’s conduct in this matter is disgusting, inhumane and amoral!

The video was taken in central Stockholm on Brunnsgatan (Brunns street) on or about the evening of July 11, 2013. Upon review of the video of this brutal attack, you will note the following:

At No Time did this male citizen engage in physically threatening behavior towards the female police officer.

At No Time did this male citizen engage in physically abusive behavior towards the female police officer.
At No Time did this male citizen engage in physically lewd or profane gestures towards the female police officer.

At No Time did this male citizen yell at this female police officer.

At All Times, this male citizen used open, respectful and compliant body language towards the female police officer. His arms were down at his side and the palms of his hands open.

At All Times, this male citizen maintained an appropriate physical decorum and respectful distance from the female police. (Police officer safety).

At All Times, the physical safety of the female police officer was NOT at issue and there was NO immediate and/or imminent physical harm being directed at her by the male citizen.

At No Time did this male citizen provoke an attack by this female police officer.

At No Time while being brutally attacked by the female police officer, did this male citizen engage in any type of physical alteration, combative behavior, retaliatory behavior or assaultive behavior towards the female police officer.

Regardless of what verbal exchange may have occurred off camera prior to this brutal attack or during the actual video, there is absolutely NO justification or basis for the officer’s conduct and use of physical force.

This vicious unprovoked attack is completely without cause and/or reason. Under NO (zero) circumstances can the conduct of this police officer be morally justified and/or condoned. Any well-trained, well-adjusted police officer knows that when there is NO physical threat (to you or anyone else) you do NOT have the right to beat a citizen (bloody) to the ground with the aid of a baton and a German Shepherd attack dog! Bottom line: This is blatant misandric bigotry and the use malicious physical abuse on the part of the police officer.

If a male police officer engaged in this type of brutal unprovoked behavior and assaulted an unarmed female citizen in this manner, there would be an international outrage. This officer should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and go to prison with all of the other criminals. There is absolutely no rationale or excuse for this vicious inhumane conduct!

Original report here

A correspondent comments:

Do men need protection from the police?

Is this an example of Swedish equality means?

Is this what feminists see as the future for policing - to assault men whether they are aggressive or not?

If you wish to voice your opinion, why not complain to the Swedish embassy and ask if this police officer is being disciplined for her behaviour. Imagine the reaction if the genders were reversed.

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"I'm Going to Take Him Out"

“You’re dead, mother****r!”

Those were the last words spoken to 41-year-old Kamas, Utah resident Wade Pennington as he bled to death from two gunshot wounds inflicted at point-blank range. The man who hurled that sadistic taunt at Pennington, Brett Lopez, wasn’t the shooter; his role had been to trap the unarmed victim in the kill zone while his associate, Jared Nichols, pulled the trigger.

Just minutes earlier, Nichols had been overheard saying that he intended to “take out” Pennington. He and Perez were well-acquainted with the victim; indeed, immediately after he pulled the trigger, Nichols called Wade by name. After shooting Pennington, Nichols seized the dying victim and attempted to make it look as if he had been the aggressor. In doing so, Nichols wound up with some of the dying man’s blood on his clothing.

Both Nichols and Perez lied to investigators after the shooting. Their lies were contradicted by physical evidence at the crime scene and by video recordings of the incidents leading up to the homicide. A perfunctory investigation was wrapped up within twelve days without charges being filed against Nichols and Perez.

There was abundant evidence that the death of Wade Pennington was an act of criminal homicide – arguably murder in the second degree. Neither Nichols nor Perez faced criminal charges, because they were police officers, and their victim was a man with a lengthy criminal record who was on probation at the time of the May 28, 2009 shooting.

Pennington was killed in South Jordan, Utah at the end of a high-speed pursuit that was neither necessary nor authorized.

Sgt. Allen Crist, who saw Pennington in a dark SUV outside a sporting goods store, had radioed a description of the vehicle and its license plate number and asked for other officers to confirm the plate number. Crist suspected that Pennington might have burglarized the sporting goods store. He called for a K9 unit and conducted an inspection of the building, which turned up no evidence of a break-in.

As it happens, Pennington was in the area to visit a friend. He had a court date in a week to deal with an alcohol-related parole violation and wasn’t inclined to get into any more trouble. He also had ample reason to avoid contact with the South Jordan Police Department, which had kept him under close scrutiny since his release from prison in 2005.

After being imprisoned for burglary in 2001, Pennington filed a Pro Se Habeas Corpus petition challenging the legality of his sentence. In July 2005, the Utah Court of Appeals granted his motion and ordered his release.

“The day that Wade was released, there was a riot and a lock-down at the prison,” Pennington’s brother Dennis recalled to Pro Libertate. “Officials there considered Wade to be a troublemaker, because his petition was successful and it created a real stir among the inmates.”

After Wade was arraigned on a new set of felony charges, he ended up under the jurisdiction of a drug court in Duchesne County. Those charges were filed by Sgt. Crist and Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller. Wade entered a guilty plea and was placed on probation under the jurisdiction of a drug court in Duchesne County. Dennis Pennington and the rest of the family believes that the Salt Lake County DA’s office and the South Jordan Police were angered by the leniency of the sentence and targeted him for special attention in the hope of sending him back to prison.

During that period, Wade started a successful handyman business and made what appeared to be an earnest effort to make an honest living. In early 2009, his probation was revoked for reasons never made entirely clear, but apparently had to do with alcohol use. He was taken to the Duchesne County Jail to await a transfer to Salt Lake County.

State law required that a “show cause” hearing be ordered within 72 hours of Wade’s arrest. Instead, he was held for nearly 40 days before being brought in front of a judge. That hearing took place on May 17, 2009. Wade was scheduled for a sentencing hearing on June 2. He was killed on May 28.

The dark 1994 Pathfinder Pennington was driving on May 28 belonged to his girlfriend, Kristi Russell, and it was certainly well-known to the South Jordan Police Department. During the past several years, police had stopped it no fewer than ten times. If Crist had found evidence of a break-in, it would have been quite easy to find Pennington – which is why he told his subordinates not to pursue the vehicle. Nonetheless, Nichols and Perez gave pursuit – and Pennington fled.

The officers violated both the orders of their superior and their department’s vehicle pursuit policy by chasing Pennington. They committed another very serious infraction by “going to 3” – that is, covertly communicating on a radio channel that was not recorded or audible to the dispatcher. A lawsuit filed on behalf of Pennington’s parents and son asserts that this was done because Nichols and Perez had “decided to chase Pennington until Pennington hit one of their vehicles, which would justify a chase.”

The officers switched back to an open channel and continued the pursuit. Pennington entered a cul-de-sac, with Nicholas following him. Perez got out of his police car and drew his gun; Nichols later said that Perez went “gun-up” in order “to do a felony stop” – an action that wasn’t justified because Pennington was not suspected of a felony. Perez was standing in the street when Pennington turned around and drove by him.

“He just tried to hit me with the car – aggravated assault on a police officer!” Perez shouted over the radio. The dashcam video on Nichols’s police car doesn’t provide any evidence that Pennington tried run down Perez. However, as Nichols later told investigators that Perez’s claim that Pennington had assaulted him “was a green light – let’s go ahead and pursue him.”

The original dashcam tape of the subsequent pursuit isn’t available. The version that was eventually made public has had its time code removed, and about three minutes and seventeen seconds have been deleted from it. Nichols claims that on several occasions Pennington struck his vehicle, but no there is no video evidence to support his account.

Shortly after Nichols announces that “I’m going to take him out,” he attempts what he described to investigators as a “half-assed pit maneuver” – that is, ramming the SUV in an effort to disable it.

That tactic, as Nichols pointed out to investigators, is only to be employed in situations where deadly force is justified. So by his own admission, Nichols was using deadly force in an unauthorized pursuit.

The officers succeeded in trapping Pennington in a cul-de-sac in West Jordan. Nichols, who had T-boned the Pathfinder, was separated from Pennington by about three feet. Perez, who got out of his car, approached the vehicle from the passenger side with his gun drawn. Perez – who saw that Pennington was unarmed — shouted at him to “get out on the ground. Stay where I can see you.”

Perez told investigators that “I didn’t hear Jared” screaming orders at Pennington, because “Jared’s window was closed.” Perez also testified that Pennington was moving away from him in an effort to get out of the car – that is, to “get out on the ground,” as the officer had demanded.

When interviewed on the scene following the shooting, Perez said that he “didn’t perceive a threat” from Pennington, and that if the driver put up resistance he was prepared to “tackle him and take him down.” While Pennington started to exit the vehicle, Perez moved around the front of the car in order to avoid a crossfire with Nichols.

A second or two later, Nichols fired two shots that struck Pennington in the chest. Immediately after shooting Pennington, Nichols shouted: “Freeze, Wade! I’m going to shoot you. Get down on the f*****g ground!”

Why was Pennington shot for complying with Perez’s orders? Why did the shooter tell the victim both to “freeze” – that is, stay put in the car – and to “get on the ground” – which would have required that he exit the vehicle? And why did Nicholas sputter those self-contradictory demands after he had shot Pennington twice in the chest?

In describing the incident to investigators two days later, Nichols said that Pennington “made a lunge towards me.” Supposedly shocked and traumatized by the victim’s aggressive behavior, Nicholas claims he “said something like, `Why’d you do that, f****r?’ or `Why did you make me do that?’”

Both of those statements are demonstrable lies.

During his testimony – which was given two days after the killing, with the aid of police union attorney Jeffrey W. Hall, and after Nichols had reviewed the dashcam video – the officer said that he had to shoot because Pennington was non-compliant, and that “he was doing something to evade, still.” He also insisted that “the vehicle was still a threat,” despite the fact that it was boxed in and disabled. By this account, Pennington wasn’t a threat to officer safety, but rather a flight risk. That “threat” would have been neutralized if he had left the vehicle. But Nichols also said that the driver’s attempt to leave the Pathfinder made it necessary to shoot him.

While neither of the rationales offered by Nichols for the shooting made any sense, the most mystifying aspect of his testimony was the self-pitying rebuke he supposedly flung at Pennington. Speaking immediately after the shooting, Perez said that while Pennington “was hanging” lifeless from the window of the Pathfinder, he and Nichols “didn’t even talk.” That would mean that he didn’t hear the other officer’s anguished outburst.

However, Nichols’s body microphone did pick up a very similar complaint – which was made by the dying victim: “I’m f*****g shot. Why did you shoot me? You bunch of a**holes.”

Perez lied about that detail, as well, telling investigators that Pennington “never, you know, made a sound, nothing” after being shot.

What this means is that Nicholas and Perez knew that Pennington was alive, and yet neither did anything to help him. Rather than rendering medical aid, Nicholas and Perez tried to pull the victim from the vehicle, and then quit when his feet were “hooked up” in the car. With the dying man hanging half-way out of the driver’s side window, Perez reported the shooting and then “walked over to the street sign to see where we were.”

Nichols went back to his vehicle and shut off his recorder. Within minutes other officers arrived. Unaware that Perez’s dashboard camera was still operating, Nichols gestured at Pennington and muttered, “There goes my job.”

That remark prompted Perez to point to his vehicle and say, “I’m sorry, man.” In a different context this might have been construed as condolences for the officer’s involvement in a fatal shooting. By gesturing toward his dashboard camera, Perez was clearly apologizing for the fact that Nichols’s callous, self-pitying comment was now on record.

The report issued by the Salt Lake District Attorney’s Office on June 30, 2009 is replete with clumsy, deliberate misrepresentations. It claims that Sgt. Crist ordered that “the vehicle be stopped”; in fact, he specifically instructed that it was not to be stopped. It also recites the disproven claims that Pennington “attempted to run over a pedestrian law enforcement officer” and that he rammed Nichols’s police vehicle “numerous times.”

According to the DA’s summary of the case, “Perez stated he could not see the suspect’s hands” and that Pennington “refused to comply with his commands.” Perez actually testified that he could see both hands on the steering wheel, and by trying to leave the SUV Pennington was complying with Perez’s orders.

Predictably, the report regurgitates the familiar refrain uttered by every police officer who murders an unarmed citizen by claiming that Pennington “made a furtive movement towards the pursuing police officer,” thereby placing the intrepid paladin of public order “in fear of his life” and thereby justifying the use of “deadly force to stop the threat by the suspect.”

Perhaps the most important of the many intentional oversights by the DA’s office dealt with the ballistics report on the shooting. The State Medical Examiner’s Office reported that the bullets fired by Nichols passed through Pennington’s torso from left to right and took a slightly downward trajectory. This wouldn’t have been possible if Pennington had been “lunging” or “leaping” from the driver’s side window, causing the valiant Officer Nichols to fear for his life. What clearly happened is that Nichols shot Pennington while the driver was shifting in his seat attempting to get out of the vehicle, as Perez had ordered.

After being exonerated by the DA’s office, Nichols was given a promotion, and he remains on the South Jordan Police Department. Brett Perez, ironically, was fired for violating the department’s vehicle pursuit policy. Apparently it is a firing offense to conduct an unauthorized high-speed pursuit – unless you’re willing to kill the unarmed suspect once you’ve chased him down.

West Jordan Police Sergeant Michael S. Leary, the protocol officer who headed the investigation, had filled the same role about two years earlier in a very similar case involving the fatal police shooting of white supremacist Darren Neil Greuber in a Salt Lake City parking lot. Grueber attempted to flee when a SWAT team from the Metro Gang Unit arrived at about4:30 a.m. to serve a search warrant. Grueber wasn’t in the apartment when the SWAT raid took place. When he arrived, officers boxed in his vehicle – and Greuber tried to escape by ramming his Chevy Blazer into parked police cars. One of the officers, who was on loan from the South Jordan Police Department, shot the unarmed Greuber twice.

Like Pennington, Greuber was out on probation at the time of the shooting, and he had filed an appeal challenging his conviction. Law enforcement officials claimed that Greuber’s history made him an acute threat to “officer safety,” even though he was unarmed at the time of the shooting. And the officer who pulled the trigger was Jared Nichols. Sgt. Leary, who had investigated the July 2007 shooting of Greuber, never asked Nichols about the similarities between that incident and the killing of Wade Pennington.

“Since Lohra L. Miller took office … police-caused homicides have increased significantly in Salt Lake County,” asserted the Pennington family’s lawsuit. “Officers know that if they do shoot a person without justification, the district attorney and her investigators will not, in all likelihood, prosecute them. In fact, Nichols knew this firsthand, having been exonerated by Miller in a homicide two years prior.”

After entering the DA’s office in January 2007, one of Lorha Miller’s first acts was to dismiss criminal charges against a police officer named Richard Todd Rasmussen, who had fatally shot a suspect following a high speed chase. In explaining that decision to Salt Lake NBC affiliate KSL, Miller seemed to be reading a script prepared by the police union: “The suspect was unarmed, but had a history of being aggressive toward law enforcement officers, had a history of possession of weapons, and in this particular case tried to run the officer off the road. And at the time the officer was shot, [the suspect] was lunging at the officer at close range.”

Miller’s decision prompted her predecessor, David E. Yocom, to publish an op-ed column describing her action as “a disgrace to the criminal justice system.”

Yocom elaborated on that critique in an interview with KSL, saying that Miller, who had been supported by police unions in her election campaign, dropped the charge “to please the law enforcement groups that supported her…. [O]ne way to please them is to take a law enforcement officer off the hook on a very serious charge.”

By the time Wade Pennington was killed, Miller had made it clear that she wasn’t interested in prosecuting cops for any reason – from homicide to circulating pornography through an office e-mail account. The police reciprocated by refusing to investigate complaints that the BYU graduate’s household was used for drinking parties by her teenage children and their friends. Miller served a single term before being ousted by Sim Gill.

Since November 2, Gill has been immersed in investigating the shooting death of 21-year-old Washington native Danielle Willard by two West Valley City narcotics investigators. The officers claimed that Willard, who was receiving treatment for a drug addiction, endangered their lives when she backed her Subaru Forrester into a police cruiser while trying to escape the parking lot.

Gill’s investigation of Willard’s death led to the dismissal of 19 criminal cases that had been filed by Detective Shaun Cowley, who shot the young woman. It also led to the discovery that the narcotics unit that employed Cowley had stolen money, drugs, and “trophies” from narcotics suspects; that led to the dismissal of 125 drug-related criminal cases and the dissolution of the unit. As revelations of systemic corruption within the department mounted, Chief Thayle “Buzz” Nielsen suddenly retired, supposedly for health-related reasons.

Willard’s parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against West Valley City for the “assassination-style” killing of their daughter. Cowley and Officer Kevin Salmon, who killed Danielle, remain on paid vacation. Gill is continuing his investigation of the shooting, but given the precedents set by his predecessor, there’s little cause for suspense. After all, it’s well-established policy in Utah that police are permitted to “take out” unarmed suspects, rather than going to the trouble of arresting them.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Monday, July 22, 2013

Police tunnel-vision gets it wrong again

So often the SoBs "just know" who did it

A vital witness believed to be the last person to see Jill Dando alive moments before her doorstep murder has come forward to claim that detectives IGNORED his evidence.

Barry Lindsey today reveals he was driving past the Crimewatch presenter’s home when he saw her looking terrified as her killer confronted her.

He considered intervening because she seemed so frightened, and hit his brakes. But he drove on only to hear the shot that killed her as he turned out of her road.

But when Mr Lindsey – distressed by what had happened – gave police a detailed description of the man Jill, 37, had been arguing with, he says they brushed it aside because they were obsessed with nailing Barry George, later wrongly convicted of her 1999 murder.

Mr Lindsey, now a 61-year-old grandfather, says: “I told officers they needed to find a man with olive skin, dark hair and who looked like he was of Mediterranean origin.

“But straight off, they said, ‘We are looking at a local guy over this murder. He is called Barry George’. They asked if I knew him and described what he looked like. But I told them, ‘That’s not the man I saw – I am 100 per cent sure of it’.

“As soon as those words left my mouth I felt like the police didn’t want to listen any more. The way they acted really took me by surprise.”

After giving the officers a statement, Mr Lindsey never heard from the police again. Weeks later they arrested their prime suspect. Mr George, 53, was convicted of Jill’s murder and served eight years before being freed on appeal.

In an exclusive Sunday Mirror interview last week, he told how the turmoil of the case had

left his life in tatters. And after reading the emotional account, Mr Lindsey decided to end his years of silence over a day he says will haunt him forever. Yesterday he revisited the spot where the TV star was killed and relived what happened. It is the first time he has been back since the shooting on April 26, 1999.

That morning the father of five was driving down Gowan Avenue in Fulham, South West London, in a green Toyota car. The retired print worker, who lived locally, was heading to Wimbledon to drop off the vehicle for a friend.

He says: “As I was driving along I glanced to my left and saw a woman arguing with a man.

“I hit the brakes, stopped in the middle of the road and looked through the back window. I will never forget the look on her face. It was one of absolute terror – her face had gone as white as the coat she was wearing.

“I considered getting out of the car but something in my head said, ‘don’t do it Barry’. A few years before, I had got involved in a domestic in the street and ended up in a fight with the man ­involved. I wound up in court. I didn’t want that to happen again.

“I looked one final time and saw her standing with her back to her front door. He was in front of her with his back to the road. I could see he had dark hair and looked Mediterranean.”

Mr Lindsey drove on. Then, as he turned left out of Gowan Avenue, he heard a gunshot.

“It could not have been anything else,” he says. “It was louder than a firework or a car backfiring. Instinctively, my foot hit the accelerator and I drove forward as fast as I could.”

The incident preyed on his mind for the rest of the day.

“When I got home that night, I flicked on the TV and saw the story about Jill Dando. I don’t watch TV that often so I had no idea who she was. But straight away I said to my wife, ‘I saw that woman today’. As I looked at the picture of her on the screen my blood ran cold.”

A retired printer, Mr Lindsey contacted a journalist he knew who was ­reporting on the case to reveal what he had seen. A short time later he was visited at home by two detectives investigating the Dando murder.

“I told the officers everything I had seen,” he says. “Within a few minutes they mentioned the name Barry George to me.

“They said he was a local guy who they were looking at in connection with the murder. I had seen pictures of him in the newspapers and told the officer there was no way that was the person I saw. For a start Barry George looked two stone heavier than the man I saw that morning.”

Officers then took Mr Lindsey to the murder scene where he repeated his account. “They kept asking again and again about Barry George,” he says. “They seemed frustrated when I said they needed to be looking for someone else.”

Mr Lindsey was surprised he never heard from police again. And it is even more surprising given the account provided by one witness at Barry George’s first trial. Helen Scott told the Old Bailey she noticed a man also of ­Mediterranean appearance with slightly olive skin, looking down towards Gowan Avenue the night before Jill died. It raises the possibility that she saw the same man described by Mr Lindsey hanging around Jill Dando’s home ahead of the murder.

Mr Lindsey says: “I expected the police to at least call back to take a second statement after Barry George was arrested. But I heard nothing.

“Eventually Barry George was charged and one TV news report even mentioned a man in a Range Rover who had seen an altercation on the morning she died. Presumably they were referring to me, but I never heard from the police again so I can’t say for sure. In the end I did start to question myself and what I might have seen that day. But deep down I knew what I saw.”

Mr Lindsey, who now lives in Woodford Green, East London, says he is ready to give police a new statement over the murder. “I’d be prepared to meet the police tomorrow,” he insisted.

“I don’t know what they could now do with my information but I can’t see how it would harm their chances of ­finding the person who killed that poor woman.

“It is such a tragic waste of a life. And it is really sad that Barry George has also ended up having his own life torn apart.”

In his first interview for five years last week, Mr George says police targeted him for the murder because his life was “disposable”.

Even when he was cleared at a 2008 retrial, he claims he was followed by officers around the clock and stopped and searched dozens of times before fleeing to Ireland with his sister in fear that he would be “fitted up” again.

He told us: “I hope it’s in my lifetime that the real killer is caught. Although I never met Jill Dando she was an innocent woman who was murdered and no person with any conscience could stand there and say they felt no compassion for her and her family.”

Despite a £587,000 forensic review, Scotland Yard did not find any new leads and the officers stopped investigating.

Mr George said: “The real killer is out there somewhere and the police aren’t looking for him. They needed someone to plug a hole and I was it. They victimised me and my life was disposable.”

Eye-witness Mr Lindsey also wants to see justice done and the killer caught.

He says: “I can’t help thinking that if the police had listened and looked at other suspects beyond Barry George then Jill Dando’s killer may now be in prison. They were clearly under pressure to get a result quickly because she was such a high profile victim. It was clear when I gave my statement that the officers had an idea in their mind of who they thought was responsible.

“I’m not saying what I told that day could have cracked the case but it might have helped lead officers in the right direction.

“I’d be happy to help them in the future in any way I can because I just want the person who did this brought to book.”

A spokesman for the Met said yesterday: “The case remains unsolved. As with all unsolved cases any evidence which we are presented with will be thoroughly examined by officers.”

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Sunday, July 21, 2013

FL: Police raid felt like home invasion

Let's hope the lady sues

After leaving her operating room scrub nurse duties at Sarasota's Doctors Hospital on Wednesday, Louise Goldsberry went to her Hidden Lake Village apartment. Her boyfriend came over, and after dinner — about 8 p.m. — Goldsberry went to her kitchen sink to wash some dishes.

That's when her boyfriend, Craig Dorris — a manager for a security alarm company — heard her scream and saw her drop to the floor.

Goldsberry, 59, said she had looked up from the sink to see a man “wearing a hunting vest.” He was aiming a gun at her face, with a red light pinpointing her. “I screamed and screamed,” she said.

But she also scrambled across the floor to her bedroom and grabbed her gun, a five-shot .38-caliber revolver. Goldsberry has a concealed weapons permit and says the gun has made her feel safer living alone. But she felt anything but safe when she heard a man yelling to open the door.

He was claiming to be a police officer, but the man she had seen looked to her more like an armed thug. Her boyfriend, Dorris, was calmer, and yelled back that he wanted to see some ID.

But the man just demanded they open the door. The actual words, the couple say, were, “We're the f------ police; open the f------ door.”

Dorris said he moved away from the door, afraid bullets were about to rip through.

Goldsberry was terrified but thinking it just might really be the police. Except, she says she wondered, would police talk that way? She had never been arrested or even come close. She couldn't imagine why police would be there or want to come in. But even if they did, why would they act like that at her apartment? It didn't seem right.

Then, to the couple's horror — and as Goldsberry huddled in the hallway with gun in hand — the front door they had thought was locked pushed open. A man edged around the corner and pointed a gun and a fiercely bright light at them, and yelled even more.

“Drop the f------ gun or I'll f------ shoot you,” he shouted, then said it again and again, Goldsberry and Dorris say.

Goldsberry was screaming, but Dorris was the calmer one. He could see the armed man was holding a tactical shield for protection. Some zealous gun thug could have one, but, though it was hard to see much, Dorris decided this guy looked well enough equipped to be a cop on a serious felony raid.

Dorris remained frozen and kept his hands in sight. He saw more people outside, and decided it probably was a police action. But he started fearing that in this case that was not much better than a home invasion. With his freaked out girlfriend and the macho commando-style intruder aiming at each other and shouting, someone could be dead at any second.

Dorris told the man at the door he would come outside and talk to them. When he got permission and walked out slowly, hands up, he was amazed at what he saw as he was quickly grabbed and handcuffed.

The cop at the door, and some others, had words on their clothes identifying them as federal marshals, but there were numerous Sarasota Police officers, too, and others he couldn't identify, though his security company job involves work with police.

More than two dozen officers, maybe more than 30, were bustling around, many in tactical jackets. It was like nothing he had ever seen. “It was a Rambo movie,” Dorris said.

Soon Dorris yelled to his girlfriend that it was OK to drop the gun and come out, but Goldsberry was too afraid.

She had been yelling, “I'm an American citizen” and saying they had no right to do this. Their standoff continued several more minutes.

Then she set the gun down and walked out, shaking and crying, and also was quickly handcuffed.

They remained cuffed for close to half an hour as the apartment was searched for a wanted man who wasn't there, never had been, and who was totally unknown to them. They were shown his picture.

Then they were released, the police left, and that was that.

The officer's story

Matt Wiggins was the man at the door. He's with the U.S. Marshal's fugitive division.

I asked him what happened. He said they had a tip that a child-rape suspect was at the complex. That suspect, Kyle Riley, was arrested several hours later in another part of Sarasota.

The tip was never about Goldsberry's apartment, specifically, Wiggins acknowledged. It was about the complex.

But when the people in Goldsberry's apartment didn't open up, that told Wiggins he had probably found the right door. No one at other units had reacted that way, he said.

Maybe none of them had a gun pointed at them through the kitchen window, I suggested. But Wiggins didn't think that was much excuse for the woman's behavior. He said he acted with restraint and didn't like having that gun aimed at him.

“I went above and beyond,” Wiggins said. “I have to go home at night.”

Goldsberry was at home, I said. She had a gun pointed at her, too, and she wasn't wearing body armor and behind a shield. She had no reason to expect police or think police would ever aim into her kitchen and cuss at her through her door to get in. It seemed crazy. She was panicked.

“We were clearly the police,” Wiggins insisted. “She can't say she didn't know.”

She does say so, actually.

“I couldn't see them. They had a big light in my eyes,” Goldsberry said the next day. And that man she saw aiming a gun through her window had nothing visible that said “cop,” in her mind.

“I was thinking, is this some kind of nutjob?”

No, just a well-trained officer who knows how to go after a man assumed to be a dangerous felon, but isn't so good at understanding a frightened woman confronted with an aggressive armed stranger coming after her in her own home.

“I feel bad for her,” Wiggins conceded, finally. “But at the same time, I had to reasonably believe the bad guy was in her house based on what they were doing.”

Goldsberry wasn't arrested or shot despite pointing a gun at a cop, so Wiggins said, “She sure shouldn't be going to the press.”

Original report here

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Shock report into FBI errors cast doubt on TWENTY-SEVEN death penalty convictions

The FBI is reviewing 2,000 cases convicted on hair samples after it has emerged that there has been widespread errors in forensic testing and how the evidence was portrayed in court.

As many as 27 prisoners facing the death penalty may have been wrongfully convicted along with potentially thousands of others across the country.

Since the 1980s, hundreds of convictions have been overturned on improper forensic science - which includes bite marks, blood analysis and shoe prints along with hair samples.

Forensic testing has never been proved 100 per cent accurate by science - but at times, was presented by experts in court as if conclusive.

A current federal review of unprecedented scale is examining 2,000 cases from 1985 to 2000 where the FBI submitted testimony or reports on hair analysis. Cases where the individual is facing execution will be given priority.

The grievous errors could now potentially throw an unknown number of convictions across the country into doubt as 95 per cent of violent crimes are handled by local and state jurisdictions.

The Innocence Project told MailOnline today that they were hopeful that following the FBI review, state labs would follow suit and review cases where hair analysis had been the key evidence.

The results of the FBI review are due later in the summer, according to the Washington Post.

According to the Post investigation, the FBI is also planning to examine death penalty cases where the person has already been executed.

The Innocence Project, who worked alongside the FBI on the review, said that wrongful convictions are 'not isolated or rare events, but arise from systemic defects'.

Hair samples cannot be used to positively identify a perpetrator - however when some FBI experts gave evidence at trial, they led jurors to believed that hair analysis could provide definite matches to suspects.

The most recent case where hair analysis has been brought into question is that of Willie Jerome Manning, 44, who was hours before his execution in Mississippi for the murders of two students when the FBI cast doubt on his conviction. Federal investigators admitted that expert evidence given during his 1994 murder trial pushed the limits of science and were 'invalid'.

Manning was convicted and sentenced to die by lethal injection for shooting dead two Mississippi State University students in 1992. His sentence was due to be carried out at the Mississippi State Penitentiary on May 3 after 19 years on death row.

However in letters to state officials, the FBI and Department of Justice said an FBI examiner had overstated conclusions about a hair found in the car of one of the victims by suggesting it came from an African American.

Manning is black and the two victims, Tiffany Miller, 22, and Jon Steckler, 19, were white. The hair sample was the only physical evidence linking Manning to the crime scene. He has always maintained his innocence.

Manning's lawyers have asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to halt his lethal injection in light of the revelations, and the Mississippi Innocence Project filed a lawsuit to preserve the hair and other evidence for DNA testing even if Manning is executed.

Original report here

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Forensic science graduate has been stopped 70 TIMES by British police 'after splitting from her PC lover'

"A forensic science graduate says her life was made a misery after she was allegedly harassed by police following a split from her PC boyfriend.

Katie Bowman, who has never been convicted of a crime, claims police interest in her – which saw her stopped 70 times for suspected offences ranging from drink-driving to assault – meant she could ‘barely leave the house’.

The 24-year-old alleges she was targeted over 28 months by Thames Valley Police officers from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, after splitting from Alexander Ash.

Miss Bowman says that despite never securing a conviction against her, the force has kept damaging intelligence reports on her which are stopping her getting a job.

She has won the support of her local MP, Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who said he was ‘seriously concerned’ by damning comments held on file about her, which he said bordered on ‘trivial’.

Miss Bowman claims the harassment started in earnest in 2007 when she was 18 and PC Ash, also based in High Wycombe, was disciplined by his force for making inappropriate contact with her after their split.

PC Ash, who denies ever having been in a relationship with Miss Bowman, said this disciplinary action instead related to drunken behaviour on a night out with friends.

Papers obtained by Miss Bowman’s family suggest that more than ten of the 40 intelligence reports on her were filed by a friend and colleague of PC Ash.

Following court action by her family, Thames Valley Police launched a review last year and earlier this year and removed 20 of the reports.

However, the Bowmans have vowed to take legal action to clear her name fully. They also hope to bring the officers they claim are involved to justice and to seek compensation.

Miss Bowman, now engaged and expecting her first child, says she was breathtested 70 times – 54 in one year from September 2007. Each time the result was negative.

She was stopped on suspicion of possessing drugs and given a caution for an alleged assault – later rescinded after a professional standards investigation. Her car was seized eight times, and she was given disorder penalty notices.

Her father Brian Bowman, from Hertfordshire, said: ‘Katie could barely leave the house without being stopped. Her life was made an utter misery by a gang – but a gang in police uniform.’

Miss Bowman says that, with the support of Mr Grieve, she has repeatedly complained to the force. She has successfully challenged the more serious allegations which would have led to a criminal record.

Mr Grieve has written to Thames Valley Chief Constable Sara Thornton twice, branding the reports kept on Miss Bowman as ‘entirely lacking in substance’. He told the Mail: ‘I am very concerned, her allegation is of a serious nature.’

One intelligence report alleges a set of blue LED decorative lights placed pointing into the footwell of her car amounted to unlawfully displaying emergency blue lights.

Despite never leading to an arrest, the claims showed up in CRB checks and cost Miss Bowman her job as an ambulance call handler in 2007 and saw her sacked from another job as a student paramedic three years later. It also stopped her becoming a special constable in 2011.

In his letter to the chief constable, Mr Grieve said she ‘is a person of good character... adversely affected by the numerous derogatory comments made about her by police’. Having met Miss Bowman twice, he found it ‘difficult’ to match up the image of her as ‘the wayward teenager’ portrayed in police reports.

He also raised concerns that the possible motive for the police’s conduct is that she was being punished for getting PC Ash in trouble.

Last night PC Ash, 31, who married recently, said: ‘I met her on a night out about six years ago and again when she came for an open day for prospective employees who want to join the force.’

The roads policing officer added: ‘I think she was upset because I wouldn’t go out with her and made several allegations about me. I have absolutely no idea why she would say we were an item.’

Thames Valley Police said: ‘The need to retain the intelligence reports relating to Ms Bowman was reviewed in 2012 (following which a number were removed) and in 2013 following further requests made on her behalf.

‘Thames Valley Police will not be commenting on the details of the reports, but we seek to comply with all aspects of the Data Protection Act and the national standards for the management of police information.’

The force said it had investigated a complaint from Miss Bowman in 2009 that ‘officers from High Wycombe have harassed her by causing her to be stopped, arrested, her vehicle seized and maliciously prosecuted’. It added: ‘The complaint was found to be unsubstantiated and Miss Bowman’s appeal to the IPCC was not upheld.’

Original report here

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Father-of-three assaulted and wrongly arrested by British cops in front of his partner and young children 'for driving too slowly past airport'

A father-of-three had his fingers broken as he was wrongly arrested in front of his partner and children for 'driving too slowly' past an airport.

Andrew Sinclair, 47, was thrown in the cells and held for around three hours after being pulled over as he drove away from the terminal.

The mechanic has now won compensation after a County Court jury ruled there had been no justification for detaining him outside Manchester Airport.

Mr Sinclair, from Stockport, was stopped because he was not driving quickly enough as he waited for his partner Michelle Saddoo, 40, to catch up in another car as he collected his son.

As the father explained the situation to the motorcycle officer, police from a nearby Tactical Aid Unit - which had been called to manage an immigration protest at the airport - became involved in the dispute in March 2009.

The father was pushed to the ground by around half-a-dozen officers and arrested in front of his partner and their children before being taken to a police station.

Officers later claimed he had been arrested for a breach of the peace outside Terminal Two. But a jury at Manchester County Court ruled there had been no justification for detaining him.

Mr Sinclair said: 'As soon as the Tactical Aid Unit officers came over they seemed to have adopted an aggressive, bullying attitude and started searching the car and pushing me around before they threw me to the floor.

'They never explained to me that I'd been arrested and they just locked me up, then a few hours later they released me without any explanation. I knew what had happened wasn't right and that night I decided I was going to fight it.

'I'm just a normal person and for four years this has always been at the back of my mind and caused me a lot of stress but it was something I didn't want to just let go, because they abused their power and like anyone else the police need to be held to account.'

Mr Sinclair was collecting his son, Reis, and the 23-year-old's Honda Civic car as he was unable to drive himself home after suffering head injuries, a broken wrist and broken collarbone in a motoring accident while on holiday in Dubai.

Ms Saddoo was supposed to be driving the family car home with their two young children Aliyah, three, and four-month-old Tayo in the back seat.

She said: 'We were just a normal, everyday family going about our normal, everyday business and there was no reason whatsoever for them to behave in the way they did. 'It's affected us all deeply, my daughter in particular had nightmares and would have screaming fits every time she saw a police officer.

'It took a lot of courage to take on Greater Manchester Police but we knew that what happened was wrong and as citizens we shouldn't have to accept that.

'We've had great support from our friends and family and our legal team, and in the end it's a great vindication that a jury was able to see the truth and that we finally have justice.'

Following a seven-day trial the jury ruled that Mr Sinclair had been assaulted and falsely imprisoned but did not uphold an allegation that officers had deliberately caused the injuries to his fingers.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: 'Greater Manchester Police notes the decision of the jury to award compensation to Mr Sinclair after he was successful in his claim that he was unlawfully detained for two hours and 42 minutes as a result of a wrongful arrest following an incident that took place on 21 March 2009.

'The Force fully respects the decision reached by the court and Mr Sinclair has been compensated accordingly.

'Greater Manchester Police also notes that Mr Sinclair's claims for loss of earnings and that one of the officers involved deliberately caused personal injury were dismissed.'

The amount of compensation was not revealed.

Juries are rarely used in the County Court, but can be used in false imprisonment cases.

Original report here

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

NV: Police commandeer homes, get sued

The rot in Las Vegas continues

Henderson police arrested a family for refusing to let officers use their homes as lookouts for a domestic violence investigation of their neighbors, the family claims in court.

Anthony Mitchell and his parents Michael and Linda Mitchell sued the City of Henderson, its Police Chief Jutta Chambers, Officers Garret Poiner, Ronald Feola, Ramona Walls, Angela Walker, and Christopher Worley, and City of North Las Vegas and its Police Chief Joseph Chronister, in Federal Court.

Henderson, pop. 257,000, is a suburb of Las Vegas.

The Mitchell family's claim includes Third Amendment violations, a rare claim in the United States. The Third Amendment prohibits quartering soldiers in citizens' homes in times of peace without the consent of the owner.

"On the morning of July 10th, 2011, officers from the Henderson Police Department responded to a domestic violence call at a neighbor's residence," the Mitchells say in the complaint.

It continues: "At 10:45 a.m. defendant Officer Christopher Worley (HPD) contacted plaintiff Anthony Mitchell via his telephone. Worley told plaintiff that police needed to occupy his home in order to gain a 'tactical advantage' against the occupant of the neighboring house. Anthony Mitchell told the officer that he did not want to become involved and that he did not want police to enter his residence. Although Worley continued to insist that plaintiff should leave his residence, plaintiff clearly explained that he did not intend to leave his home or to allow police to occupy his home. Worley then ended the phone call.

Mitchell claims that defendant officers, including Cawthorn and Worley and Sgt. Michael Waller then "conspired among themselves to force Anthony Mitchell out of his residence and to occupy his home for their own use." (Waller is identified as a defendant in the body of the complaint, but not in the heading of it.)

The complaint continues: "Defendant Officer David Cawthorn outlined the defendants' plan in his official report: 'It was determined to move to 367 Evening Side and attempt to contact Mitchell. If Mitchell answered the door he would be asked to leave. If he refused to leave he would be arrested for Obstructing a Police Officer. If Mitchell refused to answer the door, force entry would be made and Mitchell would be arrested.'"

At a few minutes before noon, at least five defendant officers "arrayed themselves in front of plaintiff Anthony Mitchell's house and prepared to execute their plan," the complaint states. It continues: "The officers banged forcefully on the door and loudly commanded Anthony Mitchell to open the door to his residence.

"Surprised and perturbed, plaintiff Anthony Mitchell immediately called his mother (plaintiff Linda Mitchell) on the phone, exclaiming to her that the police were beating on his front door. "Seconds later, officers, including Officer Rockwell, smashed open plaintiff Anthony Mitchell's front door with a metal ram as plaintiff stood in his living room.

"As plaintiff Anthony Mitchell stood in shock, the officers aimed their weapons at Anthony Mitchell and shouted obscenities at him and ordered him to lie down on the floor. "Fearing for his life, plaintiff Anthony Mitchell dropped his phone and prostrated himself onto the floor of his living room, covering his face and hands.

"Addressing plaintiff as 'asshole', officers, including Officer Snyder, shouted conflicting orders at Anthony Mitchell, commanding him to both shut off his phone, which was on the floor in front of his head, and simultaneously commanding him to 'crawl' toward the officers.

"Confused and terrified, plaintiff Anthony Mitchell remained curled on the floor of his living room, with his hands over his face, and made no movement.

"Although plaintiff Anthony Mitchell was lying motionless on the ground and posed no threat, officers, including Officer David Cawthorn, then fired multiple 'pepperball' rounds at plaintiff as he lay defenseless on the floor of his living room. Anthony Mitchell was struck at least three times by shots fired from close range, injuring him and causing him severe pain." (Parentheses in complaint.)

Officers then arrested him for obstructing a police officer, searched the house and moved furniture without his permission and set up a place in his home for a lookout, Mitchell says in the complaint.

He says they also hurt his pet dog for no reason whatsoever: "Plaintiff Anthony Mitchell's pet, a female dog named 'Sam,' was cowering in the corner when officers smashed through the front door. Although the terrified animal posed no threat to officers, they gratuitously shot it with one or more pepperball rounds. The panicked animal howled in fear and pain and fled from the residence. Sam was subsequently left trapped outside in a fenced alcove without access to water, food, or shelter from the sun for much of the day, while temperatures outside soared to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit."

Anthony and his parents live in separate houses, close to one another on the same street. He claims that police treated his parents the same way.

"Meanwhile, starting at approximately 10:45 a.m., police officers entered the back yard of plaintiffs Michael Mitchell and Linda Mitchell's residence at 362 Eveningside Avenue. The officers asked plaintiff Michael Mitchell if he would be willing to vacate his residence and accompany them to their 'command center' under the guise that the officers wanted Michael Mitchell's assistance in negotiating the surrender of the neighboring suspect at 363 Eveningside Avenue. Plaintiff Michael Mitchell reluctantly agreed to follow the officers from his back yard to the HPD command center, which was approximately one quarter mile away," the complaint states.

"When plaintiff Michael Mitchell arrived at the HPD command center, he was informed that the suspect was 'not taking any calls' and that plaintiff Michael Mitchell would not be permitted to call the suspect neighbor from his own phone. At that time, Mr. Mitchell realized that the request to accompany officers to the HPD command center was a tactic to remove him from his house. He waited approximately ten minutes at the HPD command center and was told he could not return to his home.

"Plaintiff Michael Mitchell then left HPD command center and walked down Mauve Street toward the exit of the neighborhood. After walking for less than five minutes, an HPD car pulled up next to him. He was told that his wife, Linda Mitchell, had 'left the house' and would meet him at the HPD command center. Michael Mitchell then walked back up Mauve Street to the HPD command center. He called his son, James Mitchell, to pick him up at the HPD command center. When plaintiff Michael Mitchell attempted to leave the HPD command center to meet James, he was arrested, handcuffed and placed in the back of a marked police car.

"Officers had no reasonable grounds to detain plaintiff Michael Mitchell, nor probable cause to suspect him of committing any crime.

"At approximately 1:45 p.m., a group of officers entered the backyard of plaintiffs Michael Mitchell and Linda Mitchell's residence at 362 Eveningside Avenue. They banged on the back door of the house and demanded that plaintiff Linda Mitchell open the door.

"Plaintiff Linda Mitchell complied and opened the door to her home. When she told officers that they could not enter her home without a warrant, the officers ignored her. One officer, defendant Doe 1, seized her by the arm, and other officers entered her home without permission. "Defendant Doe 1 then forcibly pulled plaintiff Linda Mitchell out of her house.

"Another unidentified officer, defendant Doe 2, then seized plaintiff Linda Mitchell's purse and began rummaging through it, without permission, consent, or a warrant.

"Defendant Doe 1 then escorted Linda Mitchell at a brisk pace through her yard and up the hill toward the 'Command Post' while maintaining a firm grip on her upper arm. Plaintiff Linda Mitchell is physically frail and had difficulty breathing due to the heat and the swift pace. However, Doe 1 ignored her pleas to be released or to at least slow down, and refused to provide any explanation for why she was being treated in such a manner.

"In the meantime, the officers searched and occupied plaintiffs Michael Mitchell and Linda Mitchell's house. When plaintiff Linda Mitchell returned to her home, the cabinets and closet doors throughout the house had been left open and their contents moved about. Water had been consumed from their water dispenser. Even the refrigerator door had been left ajar and mustard and mayonnaise had been left on their kitchen floor."

Police took Anthony and Michael Mitchell to jail and booked them for obstructing an officer. They were jailed for at least nine hours before they bailed out, they say in the complaint. All criminals charged were dismissed with prejudice. They claim the defendants filed the baseless criminal charges "to provide cover for defendants' wrongful actions, to frustrate and impede plaintiffs' ability to seek relief for those actions, and to further intimidate and retaliate against plaintiffs."

None of the officers were ever subjected to official discipline or even inquiry, the complaint states.

The Mitchells seek punitive damages for violations of the third, fourth and 14th Amendments, assault and battery, conspiracy, defamation, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, negligence and emotional distress.

Original report here

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