Saturday, August 31, 2013

British quick draw McGraw who tasered a blind man because he thought white stick was a samurai sword will NOT face criminal charges

Why couldn't the cop have waited until he had got a bit closer to the man? He can't have been very close if he mistook a white cane for a sword. The cop was a coward at least

A police officer who tasered a blind man because he mistook his white stick for a samurai sword will not face any criminal action, the Crown Prosecution Service has revealed.

Colin Farmer who is registered blind was walking to meet friends in Chorley, Lancashire last year when he was tasered to the ground by the officer. Mr Farmer, 63, is 'stunned' the man responsible will not face charges, but is relieved the case has been resolved since the incident last October.

The victim was hit by a 50,000 volt Taser after reports were received of a man walking through the town centre in with a martial arts weapon.

Mr Farmer, who is registered blind after suffering two strokes and walks at a 'snail’s pace', was on his way to a pub to meet friends for a drink and did not realise anything was wrong until the officer tasered him.

He said he heard shouting on the street but did not know what it was about, and initially thought he was going to be attacked by 'some hooligans'.

He was then struck by the gun which releases electric currents to stun muscles, and fell to the ground in Peter Street, dropping his white stick before a policeman handcuffed him. When the mistake was realised he was taken to Chorley Hospital for treatment and was later released.

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission has now been completed.

After a file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service a decision was made not to press charges against the officer.

Malcolm McHaffie, deputy head of CPS Special Crime Division, said: 'On The basis of the evidence provided, including CCTV footage and police log record, I have determined that no charges should be brought against the officer.

'The circumstances are unusual because the officer was acting on the basis of erroneous reports from members of the public that the victim was carrying a samurai sword.

'Anyone accused of an assault who may have acted under a mistaken belief as to the facts must be judged on the facts as they believed them to be.

'In addition, police officers are entitled to use reasonable force in order to effect an arrest and where the officer is under a mistaken belief as to the facts the question is whether, in the circumstances as he believed them to be, the force was reasonable.

'The officer has been informed by the police control room that they had received reports that a man was walking around the streets of Chorley carrying a sword.

'It appears the reflective nature of the stick used as a walking aid by the victim, who is partially sighted, led members of the public to mistake it for a weapon. 'The officer, who was acting on this misinformation, made the same mistake.

'Having considered all the evidence in this case, I do not consider there is sufficient evidence to prove to the criminal standard that the suspect did not believe that the man he saw, in a busy town centre with people nearby, was carrying a sword.

'The evidence also suggested the victim did not respond to the officer’s challenge.

'While the officer was completely mistaken (and the victim wholly innocent of any suggestion of any offence) I do not consider the action taken by the officer in the circumstances as he mistakenly believed them to be were unreasonable and I have therefore concluded that no charges should be brought.'

Mr Farmer said: 'In a strange way I’m relieved, simply because these things can go on so long. 'At last I feel there is some progress being made.I’m bemused by it, but I just want this to move forward. 'There is no doubt what the police said themselves - I’ve been put through a terrible ordeal. I’ve been through a living nightmare.'

Mr Farmer lodged a claim for damages against Lancashire police in January.

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

Friday, August 30, 2013

WI: Police tackle man for photographing protest

A photographer and activist was aggressively arrested at the Wisconsin Capitol on Monday during a daily singalong protest.

Video of the incident uploaded to YouTube showed two police officers approaching Damon Terrell, who can be heard saying, “This is not illegal.” As Terrell backed away, one of the officers grabbed him. Terrell ended up on the ground with three officers on top of him.

Another video uploaded to YouTube showed four officers carrying Terrell out of the rotunda by his arms and legs.

Christopher J. Terrell, Damon’s brother, was also arrested for participating in the “Solidarity Sing Along” demonstration in the Capitol.

“The brothers have had a history of demonstrating and arrests by the capitol police, at times that has involved the brothers shouting at officers,” said Michael Phillis of the Wisconsin-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The daily demonstrations began during the 2011 budget protests. A judge struck down portions of the Walker administration’s restrictions on demonstrations in July, but groups of more than 20 people still require a permit to demonstrate.

Earlier this month, a Wisconsin lawmaker and a state official were both threatened with arrest for merely observing the demonstration.

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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The police state and the Great Tomato Raid

A self-sufficient communal farm in Arlington, Texas called "Garden of Eden" was raided by SWAT forces looking for a marijuana grow but they found only tomato plants instead.

While it's now old news in North Texas, Police State Watchers around what used to be a "free country" might be interested in knowing just how incredibly dull-witted and unaccountable America's militarized cops have become.

(Keep in mind while reading this report that police forces all over America routinely disqualify applicants if their IQs are too high.)

According to, It seems to have begun when an Arlington police detective was "researching" the sustainable organic community online and discovered a description of the food grown there as "uber dank culinary artistry" which she unaccountably interpreted as pothead slang for growing and selling marijuana.

Had she been smart enough to consult the Urban Dictionary she would have learned that for today's youth "uber" means "the ultimate, the best" and "dank" means "something of high quality." Checking a mainstream dictionary she would have discovered "culinary" means "relating to the kitchen" and "artistry" means "artistic quality."

A non-cop without the IQ restrictions might have quickly concluded that "uber dank culinary artistry" meant "Really great home-grown food."

But this SWAT cop put two and two together and came up with "420" – cannabis!

Taking that "evidence" and a "confirmed" marijuana grow sighting from a police helicopter the SWATs got a search warrant from a judge who also apparently had a cop-level IQ.

That plus an "inspection and abatement warrant" from code enforcement officers listing such trivial victimless offenses as tall weeds, high grass, improper land use and running a food business out of their homes, became the justification for a full-blown military style SWAT raid that lasted several hours, terrorized the compound's occupants, destroyed most of their crops and left them with $3,600 worth of fines.

Reports run from the pedestrian in the status quo press (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram) to an unusually hysterical Anonymous video report claiming it was a nefarious plot to destroy organic food in a Police State effort to force everyone to eat GMO frankenfood.

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, August 28, 2013

Nine-month ordeal of men taken to court after catching migrant burglar on their roof as British police waited on the ground

Crap British justice again

Two men were dragged to court for apprehending a Romanian they caught burgling their business.

A nine-month ordeal ended for Steven Iliffe, 54, and son Daniel, 26, yesterday when a judge threw out the case against them.

They had begged police to go on a roof to arrest career criminal Petre Ilie. But officers were barred by their superiors, via their radio, due to health and safety rules.

Eventually, the father and son, both former soldiers, went on the roof themselves to tackle the armed man.

They were stunned when the police later arrested them on suspicion of attempted murder – and later charged them with the lesser offence of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Yesterday, the pair said they were considering legal action against Leicestershire Police.

Mr Iliffe senior said he had suffered a heart attack in a cell triggered by the stress of his arrest at their scrap metal business in Hinckley, Leicestershire, last December.

He added: ‘We had suffered a string of burglaries and went up onto that roof only because the police had refused to do so.’

He said he grabbed Ilie by the shoulder and ‘walloped’ him once to the chest to restrain him, while his son admitted striking the intruder on the hand with a wooden roof baton to try to dislodge an eight-inch metal roof bolt from his grasp.

Mr Iliffe junior is said to have struck the suspect again before the pair managed to drag him off the roof and down a ladder to police. But a PC waiting on the ground claimed to have seen them carry out a ferocious assault.

Leicester Crown Court was told yesterday that Ilie, 39, already had ‘a number of convictions for burglary, failing to surrender and breaching court orders’ in the UK under the name Christopher Tudor. In 2010 he was deported but sneaked back into the UK. He was then arrested again alongside the Iliffes.

Father-of-four Ilie admitted burglary with intent to steal and the attempted burglary of a nearby business earlier that night. He was sentenced to 26 weeks in jail and deported for a second time on his release in March this year.

The Iliffes’ trial had been for the judge to consider a defence application to throw the case out as an ‘abuse of the court process’.

The application hinged on a decision by the UK Border Agency to refuse permission for Ilie to be returned to the UK to give evidence because he was a ‘flight risk’ – having been deported twice – and might disappear in the UK.

The Iliffes claimed they could not have a fair trial if Ilie could not be cross-examined. The judge agreed and granted the application.

Original report here. (Via POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

(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, August 27, 2013

Sick Britain again

A businessman who confronted a burglar raiding his premises appeared in court yesterday accused of attacking him.

Andrew Woodhouse, 43, was chasing thieves off his property when he claims one of them 'came at' him with a wooden stick.

Father-of-five Woodhouse allegedly used the stick to injure the man's legs before holding him down while his wife called the police.

But when officers arrived they arrested Woodhouse and held him in a cell for 18 hours.

He appeared at Newport Crown Court yesterday charged with grievous bodily harm with intent which has a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Andrew Taylor, defending, said: 'Mr Woodhouse apprehended two of the burglars at his tyre depot. 'It happened after two or three men decided they were going to remove a large quantity of diesel from his premises.

'Mr Woodhouse has been interviewed by police and has provided a full explanation about what happened. 'There is a CCTV recording of the incident and we are waiting to see the footage.'

Woodhouse denies the charge and was given bail until next month.

A Facebook page has been set up in support of Woodhouse, of Abergavenny, South Wales with more than 2,000 supporting him.

Woodhouse was in bed with his wife Lisa at their detached home in the village of Govilon, near Abergavenny, when his burglar alarm went off at about 12.30am. The alarm is fitted to his business premises on an industrial estate a mile from his six-bedroom £350,000 home.

Woodhouse drove to his business premises where the alleged assault happened.

His wife Lisa said her husband was prepared to go through the legal process to clear his name. She said: 'But I fail to see where there was any intent on Andrew's part. 'He didn't intend to get up in the middle of the night to assault anyone. All he did was protect his property.

'People may think he took the law into his own hands but what was he supposed to do, stand by and watch?'

Woodhouse employs six staff including two of his sons at the family business, which was set up 20 years ago.

The firm has lost £15,000 in recent years to thefts of diesel and tools.

Two fuel thieves who stole £50 worth of diesel from Woodhouse's premises on the night of the alleged assault have been dealt with in court. Timothy Cross, 31, and Kevin Green, 52, took two jerry cans of diesel from Woodhouse's tyre depot in Abergavenny. Cross and Green both admitted theft and were fined £75 by Cwmbran magistrates.

Original report here. (Via POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)




(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, August 26, 2013

Virginia Woman Falsely Accuses Man Of Rape And Sends Him Away For Four Years Before Recanting . . . Given Just 60 Days In Jail To Be Served On Weekends

This is one area where the Brits do better. Such women usually get a couple of years in the big house there

I have previously discussed the pattern of prosecutors in either not charging false rape victims or seeking relatively light sentences despite the incarceration of innocent men. (here, here, here, here, here, and here) While I would never recommend a prison sentence for a rape victim who simply identified the wrong man by mistake, the most disturbing cases are those involving false rape claims. For an example of this problem, you need to go no further than the case of Elizabeth Paige Coast.

Coast, 26, accused Johnathan C. Montgomery, a former neighbor of raping her in 2000 when she was 10 years old and he was 14. She later admitted that she made up the story and lied on the witness stand at his June 23, 2008, trial.

Montgomery’s life was ruined and he spent four years in jail. Coast however was sentenced by Hampton Circuit Court Judge Bonnie L. Jones to just two months in jail and ordered to make $90,000 in restitution for perjury. Jones suspended the rest of the five-year sentence and even allowed Coast to serve the remainder on weekends so not to disrupt her life.

Coast blamed her crimes on her reading adult material on the Internet by her mother. When her strict religious mother caught her, the mother (Coast claims) suggested that she was viewing the material because she had been sexually assaulted. She said that the jumped at the excuse to get out of trouble. She said she gave her mother the name of Montgomery when pressed to identify the assailant. Her lawyer insisted that, because she came forward, any jailing would send the wrong message to others who lie about crimes.

Hopewell Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard K. Newman asked for a 10-year sentence with six years suspended so she would serve the same length of time as Montgomery.

I certainly agree that Coast should be credited with coming forward. However, she is now 26. That means that this man went to jail when she was 22. She was 17 when he made the allegations.

Sixty days on weekends sends a message of a different kind: that false rape victims are not subject to the same punishment afforded others who file false police reports, ruin lives, or commit perjury.

Perhaps the most infamous refusal to charge such a case involved Crystal Gale Mangum, 33, the stripper who falsely accused members of the Duke lacrosse team. She became a national celebrity as activists warned that anything but long criminal sentences would be proof of racism by the prosecutors. Durham D.A. Mike Nifong joined this lynch mob atmosphere despite the absence of forensic evidence to support the claim of rape.

When he was removed and the lie was exposed however North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper refused to prosecute Mangum, who ruined the lives of these students and triggered racial tensions in the region. Cooper simply let her walk in a disgraceful but politically expedient decision.

Notably, there is no published review of the original case and the evidence against Montgomery. There appears only the evidence of the accuser in the case and it makes me wonder about the prosecutor’s role in the case.

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, August 25, 2013

“Punishment for this offense has been achieved”

With those words, which are found near the end of an August 8 motion to dismiss a spurious battery charge against Sandpoint, Idaho resident Rita Hutchens, the author – Bonner County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Shane Greenbank – incriminates himself.

For about a year, Greenbank tirelessly pursued a charge he knew to be entirely devoid of merit. His petulant motion to dismiss – a document littered with grammatical errors that occurred because the author’s protruding lower lip obstructed his view of the computer screen – offers unambiguous proof that his objective was not to convict Hutchens of an actual crime. Instead, he sought to inflict punishment on her for seeking redress for criminal violence she suffered at the hands of a Sandpoint, Idaho police officer.

Rita Hutchens is a tiny 57-year-old internationally respected quilt artist who has never committed a violent act against anybody. She was accused of “criminal battery” because she allegedly threw a ballpoint pen at a desk in the Sandpoint City Hall while doing research for a potential lawsuit against the city.

That writing utensil supposedly ricocheted off the desktop and glanced harmlessly off the blouse of a deputy city clerk named Melissa Ward. The supposed victim suffered no injury and did not press charges. Yet his incident, insisted Greenbank in a complaint filed last October 5, was a violent assault and a “grave offense against the peace and dignity of the state of Idaho.”

Greenbank, whose flair for rhetorical exaggeration would strike a hormonal adolescent girl as excessive, accused Hutchens of “willfully and unlawfully us[ing] force or violence upon the person of Melissa Ward.” Bear in mind that this was not a case in which a pen was employed as a shank, as occurred in a previous episode here in Idaho, nor was the pen hurled like a javelin. It was tossed carelessly at a desk, which means that there was no criminal intent – an indispensable element of an actual crime.

The same cannot be said of the assault she endured at the hands of a Sandpoint police officer named Theresa Heberer, who attacked Hutchens in front of her home in November 2011. After jumping Hutchens from behind and handcuffing the victim, Heberer held a lengthy conference with her supervisor in an effort to contrive a charge that would justify an arrest. They eventually settled on “obstruction,” a charge that was thrown out of court by Judge Barbara Buchanan several months later.

“There was no reason to touch her,” Judge Buchanan observed. “She did not have to answer [Officer Heberer’s] questions. She has a Fifth Amendment right not to do that…. You can’t be charged with resisting and obstructing for exercising your Fifth Amendment right, and she did have every right to say, `I don’t want to answer your questions, I want to go in my house.’ There is no basis for an arrest, there is no reason for a search warrant.”

After seeking medical treatment for the injuries she had suffered, Hutchens filed a damage claim with the City of Sandpoint. When that request was denied, she filed a notice of tort claim against the city. She was doing research into that claim on August 8 2012, when the pen-throwing incident took place.

The existing audio record of the August 8, 2012 confrontation at Sandpoint City Hall was made by one of several city officials who had surrounded Hutchens while she was trying to examine records of her unlawful arrest. Her chief antagonist was city attorney Scott Campbell, whose office had turned down her damage claim several weeks earlier. The specific official who rejected that claim was Lori Meulenberg, who had prosecuted the obstruction charge against Hutchens.

Hutchens wanted to be left alone to examine the records without Campbell and others swarming her and looking over her shoulder. It should be recalled that she was the victim of a violent crime committed by one of their associates. She finally gave voice to her exasperation.

“I’m tired of you people! Just leave me alone!” she exclaimed. “I just want to look at the record, which I have a right to do, now, in private.”

“Actually, you don’t have a right to do [that] in private,” Campbell said in a taunting voice that oozed condescension.

As Hutchens attempted to read the records, Campbell continued to violate her personal space in a fashion that he would have considered legally actionable if he had been on the receiving end. This could be considered a deliberate provocation, and if so it had the intended effect.

“Do not look over me!” she shouted at Campbell, who continued to behave like an adolescent bully.

“Is this a public place, Rita?” Campbell said, mockingly. “I have as much right to be here in a public place as you have.”

At this point, Hutchens took the initiative to de-escalate the situation by saying that she would leave and “come back tomorrow with a witness.”

What this means is that Hutchens was not looking for a fight; she was looking to avoid one. She was never the aggressor in any sense. Outnumbered, harassed, and mocked by city officials who had no respect for her rights, she withdrew from the office, allegedly throwing down a ballpoint pen as she left.

A few seconds after Hutchens departed, the silence was broken by Melissa Ward, the supposed victim.

“She just threw a pen at me,” Ward snickered. Yes, the “victim” laughed at the incident.

“Should we prosecute her?” an audibly amused Campbell asked Ward.

Significantly, there is no indication that Ward – the identified “victim” – agreed that Hutchens should be prosecuted. Ward's giggling comment is the only indication that a pen was thrown by anyone. Hutchens adamantly insists that she didn't hurl the object, but simply left the building in disgust.

Scot Campbell is on the right.
After Hutchens was charged with battery last November, she filed a subpoena demanding that Ward, the purported victim, provide a signed criminal complaint. Campbell, who instigated the persecution campaign against Hutchens, filed a motion to quash that subpoena.

That motion was granted by the Idaho First District Court, which ruled that “requiring Ms. Ward, the victim in this matter, to provide a signed complaint is unreasonable.”

In what sense would it be “unreasonable” to require the alleged victim of criminal battery to sign a complaint? Ward didn’t require medical treatment, and she’s not functionally illiterate, so she is physically and intellectually capable of either writing or dictating a coherent narrative. The only way that the term “unreasonable” has relevance here is as a description of the charge itself – and Campbell’s desire to prevent any critical scrutiny of the incident responsible for that charge.

Rita's midnight arrest, April 16, 2013.
The confected charge was a misdemeanor offense. Yet after Hutchens declined to appear at a pre-trial hearing late last year, an acting judge named Don Swanstrom (who is no longer in service, and might not have been authorized to act as a judge at the time) issued a day-or-night bench warrant for her arrest.

According a 2011 state Supreme Court ruling (Idaho v. Skurlock), a warrant of that kind is generally inappropriate because at night time people enjoy “a heightened expectation of privacy that should not be disturbed by a knock on the door and the presentation of a search warrant.”

Nonetheless, three officers kicked in the front door to Hutchens’ home on April 16 and dragged her away. In the course of this Gestapo-grade act of overkill, one of the officers discovered what was identified as “drug paraphernalia” under her sofa – which resulted in yet another charge being filed against her.

The judge who was originally tapped to hear the “paraphernalia” case was Lori Meulenberg – yes, the same Lori Meulenberg who prosecuted the obstruction charge and subsequently denied Hutchens’ damage claim for the injury she suffered during her unlawful arrest in November 2011.

Finally, on July 23 – more than three months after this case was reported in detail in this space – the Bonner County Daily Bee published a story offering a critical examination of the campaign to incarcerate Rita Hutchens.

“Despite being a low-level offense, the battery case against Rita Nancy Hutchens has some of the trappings of a high-stakes affair,” observed the Bee. The article noted that the midnight arrest was questionable (at best), and that the treatment of Hutchens “stirred dismay by those in the community who contend law enforcement and the courts are running amok in Bonner County.”

It was likewise notable that the case was “being closely followed by city officials. City Attorney Scot Campbell attended [the July 19] hearing, as did police Chief Corey Coon and Det. Derrick Hagstrom.”

Why was the crème de la scum of Sandpoint’s ruling clique so interested in this trivial case, and so perversely determined to see Rita Hutchens incarcerated? Why did Shane Greenbank insist on having her submit to a mental evaluation – a demand that resulted in her being arrested for contempt on two occasions?

Shortly after Hutchens was seized in her home in a midnight police raid, Greenbank filed a motion demanding that she be forced to undergo a psychological evaluation because of what he described as “unusual behaviors and affects – both in court and in her filings.” He also made the remarkable claim – without providing a molecule of supporting evidence -- that he had also been “battered” by Hutchens “outside of court when he served papers to her in the clerk’s office….”

The absence of any further description may lead the otherwise uninformed reader to assume that Rita Hutchens, who is 5’1” tall and weighs about 110 pounds, knocked Greenbank on his tax-fattened ass, which is something he richly deserves. What happened, in fact, is that Greenbank shoved a sheaf of legal documents into her face – and Hutchens shoved them right back. This, we are supposed to pretend, was an act of criminal “battery.”

It should be acknowledged, I suppose,that this act would be sufficient to hurt Mr. Greenbank’s feelings. He is an individual of remarkably delicate sensibilities: About five years ago, while defiling Kootenai County as an assistant prosecutor, Greenbank was slapped down by a judge who declared a mistrial in a domestic violence case because Greenbank, in an attempt to manipulate the jury, started crying during his opening statement.

After initially trying to deny what he had done, Greenbank was forced to admit: “I did have tears running down my face, I did have snot running down my face.” First District Judge Fred Gilber pointed out to the snot-faced prosecutor that this was not the first time the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office had been censured “for appealing to the passions or prejudice of the jury.”

Greenbank’s repeated demands that Hutchens undergo a psychiatric evaluation were similarly intended to prejudice the public against her. This is a violation of the ethical standards that govern prosecutors (yes, I was also surprised to learn that such guidelines exist, although they do nothing to inhibit the corrupt ambition of those who occupy the office).

Rule 3.8(f) of the ABA’s ethical standards specifies that prosecutors must refrain from making “comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused”; Rule 3.6(a) forbids prosecutors to make comments that they know or reasonably should know “will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.”

Greenbank’s untutored speculation about Hutchens’ mental health was widely reported, echoed by camp-followers of the ruling municipal clique, and had a hugely damaging impact on her public reputation.

Rita Hutchens in her metier.
“They set out to destroy my reputation – really, to destroy me,” Hutchens told Pro Libertate. “The claims they made about my mental health were in the paper all the time, and it’s absolutely destroyed my business. If this had actually gone to trial, there’s no way I could have been treated fairly by a jury after they had done so much to prejudice the community against me.”

After being incarcerated for contempt of court in mid-July, Hutchens finally underwent the psychological evaluation, which resulted in a terse and unembellished statement that she was entirely sound of mind. This didn’t deter the irrepressibly snotty Mr. Greenbank from using his motion to dismiss the charge to traduce his victim one last time.

“[W]hile it is unfortunate that the psychological evaluation did not result in some treatment recommendation that may benefit the defendant – and, by extension, the public – the State has done all it is able to do in order to minimize further risk to the public,” sneered Greenbank. He neither explained why his judgment of Hutchens’ psychological condition was superior to that of a credentialed mental health professor, nor did he provide any evidence that she ever posed a risk to the public.

The down-market Javert took some measure of comfort in the gratuitous suffering he had inflicted by incarcerating, impoverishing, and defaming an innocent and helpless woman whose “defiance” (his word) simply had to be punished.

Since Hutchens “has spent many more days in jail than she would have if she had actually been convicted of this offense,” Greenbank gloated, “punishment for this offense has been achieved.”

It is widely known, though rarely acknowledged, that prosecutors pursue punishment at the expense of both truth and justice. Bonner County is host to a specimen of that tribe in whom resides the distilled malice one so often finds in that occupation, untempered by the rudimentary intellectual discipline necessary to maintain the pretense of a commitment to principle. Greenbank’s persecution of Rita Hutchens was nothing less than criminal, and if so much as a particle of justice still exists he will face the consequences of his actions.

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

Saturday, August 24, 2013

LAPD’s hypocrisy about gun prosecutions

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is extremely aggressive in enforcing federal, state, and local firearm regulations. In fact, years ago it created its very own "Gun Unit" that is dedicated to investigating and prosecuting violations of firearm laws. Since its creation, the LAPD Gun Unit has earned a notorious reputation for being unduly aggressive in prosecuting these cases, and for interpreting the confusing, numerous, and complicated California and federal firearm laws extremely broadly. Simply put, the LAPD attempts to criminalize as much firearm related activity as possible. In doing so, it has made criminals out of lots of well-intentioned and harmless civilians.

For years our office has defended our clients in and out of court from the Gun Unit's proclivities. We have resisted the LAPD's efforts to push criminal charges against people for inadvertent violations of firearm laws or for acts that are not clearly (or even likely) criminal. Rarely, if ever, did LAPD express concerns about making sure our clients' acts were criminal or not an innocent mistake.

So it came as a surprise to us to read an article in the Los Angeles Times that the LAPD now says it needs help from the federal government's lawyers to determine whether LAPD SWAT officers violated federal firearm laws by purchasing and reselling special edition Kimber brand pistols. These special edition Kimber handguns were made specifically for LAPD SWAT officers. But those officers apparently then resold the firearms for profit to other LAPD officers and to civilians. The problem? If the officers who originally ordered the guns intended to resell them from the start, they likely violated federal law by lying on the federal 4473 firearm purchase form. And if they did it more than once for profit, they likely violated the law by failing to have the required federal firearm dealers license needed to resell firearms.

Ironically, the laws that cover these resales really aren't that complicated, especially when compared to many other gun laws LAPD has unhesitatingly interpreted and enforced against civilians. The main one is 18 USC § 922(a)(1)(A), a federal statute that prohibits "Engaging in the Business of Dealing in Firearms Without a License."

What does "engaging in the business" mean? Federal law allows a person to sell firearms without a license up to a certain point. But once a person establishes a pattern of sales, selling guns repeatedly, the person can be considered "engaged in the business" of selling firearms. At that point the person needs to have a federal firearms license.

The courts have made fairly clear what constitutes a violation of 18 USC § 922(a)(1)(A), explaining that the government must show the defendant:

"was not a licensed dealer, that he 'devote[d] time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms,' 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(21)(C), and that he acted with knowledge that his conduct was unlawful."

United States v. Allah, 130 F.3d 33, 45 (2d Cir. 1997).

So whether the LAPD SWAT officers violated federal law could turn on several questions, including, for example, whether they made repetitive purchases and resales of the special edition Kimber pistols, and if so, whether they had profit as a motive. Of course, there is plenty of legal precedent and case law to aid the LAPD and prosecutors in answering these questions. See for example this legal memorandum (.pdf) from Michel & Associates. Perhaps they can't find it? More likely, they found it and didn't like what it says.

There is another element to this case that makes it potentially even more egregious: the person who exposed the reselling of the Kimber pistols -- LAPD Lieutenant, Officer in Charge of the Armory, Armando Perez -- may have been retaliated against for having done so. In a whistle blower lawsuit he has filed against the City and the LAPD, Perez alleges that after he requested an investigation into the Kimber pistol sales, fellow officers filed complaints against him. He received a five-day suspension, and he was ostracized and threatened at work. Perez's lawsuit reveals a troubling fact. The Internal Affairs investigation into the Kimber pistols resulted in a mere 39-page report, while the report into complaints against Perez was 257 pages. This fact is even more troubling in light of the Inspector General's subsequent report concluding that the Internal Affairs' investigations into the Kimber pistol matter had been "deficient."

It is infuriating that LAPD is so reluctant to judge its own officers' conduct as criminal without input from the FBI. Not because the officers deserve to be prosecuted, they don't. But, it is because when it comes to prosecuting civilians, LAPD has routinely relied on its own employee's (non-lawyers) opinions (who are cross-designated as both LAPD officers and ATF (federal) agents) to pursue criminal cases against people for alleged violations of firearm laws without having any such reluctance.

Had civilians done what these LAPD SWAT officers are alleged to have done, LAPD would not hesitate. It would have issued press-releases about their arrests, supplied mug-shots and photos of the seized guns to the media, and labeled the sellers as "dangerous gun runners." But the shoe is on the other foot. Now that it is LAPD's officers being investigated, suddenly LAPD thinks the law is unclear and the officers deserve the benefit of the doubt.

What makes this situation even more curious is the fact that Sacramento Sheriffs' Department deputies were charged by federal prosecutors for practically identical conduct.

One of those deputies has already pleaded guilty and his status conference for sentencing is scheduled on August 29.

The other deputy being charged is currently scheduled for a jury trial on December 2, but that could change at his August 8 status conference. Why Sacramento deputies are being aggressively prosecuted, while LAPD officers are getting a pass so far, is confounding.

To be clear, the point is not that these officers should be prosecuted. They shouldn't be. The fact that they may be considered to be dealing firearms illegally even though they made all transfers through licensed dealers shows how enforcing this law can lead to absurd results. This wasn't a notorious criminal enterprise selling guns to bad guys. These were collectable firearms being sold to collectors. But if LAPD routinely pursues cases against law-abiding and well-intentioned civilians based on legal interpretations that lead to injustice, their own officers should suffer the same fate. No double standards!

Police are not above the law, and civilians should not be held to a higher standard of understanding the law than those who should know better; in fact, the exact opposite should be the case.

The take away from this should be that firearm laws are generally harmful to the law-abiding, and do not protect the public from the truly dangerous. This LAPD case, and the Sacramento case showing police officers (most likely) inadvertently violating the law, demonstrate that. But again, while these dumb laws remain on the books, there should be no double standards.

Our office has submitted to LAPD requests for records concerning this matter under California's Public Records Act, most of which were denied as seeking "privileged information." But we are awaiting response on additional records requests, which we will make available on if and when we receive 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

Friday, August 23, 2013

"They Kidnapped our Child": Why CPS Needs Transparency Now

In April 2013, police officers and a social worker from Sacramento County's Child Protective Services entered the home of Anna and Alex Nikolayev and took their baby, Sammy, away from them. They had no warrant.

"What they'd done was, basically, kidnapped our child with the help of police," says Alex Nikolayev. The young, first-time parents were not notified of where Sammy was being taken and wouldn't find out for a full 24 hours. According to the Nikolayevs, the dispute stemmed from the parents' desire to obtain a second medical opinion before subjecting Sammy to major heart surgery.

The Nikolayev's story made national headlines thanks to footage from a camcorder Anna Nikolayev set up on the kitchen table. It also caught the attention of California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, who spearheaded an audit of the agency.

"The secrecy by which CPS operates is a massive problem," says Donnelly. "Because when you have secrecy and unchecked power, you have a recipe for corruption and abuse."

The secrecy surrounding CPS stems from the nature of California's juvenile dependency courts which only allow limited press access and seal all court records. While media and other interested parties can petition the court to open the records, this can be a lengthy process and by no means guarantees results. ReasonTV petitioned the court to open the records in the Nikolayev's case and, almost two months later, we have still not received a ruling from the judge.

While the closed nature of juvenile dependency courts is intended to protect the privacy of minors, the effect is an opaque system in which social workers present evidence to judges under the cloak of "confidentiality." Only in extreme or unusual cases - such as when parents release clandestine footage of their child being forcefully removed from their home without a warrant - do CPS stories tend to capture the public's attention.

Another example of a case that garnered some media attention is that of Deanna Hardwick, a mother who lost custody of her children for six and a half years. She successfully fought back and sued Orange County CPS after jurors found that social workers "lied, falsified evidence, and suppressed exculpatory evidence" and "did so with malice." Orange County ended up paying out almost $11 million in damages.

"The system is set up in a way that it's encouraged to remove the children from the protective parent," says Hardwick. "Because it generates a lot of funding."

The issue of funding is one that many critics of CPS are quick to raise, most prominently and frequently by the late Georgia state senator Nancy Schaefer. While the funding incentives for any government agency can be complicated and seemingly impossible to divine, Orange County Social Services Agency Director Michael Riley, who oversees Orange County CPS, testified in a deposition related to Hardwick's case that putting more children into the foster system theoretically could boost the agency's budget.

"Let's say you spend ten dollars a year. So, then, for the following year, your base then would be ten dollars," says Riley. The lawyer questioning Riley then points out that failure to use the entire base would result in a lowering of the base for the next year. He then asks Riley if the funding stream is tied to how many children they bring into Orange County's children's home, Orangewood.

"It's tied to the number of children we have in the foster system," says Riley.

ReasonTV reached out to both Sacramento County and Orange County Social Services Agencies in the production of this story, and representatives from both organization were happy to talk with us. However, because of the closed dependency courts, neither representative would comment on the details of specific cases. The absurdity of this charade reached such heights that Sherri Heller, who runs Sacramento County's Health and Human Services, told us that she could not even confirm nor deny that Sacramento County CPS was even involved in the Nikolayev case, despite widespread reporting and video evidence that it was.

And it's not just parents and children who suffer from the secrecy. CPS workers and their managers say they are not happy about the situation either and feel that more openness and transparency would help them to communicate their side of the story clearly.

"Most of us in this field are eager for the public to understand what happened and why," says Heller. "It is a source of great dismay to us when we are accused of hiding behind the confidentiality law."

In the immediate wake of the Nikolayev case, parents gathered in Sacramento to support the audit and testify in front of the audit committee. The audit is set to proceed in the next few months, and the auditor will choose three county agencies to examine. But for parents like Deanna Hardwick, who's experienced the power of this agency first-hand, a state-level audit is just the beginning of a broader movement towards transparency and accountability.

"Once the American people are able to be made aware that this is going on, I think that will be a real step forward towards making sure that there's accountability and making sure that the agency is working towards keeping families together rather than separating them," says Hardwick.

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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Beware Warrior Cops

John Stossel

We need police to catch murderers, thieves and con men, and so we give them special power -- the power to use force on others. Sadly, today's police use that power to invade people's homes over accusations of trivial, nonviolent offenses -- and often do it with tanks, battering rams and armor you'd expect on battlefields.

In his book "Rise of the Warrior Cop," Radley Balko recounts the rise of police SWAT teams (SWAT stands for Special Weapons And Tactics) armed with heavy military equipment. SWAT raids began as rarely used methods of dealing with violent situations, like hostage-takings.

But government always grows.

In the 1970s, there were about 300 SWAT raids per year. "As of 2005," says Balko, "100 to 150 per day."

What began as a few specialized groups of police trained to address genuine threats to safety has degenerated into small armies descending on organic farms where farmers sell unpasteurized milk and legal medical marijuana dispensaries getting raided as if they were heavily armed threats.

The increase began under Nixon-era politicians who wanted to look "tough on crime," even if that meant exaggerating the threat posed by illegal drugs. As the futile war on drugs escalated, cops worried that drug users would destroy evidence if cops knocked and announced themselves. So they stopped doing that, changing a centuries-old rule that treated citizens' homes as their castles -- castles whose owners must be presented with a warrant before police can enter.

Soon, every police department wanted a SWAT team -- and many were more interested in getting cool military gear than in considering the potential downside -- like terrorizing innocent people, raiding the wrong house and causing violence.

"I found over 50 cases where a completely innocent person was killed in one of these raids," says Balko. Often this happens because the homeowner does not realize who is breaking down his door in the middle of the night.

Iraq War veteran Jose Guerena just knew that armed men were bursting in. So he picked up his semi-automatic rifle. Before he could take the safety off, police fired 71 bullets, hitting him 22 times.

Police raided his house because they suspected drugs were there. But after Guerena was killed, police found no drugs and no evidence of drug dealing. Today, the vast majority of SWAT raids are about drugs, not terrorism or hostage situations. Guerena's brother was arrested on drug charges. Balko says, "It appears Guerena's crime was being related to someone."

Now that the public is finally starting to have doubts about the drug war, another type of war has arrived: the War on Terror. The idea that domestic enemies need to be raided and rooted out -- that law enforcement should be given a free hand or we could all be killed -- got a new lease on life.

And a new source of funding.

Despite laws clearly saying that soldiers may not be used for domestic policing except in very special circumstances, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security now offer armored vehicles -- tanks and troop transports, body armor and stun grenades -- to police departments, large or small.

Local police jumped at the chance to have new toys -- so they expanded the circumstances under which those toys get used.

A sheriff in quiet Concord, N.H., cites people not so different from me as an excuse for getting DHS money to buy an armored vehicle. In an application for what is essentially a tank, he wrote that groups like the Free State Project -- libertarians who moved to New Hampshire seeking increased individual freedom -- pose "daily challenges" to the police of Concord.

Free Staters better watch out next time they get into an argument over a traffic ticket.

Most libertarians argue that police, courts and military are legitimate functions of government. We focus our skepticism on completely illegitimate government actions, like corporate welfare.

But few freedoms are more basic than being able to sleep securely in your bed without armored men bursting through your door.

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, August 21, 2013

Judge Orders Doctors To Pump Prisoner's Stomach, Doctors Tell Judge To Piss Off

A warrant is supposed to be the last word in gathering evidence in criminal cases, right? The court speaketh and we jumpeth. But what if the warrant requires evidence to be gathered in a way that necessitates the skills of trained professionals? And what if those conscripted professionals find the ordered procedures unethical and abhorrent? And then they...refuse?

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

"Milwaukee police officers who were chasing Terrance Fleetwood last winter were sure they saw him swallow a bag of suspected cocaine.

So sure, they persuaded a judge to sign a search warrant to perform a surgical procedure on Fleetwood to retrieve the suspected contraband by sucking it from his stomach up through his nose.

The case came to light this month when the search warrant was finally filed.

Fleetwood's attorney, Bridget Boyle, said it was the first and only time she's ever seen police seek, and get, a warrant to have something as serious as nasogastric aspiration done to get evidence from a suspect.

"Thankfully, the doctors refused to do it," Boyle said recently."

Instead of examining the pumped contents of Fleetwood's stomach, police had to content themselves with staking out his hospital bed at the Aurora Sinai Medical Center for five days, to no avail. Ultimately, Fleetwood pled guilty to two counts of obstructing justice, and was sentenced to 18 months, with credit for 118 days.

The subject of compelling suspects to provide body fluids or stomach contents has received plenty of attention from a Fourth Amendment perspective, but conscripting medical personnel to do the honors is relatively untested territory. Many medical facilities, like the Aurora Sinai Medical Center, have policies requiring patient consent before doctors and nurses will start working as police proxies. but that sometimes annoys the authorities.

Marjorie Lachaud-DePalis, an emergency-room nurse at the West Palm Beach Veterans Administration Medical Center, was arrested by sheriff's deputies in June 2009 for abiding by just such a policy. Charges were subsequently dropped, probably because local cops are worried about having a legal boundary placed on their authority. That seems especially likely now that a judge has found a letter from the Palm Beach State Attorney's Office authorizing the compulsion of medical personnel to be "woefully inadequate." Lachaud-DePalis is suing the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department for lost wages, compensation for pain and suffering and punitive damages for civil rights violations.

Fortunately, Milwaukee police didn't try to test the limits of their authority with the doctors in Fleetwood's case.

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Daughter says she lied about her dad raping her

A WOMAN whose father went to prison when she told police he raped her as a nine-year-old has said she made up the story to avoid being beaten by her mother.

Chaneya Kelly, 24, of Newburgh in upstate New York, is pleading for her father's release nearly 16 years after she accused him of molesting her in 1997.

Ms Kelly, who says her mother - then addicted to drugs and alcohol - forced her to make the claim, has said: 'I'm 24-years-old and I made this mistake when I was nine-years-old - but it's never too late to try and right your wrong.'

Her father Daryl Kelly, a Navy veteran who ran an electronics repair shop in Newburgh, was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison and barred from any contact with his children after being convicted by a jury of multiple counts of rape and serious sexual assault.

Kelly, who has always maintained his innocence, had never been convicted of a felony before. 'All I think is, one day the truth will set me free. All I have to do is hold on,' Kelly told NBC News from the Green Haven Correctional Facility.

In October 1997, while Kelly was living with his wife Charade and their five children in Newburgh, he says he was attempting to rid himself of a drug habit in order to take better care of his family. But he said his wife's own drug habit had spiralled to the point where she turned to prostitution in order to feed her addiction.

Chaneya, the Kellys' eldest child, says that one morning before school her mother asked her whether her father had ever 'touched' her. 'I was like, "What do you mean, did he touch me?" And she was like, "Did he touch you in your no-no spot?" And I would repeatedly say no,' the now 24-year-old said.

According to Ms Kelly her mother threatened to beat her if she did not 'tell me the answer that I want to hear'. She said she told her mother her father had molested her to avoid being beaten, even though it wasn't true.

Kelly was taken in for questioning on October 29 1997. There was no definitive forensic evidence to prove Chaneya had been raped, but the little girl and her mother's story - together with some suspect answers Kelly provided during questioning - were enough for officers to charge the father of five.

He refused a plea deal that would have made him eligible for parole in six years, and within a year was sentenced to up to 40 years following a trial by jury.

His daughter was sent to live with her grandmother, a Pentecostal minister, and six months later Chaneya told her grandmother her father had never raped her. Pat Thomas took her granddaughter to Kelly's attorney who videotaped the child's recantation.

Her mother, Charade, also submitted a sworn affidavit to the court which said she threatened to beat her daughter until she said her father raped her.

A judge refused to vacate Kelly's conviction, deciding the recantation appeared forced.

Kelly, who remains in jail to this day, began studying law and has filed multiple appeals.

His daughter visited him in prison when she persuaded the courts to allow her to have contact with him at the age of 15.

'The first thing my dad did was that he hugged me and he told me that he loved me and ... that he doesn't blame me for anything,' she said.

Chaneya's mother has said she is now drug-free and confirms her daughter's story, blaming a drug binge for her threats.

Frank Phillips, the Orange County District Attorney and chief prosecutor when Daryl Kelly stood trial, has emphasised that Kelly was found guilty by a jury.

He said in an interview it was 'not unique' for the victim of a sexual crime to want to protect the abuser by withdrawing their accusation.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick is leading a reinvestigation into the Kelly case.

His office and the detective behind the original police investigation in Newburgh both declined to comment.

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, August 19, 2013

FL: Are police relying too much on stun guns?

A young graffiti artist in Miami Beach, Fla., died last week after police shot him with a Taser, reigniting a debate about whether police are using Tasers more than they need to.

What to Israel Hernandez-Bandera was "an act of barbarism" and an "assassination of a young artist and photographer" was, to many police departments nationwide, a common response to a mounting threat.

On Tuesday, Mr. Hernandez-Bandera's son, Israel Hernandez-Llach, died after being shot by Taser stun gun. According to police accounts, Mr. Hernandez-Llach was spray-painting an abandoned McDonald's and ran away when confronted, failing to heed officers' commands.

At a time when police departments say offenders are becoming more violent and officer injuries are on the rise, Tasers have become an invaluable tool, allowing officers to subdue suspects without deadly force. But critics say police have become too enamored of them, and they point to the incident in Miami Beach, Fla., as evidence that the use of electroshock weapons is too often replacing caution and common sense.

Most police departments do not publish data on Taser incidents, as they do on incidents that involve firearms. But statistics and police statements suggest Taser use is on the rise. A 2012 study by The Chicago Tribune found that Chicago police were involved in 197 Taser incidents in 2009. By 2011, the department was on a pace to hit 857 incidents.

In eight other cities across Illinois, the story was similar, with Taser use doubling overt the same time period. In Austin, Texas, police Taser use also doubled between 2009 and 2011, according to a 2012 Austin American-Statesman report.

The trend is "societal," Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told the paper. "Lots of economic frustrations, lack of respect for authority. It's a byproduct of what is happening in our country."

In laying out its policy on Tasers, police in the small town of Norway, Maine, laid out the argument made by departments nationwide: "The law enforcement community has experienced a rise in the assaults on officers. Offenders have become more violent and officer injuries have risen throughout the United States," the police department paper said.

But Tasers are not always safe, critics say. A 2012 study by Amnesty International found that 500 people had died from being shot by police with Tasers since 2001.

For the most part, the debate is not primarily about using Tasers to subdue violent offenders. Rather, Amnesty targets the practice of using Tasers on nonviolent suspects, too.

"Of the hundreds who have died following police use of Tasers in the USA, dozens and possibly scores of deaths can be traced to unnecessary force being used," said Susan Lee, Americas program director at Amnesty International, in the study. "This is unacceptable, and stricter guidelines for their use are now imperative."

In Miami Beach, police are conducting an investigation into the death of 18-year-old Hernandez-Llach. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, an independent state agency, will review the report, though it can only make recommendations.

But the family has questioned why Tasers were needed to subdue a graffiti artist.

A police spokesman told The New York Times Friday that "no crime has been committed here" and that there was "definitely no gross negligence" on the part of the officer who fired the Taser. The officer, Jorge Mercado, has been put on paid administrative leave, but could be restored any time the police chief decides, according to the Times.

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, August 18, 2013

Postmaster accused of stealing £85,000 wins five-year battle for justice claiming a 'computer glitch' caused cash shortfall

A sub-postmaster accused of stealing £85,000 by the Post Office has won a five-year battle to clear his name.

Tom Brown, 67, from South Stanley, County Durham, has been told he will face no further action after the company said it could not enter any evidence just months before he was due to appear in a civil court case.

Police launched an investigation when it emerged there was a £85,426 shortfall at North Kenton Post Office in 2007, but after four years looking into the claim, they told him he would not face criminal charges.

Mr Brown, who was given a certificate of valour by the Post Office in the mid-90s after fending off a knife-wielding robber, has always maintained the shortfall was the result of a glitch in the company's controversial Horizon computer system.

It is claimed more than 100 people across the country have been the subjects of false allegations by the Post Office as a result of a computer error.

A campaign group, the Justice For Sub-postmasters Alliance, run by Alan Bates, of Old Colwyn, Conwy, helped in Mr Brown's fight. A number have registered an interest in suing the Post Office over the false accusations.

Despite police dropping the case, lawyers acting for The Post Office Ltd pursued two charges of false accounting against Mr Brown through the civil courts. But the company has said it no longer pursuing the case because it is 'not in the public interest' and a judge has recorded not-guilty verdicts.

Mr Brown, a grandfather-of-three, says he is relieved but has criticised Post Office bosses for their 'relentless pursuit' over the past five years.

He said: 'I've lost nearly £300,000 in property, lost my home, been declared bankrupt and had my name dragged through the mud. I knew there was something wrong in the shop and I thought somebody was taking money but I kept it quiet for six months.

'That's the biggest mistake I made. When the Post Office did an audit they found all this missing money and I was suspended.

'Without my salary I couldn't afford to pay the staff and I couldn't afford to pay the bills. I was made bankrupt. They wanted to search my house and they went through my car. I said to them, 'You won't find £85,000 in there".'

Mr Brown lost his wife, Carole, to breast cancer in 2003 at the age of 57. The couple had worked together since 1981 when they bought the Chester Moor post office before taking control of a site on Colliery Row Post Office in Fence Houses.

Mr Brown said: 'Because my wife was ill - they said she only had 18 months to live, but she survived for three years - we gave up the branch and moved into a new house.

'After she died, I started working in Finlays in North Kenton and eventually bought the site.

'I had a three-bedroom detached house in West Pelton and a flat across the road, which I rented out.

'When I was suspended I lost all that and I lost £50,000 a year in Post Office salaries. All the staff I've ever worked with in Newcastle think I stole £85,000. They've dragged my reputation through the dirt.

'When I was told that it was all over I was over the moon, I was absolutely elated. But the hardest thing is knowing that my wife and I worked for so many years, doing so much to try to make sure my family was secure.'

Mr Brown has now entered into a 'mediation' period with Post Office bosses as he wants compensation for five years of 'torture'.

North Durham MP Kevan Jones has championed Mr Brown's fight and raised his plight in Parliament.

Last night Mr Jones told The Journal it was a 'scandal', stating: 'The way Tom has been treated is verging on cruel.

'Ministers must now act to ensure victims of these Post Office allegations get the compensation they deserve. I have written to ministers today and will be pursuing Tom's case very hard.'

Last year the Post Office instructed a firm of forensic accountants, 2nd Sight Limited, to conduct an independent review of 10 existing cases raised by a number of MPs and the law firm Shoosmiths.

About 100 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses have registered an interest in suing Post Office Ltd over its Horizon computer system, which records financial transactions in branches across the UK. The Post Office has repeatedly denied there is a problem with the system, saying the claims have been made by a very small number of people.

But Mr Jones criticised Business Minister Jo Swinson during a Parliamentary debate last month, saying a report had found there was scope for the Post Office 'to improve aspects of its support and training for sub-postmasters'.

A Post Office Ltd spokeswoman said: 'Post Office Ltd has determined that in this case it is no longer in the public interest to prosecute.'

She added: 'The Post Office is committed to supporting its people and improving the way we do so. The interim review published recently by independent investigators Second Sight makes it clear that the Horizon computer system and its supporting processes function effectively across our network.

'As the review notes, it is used by around 68,000 people in more than 11,500 branches, successfully processing more than six million transactions every day. The review underlines our cause for confidence in the overall system.'

In relation to other cases, she said: 'We would not comment on other cases. However, cases are only prosecuted where they meet and continue to meet the requirements of the code for Crown Prosecutors. That code requires both an evidential test and a public interest test to be applied. The code also requires the prosecution to keep under review whether or not that test continues to be met.'

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

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Waving while black is dangerous

A photo of police forcing an off-duty firefighter to the ground has gained national attention after it was revealed that the police action was taken after the man waved to the officers.

George Madison Jr., an African American firefighter and youth pastor in Evansville, Indiana was threatened with a taser by police when he committed no crime.

Madison says that he was riding his bike when he saw a police car approaching the same intersection.

Through his work on the local fire department, he is familiar with a number of the police officers in Evansville and he thought he recognized one of the men in the car so he waved. That is not how the police interpreted it, however, as they claim that they thought he was flicking them off.

The officers stopped Madison, and, according to Madison, they were getting confrontational.

He then took out his phone and went to call the police chief, Billy Bolin, who he is friends with. The officers told him to hang up the phone and get on the ground.

When he hesitated before listening to their order, The Courier Press reports that the officer took out his taser.

'It was literally maybe inches from my face. I immediately threw my hands in the air. What he asked me to do I was more than willing to do,' Madison told the paper. 'I said "Please don’t hurt me." The next thing I know I’m laying down the ground and they cuffed me.'

The officers only began to back off after they learned that Madison was a firefighter and youth pastor. 'Once they found out I was a fireman their attitude changed,' he said.

Now there is an internal investigation underway within the police department and Madison's friend Chief Bolin is involved.

'I know (Madison), I like him. I know the officers involved, I like the officers involved. So, my job is to try to figure out the truth no matter who you like,' he told local 14 News.

'Just because somebody says something, we can't automatically assume it's the truth. I'm not saying I'm doubting anything that George has said. We have to hear both sides and get to the bottom of it.'

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

Friday, August 16, 2013

British Detective jailed for three years after asking domestic violence victims to touch his groin and have sex with him

A police officer who preyed on two domestic violence victims to get his sexual kicks has been jailed for three years. Detective Jeffrey Howard Davies was a family liaison officer with South Wales Police when he touched a distressed woman and tried to get another to touch his groin.

The women say they now live in fear of the police - with one suffering panic attacks following her ordeal.

During his two-week trial, the court heard that Davies was supposed to help victims of domestic violence. He had been with the force since 2000.

He vehemently denied the two counts of sexual assault, both in 2010, calling the allegations 'nonsense'.

But the prosecution said he abused his position of authority to try to persuade his victims to have sex with him.

In the first attack, he rubbed the leg of a woman who had complained of domestic abuse while the two were travelling in a car discussing the case.

A victim impact statement read aloud by prosecutor John Hipkin said the woman had found it difficult to come to terms with what had happened. She said: 'What this man has done to me has traumatised me psychologically. 'I now panic if I see a male police officer in the street. I have even had to change doctors because I found out that my GP works at the police station.

'I always thought of myself as a strong person, but what this man did to me has shattered my confidence.' The woman also said she felt embarrassed and that no one would believe her.

In the second attack, Davies forced a woman's hand against his groin after he interviewed her, before asking her for oral sex. She too had come to him for help after suffering domestic abuse.

In her statement the woman said: 'I was angry and shocked after it happened. 'I did not think anybody would believe me because he was a policeman.I do not trust the police as fully as I used to. 'I've started having panic attacks again - I haven't had them in four years.'

Defending barrister Lucy Crowther said her client had accepted there was limited mitigation that could be made given his not guilty plea, which a judge said had put the victims through even more stress.

She had tried to argue that, in some respects, the extent of Davies' sexual relations had not been as serious as two police officers who had been convicted of having sex while on duty.

Former Greater Manchester Police officer Michael Fletcher was jailed for 32 months in 2011 after having penetrative sex with a vulnerable adult while on duty.

And ex-Avon and Somerset Officer Kenny Lewis, 26, was jailed for four years in 2009 after engaging in sexual activity with a number of 'vulnerable' women, also while on duty.

Ms Crowther asked the court to impose a sentence nearer the sentencing guidelines for an offence of sexual touching - which has a lower starting point.

However, while Judge Paul Thomas acknowledged that Davies had not engaged in 'more intimate' sexual activity, he argued there was a key difference in the case. 'The sentencing guidelines, if you excuse my inelegant phrase, fly straight out of the window,' he said.

He pointed out that the sexual activity engaged in by Davies, although of a less serious nature than in the Fletcher and Lewis cases, had no consent whatsoever.

He added: 'A long prison sentence must follow.' As well as imposing a three-year custodial term, Davies was placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely.

Wearing a blue and red checked shirt and trousers, he bowed his head in shame as he was taken down by two security guards.

Throughout the hearing, the disgraced officer could also not bring himself to look towards the public gallery where several of his former colleagues sat.

South Wales Police's Assistant Chief Constable Richard Lewis said now that sentence had been passed, gross misconduct proceedings against Davies would be taken forward.

He added: 'His actions were a gross abuse of position and power which will not be tolerated within policing.

'The thorough and determined investigation carried out by South Wales Police and managed by the IPCC, demonstrates our determination to tackle behaviour of this kind.'

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

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cameras aid justice

As the late Andrew Breitbart maintained, we have become a militia of journalists, armed with our cellphone cameras and ready at a moment's notice to protect the strangers around us by documenting many kinds of abuse.

Recently when I was picking my son up at the airport, I dutifully circled the terminal at least half a dozen times while waiting for him to arrive. Finally he called to say that he had his luggage and was ready to be picked up. As I pulled to the curb, however, the airport cop yelled at me, "Move along! This area is only for active loading!" I pointed toward my son and opened my door to get out. "Stay in your car and move along!" he yelled again. I pointed again at my son. "I could have you arrested,” he threatened.

"For what?" I demanded. "For picking up my son who is standing right there?"

The cop's arm twitched backward toward his holster. Seriously. For an alleged parking offense. (Maybe that's where he kept his citation pad . . .) At that point the officer noticed that my daughter was filming the whole event on her cellphone. And suddenly his whole demeanor changed. "I'm sorry Ma'am," he said. "It's been a long day. I'm at the end of a double shift." Smile, copper. You're on candid camera.

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, August 14, 2013

Forget the sex smears. The real crime is that Foxy Knoxy was EVER charged with murder

On the night of November 1, 2007, Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old exchange student from South London, was murdered in a cottage on the Via della Pergola in the Italian university city of Perugia.

Her body was found by police the next day, locked in her ground-floor bedroom and covered in a blood-soaked quilt. She had deep stab wounds in her neck.

The only clothing on her body was a cotton shirt pulled up to the neck. Bruises indicated she had been held down, and there was male DNA in her body, indicating possible rape.

The post-mortem could establish only a broad time frame for her death — between 8.55pm and 12.50am. There was also evidence of a burglary, since house keys, money, mobile phones and credit cards were missing and a rock had been thrown through the window of the adjoining room.

Further investigation of the crime scene revealed fingerprints, palm prints and semen that did not match any of the residents of the cottage. There was also a footprint of a Nike trainer in blood. Two witnesses had seen a young black man running down Via della Pergola from the direction of the cottage at 10.30pm. They said he nearly collided with them.

The black man seen running away might have been sought as a suspect if the police believed that an outsider had killed Meredith.

But within hours of finding the body, they concluded that all the evidence of burglary — the broken window, strewn clothing, missing belongings — had been staged to mislead them.

It was an insider job, they decided, which narrowed the police investigation down to just seven suspects — four young Italian students who rented rooms in the basement of the house, where they grew cannabis plants; and, upstairs, Filomena Romanelli, Laura Mezzetti and Amanda Knox, who, along with the victim, shared the ground-floor flat.

As it then turned out, it was a holiday week in Italy, and all four of the Italian men had gone away to visit their families. Romanelli and Mezzetti, both legal trainees in their late twenties, were also away and had solid alibis.

That left only one other suspect, Amanda Knox, a beautiful 20-year-old American student from Seattle, who was at the house when the police arrived, kissing her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.

Her alibi was provided by Sollecito, whom she had met the previous week at a classical musical recital. The two told police they were together at Sollecito’s flat all night. Knox said they had smoked marijuana, watched a DVD of the French film Amelie and slept together.

She returned to the cottage at 11am the next day to change her clothing, and it was then that she noticed blood in the shower.

Initially, Sollecito fully supported her alibi, but during three days of questioning, he changed his story, saying Knox had left his flat at 9pm to go to a bar, Le Chic, where she worked, and that she did not return until after midnight.

Under intensive interrogation, in which Knox was threatened with jail — and without being given access to a lawyer — she also altered her story, suddenly implicating Patrick Lumumba, the Congo-born owner of the Le Chic bar, as the killer.

On November 6, police arrested Knox, Sollecito and Lumumba for the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Even though Knox subsequently retracted her accusation, claiming she had been traumatised by police threats, the theory of the prosecutors now was that the murder proceeded from an orgy that got out of control.

But a problem developed when a Swiss professor, who had been at Le Chic on the night in question, swore he’d had an extended conversation with Lumumba during the time the murder was committed. In light of this alibi, and Knox’s admission that she had falsely accused him, Lumumba had to be released.

Meanwhile, on November 15 — a fortnight after Kercher’s death — the prints in her room were identified as belonging to Rudy Guede, a 20-year-old unemployed gardener from Ivory Coast, who fitted the description of the man seen running away.

His palm print was on the bloodstained pillow under Kercher’s hips. His DNA was found on her clothes and inside her. Guede also wore Nike trainers that were consistent with the bloody footprint on the floor.

This hard evidence unambiguously established that he was in Kercher’s room, had sexual contact with her, and left after her blood was spilled. He also had knowledge of the cottage. A fortnight earlier he had met the Italian men living downstairs while playing basketball and, in the week of the murder, he went there to smoke hash with them. On that occasion, he met both Kercher and Knox.

Guede was also under suspicion for other recent break-ins in Perugia and for stealing credit cards.

Less than a week before the murder, he had been briefly detained by police in Milan for climbing into a nursery and stealing an 11inch kitchen knife.

Guede, who had fled to Germany, was extradited back to Italy. But by that time Knox had become such a focus of the media’s attention, and the putative sex games by an angel-faced killer such a cornerstone of the story, that the Italian prosecutors were not about to abandon their group murder theory, even though Patrick Lumumba was now out of the frame.

To maintain this, chief prosecutor Giuliano Mignini posited a conspiracy by teaming up the two insiders, Knox and Sollecito, with the outside burglar, Guede.

Mignini had previously achieved considerable notoriety in Italy in a case in 2001 when he unsuccessfully attempted to attribute the suicide of a doctor to a secret satanic cult.

Now, the prosecutor proposed a similar satanic scenario in which Guede, Sollecito and Knox went to the cottage together and then attempted to force Kercher to have sex with them.

When she refused, Guede and Sollecito took turns molesting her. Knox, whom he described as a ‘she-devil’, then stabbed her to death.

One stumbling block was the total absence of evidence that Guede was with either Knox or Sollecito, or that he had ever met Sollecito. While two witnesses had seen Guede running away, no one had seen Knox or Sollecito with him at the cottage.

Nor did Guede claim that either Knox or Sollecito were with him. His story was that Kercher herself had invited him to the cottage and they had consensual sexual contact. Lacking a condom, he left the room and went to the bathroom.

When he emerged, he saw an unknown man run out of the cottage and he found Meredith bleeding. So he ran away, too.

In light of the abundance of evidence against Guede, he was convicted of murder in a separate trial, while the investigation of Sollecito and Knox continued.

But this had trouble even placing Sollecito in the cottage. The police failed to find a single print in the room that was his or, for that matter, Knox’s.

In addition, speculation that the bloody footprint came from Sollecito’s Nike shoe proved wrong. It was from Guede’s Nike.

So until mid-December 2007, the police and prosecutors could not place either Knox or Sollecito at the murder scene. This gap was bridged by a belated DNA analysis of Kercher’s bra clasp (which had accidentally remained at the crime scene for 46 days). DNA on it matched Sollecito’s.

DNA analysis also identified both Knox’s and Kercher’s DNA on a kitchen knife in a cutlery drawer in Sollecito’s home. No blood was found on it — and, it later transpired, the blade was too long to be the murder weapon, which was never found.

Nonetheless, the trial proceeded, with the prosecutor painting a gory picture of a ‘she-devil’ who tortured her room-mate with a knife while Sollecito and Guede sexually abused her, then, when the orgy ended, slashed her throat and staged a burglary to dupe the police.

This story was based largely on the supposed DNA evidence of Sollecito’s presence at the scene.

Both Knox and Sollecito were convicted of murder and sexual violence. In December 2009, Knox was sentenced to 26 years’ imprisonment and Sollecito to 25.

The case then went to appeal, and an independent panel of forensic experts was appointed to review the crucial DNA evidence. It found in its 145-page report that the collection of the DNA evidence linking Sollecito to the crime scene was utterly flawed.

Not only were the police claims about the DNA not consistent with the actual lab reports, but a video showed the key items were picked up with a dirty glove that might have transferred DNA samples from the suspects. This meant cross-contamination was possible.

That left no credible evidence, and on October 3, 2011, the court threw out the murder and sexual violence convictions of Sollecito and Knox. Both were immediately released from prison and Knox flew back to America and signed a lucrative book contract.

The prosecutors are now appealing against the acquittal, so technically speaking the case remains unsolved. My assessment, however, is that Knox and Sollecito — despite all the poisonous character assassination directed at them — are both innocent of the murder, and the almost four years they spent in prison amounts to an extraordinary miscarriage of justice.

The police investigation was wedded from the outset to the wrong narrative. It assumed that the crime scene had been staged to look like a burglary and so focused on the only available insider, Knox.

In doing so, the police neglected eyewitness sightings of a possible burglar running from the direction of the house at the approximate time of the crime.

If they had investigated that obvious lead, it would have quickly led them to Guede. His fingerprints, palm prints, shoe print and DNA would have established him beyond doubt as a person at the scene, and it’s probable he would have been arrested before he had a chance to flee to Germany — meaning the spotlight would never have been left to fall on Knox.

The case against Guede is, quite simply, overwhelming. He was an experienced burglar, having broken into three other places that autumn, and his previous visit to the cottage would have been an opportunity to case the joint.

There are several ways he could have entered the building — not least through the empty basement apartment, where Kercher had agreed to water the cannabis plants.

After stumbling on Kercher, assaulting and robbing her, he may have smashed the window from the inside to create an expedient means of exit. His DNA was found in Kercher’s pocket-book and credit cards. Moreover, €300 (£258) were missing.

In truth, what’s astonishing is that Knox ever stood trial. The appeals court stated the murder and sexual violence charges against her and Sollecito were ‘not corroborated by any objective element of evidence’.

In short, there was no evidence at the murder scene to show this was not the work of a single home invader.

The lesson here is that denying a suspect a lawyer can result in terrible injustice. If Knox had been provided with one, she would not have been allowed to succumb to police pressure and give untrue statements that resulted in her arrest, as well as that of two other innocent people.

Meanwhile, forensic evidence would have unambiguously identified the perpetrator as Rudy Guede — and there would have been no need for a prosecutor to conjure up a non-existent orgy out of thin air.

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

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Armed British cop who had sex with married woman while on duty KEPT his job - because he could still reach gun in holster round his ankles

An on-duty firearms officer who had sex with a married woman with his gun around his ankles kept his job because he could still reach his weapon, it was revealed today.

PC Shaun Jenkins, 36, was on armed patrol when he picked up his lover and took her to his house where they had sex while a colleague waited in a squad car outside.

The officer, who has two awards for bravery, enjoyed a 40-minute liaison with the woman in 2010.

The unnamed woman's husband found out about the afternoon tryst and reported PC Jenkins to his senior officers who later sacked him for gross misconduct.

PC Jenkins appealed and was reinstated because his gun was never out of his control and he could 'have been back in the police vehicle within a minute or two'.

But the Police Appeals Panel's decision to give the Gwent officer his job back was criticised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission today.

Tom Davies, the head of the IPCC in Wales, said he was 'bemused' by the panel's decision to let him off.

He said: 'The finding that the gun was never out of PC Jenkins' direct and immediate control because it was in a holster, attached to his trousers, which were attached to him, albeit around his ankles, is surprising.

'I am also bemused by the panel's conclusion that his conduct did not significantly downgrade the protection to the public because there was nothing to suggest he could not have been back in the police vehicle within a minute or two. 'These findings can only undermine public confidence in the credibility of the police discipline system.'

Mr Davies also said the way Gwent Police dealt with a complaint about PC Jenkins from the husband of the woman he had sex with was 'unacceptable'.

Despite this the officer will still keep his job.

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