Friday, February 28, 2014

Dash-Cam Video Clears black NJ Man in Violent Traffic Stop

Marcus Jeter faced a years-long prison sentence. The New Jersey DJ, 30, was arrested in a 2012 traffic stop and charged with eluding police, resisting arrest and assault. Prosecutors insisted that Jeter do prison time.

"The first plea was five years," Jeter said.

But after Jeter's attorney, Steven Brown, filed a request for records, all of the charges against him were dropped, with dash-cam video apparently showing what really happened June 7, 2012. Now, the officers are facing charges.

The video, which prosecutors say they never saw before filing the initial charges, shows Jeter holding his hands above his head.

"The next thing I know, one of them busts the [car] door and there is glass all over my face," he told ABC News station WABC-TV about the arrest.

"As soon as they opened the door, one officer reached in and punched me in my face. As he's trying to take off my seat belt, I'm thinking, 'Something is going to go wrong.'"

Jeter says the cops continued hitting him, telling him not to resist arrest. "And when they open the [police cruiser] door, about to put me in, the officer hits me in the back of the head again," Jeter said.

The incident began when police responded to a domestic violence call at the Bloomfield home Jeter shares with his girlfriend. No charges were filed, and Jeter says he left after briefly talking to officers.

Police followed, trailing him along the Garden State Parkway. Dash-cam video shows Jeter pulling over and stopping on the highway shoulder.

The two officers pulled out guns.

Jeter didn't get out of the car. He was afraid. "There was a cop on my left with a gun pointed at me, a cop on the other side with a shotgun," he said.

The video that was not initially turned over -- from the dashboard of a second police cruiser -- shows a third officer coming from the opposite direction, crossing the median and striking Jeter's car. That incident was not mentioned in any police reports related to the arrest.

As soon as prosecutors saw the second video, they dismissed all of the charges against Jeter.

A grand jury has since indicted two Bloomfield police officers -- Orlando Trinidad and Sean Courter -- on various charges, including conspiracy and official misconduct.

Trinidad was also charged with aggravated assault. Both officers have pleaded not guilty. The third officer pleaded guilty to tampering.

Original report here




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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Police state USA

The paramilitary equipment, paramilitary training, psuedo-military machismo, US vs Them mentality, focus on “officer safety”, special-weapons-and-tactics teams, no-knock team assaults and more along those lines have destroyed The Peace Officer and given us a violent oppressing force in its stead.

I see it constantly, but you probably have other news sources. I assembled some examples for you and probably will add more and keep a store of them here so you all can see and feel the dark blanket of the police state take over what in my youth was widely known as A Free Country.

These are all links to articles at other sites I have been to. killed for answering the door
Links may break, let me know if you can and I’ll remove them.

Texas cops go silent after retracting claim woman had gun when officer killed her

New Jersey man escapes 5 year sentence after dash cam footage clears him, indicts cops

13 yr. old boy charged with felony for throwing snowball at police officer

Police Shoot, Kill 80-Year-Old Man In His Own Bed, Don’t Find the Drugs They Were Looking For

Cops Choke And Tase Unresponsive Deaf Man, “Intentionally Burning His Flesh”
California officers beat innocent man unconscious and then charged him with assault

“You Just Shot An Unarmed Man!”: Witness Says Police Shot His Friend With His Hands Up
After being shot, Geer shut the door and stumbled back into his home. Video from the scene shows police then waged a military style invasion his house, using a tank-like vehicle to break down his door before a team of police dressed like military stormed in.

Americans Killed By Cops Now Outnumber Americans Killed In Iraq War

Cops have killed well over 5,000 Americans since 9/11. Many of these killings have occurred during no-knock raids, which have risen by 4000% since the 1980s.

A Fort Worth police officer will not face charges for fatally shooting a 72-year-old Woodhaven homeowner while investigating a burglary call at the wrong house

Cops bloodied an 84-year-old man and put him in the hospital Sunday when he jaywalked at an Upper West Side intersection and didn’t appear to understand their orders to stop, witnesses said.

Police Claim Teen Shot Himself In Head–While Handcuffed Behind Back
…And yet this has happened in police cars at least three times. This time, in Durhman, North Carolina, a teenager, searched, arrested, handcuffed behind his back, shoved in the back of a police car, supposedly shot himself in the head with a firearm the police apparently had failed to find…

A New Mexico man claims he was anally probed several times by police and medical officials following a traffic stop.
The victim, David Eckert, claims in a federal lawsuit that officers from the Deming Police Department pulled him over after he failed to make a complete stop at a stop sign outside a Walmart this past January. When Eckert got out of his car, officers indicated that they believed he was in possession of drugs – in his anal cavity.

Police allegedly shot a man in the back of the leg without cause, threatened to “shoot the shit out of” a witness with a camera, then shot to death a witness’s puppy.

When a Florida man had cops knock on his door and interrogate him for supposedly harboring a prostitute in his home, he told them they were incorrect and closed the door on them. The cops responded by going into his backyard and shooting his dog three times.

“If We Have To Get A Warrant… We’re Gonna Shoot & Kill Your Dogs… Ransack Your House”

Cop Who Shot And Killed Dog Suing Woman Who Complained About It

Police use Taser on suspect for 42 seconds; internal investigation launched

A FATHER whose teenage son was shot dead by police after he called 911 to teach the boy a lesson for stealing his truck has revealed his heartbreak.

A 13-year-old California boy carrying a replica of an assault rifle has been shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies

A woman says that her ten-month old puppy was shot in the head after asking officers not to shoot it — twice.
On September 22, Anna “Chrissy” Music-Peed, of Macon, GA, drove to the Jones County Sheriff’s Department to request an officer come to and investigate a vehicle that had been brought to her property by an acquaintance, that both she and her roommate strongly suspected to have been stolen.


Innocent citizens held at gunpoint in terrifying California checkpoints

A city cop in Arkansas chased a woman through her workplace, shooting a Taser at her, because she refused to show him her breasts,

The former Marine was slaughtered by a SWAT team during a May 5 assault on his home in Arizona.

A 95 year old man, just shy of his 96TH birth day died after refusing to go to the hospital, the police, who were summoned to an assisted living facility to “help” arrived in riot gear and killed the man.

Original report here

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Victims of IRA bomb cheated out of justice by a 'monumental blunder'

Four soldiers murdered in one of Britain’s most notorious IRA bombings have been denied justice after a key suspect walked free from court because of a "monumental" police blunder that has granted him effective immunity.

John Downey, 62, had been wanted for more than 30 years for his alleged role in the 1982 Hyde Park bombings, which saw a nail bomb tear through the ranks of the Household Cavalry on a Changing of the Guard procession.

The aftermath of the Hyde Park Bombing outrage that killed four soldiers and seven horses

He was finally caught last year but today learnt he will never be prosecuted after it emerged he was wrongly given a "get out of jail free" card in a deal brokered as part of the Northern Ireland peace settlement.

The collapse of the case — and the passing of more than three decades — means it is unlikely that anyone will ever be prosecuted over the atrocity.

Mr Downey was one of almost 200 "on the run" IRA suspects who were sent a so-called "letter of assurance" that effectively protected them from prosecution.

He should not have been sent the "comfort letter" because a warrant for his arrest was still in force by the Metropolitan Police.

But a senior judge threw out the prosecution after ruling the assurances in the letter had to stand, even if they were sent in error. Mr Downey has spent one year in Britain while on bail and could now sue the UK authorities.

The families of the victims said they had been "devastatingly let down" by the "monumental blunder" and demanded a full review. The mistake was made by officers with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), who knew Mr Downey was wanted over the Hyde Park bomb but failed to notify authorities. Sir Hugh Orde, who was PSNI chief constable at the time of the error, apologised unreservedly for the blunder while his successor pledged an investigation.

Four members of the Royal Household Cavalry, Blues and Royals, and seven horses were killed in the 1982 atrocity when a massive car bomb was detonated as they passed by.

Lieutenant Anthony Daly, 23, Trooper Simon Tipper, 19, and Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young, 19, were killed outright and Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright, 36, the standard bearer, died from his injuries four days later.

Mr Downey was identified as a suspect soon afterwards when his fingerprints were found on a parking ticket for the car prior to it being moved to Hyde Park. However, the Attorney General later ruled that any extradition bid was unlikely to succeed. He was eventually arrested at Gatwick airport last May while on his way to Greece and charged with the murders. He had believed he was free to enter the UK because he had been sent a letter of assurance in July 2007.

The assurances, agreed between Sinn Fein and the UK government, were sent in the years after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, as part of the peace process, to suspects who had never been caught for their alleged activities.

Lawyers for Mr Downey argued in a two-week abuse of process hearing at the Old Bailey that prosecution would be unfair and would threaten the peace settlement. Mr Justice Sweeney, who has prosecuted several IRA cases during his career, agreed and threw out the prosecution, allowing the details of the case to be made public for the first time.

He said there had been a "catastrophic failure" in the case and it offended the "court’s sense of justice and propriety" to now try the defendant.

Victims of the concealed car bomb detonated in Carriage Road, in London's Hyde Park, on July 20, 1982 (PA)

In a statement, the families of the dead men said: "This news has left us all feeling devastatingly let down, even more so when the monumental blunder behind this judgment lies at the feet of the Police Service of Northern Ireland."

Sir Hugh Orde, who is now president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said it was a matter of "great personal regret" that his officers had made such a "very serious error".

Matt Baggott, the current PSNI chief constable, also apologised and said the matter would be referred to the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

Peter Robinson, the Northern Ireland First Minister, said Mr Downey had been handed "a get out of jail free card" and urged an appeal against the decision.

But announcing that the Crown would not appeal, prosecutor Brian Altman QC acknowledged the pain of the victims’ families "who must live with the consequences of it daily, and with the memories of that dreadful event". Francie Molloy, the Sinn Fein MP for Mid Ulster, said: "I welcome the decision."

Roy Greenslade, the Guardian writer, was one of Mr Downey’s bail guarantors.

A statement from the Metropolitan Police said the force "respects the decision of the court" and the investigation "remains open".

Mr Downey declined to comment.

Original report here




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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

British Defence dept. accused of cover up as fresh evidence emerges in rape claim inquest

The family of a military policewoman found hanged in her barracks have accused the Ministry of Defence of a "cover-up" after it emerged that a diary and mobile phones found in her room have gone missing.

Relatives of Cpl Anne Marie Ellement said they were "absolutely devastated" that the items discovered among her personal possessions have not been admitted as evidence in an inquest into her death.

The Ministry of Defence denied a cover up as it acknowledged it had found 1,400 new files on a computer disk that may be of use to the case.

The disclosure on the eve of a verdict into the death of Cpl Anne Marie Ellement led the coroner to postpone proceedings for a week, so the new evidence could be studied.

Cpl Ellement, from Bournemouth, was found hanging from a fire escape at Bulford Barracks, in Wiltshire, having written "I’m sorry" in lipstick on her mirror.

The 30-year-old alleged she had been raped by two soldiers in November 2009, while she was posted in Germany.

She had been left "absolutely devastated" by military investigators’ decision not to prosecute the unnamed soldiers.

The inquest coroner had been due to give a verdict in the three-week hearing when the MOD lawyers admitted they had late last week found the new files.

Details also emerged of an inventory, listing a previously unmentioned pink diary and three phones taken from the room of the dead woman.

Kirsten Heaven, lawyer for the family, said they were "devastated and upset that this disclosure has come so late in the day".

She said it was a "flagrant breach" of the MOD’s duty to disclose all documents which may be relevant to the death.

Speaking after the hearing, Cpl Ellement's sister, Khristina Swain, said: "I'm so angry and so upset after waiting all this time, especially a year, to get where we are, to find out we haven't had all the information and documents we actually need - I'm just absolutely devastated.

Ms Swain said she had "concerns" about why the information had been come to light so late into the inquest proceedings.

"Why haven't we been told this stuff?" she said.

"Why has it been held? We just want the truth, that's all."

Nick Moss, counsel for the MOD, said the ministry apologised, but had not acted in bad faith.

Nicholas Rheinberg agreed to postpone the inquest for a week to allow the lawyers to study the documents. However it was not clear where the phones or diary were, or what they held. Mr Rheinberg said it was possible they had been destroyed, or passed to Cpl Ellement’s father, who is estranged from the rest of the family.

The MOD’s lawyers said they estimated around 30 or the 1,400 new found files would prove relevant.

Mr Rheinberg said: "The danger is that we constantly pursue forever and a day documents and information that it is firstly unrealistic to assume we ever may find and secondly in any event may be of doubtful relevance."

The three week inquest in Salisbury is a fresh investigation into the death after her family argued an earlier hearing failed to look at all the circumstances around her death.

The first inquest, which delivered a suicide verdict, heard no evidence from her family or about the rape allegations.

RAF police are now reinvestigating the rape accusation against two unnamed soldiers.

The hearing heard evidence form Cpl Ellement’s family and some colleagues that comrades had "turned on her" when she reported the alleged attack.

They said she was labelled the "girl who cried rape" and she faced a campaign of bullying, including from the girlfriend of one of the accused.

The inquest heard Cpl Ellement also struggled with her new role as acting sergeant and having to work 80 to 90 hours a week. Friends also said she was seen as unlucky in love.

Original report here




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Monday, February 24, 2014

Cops Interpreted Sign Language as Threat, Handcuffed, Used Stun Gun, and Beat Deaf Man, Lawsuit Alleges

A lawsuit filed in California against the city of Hawthorne and its police department alleges that last February local cops confronting a deaf man who was picking up his stuff from an ex-roommate’s back porch interpreted his attempt to communicate with them via sign language as a threat, handcuffed him, beat him up, and then took him to the police station. Jonathan Meister is suing with the Disability Rights Legal Center. CBS Los Angeles reports:

The South Bay man claims officers didn’t give him a chance to explain what he was doing before placing him in handcuffs, beating him and using a stun gun to shock him into submission.

The problem began when police reportedly misunderstood Meister’s attempts to speak in sign language as threatening gestures.

Moreover, officers didn’t realize that when they handcuffed Meister, who is "profoundly deaf" and non-verbal, they took away his ability to communicate.

Police initially charged Meister with assaulting officers, but those charges were dropped. A police statement insisted it was "the person’s behavior and actions who we contact that dictate police response rather than the communication barriers present".

Last week, Leon Rosby, whose dog Hawthorne police shot last year in an incident partially caught on video also filed suit against the city and three of the cops involved.

Original report here




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Sunday, February 23, 2014

British cop jailed for campaign of 'sheer and deliberate' cruelty against child he subjected to physical and mental abuse

A police officer has been jailed after subjecting a child to a campaign of shocking abuse.

Christopher Hamilton from Gateshead was working as a PC when he began a sickening course of what a judge branded 'sheer and deliberate cruelty' against the youngster.

His victim suffered a series of disturbing injuries as well as significant emotional abuse while alone with the disgraced officer.

A court heard the child suffered burns to their hands, bruising to the face and hair loss.

And in a sickening twist, Hamilton left the victim in tears after making humiliating videos on his phone.

While he recorded the footage, he forced the youngster to say hurtful things about their family members and even recorded the youngster on the toilet.

Now Hamilton, who also abused his position to look up details of tenants on the police computer, has been jailed.

Judge Penny Moreland, at Newcastle Crown Court said the only motive she could think of for the abuse was that Hamilton derived pleasure from it.

The judge added: 'Police officers are entrusted by society with a duty to protect the public, particularly vulnerable members of the public. 'You were, at the time, a police officer and you abused your power and were cruel to that little child. 'This arose, in my view, from sheer cruelty, it was a course of protracted and calculated ill-treatment. You were deliberately cruel.'

The youngster suffered burns and blisters to the back of the hands while trying to wash with scalding water, the court heard.

It also suffered bruising to its genitals from a toilet seat and bruising to its face from a swing.

Hamilton accepted subjecting the child to cruel emotional abuse.

He videoed the child on at least four occasions, subjecting it to an interrogation and reducing it to tears and obvious distress.

The court heard Hamilton had been a PC since 2002 and worked at Gateshead and Whickham police stations. However he resigned in 2012 when the allegations came to light.

Hamilton pleaded guilty to cruelty to a person under 16 by willfully ill-treating them in a manner likely to cause suffering or injury.

He pleaded guilty to cruelty on the basis he did not cause the injuries but should have prevented them.

A charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm on the child was left to lie on file. He also admitted unlawfully obtaining personal data from the police computer, for which he was fined £500.

Mark Kelly, defending, said: 'His behaviour was wrong and totally inappropriate but he does not accept he caused the injuries.'

Original report here




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Saturday, February 22, 2014

TX: Woman arrested on 24th Street after jogging across intersection against red light

City police officers arrested a woman around 10:45 a.m. Thursday for failing to provide identification after she was stopped near the intersection of 24th and San Antonio, outside Big Bite Pizza and Grill.

Advertising senior Chris Quintero, who witnessed the arrest, said Austin Police Department officers were working at the intersection when the woman jogged across the block.

"I was sitting at the Starbucks at 24th and San Antonio," Quintero said. "Then I hear a cop shout at an innocent girl jogging through West Campus with her headphones on."

When the woman did not stop, the officer grabbed her by the arm and quickly placed her in handcuffs, Quintero said.

"She repeatedly pleaded with them, saying that she was just exercising and to let her go," Quintero said.

In footage of the incident that Quintero filmed, the woman can be seen attempting to get up from the ground and being kept down by police officers.

"I was doing nothing wrong," the woman said from her position sitting on the sidewalk. "I was crossing the street."

When police escorted the woman into the police car, she began shouting and eventually shrieking unintelligibly.

"I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong," she said. "I didn’t fucking do anything wrong. I just crossed the street."

Quintero said two additional officers on bicycles arrived on the scene to assist with the arrest. In footage, the officers can be seen working together to secure the woman in the back of the police car. According to APD spokeswoman Lisa Cortinas, APD officers do not target jaywalking specifically, instead they focus on pedestrian and bike safety overall.

"District representatives were working pedestrian enforcement at 24th Street and Guadalupe," Cortinas said. "[In this case], the call is titled failure to identify."

APD spokeswoman Veneza Bremner said as far as she was aware, there was no concerted effort Thursday to ticket jaywalkers.

"I don’t think there’s any initiative going on out there, but [APD officers] can go write tickets whenever they see a problem out there," Bremner said.

Bremner said officers occasionally patrol the area even when they have not been called to address a specific crime.

"I’m not sure how often they do it, but I do know that they’re out there every now and then doing that," Bremner said. "Whenever the call load allows, they’re proactively out there."

Updated (6:45 p.m.): At a press conference held Friday, APD police chief Art Acevedo addressed the recent arrest of 24-year-old Amanda Jo Stephen, who was taken into custody Thursday after crossing an intersection at a red light. Stephen was formally charged with "failure to identify" and "failure to obey a pedestrian control device" and was released from Travis County Central Booking Thursday evening.

Acevedo said the arrest occured in the midst of a West/North Campus traffic initiative which began Feb. 1. Acevedo said the initiative’s purpose is to reduce the number of traffic violations made by drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Original report here




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Friday, February 21, 2014

Loyal wife who turned detective to clear the man she was divorcing of rape

Alison Gray never doubted her estranged husband’s innocence. Even though they were on course for divorce when Trevor was charged with rape, she remained convinced the allegation was false.

‘I was shocked when I heard; floored, flabbergasted,’ she says. ‘I texted Trevor and said: "For what it’s worth, I don’t believe it." I knew Trevor was a man who does the right thing. He helps people. I never doubted his integrity. I knew he wasn’t capable of rape.’

The case went to court and Trevor, a detective police sergeant with an exemplary record, was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison.

But Alison’s faith in her husband of 24 years did not waver. ‘I attended every day of the trial, and when they sent Trevor down I thought, "He has to know I’ll support him,"’ she says.

‘Our two daughters did too. I sent a note via his barrister saying, "Stay strong. We’re here for you." I said I loved him, because I did. Despite our differences, we’d never actually stopped loving each other.’

Alison’s faith has been proved to be justified. Trevor, 49, was released from prison on bail in July last year — after serving 13 months of his sentence — when three Appeal Court judges quashed his conviction. And two weeks ago he was completely exonerated when a crown court jury unanimously cleared him of rape, attempted rape and sexual touching.

But he would never have regained his freedom were it not for his wife’s extraordinary detective work.

For when Trevor was falsely imprisoned, Alison, 48, turned sleuth and traced a vital witness, whose evidence proved crucial in overturning his conviction.

Trevor was, indeed, an exceptional police officer. He had spent three and a half years in covert policing with the National Crime Agency, dealing with terrorists, armed robbers and murderers, and had won six commendations and awards. His heroism included tackling a machete-wielding thug and disarming a gunman on a street.

But his world began to fragment soon after he met his accuser, a 43-year-old mother-of-one, in a Nottingham bar on a night out with friends in July 2011. By then, Alison and he had been apart for three months; she had begun divorce proceedings and they hadn’t spoken to each other.

Trevor and the woman chatted and exchanged phone numbers. ‘We sent each other flirtatious, jocular texts,’ he says.

Phone conversations ensued, and they arranged to meet for a date at a bar in Nottingham on July 23. They each drank three or four glasses of wine and a double vodka — they were tipsy but not drunk he insists — then the woman invited Trevor back to her home.

There, her young daughter and another child, both under four, were asleep in the care of a babysitter.

Trevor recalls: ‘In the taxi we were kissing. Then she said she didn’t want her babysitter — who happened to be one of her employees — to see me, so she told me to wait in the kitchen, out of sight, until the babysitter had gone home.’

When the coast was clear, the woman changed into a short, silk dressing gown. ‘We went into the lounge and had a smooch,’ says Trevor. ‘Then at 1.40-ish she said I’d better go, so I gave her a kiss and walked to the top of the road to try and flag down a cab.’

While waiting fruitlessly, he texted the woman to ask for the number of a local taxi company. She didn’t respond. He texted again, repeatedly, and phoned. Still she failed to respond. ‘I walked back to her house — I’d been gone about 15 minutes by then — and the lights were on.

‘I went to the front door and it was ajar but on a chain. I rang the doorbell and shouted through the gap in the door. There was still no response.’

Trevor’s police-officer instinct then kicked in. ‘I thought, "Nobody goes to bed and leaves the door open, even on the chain." I started to worry something had happened.

‘Even as an off-duty policeman, if you discover problems you must deal with them.

‘I made the decision to forcibly enter the house. I put both hands on the door, pushed and broke the chain. Inside the house I shouted out. There was still no response. That’s when I went upstairs.’

Here, he says, he found the woman in bed. ‘She said, "You might as well stay now." So I undressed and got into bed, turning away from her.’

It was she, he remembers, who initiated sex. ‘She put her arm across me and started to kiss me. We had sex in several positions and it was consensual.’ It is the woman’s contention, however, that she’d fallen asleep and woke to find Mr Gray raping her.

She says the next morning she threw him out of the house. Trevor insists they parted amicably.

‘I got up, we had a conversation and she said it had been a good night. She made me coffee; I programmed the dishwasher. The children were dancing in the lounge. I played with them for a while.

Then she rang me a taxi. When it arrived, we kissed and cuddled on the doorstep. She asked for some reassurance that I’d contact her, and I said I would.’

But two days later two senior police officers arrived at Trevor’s house and told him he was under arrest for rape. He says: ‘I was so shocked, my legs nearly gave way.’

His home was searched, he was questioned and suspended from duty. ‘I just kept thinking, "What are these jokers doing? They’ll find a witness soon and I’ll be vindicated."’

But in November 2011 he was charged with rape. ‘I remember thinking, "Everyone will see through this bull in court. She’ll be exposed as a liar."’

His optimism was unjustified. The woman swore he’d raped her, that she’d thrown him out of her house and slammed the door behind him.

In May 2012 he was found guilty and sent to the segregation unit at Nottingham Prison, alongside sex offenders, rapists and child abusers. As a policeman, he was singled out for verbal abuse and vilification.

For the first three days in prison he despaired. ‘I was trying to be strong, but I was just overcome,’ he says. ‘I couldn’t see how I’d survive.

‘I had a plastic knife. There was nothing else I could use, so I dug into the radial artery in my wrist with it. I used such force, the knife broke but I kept digging deeper and deeper.’

He shows me the scar. For a second he loses his composure and his eyes brim with tears. ‘I cleaned up the wound with tissue. I hid it under my watch strap. I got a grip on myself. I thought, "I will get through this."’

Alison, meanwhile, never wavered in her support. ‘I was due to finalise our divorce six days after the trial but I put that on hold,’ she says.

‘I’d sat through the trial and when Trevor was sentenced I cried. I didn’t believe the woman’s evidence. I never saw her – she sat behind a screen – but there was something about her story that didn’t add up. It seemed like an act; theatre. Trevor had such a strong sense of morality, and I didn’t believe he was capable of rape.’

She resolved to clear his name, and became the detective he had been. First, she moved back into the marital home and examined Trevor’s case files. Then she found a new barrister and a solicitor, Paolo Martini, to represent her husband.

‘Our daughter Laurie and I went to see Paolo with the files,’ she remembers. ‘We all concluded that there was a critical witness — the taxi driver who’d collected Trevor from the woman’s home — who’d never been traced.

‘It would have been too expensive to get the solicitor to trace him, so I decided to undertake the detective work myself.’

It was a gargantuan task. There were scores of taxi companies in Nottingham and thousands of drivers. Even if she found him and he recalled Trevor leaving the woman’s house 18 months ago, he would have to be persuaded to give evidence in court. ‘The chances were slim, but I was hopeful,’ she says. ‘Trevor has an excellent memory. When I visited him in prison he gave me a description of the driver and recalled their conversation. I put all this information on a poster, headed ‘Urgent Witness Appeal’.

Alison circulated copies of the poster throughout Nottingham, and put them up in the offices of the main taxi firms. After four days, she struck gold.

She received an email from a taxi- company boss: he was certain he’d found her man and promised the driver would call her.

‘I was astonished my appeal had worked,’ she says. ‘I was thinking, this is my one chance. I have to do this properly. Trevor’s liberty could rest on this.’

It was another four days before the driver rang her. ‘I’d started to think he didn’t want to get involved,’ she says. ‘But thankfully he did call. ‘He told me he had a photographic memory. He said he’d remembered going to the house because he was unfamiliar with the address and it wasn’t on his satnav. ‘He remembered a woman coming to the door in her dressing gown; a black guy coming out of the house. He told me they’d exchanged pleasantries.

‘At this point I asked if I could give his details to our solicitor. I didn’t want to compromise the investigation by saying the wrong things to him.’

Last July, thanks to the driver’s testimony — and Alison’s assiduous detective work — Trevor’s conviction was quashed.

The driver told the court he had parked 5ft from the woman’s front door on the morning in question. He had seen an embrace, a kiss, and heard the woman say, ‘See you later’ — not the actions of someone who had been raped hours earlier.

Vitally, he corroborated Trevor’s version of events and proved his accuser to be a liar.

But Trevor’s ordeal was not yet over. The prosecution demanded a retrial, and it was not until two weeks ago that a jury at Birmingham Crown Court cleared him unanimously. The witness Alison had traced had proved crucial.

‘It was an absolute miracle that he came forward and remembered every tiny detail,’ she says.

‘The police had the full weight of their resources and influence at their disposal, yet they’d never asked the simple question: "Who picked Trevor up that morning?"

‘I pointed out in court that I’m not a trained investigator; that it was the police’s duty not mine to find this vital witness, but they hadn’t even bothered. It was such an obvious line of enquiry but it had been overlooked,’’

Today, Alison’s health and marriage are restored. She says: When I first visited Trevor in prison, two months after he was sentenced, I kissed him. It felt right.

But although the couple are reunited and justice has prevailed, a residual bitterness remains. Trevor no longer has the job he loved, and is appealing against his dismissal from the Force.

He is sharply conscious, too, that the law allowed his name to be dragged through the mud, while his accuser remains anonymous. He will never know why she brought the case against him; only that her false allegations almost broke him.

He is a plain-speaking man, but occasionally emotion overwhelms him. ‘I am free now and vindicated, and it’s thanks to my dear Alison,’ he says, squeezing her hand. ‘The only good thing to come from this awful ordeal is that it has brought us together again.’

Original report here




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Thursday, February 20, 2014

What Do I Know About Corrupt Cops? My Family Owned a Few

Ultimately, the only people watching the watchers are those realistic enough to admit that it's necessary

J.D. Tuccille

Years ago, members of my extended family were gangsters connected with the Genovese crime family. They had the ability, which they used, to place people in favored positions within the New York City Police Department. I know this, because my father was offered one of those slots.

This is a big part of why I've always had a problem with claims that you can trust the police, in addition to the civil liberties abuses we report at Reason. Cops can be as crooked as anybody else—and are more dangerous for it, because of their power and position. It's the old problem of "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"—"Who watches the watchmen?" The more you give the watchmen to do, the more tempting it becomes to corrupt them, and for them to let themselves be corrupted. And the more temptation for corruption, the more the likelihood that such temptation is the main attraction for people who want to be watchmen.

That temptation sometimes really is the main attraction. Remembering some of the old family stories, I asked my father for details. He told me:

"The time was 1954 when I was graduating from high school and my Uncle Puggy, Watermelon King of the East Coast, who presided over the Bronx Terminal Market, told my father he was wasting his money sending me to college. He could get me a beat around the market, located in the South Bronx before it moved to Hunts Point, where I could get on the family’s payroll and get an envelope stuffed with cash every week."

Puggy was called "the Watermelon King" because the New York Daily News once published a picture of him standing on top of a mountain of watermelons. The photo illustrated an article pointing out that he extracted his cut from every banana, every tomato, every kind of fruit and vegetable known to mankind that passed through the Bronx Terminal Market. And, if you're going to be in that kind of business, it's helpful to own the people who are supposed to prevent that sort of thing from happening. Puggy did. He wanted my father to join in the lucrative fun.

My father decided not to go that route.

The law enforcement connections continued and expanded. At the end of the 1960s, that crew pulled off an art heist that was elegant in execution, but went to hell pretty quickly. As it turned out the buyers they arranged were FBI agents. But the thieves were tipped off that the buyers were feds. And they were tipped off about a raid on a house where the paintings had been stored. As my father tells me, "they probably had a plant in the FBI as well." (If you're interested, and it's a hell of a tale, you can read the full story of the heist in Gallery of Fools.)

None of this is news to anybody who remembers Frank Serpico's revelations about the NYPD. But it's also something that doesn't go away. My father's brief opportunity for a law (non)enforcement career passed 60 years ago. The Knapp Commission convened over four decades ago. But the NYPD still faces allegations of corruption, including traditional ticket-fixing, outright theft of cash and jewels, and taking bribes to deliver accident reports to doctors and clinics who then market their services to the victims.

Honest cops who blow the whistle still suffer retaliation for their pains.

Not that the NYPD should be singled out. Baltimore cops have been accused of working as muscle for drug dealers. Cops elsewhere have been drug dealers, taking advantage of the opportunity afforded by their badges to shut down competitors in the illegal but highly profitable trade and keep the opportunities for themselves

And then there are the FBI agents who got tight with Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger.

Some of this corruption overlaps with civil liberties violations committed in the course of police work. Those jewel-stealing cops mentioned above also gained a taste for gathering evidence in the absence of warrants. It's probably not surprising that police officers who engage in theft, accept bribes, and carve out illegal narcotics empires might find the Fourth Amendment an unimpressive barrier to further depredations.

There may be no way of doing entirely without professional police forces that are paid and empowered to enforce the laws to some extent (though I'm very willing to consider alternatives). Like many things in life, there's probably no perfect fix. But, so long as we have police forces, we're going to have a problem with police who abuse their positions and succumb to corruption. We'll also have a problem with people who become cops just so they can exploit the opportunity to engage in abuse and get an envelope stuffed with cash every week, offered by the likes of Uncle Puggy.

Asking police officers to suppress highly profitable activities where there's money to be had just for looking the other way is just begging for trouble.

That's enough reason to give extra thought to every job, tool, power, legal protection, and consideration given to police officers. And it's reason to turn a skeptical eye on the people we've hired to keep the peace. Because, in the end, the only people watching the watchers are those realistic enough to admit that it's necessary.

Original report here




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Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Australia: Incompetent pathologist put man in jail for murder

Henry Keogh was given a life sentence for murdering his fiancée in an Adelaide bath in 1994. But what if a key expert got it wrong, and she simply drowned?

Chatting over their chardonnay, Henry Keogh and Anna-Jane Cheney must have seemed like the perfect couple to other patrons meeting for an end-of-week drink at Adelaide's Norwood Hotel on Friday, March 18, 1994. The 38-year-old financier and the vivacious young solicitor had plenty to discuss. They were five weeks away from their wedding day; two days before, Cheney had celebrated her 29th birthday and attended the final fitting of her wedding gown.

Interviewed later, staff remembered a "well-dressed" man who was polite when they mixed up the pair's drinks order. The couple enjoyed several glasses of wine - Keogh would later recall he had three, while Cheney had four or possibly five - and shared a bowl of potato wedges before heading off before 7pm.

Around 7.30pm, Cheney arrived at the home of her best friend, sister-in-law Susan Cheney, to walk their dogs together. Anna-Jane did not appear to Susan to be intoxicated (although tests later returned a blood alcohol reading at .08) and she seemed happy enough when the pair parted at about 8pm, having made arrangements to meet again on Sunday.

But two hours later, staff at St John's Ambulance took a 000 call from a distressed man reporting he had just pulled his fiancée unconscious from the bath. That man was Henry Keogh, and although two ambulance officers arrived at the couple's home in Adelaide's east within five minutes of his call, there was nothing they could do for Anna-Jane Cheney. Her airway was so badly blocked they could not effectively administer CPR, nor could they find a heartbeat.

At least 10 police officers were quickly on the scene, photographing and taking notes about the body, as well as the state of the bathroom, bedroom and surrounds. They interviewed Keogh, who told them Cheney had seemed fine when he left to visit his mother Eileen in a nearby suburb at about 8.15pm, but was slumped lifeless in the bath when he returned about an hour later. Police also spoke to Anna-Jane's parents, Kevin and Joanne Cheney, who had sped to the home after receiving an anguished call from Keogh.

By the time Cheney's body was taken from the home shortly before midnight, the consensus among those investigating seemed to be that her death had been an unfortunate accident. Summing up the call-out later at nearby Holden Hill CIB, one officer noted in the station's journal, "No suspicious circs, appears drank bottle of wine during evg at hotel, gone home, sat in bath, fallen asleep, drowned. No signs of struggle etc on body at all."

Within a matter of days, that opinion would be dramatically reversed.

In subsequent police interviews, members of the Cheney family raised concerns that Anna-Jane had a substantial life insurance policy - with Keogh named as the sole beneficiary. They also made it clear they did not trust him and suspected that he might be involved with other women.

Keogh would eventually hand over not one but five separate life insurance policies for Cheney and even admit he had signed the policies in her name. By way of explanation, he said he had begun working as an insurance agent for the five companies because he feared he might be laid off from his full time position at the State Bank. (He eventually left the bank to join a local stockbroking firm six weeks before Cheney's death.)

To keep his agencies with those companies current, he had taken out the policies for Cheney - a practice not unknown among insurance brokers - but insisted she knew about them, even if she didn't sign them herself. She had even listed the exact amount of the insurance premiums when she filled out loan applications later.

No matter. Keogh, a divorced father with significant child-support responsibilities to his three young daughters, stood to gain almost $1.2 million by cashing in the combined policies. Police now believed they had a motive - greed - and, when two women came forward separately to say they'd had affairs with Keogh while he was living with Cheney, his credibility was damaged further. (Keogh would later admit under oath that he had been involved with one of the women during a rocky period with Cheney, but always denied a relationship with the other.)

But the prosecution case against Keogh was still entirely circumstantial. Police were yet to find a weapon or concrete evidence of foul play resulting in the murder of Anna-Jane Cheney.

That changed when South Australia's chief forensic pathologist, Dr Colin Manock, arrived to conduct the autopsy on her body on Sunday, March 20, 1994.

When Keogh faced court on murder charges in August 1995 (an earlier trial having been abandoned after the jury could not agree on a verdict), Manock, with three decades of experience in forensic pathology and approximately 10,000 autopsies under his belt, was called by the prosecution as a key expert witness.

Manock told the court he was "at no time happy that the death was accidental because I could find no explanation as to why she would have drowned". He insisted there was no medical evidence to support defence suggestions that Cheney might have fallen asleep, fainted or slipped in the bath, having drunk four or more glasses of wine earlier in the evening, before sliding beneath the water unconscious.

Instead, Manock drew attention to four marks on the woman's left calf, which he said were consistent with bruising caused by someone gripping her lower leg shortly before death. The pattern, he said, reminded him of a famous English case in 1915, in which a man named George Joseph Smith had married three times, only to drown each of his new brides in the bath during their honeymoons. It became known as the "brides in the baths" trial, and clearly made an impression on Manock, who said Cheney's bruising suggested her killer had grabbed her by the legs and pulled them up sharply, forcing her head under water, just as Smith had done almost a century earlier.

Manock's theory and his identification of grip marks on Cheney's leg were crucial to the Crown case. Summing up, Director of Public Prosecutions Paul Rofe, QC, told the court: "If those four bruises on her lower left leg were inflicted at the same time, and that time was just before she died in the bath, there is no other explanation for them, other than a grip. If it was a grip, it must have been the grip of the accused. If it was the grip of the accused, it must have been part of the act of murder."

A little over five hours after retiring on August 23, 1995, the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict. Henry Keogh was later sentenced to life in prison.

Manock retired soon afterwards and did not speak publicly about the Keogh case for almost 15 years. But in 2010, after agreeing to be interviewed on ABC radio, he spoke almost fondly and with some satisfaction of the time he had detected an antipodean version of the "brides in the baths".

"I read the copy of the transcripts from the George Joseph Smith case," Manock told Background Briefing host Hagar Cohen. "I was quite familiar with the circumstances. And when I saw the circumstances of Anna-Jane's death, it was like seeing a friend across the street. I'd seen it all before."

Reading the transcript of the Keogh trial in the late 1990s provoked no fond feelings in law professor Bob Moles. With an academic background in jurisprudence (the theory of law), Moles had little initial interest in messy criminal cases.

But then a solicitor, charged with supervising a group of law students working on a research project, asked Moles to have a look at the Henry Keogh case, suggesting it might provide suitable material for another group to research. Stunned by the amount of material the solicitor's assistant delivered to him, Moles eventually sat down to review it.

"As soon as I read the transcript, I knew there was something wrong," Moles recalls. "There was so much that didn't add up. The pathologist's evidence just didn't make sense ... and some of the mistakes were so obvious, you didn't have to be a QC or an eminent judge to spot them.

"I can't say why the defence counsel didn't do a better job than was done. What I can say is that it wasn't a very good job and that most of the evidence that was led against Keogh at his trial was technically inadmissible."

One of the first problems Moles identified was the tendering in court of black-and-white autopsy photographs. Those featuring Cheney's legs were handed to Manock, who was then asked to circle darkened areas that he believed were bruises with a red pen, before being passed over to the jury.

"How leading of a jury is that?" asks Moles. "How prejudicial? They should have been handed an unmarked photograph and asked whether they could see any bruising at all."

That issue would become the tip of a highly contentious iceberg. Moles eventually quit his job at the University of Adelaide to pursue what he believed to be more than a dozen cases involving flawed or discredited forensic evidence, all of which implicated the work of Dr Manock.

In 2004, Moles and the team supporting Keogh lodged a complaint with the Medical Board of South Australia, claiming Manock's autopsy of Cheney had been incompetent, and his work on the case amounted to unprofessional conduct. The board investigated and conducted a second inquiry before referring the case to the Medical Professional Conduct Tribunal.

In the course of those investigations, it was revealed - and admitted by Manock - that the only tissue sample he had taken from the suspected thumb bruise had come back negative after microscopic analysis. In other words, there was no forensic proof of a thumb bruise - the key mark supporting the grip theory - at all.

Manock also told the board it had always been his opinion that the marks on Cheney's legs had been caused by a left hand - despite testifying during the Keogh trial that the marks indicated someone had grabbed her leg with their right hand, while pushing her head under water with their left.

Ultimately, the tribunal found Manock had conducted a "less than perfect" autopsy but "those deficiencies were trivial or harmless [and] holding a mistaken opinion does not amount to unprofessional conduct". By then, Henry Keogh had been held in maximum security for more than a decade.

An even more stunning volte-face by Manock was to follow in 2011, when he conceded in a 60 Minutes interview that the bruises on Cheney's legs could have been three or even four days old. Under oath in the Keogh trial, he had testified the bruises would have been caused shortly before death, and certainly no more than four hours prior to that time.

Given that evidence of a recent grip on Cheney's leg was presented as fundamental to the prosecution case - DPP Paul Rofe told the jury it was "the one positive indication of murder" - Moles contends the grounds for Keogh's conviction to be set aside are now overwhelming.

Other elements of the case have also been undermined. At the Medical Tribunal, Manock conceded a person could suffer a loss of consciousness (by falling in the bath, for example) without sustaining any damage to the brain that would be perceptible during autopsy. "The opinion which Dr Manock formerly held and gave to the jury was wrong," the tribunal concluded baldly.

Recreating the scene from police photographs taken on the night, the Keogh team has also thrown into doubt whether the depth of water in the bath was enough to deliberately drown a struggling person.

But at the very heart of their doubts is a far more disturbing question, with implications so far-reaching they might explain why South Australian authorities from across the political spectrum have so far resisted calls for a broad inquiry into the Keogh case.

"Nobody wants to think the unthinkable, which is, 'Maybe Colin Manock isn't an expert,' " Moles says, raising implications for the hundreds of court cases to which Manock is believed to have contributed evidence. "If he isn't an expert, his evidence is inadmissible. I would argue that, quite clearly, he wasn't and isn't."

Certainly, Colin Manock was no forensic expert when he was appointed in 1968 as South Australia's chief forensic pathologist. At the time, he had no formal qualifications as a pathologist. His employers at the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, the state government department responsible for providing forensic pathology services, would later acknowledge they were desperate to fill the role at the time, but knew that they had appointed "a man who had no specialist qualifications in a specialist's job, and without [further study] this would have been a severe embarrassment".

Ultimately, Manock was exempted from the five years' study and written exams normally required to join the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia; he was made a Fellow of the College in 1971 after taking a short oral exam.

But was that enough? Moles cites a number of troubled investigations since then, including that of Emily Perry, convicted in 1981 of attempting to murder her husband using arsenic poisoning. Perry's conviction was overturned by the High Court, which castigated the evidence presented as "reveal[ing] an appalling departure from acceptable standards of forensic science" and "not fit to be taken into consideration".

But perhaps the most heart-rending example of Manock's flawed evidence was in the so-called "Baby Deaths" cases, involving three infants who had died in separate incidents in 1992 and 1993, which eventually sparked a coronial inquiry in 1994. Baby Joshua Nottle had suffered 15 fractured ribs, extensive bruising and a broken spine by the time he died at nine months, while Storm Deane had two possible skull fractures and four broken ribs. William Barnard had a broken arm that had been left untreated for up to four weeks and extensive, festering nappy rash.

Yet Manock had concluded the cause of death in each case to be bronchopneumonia - a basic inflammatory disease. In his report, Coroner Wayne Chivell noted that some of Manock's explanations under oath had been "spurious", "incorrect" or otherwise unacceptable. Reviewing the Joshua Nottle case, Chivell concluded: "Dr Manock's investigation, and his subsequent report, provided innocent explanations for the most serious injuries found on Joshua's body, explanations I am now satisfied were incorrect. In those circumstances, and in common with the other two cases, the post-mortem examination basically achieved the opposite of its proper purpose in that it closed off lines of investigation rather than opening them up."

But then he put his report to one side. Aware that Manock was scheduled to appear as an expert witness in another high-profile case, Chivell apparently didn't want to risk derailing that trial by besmirching his credibility so publicly. So the coroner waited instead until August 25, 1995, to publish his findings - two days after Henry Keogh had been found guilty of murder.

In court, Sue Keogh testified that her former husband regularly signed her name on paperwork when they were married, so the fact that he had done it on Cheney's insurance policies hardly surprised her. Since then, she has largely shunned the spotlight.

Today, however, she enters her daughter's art space unexpectedly, with a self-contained dignity that has sustained her since the police arrested Henry Keogh in the most humiliating and public way imaginable: as he watched from the sidelines of his daughters' weekend basketball tournament. "I've known Henry since I was 16," says Sue. "We grew up together and he's made mistakes in his life because he's human. But I just knew he couldn't possibly have done that and I have never doubted it ...

"If I had thought for one moment he had done anything criminal, I wouldn't have taken the girls regularly to see him or encouraged them to speak to him on the phone. I didn't want them thinking or believing their father was a murderer, so I just made sure we always saw him."

Now Alexis wonders why the enduring loyalty of this woman, who would surely be forgiven for turning her back on the husband who had betrayed her, counts for so little, while forensic evidence that has been so discredited is allowed to continue to stand.

"The system feels so corrupt to me," says Alexis. "The 'reasonable doubt' in Dad's case is so plain to see, but there is no way within the bounds of the law that we can make that become obvious to everyone else and then make them do anything. There has been no law there to have a retrial when new evidence comes to light. But there is now, thank goodness."

Generally, a person convicted of a crime in Australia has the right to only one appeal. Once that process has been exhausted (as it has in Keogh's case), should new evidence emerge, the only option is to petition the state's governor - and effectively the attorney-general - requesting them to revisit the case. And in today's political climate, few elected officials are keen to champion the cause of high-profile convicted criminals.

But last year, after a sustained campaign by Bob Moles and his wife, law lecturer Bibi Sangha, South Australia passed legislation handing the ability to grant a further appeal back to the courts. The first case to be heard under the new law is Henry Keogh's, with a hearing scheduled this week.

Original report here




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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Indictment details alleged assault and coverup by L.A. County deputies

Two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies conspired to assault a handcuffed jail inmate and struck him with a flashlight before writing reports that falsely claimed he attacked them, according to a federal indictment made public on Friday.

The alleged attack was witnessed by a jail chaplain who wrote a sworn declaration saying he witnessed deputies beat an inmate in Men's Central Jail.

The indictment does not mention the chaplain but accuses Deputies Joey Aguiar, 26, and Mariano Ramirez, 38, of beating an inmate on the same date in February 2009. The indictment identifies the inmate only as "BP," but a district attorney's record obtained by The Times names him as Brett Phillips.

The inmate's hands were cuffed and secured to a waist chain at the time of the assault, the indictment alleges. Both deputies are accused of kicking him in the head and upper body. Ramirez is also accused of using pepper spray on the inmate and striking him with a flashlight.

The indictment alleges that the deputies submitted false reports to justify the force. Aguilar claimed that the inmate tried to head-butt his face and violently kicked at him, prosecutors said. Ramirez, they said, wrote in his report that the inmate kicked at deputies.

Prosecutors say the inmate neither tried to head-butt the deputies nor kicked at them.

The deputies' false reports resulted in the Sheriff's Department beginning the process of referring the victim to the district attorney's office for prosecution, according to the indictment. The indictment does not say whether the inmate was criminally charged.

Chaplain Paulino Juarez, a Catholic deacon, said he witnessed the incident while ministering to a different inmate, and filed a report about what he saw.

In a sworn statement he made for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Juarez said he first heard thumps and gasps and, as he went to investigate, saw three deputies pounding an inmate pressed against the wall. Juarez said he believed the inmate was handcuffed because he never raised his hands to protect his face from the deputies' fists, instead shouting: "I am doing nothing wrong; please stop."

The inmate, Juarez said, collapsed face first. His "body lay limp and merely absorbed their blows." The deputies continued kicking, the chaplain said.

One deputy eventually turned and saw Juarez. "When we made eye contact, the deputy ... had a nervous and surprised look on his face. Then he began making signs to the others with his hands, motioning them to stop the beating," according to the declaration.

Later, the chaplain said he noticed a pool of blood, 2 feet around. He recalled one sheriff's official yelling: "Check if he has HIV."

The chaplain filed a report at the time and was interviewed by Sheriff's Department investigators. In the weeks after he filed his complaint, he said, passing deputies would call him "rat" and other insults. After hearing nothing for two years, Juarez reached out to the department and was granted a meeting with then-Sheriff Lee Baca.

The sheriff, Juarez recalled, said he had never heard about the incident.

"This happened two years ago and I'm only finding out about it now?" Baca asked his executive staff, according to the chaplain. Baca looked over the file, about 10 pages, and told the chaplain his investigators had determined that the inmate was schizophrenic. Juarez said Baca told him that deputies had to punch the inmate a couple of times to get him into the cell. "Punches are allowed, but kicks are not allowed in my department," Baca said, according to Juarez.

According to the chaplain, Baca said his investigators determined that the bruises on the inmate were the result of the man being run over by a car before he was incarcerated, not from a beating.

About two-and-a-half years after the incident, the ACLU filed Juarez's declaration in court along with dozens of other sworn statements by inmates and others who alleged excessive force by deputies. Baca launched a jail task force to review the allegations.

According to a district attorney’s memo, the task force submitted its investigation to county prosecutors in January 2013, nearly a year after the statute of limitations had past for a criminal filing in state court.

County prosecutors had three years from the date of the incident to file criminal charges, the memo said. The task force had begun its probe four months before the deadline, the memo said.

The memo provides additional details about the force used by Aguiar and Ramirez. The deputies punched Phillips five to eight times in the rib area while Ramirez struck the inmate two to three times in the leg and elbow with a flashlight, according to the document, which was written by Deputy Dist. Atty. Fernando Guzman.

Original report here




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Monday, February 17, 2014

Police Shoot, Kill 80-Year-Old Man In His Own Bed, Don't Find the Drugs They Were Looking For

In the early morning hours of June 27, 2013, a team of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies pulled up to the home of Eugene Mallory, an 80-year-old retired engineer living in the rural outskirts of Los Angeles county with his wife Tonya Pate and stepson Adrian Lamos.

The deputies crashed through the front gate and began executing a search warrant for methamphetamine on the property. Detective Patrick Hobbs, a self-described narcotics expert who claimed he "smelled the strong odor of chemicals" downwind from the house after being tipped off to illegal activity from an anonymous informant, spearheaded the investigation.

The deputies announced their presence, and Pate emerged from the trailer where she'd been sleeping to escape the sweltering summer heat of the California desert. Lamos and a couple of friends emerged from another trailer, and a handyman tinkering with a car on the property also gave himself up without resistance. But Mallory, who preferred to sleep in the house, was nowhere to be seen.

Deputies approached the house, and what happened next is where things get murky. The deputies said they announced their presence upon entering and were met in the hallway by the 80-year-old man, wielding a gun and stumbling towards them. The deputies later changed the story when the massive bloodstains on Mallory's mattress indicated to investigators that he'd most likely been in bed at the time of the shooting. Investigators also found that an audio recording of the incident revealed a discrepancy in the deputies' original narrative: Before listening to the audio recording, [Sgt. John] Bones believed that he told Mallory to "Drop the gun" prior to the shooting. The recording revealed, however, that his commands to "Drop the gun" occurred immediately after the shooting.

When it was all over, Eugene Mallory died of six gunshot wounds from Sgt. John Bones' MP-5 9mm submachine gun. When a coroner arrived, he found the loaded .22 caliber pistol the two deputies claimed Mallory had pointed at them on the bedside table.

Mallory had not fired off a single shot. The raid turned up no evidence of methamphetamine on the property.

To find out more about this case, including details about what the police did find, watch the above video, featuring Mallory's widow Tonya Pate. Pate has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, an agency plagued by prison abuse scandals, questionable hiring practices, and allegations of racial profiling and harassment in recent years.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department declined multiple requests to comment on this story.

Original report here




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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Henry Magee, John Quinn and the "right of resistance"

Henry Magee was sleeping when armed intruders burst into his home at dawn last December 19. Knowing only that he and his family were at mortal risk, Magee grabbed a gun and opened fire, fatally wounding Sgt. Adam Sowers, who was part of a police task force carrying out a "no-knock warrant" in search of drugs.

Magee was arrested and charged with murder. On February 6, a grand jury in Burleson County, Texas declined to indict Magee, accepting his claim that he acted in self-defense because he believed his home was being burglarized. In defiance of recent trends, that grand jury vindicated the hope expressed by Lysander Spooner that such panels would recognize and honor the right of citizens to exercise lethal force in defending themselves against government lawlessness.

Adam Sowers was an irreplaceable human being whose family has been devastated by his death. It is a singular tragedy that Sowers died. It is compounded by the fact that Magee had a moral and legal right to kill him, just as he has the right to use deadly force in dealing with any other armed invader.

Sowers’s death was not the result of a crime committed by the man who shot him, but rather of the criminal policy he was called upon to enforce.

Henry Magee’s case echoes an earlier one in which a resident of Texas was changed with a felony because he had tried to defend himself against a band of privileged home invaders.

Just after midnight on the morning of August 5, 2006, a SWAT team in McKinley, Texas used a battering ram to breach the front door of JohnQuinn’s home. The pretext for this crime was a warrant authorizing the police to search for narcotics allegedly in the possession of Quinn’s adult son, Brian. Awakened by the tumult, Quinn retrieved his rifle and went to confront the intruders. One of them, Officer Jesus Damian Guerrero, fired several shots in an attempt to murder the home owner.

The warrant named Brian Quinn, not his father, as the suspect, and it authorized a limited search of Brian's effects. Once Guerrero shot John, the cops had their excuse to search the entire home. Inside a safe they would not have been authorized to search, they found a minuscule amount of cocaine.

Brian – who had no self-interested reason to say so – claimed that the cocaine was his, that his father had never used drugs, and was trying to help him overcome his drug habit.

Quinn, who suffered a relatively minor wound in his right hand, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a police officer. A test in the hospital confirmed that he had no drugs in his system. After waiting five years for a trial, Quinn was acquitted on the aggravated assault charge. He was later found "guilty" of possessing less than a gram of cocaine (a test conducted during Quinn’s hospitalization found no evidence of drugs in his system) and given two years’ probation and a $500 fine.

The most interesting contrast between the John Quinn case and that of Henry Magee is the near role-reversal between the costumed assailant and the defender: Where a grand jury refused to indict Magee for shooting the police officer who had barged into his home, in Quinn’s case it was the assailant, Officer Guerrero, who was "no-billed" by the grand jury.

The dismissal of the murder charge against Magee suggests that at least some Texas residents recognize that a police officer who breaks down a door and terrifies people in their bed is a common burglar and should be treated as such. This represents modest but welcome progress.

For his part, Quinn is appealing a Texas Appellate Court ruling that authorizes police to commit paramilitary home invasions anytime they learn that a citizen at a targeted address has the means to defend himself.

As is generally the case when police mount a paramilitary raid, the warrant was issued on the basis of two informants – both of whom had admitted to "activity related to Brian's drug dealing" -- who told the cops that "Brian kept a number of weapons in the house, including an AK-47 rifle." One of the informants, at the behest of the police, sent a text message to Brian asking to buy Xanax.

In his affidavit, Detective Christopher Grollnek (a relentless self-promoter who has gone on to carve out a lucrative niche promoting the Regime's war on the American population) claimed that neither informant was offered a deal in exchange for helping to set up Brian. This was almost certainly a lie, given that neither of the informants was prosecuted: One saw his charges dropped before trial, the other was never charged. Quinn appealed his conviction, arguing that the no-knock raid was unjustified, and that the evidence seized from his office safe was the product of an invalid search.

Communications among the officers at the time of the raid proved that they were aware that Brian wasn't at the residence. Thus they had no reason to conduct a raid, let alone one involving assault rifles and a battering ram. Assuming, for the purposes of this discussion, that drug use is a crime of some sort, the police could have waited for Brian to return, taken him into custody, knocked on the door, and conducted their search.

However, according to a genuinely deranged opinion handed down last May by the Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals, a military-style assault was justified because "the circumstances presented a threat of physical violence in this case, based upon the informants' statements that Brian kept a number of guns in the home.... Unannounced entries have been upheld as reasonable when the police had information there were guns on the premises to be searched."

Officer Safety is the paramount consideration in all public policy, so the appellate court placed particular emphasis on the fact that some of the intrepid heroes who beat down Quinn's door at midnight "testified [that] the presence of an AK-47 particularly concerned the team, because the officers' body armor would not protect them from its shots." The mere presence of the "exceptionally dangerous AK-47," the court insisted, "made the no-knock entry reasonable under the existing circumstances."

Only in a universe in which the rules of logic follow the contours of a Salvador Dali painting would that warrant be considered "reasonable," if the objective had been to avoid unnecessary violence.

The purpose of having firearms, as Lysander Spooner pointed out, was to use them in self-defense against "bandits" and "ruffians," a category that includes anybody who kicks in a door at midnight, armed and prepared to do lethal harm to those who reside inside the home. Staging a police raid of that kind on a home where the residents are known to be armed is a reliable recipe for a shooting, a fact underscored by the tragically necessary death of Adam Sowers, and the near-murder of John Quinn.

Mr. Quinn has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. A richly documented and tightly argued amicus curiae brief filed on his behalf by the US Justice Foundation, Gun Owners Foundation, and several other public interest groups contends that the ruling by the appellate court in Texas "establishes a per se rule that, every time the police have a valid warrant, they can execute it without knocking, violating the Fourth Amendment at will," if they discover that a resident has a legally owned firearm.

"If the police are now permitted to justify no-knock raids any time there is a firearm in the residence," observes the brief, "no American home is safe from a terrifying, middle of the night home invasion."

That state of affairs would suit the enforcement caste just fine – unless and until more victims respond with the tragic but justified efficiency of Hank Magee. If and when this happens, no rational and honest person should have any doubt as to which party is responsible.

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, February 15, 2014

Good Samaritan Backfire -- or How I Ended Up in Solitary After Calling 911 for Help

I live in a new gilded age in a golden city. But sometimes the cracks show, even here. The façade crumbles and you find yourself naked, in solitary confinement, in a wretched, feces-stained prison.

How? As a result of my efforts to help injured bicyclists by calling 911, I was, in short order: separated from my friend, violently tackled, arrested, taken to county jail, stripped and left in a solitary cell. I am writing this story because, if it could happen to me, it could happen to you, and I feel the need to do something to help prevent this brutality from propagating.

I moved to San Francisco 9 years ago for graduate school at UCSF and currently run a company that brings transparency to the food industry and employs 12 people. It may appear to be self-serving for me to say so, but I am a rational and peaceful person whom no reasonable being would deem a threat.

South of Market, San Francisco — after midnight July 25th, 2013

My friend Ben Woosley and I were hanging out at Driftwood Bar on Folsom Street. We were talking work; we had three drinks over the course of three hours. We left the bar at 12:45am and walked towards my house, a block away.

The accident had happened just seconds before…

The first bystander helps Rebecca elevate her foot as Ben is preparing to take a photo per her request.

The bicycle had flipped forward and lay unattended in the street. The girl’s foot was bare and mangled, her chin bleeding. There was blood on her jacket, a puddle of it on the ground. Her name was Rebecca. "Where am I?" she kept asking. She was lucky to have been wearing a helmet. Josh, who had been giving her a ride on his handlebars, was wincing and bracing his shoulder.

Neither of them had working cell phones. When they asked me to, I immediately dialed 911. According to the record, it was 12:49am.

While I relayed the situation to the operator, Ben and the first bystander were helping Rebecca elevate her foot. Ben held her hand and supported her body on the ground. Rebecca borrowed his phone to call her friends and family.

You can hear my complete call. At the time I didn’t realize that both Rebecca and Josh were on the bike (since only one was wearing a helmet). Towards the end of the call, I’m half paying attention to the opperator as I’m also signaling to the arriving police.

Four minutes had passed when I spotted a fire truck and several police cars in the distance and stepped into the street to wave them over. "They arrived," I told the 911 operator. She thanked me and told me to expect an ambulance to follow.

I identified myself as the caller to the half dozen police who poured out of squad cars and stepped back onto the sidewalk in front of Radius restaurant.

Sgt. Espinoza, short, stout, grey and assertive, asked Ben and me whether we had witnessed the accident. We said that we hadn’t, but arrived shortly thereafter. I was standing 15 feet from the scene beside Officer Kaur, a stocky female of South Asian complexion. She turned to me and abruptly said that I was not needed as a witness and should leave immediately. I told her we were headed home, just across the way, when my friend and I encountered the accident; and that I’d recently broken my elbow in a similar bike accident here and deeply cared about the outcome.

The firemen were examining Rebecca and Josh. Ben was still supporting Rebecca’s back when Sgt. Espinoza and Officer Gabriel grabbed him from behind without warning, putting him in an arm lock and jerked him backwards over the pavement. They told him sternly that he had to leave now that trained medical professionals had arrived, implying that he was interfering and justifying their violent actions. The officers dragged him across the sidewalk, propping him against the building. Rebecca was still holding Ben’s cellphone when she lost his support. "Where are they taking him?" she asked perplexedly.

It all happened within 5 minutes of the police’s arrival. The sirens and emergency vehicles, the sudden arrival of over half a dozen uniformed personnel, two of whom had grabbed my friend, transformed an intimate street scene into something chaotic. Officer Kaur shouted at me to cross the street. It was very sudden and I was, admittedly, in shock. I stammered that I intended to head home, but that my friend was over there. I pointed at Ben against the wall, and said I’d like to take him home with me.


Without warning, I was shoved from behind by Officer Gerrans and then collectively tackled by Officers Gerrans, Kaur and Andreotti. As they took me to the ground, one of the officers kneed me in the right temple. On the pavement, I begged them to watch out for my recently broken right elbow. Knees on my back and neck pinned me to the ground. I was cuffed and left face down.

I was not told that I was under arrest, what the charges were, nor read my rights. I rolled over onto my back so that I could see the arresting officers and ask them their intentions.

Officer Kaur pulled me up so that I was in a sitting position, and then stepped onto my handcuffed hands, grinding them into the pavement. I was so suddenly transported to a distant reality, that I was still coming to terms with its operating principles. "Is this protocol?" I inquired and instinctively wriggled my hands from under her boots. Officer Kaur had full control of me physically. Again, she stomped her boots on my hands, demanded that I "keep [my] hands on the ground," pushed me back face down, and walked away.

I could again see officers alongside Ben. He was propped with his back on the building but not cuffed.

When Officer Kaur walked away, I spoke with the remaining officers. I told Officers Andreotti and Gerrans that I appreciated their prompt arrival and respected their jobs. I mentioned that I’ve had only positive interactions with the SFPD until that point. I said that, strange as it may seem, I accept my current lot and await the course of justice to set the record straight.

We had a cordial conversation. They noticed I was shivering and propped me on the door of Radius restaurant. Then they asked me what I do for a living. I said that I write software that helps restaurants source food and indicated that the restaurant behind me uses our product.

What they said brought to light a fundamental rift between the residents of San Francisco and the police:

"Ah, you’re one of those billionaire wannabees in this neighborhood."

What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate

Rich SOMA, poor SOMA. My instinct was to make this distinction go away, to show them I know our neighborhood is more complicated than that. To connect on human terms. I told them that it was an early stage startup; I’m doing this because I feel it’s a way to make the world around me better, to bring people joy through better food. I live here, right on this block, in a loving home with 16 roommates. I love this community. I asked them where they lived. And they responded in unison: "Far away! We can’t afford to live here."

They exposed a growing tear in our city’s social fabric. A class conflict brought on by rising housing prices and economic disparity, resulting in a commuter policing class that resents the residents they’re meant to protect and serve.

As I sat cuffed and propped against the wall, another officer came over and reprimanded me for obstructing police work. If this were indeed the case, I said, I would agree. But I hadn’t interfered with the medical response, nor could I have. I was 15 feet away from Rebecca and Josh when I was tackled. I had good intentions, I said. I had called 911 and was following the operator’s instructions to remain on the scene until the ambulance arrived. That was all.

The small talk continued. They said I had nothing to worry about. I had done the right thing. I’d probably be taken to the police station around the corner and released. I asked whether I should communicate this to Ben or other friends, in case I needed help getting bailed out. They said that this process should be quick, quicker than my friends’ ability to help, and that I’d be out in no time.

I took them at their word. Then they took me to county jail, where I spent 12 hours, mostly in solitary confinement.

Transport to Jail

Officer Kaur and her partner Officer Durkin loaded me into the back of a caged van. It drove a short distance. When the van stopped, Officer Kaur shined her flashlight in my face and asked me whether I was "going to be a problem." There were lots of people who’d be happy to "take care" of me inside if I was, she said.

Left alone in the van, I pulled out my cellphone with my cuffed hands and texted my roommates that I was under arrest. The timestamp of these texts is 1:27am, 38 minutes after I first placed the 911 call.

When she returned, Officer Kaur had a deputy with her. Shining a flashlight in my eyes, she pointed out that he was big and strong.

"This is the guy," she told the deputy. "I think he’s going to be a problem. Are you going to be a problem?"

It felt aggressive, almost goading.

I tried to ignore her tone and addressed him directly: "Hello, sir."

He said, "Oh yeah, he’s going to be a problem."

San Francisco County Jail is less than 500 yards from my home. They fingerprinted and photographed me, stripped my shoes and vest, and placed me in cellblock 1SB with three other characters in various states of drug or alcohol induced inebriation. There was a phone, but it only called numbers in the 415 area code. In this era of cellphones, I can remember several of my roommates’ numbers. None of them began with 415.

The thick Plexiglas door of the cell was covered with stickers of bail bonds agencies with 415 area codes. These are the same agencies that occupy most storefronts on Bryant Street between 6th and 7th street. Most of the glass surfaces within the jail proudly display these phone numbers.

I was still under the impression that I’d be in jail for a brief interlude. I made small talk with my cellmates. A couple of hours passed. I started to wonder whether the circumstances had somehow changed. I began to ask the passing deputies questions. "Sir, how long should I expect to be here?"

They answered dismissively.

"As long as it takes."

"We’ll keep you here as long as we want to."

"Sober up."

If sobriety was the issue, I volunteered to take a Breathalyzer test. They laughed. "You’re in jail."

Given the circumstances of my arrest and what the officers initially told me about the expected timing of release, I became dissatisfied with the lack of information. I wasn’t going to get any straight response from the deputies. I asked to see a doctor.

Request to see a doctor

From the vantage point of the cell, I could see a few people in lab coats. I was physically hurt; my right temple was bruised and throbbing. When I began writing this account 36 hours after being released, I was still having trouble opening my mouth wide or chewing food without a throbbing pain in my right temple. My neck was sore from the officers’ knees. My arms bruised from being tackled, my wrists sore from Officer Kaur’s stomping, my broken elbow held together by metal pins reinjured.

I told commanding deputy, Terry, that I would like to see a doctor.

"You’d like a lot of things, but this is a jail," he said.

"Actually, I just want one thing. I’d like to see a doctor."

"There is nothing wrong with you."

"I’m not feeling well, and I’d like to see a doctor."

He said there were no doctors currently on staff, and I told him that I was willing to wait for one. Deputy Terry said I had already seen a doctor, when I was booked. "He was the one that asked you whether you were on any prescribed medications." I hadn’t realized.

In retrospect, asking to speak to a doctor was perhaps a mistake. I mean, in retrospect it was unambiguously a mistaken means of getting clear information and accelerating my release. Thinking that there was someone I could speak with on the night shift in San Francisco County Jail, who would respond to my questions, and give me honest answers, was an insane delusion. But in the middle of those events, without time to reflect, it was the circumstances around me that seemed insane.

My Story

By nature, I’m a trusting person, and in most situations this has served me well.

I moved to San Francisco to attend UCSF where I received a PhD in Biophysics. I learned about our city’s complex demographics during my time working as a census enumerator in the Tenderloin. I have volunteered as a disaster relief responder for the American Red Cross and have been on several emergency scenes in San Francisco in this capacity. I’m all too familiar with the density of crime in our neighborhood, having experienced car break-ins, bike theft, and vandalism repeatedly.

I served our government as a contractor in Afghanistan and have received basic medical training. Given the opportunity, I try to pick up general life skills to help me and others in critical situations.

But on this night, stopping to help out got me thrown in jail and asking for any sort of a reasoned conversation about why only made things worse.

I acknowledge now, and part of me acknowledged it then, that the county jail staff is not trained to deal with reason or conversation from the inmates in their custody.

Psychology teaches us that human behavior is conditioned by the environment in which we spend our time. Plenty of inmates were cursing at deputies and driving them crazy. Heck, they were driving me crazy. Prisons are grotesque and hellish places. California and its counties keep 181,050 humans locked up in them.

As someone who addressed the staff as "Sir", spoke slowly and deliberately, and constructed logical arguments, I was a more complicated problem than the typical swearing and insults they were used to hearing. The responses of the jailers, though terse and unpleasant, were true, "you are in jail, deal with it."

I had no right to expect special treatment and, taking this logic to the bitterest end, this meant I couldn’t even expect to be treated like a rational human.

If I’d made no inquiries of when I was going to be let out, nor asked for medical attention, nor tried to communicate with the guards as equals, I would probably have gotten out sooner. And I certainly wouldn’t have been taken to the "safety cell."

How I Felt

Standing in the cell for four hours, I knew that the sensible course of action would have been to keep my mouth shut and keep to myself. Once within the system, resistance is futile. I couldn’t help but recall a wise criminal lawyer’s (and friend’s) remarks: "Extricate yourself from the system, don’t try to vindicate yourself within it."

But with my temple throbbing, I still insisted on seeing a doctor. When Deputy Terry walked away muttering, "I have had enough of you," I banged on the door repeatedly and screamed, "I want to see a doctor. I WANT TO SEE A DOCTOR."

My actions seemed to strike a nerve, and when Deputy Terry returned, he was accompanied by cadre of friends. It was ominous.

"So you want to see a doctor?" They may well have said in chorus.

They ordered me to approach the cell door with my back, and when it opened, to step out with hands extended behind me. Suddenly, I was back in handcuffs and being led down a hallway, away from the lab coats, to the right, and down another hallway.

"Where are we going?" I asked.

"You worried or something? You wanted to see a doctor, so you’ll see a doctor alright."

A heavy steel door was opened in front of me. The room was padded, sparse even by the Spartan standards of my previous cell.

Solitary Confinement — Safety Cell

I was led into a corner.

"First we have to get you ready," one of the deputies said. His arm undid the button of my pants, which at first I thought was a cruel joke, and then he yanked them down to my ankles.

They pushed me forward against the wall. I stumbled in my handcuffs and pant shackles.

"Step out of your pants," they ordered. And as soon as I did: "Step out of your socks!"

Naked from the waist down, someone said, "Take off your shirt." It was topologically impossible, given the cuffs. One of the deputies said, "I’ll do it." I was uncuffed, my shirt was stripped with force, getting caught on my neck, tugging my head backwards, then up, then off.

The night shift deputies were cruel. They responded to questions in the tone of schoolyard bullies—tauntingly. They giggled as they slammed the door behind me. "You’ll see the doctor alright."

On the floor lay a straight jacket made from the material used to pad furniture when it is being moved, and a second piece of the same fabric that I later used to cover the dirty floor in an attempt to sleep.

There were no knobs or protrusions in the room, just soft corners. The toilet was a hole in the ground, no toilet paper. The hole dropped down a few feet where it was intersected by a grate of prison bars. The flushing happened automatically, periodically, though I never felt the urge. Even one’s feces left prison upon evacuation, presumably to leave the subject without anything to play with.

I say this, because while the room was dirty, it was not as dirty as the next two cells I experienced the following day, which were smeared with feces and peanut butter. Approximately every 6 hours, a pushcart made its way around the prison with regulation peanut butter sandwiches. Only a fraction were consumed. Many were used for wall decoration or splattered against the ceiling.

I couldn’t bear to eat, so I took my rations home as a souvenir. Aside from the milk, they still seemed edible a month later. This is their strength.

Trapped in a rendition of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

While the metal door was too thick for me to be heard if I did not scream, I could hear the muted screams of others across the jail. The din was anything but soothing.

When I asked for water, I was given enough (a couple Dixie cups’ worth) to barely keep my throat lubricated.

I was cold. The two pieces of fabric were not enough to spread on the filthy ground and also cover my naked body. I tried to sleep but it proved fruitless. Every 15 minutes, the metal peephole was creaked open, and I was expected to react, presumably to confirm that I was still alive. This was noted on a clipboard hanging beside the door.

Eventually, I found it most comfortable to stand by the cell door with the coarse fabric draped over my body. I looked out through a narrow slit of Plexiglas and tried to call attention from passers’ by. "Sir, Ma’am, could you please tell me… how long should I expect to be in here?"

A streak of being ignored was broken by a couple disheartening responses. "Usually we put people in there for 24 hours."

Now I really felt like I was going crazy. Those weren’t the reassuring answers my inner optimist had hoped for. When I had told the arresting officers that I accepted my lot, this wasn’t the lot I was referring to. I didn’t expect a medal for fulfilling my civic duty, but I still felt like I had some fleeting right to something other than this. I banged on the metal door repeatedly until Deputy Terry showed up.

"Why am I in here?"

"You are crazy. You are a lunatic," he pronounced.

"Do you know how I got here?"

"Doesn’t matter."

"This place—being in here—will make me crazy," I pleaded.

"Good. That’s what you are and where you belong." He spiraled his index finger by his muscular temple.

I tried to respond as he started walking way.

"Sir, might you consider for a moment that I am having a sane response to the conditions I’m being subjected? I was arrested by the very police I called to the scene of a medical emergency less than a block from my house, while heading home for the night."

He stared at me bewildered, and never came near again.

The Day Shift

The difference between the night and day shift was exactly that: night and day.

The deputies who took the helm at 7am were more human. When I asked them the one simple question that occupied me for the past six hours, a deputy actually responded! He opened the metal peephole, leaned in, and whispered.

"Once you are in the safety cell, we can’t release you without a psychiatric evaluation. Those gals tend to arrive around 8am, though this depends if they’re needed in other jails first. When they do arrive, they’ll come to see you, and if you give them the right answers, wink wink, we’ll let you go."

Doctor = Psychiatric Evaluation

Eventually I did get to see "the doctor," though it took longer than my messenger indicated and we didn’t discuss my ailments. Chase conducted her evaluation through the same peephole that was used to hand me Dixie cups of water. I stood naked as I recounted my story.

"You don’t belong here," she told me outright.

Chase said that once inside of the safety cell, the criteria for release were just this kind of evaluation. The criteria for being placed into a cell, she said, were more arbitrary.

She still had to ask:

"Are you having suicidal thoughts?"


"Do you want to hurt someone?"

"No," I cringed.

"I’ll go fill out the paperwork. The rest is not up to me… I’m sorry."

Fingerprints, Round-trip to Sacramento

An hour and a half after my evaluation, my clothes were handed to me through a slit in the metal door. I was led to another holding cell and waited to be digitally fingerprinted.

It took several more hours to compare my fingerprints to the entire California criminal database. "They run this in Sacramento," commanding deputy Johnson told me. "It can take as little as 15 minutes or as long as 24 hours. It’s out of our hands, though it always takes longer the first time… If you are arrested again, it will take less time, since you’ll already be in the system."

I couldn’t tell if she meant to be ironic or comforting.

4th Cell, Citable Offense

There was a cautious air of excitement in the fourth cell they moved me to. Citation was billed as salvation. "You’re lucky, being cited," my cellmates reassured me.

Inmates in orange clothes and ringing shackles across their wrists and ankles were now coursing through San Francisco’s #1 prisoner intake and processing facility. The deputies had a point. "We’re busy as you can see."

"I’m lucky they didn’t beat me up this time," one of my cellmates told me. "Man, I’m stupid. I can’t believe I stole six coffee bags from Starbucks in plain view of the officer. They ain’t even worth much. You can’t steal at the end of the month. They know you’re desperate from the 25th onward. And why did I hit up the same place again? They know me there already. Last time, I was lucky since the needle sore on my elbow was freaking gruesome. This time it’s healed too much. They don’t wanna deal with you if you’re looking nasty. Why can’t I learn not to steal at the end of the month?"

After 12 hours in jail, more than 6 of them in solitary confinement, the process of checking out was unremarkable. I signed a few papers. Retrieved my backpack. Confirmed the contents — laptop, wallet, phone, books and keys.

"The charges will be dropped if you show up on Tuesday. If you don’t show up, there will be a warrant for your arrest," I was casually informed.

"Deputy, should I have been here in the first place?"


It was almost too good to hear. "Then why did I end up here?"

"You have to consider the source." This phrase I remember verbatim.

"How do you mean?"

"I mean, there are a lot of young cops on the street, trying to make a name for themselves."

A sense of measure

I’m truly afraid that I’ll sound indignant and grouchy about being arrested. Normally it’s in my nature to accept the world as the strange place it is. This is not the worst experience of my life. It’s certainly not the most troubling thing to happen in San Francisco that evening.

One friend told me that I should chalk this up as another of life’s brutal lessons, that I should just be quiet, move on, and record this in my personal diary (if I must), and only return to these thoughts again if I am one day rich and powerful, when my decisions and donations can make a difference in the police force and civil affairs, and even then I might not really care. Stay coy until you are out of reach of the system, he emphasized. You think you’re clear now, but how many things went the way you expected?

Is there a weird middle ground, an uncanny valley, where you have no access to justice? Unless you’re severely beaten with cameras rolling or really have nothing to lose, your wiser friends will tell you to shut up and deal.

The following Tuesday, I approached a narrow Plexiglas slit in the courthouse window, and was handed a piece of paper with the word "dismissed". The case was dropped from the docket before the charges were filed.

With passing time, the only consequence is a lingering memory that flares up some nights. Forgetting would be disrespectful to the officers who don’t accept this behavior as commonplace, and don’t want to be liable for actions of a minority of their peers. It would also be a fatalistic admission that such violence is acceptable.

It’s not. This should not have happened. I won’t pretend that I’m an angel. In fact, I pride myself on deconstructing systems and finding loopholes. And yet, under the circumstances, I feel comfortable saying that the police should have helped me get safely home.

Officer Kaur’s unnecessary escalation of a peaceful situation, culminating in the sadistic stomping on my cuffed hands is a severe professional failure that reflects poorly on the San Francisco Police Department. It does not surprise me that she and several of the other officers I encountered that night are currently in the middle of a lawsuit.


I painstakingly retrieved all possible documentation, including: the police report, transcript of radio chatter, audio of my 911 call, security footage from Radius restaurant (handed to me freely by the owner), Rebecca’s and Josh’s feedback, and collected photos from the incident and my injuries.

I presented all of this to the SF Office of Citizen Complaints. The filing party is not allowed to know the outcome due to the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights (POBAR) but may be notified if an internal investigation is initiated. Many months have passed since my complaint, and I have no sense of progress.

At this point, I’m left no choice but to present this case to the investigative court of public opinion, be it brave or foolish.

In the hope that it might help some other idealistic, nerdy people from following me down that rabbit hole, I conclude with several public service announcements:

Don’t call 911. Obviously, there are exceptions, but the sad lesson is, there are fewer than you’d think.

Call Lyft to take you to the hospital. (Worked well when I broke my elbow.)

Take such incidents to trial, where justice isn’t veiled by the POBAR. It’s not a matter of litigious vindictiveness. It’s just the only available way. The SF Office of Citizen Complaints is not a valid alternative.

Consider wearing a video camera at all times. It has been shown that when police wear cameras and are aware of being filmed, it moderates their behavior. As self reports of the need to use force decrease, so do complaints.

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