Sunday, August 31, 2014

Cop Hits Man in the Head 20 Times as Onlookers Plead 'Don't Punch Him No More'

Once the cops have pinned a non-violent suspect to the ground, how many times are they allowed to punch him in the head? Is it fewer than 20? I would say so, but I'm not a Greenville County, South Carolina, deputy.

Greenville officers approached a man at a Walmart parking lot on Saturday. The man appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and didn't respond to police questions or instructions. Eventually, the officers followed the man inside the store, where they attempted to detain him. The deputies claim the man resisted, though video footage of the incident certainly makes said resistance look passive, rather than violent. But once the two cops had the man on the ground, one of them immediately began punching him in the head. I count at least 20 blows.

Onlookers were horrified, and begged the deputies to stop. Many thought the treatment of the man was cruel, according to "Please don't punch him like that, don't punch him no more," said one witness. (More video footage can be seen here.)

The man was eventually tasered and then taken to the hospital. Police have not given his name or explained what the charges against him are. The department is reviewing the footage, however, to determine whether the deputy acted properly when he punched a helpless man in the head over and over and over again.

Original report here


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Saturday, August 30, 2014

UK: Rotherham police officer charged with child sex offence

A Rotherham based police officer has been charged with a child sex offence.

Police Constable Daniel Cookson, 27, appeared at Leeds Magistrates' Court charged with causing a 15-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity.

PC Cookson was arrested in November, but was only charged last week, South Yorkshire Police said.

The force, which is facing criticism over its handling of child sexual exploitation cases, did not announce that the officer had been charged at the time, but issued a statement confirming that Pc Cookson had appeared in court.

A statement issued by the force said: "A South Yorkshire Police PC has been charged with causing a 15-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity. Daniel Cookson, 27, who was previously based in Rotherham, was charged with the offence on Thursday 21 August.

"It allegedly happened between March and November 2013. He was suspended from his position in the force when he was arrested in November 2013, pending the outcome of the investigation.

"He has been released on bail pending further enquiries."

PC Cookson is next due to appear before Leeds Crown Court on September 11.

Original report here




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Friday, August 29, 2014

Why isn't this bitch in jail?
The woman who falsely accused football star Brian Banks of raping her is being forced to pay big time.
A judge has ordered that the woman pay $2.6 million to Banks for ruining his life with false allegations. The lies caused him to lose numerous scholarship offers to college and also led to a prison sentence of over five years.
Wanetta Gibson told lies to authorities when she accused Banks of assaulting her when the two attended Long Beach Poly High, where Banks was both a student and football star.
After the conviction, the girl sued the school district and received $1.5 million. The conviction was overturned when Gibson was secretly recorded admitting that she made the whole thing up.
Years later, Gibson confessed and Banks was released. The woman is being forced to repay a $750,000 settlement to the school, plus attorneys fees, interest and another $1 million in punitive damages.
Original report here
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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Court OKs Barring High IQs for Cops

This could explain a lot

A man whose bid to become a police officer was rejected after he scored too high on an intelligence test has lost an appeal in his federal lawsuit against the city.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court’s decision that the city did not discriminate against Robert Jordan because the same standards were applied to everyone who took the test.

"This kind of puts an official face on discrimination in America against people of a certain class," Jordan said today from his Waterford home. "I maintain you have no more control over your basic intelligence than your eye color or your gender or anything else."

He said he does not plan to take any further legal action.

Jordan, a 49-year-old college graduate, took the exam in 1996 and scored 33 points, the equivalent of an IQ of 125. But New London police interviewed only candidates who scored 20 to 27, on the theory that those who scored too high could get bored with police work and leave soon after undergoing costly training.

Most Cops Just Above Normal The average score nationally for police officers is 21 to 22, the equivalent of an IQ of 104, or just a little above average.

Jordan alleged his rejection from the police force was discrimination. He sued the city, saying his civil rights were violated because he was denied equal protection under the law.

But the U.S. District Court found that New London had "shown a rational basis for the policy." In a ruling dated Aug. 23, the 2nd Circuit agreed. The court said the policy might be unwise but was a rational way to reduce job turnover.

Jordan has worked as a prison guard since he took the test.

Original report here




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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

True scale of British police corruption claims revealed: Almost 100 officers a year are suspended over misconduct allegations

Almost 100 police officers are suspended on suspicion of corruption every year, MailOnline can reveal.

In the past five years, a total of 460 officers have faced investigation over allegations including selling information, hacking into police computers and interfering with criminal probes.

Officials expressed concern at the scale of the problem, while one MP said the data proves that police corruption is not just limited to 'a few rotten apples'.

As well as the 460 officers who have been suspended for alleged corruption in the UK since the start of 2009, 200 members of police staff were investigated on suspicion of corrupt practice in the same time period.

The force with by far the most suspended officers was the Metropolitan Police, where 119 officers and 67 other employees have been relieved of their duties during a corruption probe in the past five years.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard pointed out that the force, which is responsible for Greater London as well as national issues such as counter-terrorism, is much larger than any other, and insisted that it is dedicated to eliminating corruption.

Asked last week via Twitter whether he had condemned corrupt officers, commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe replied: 'I have. It's Met-led investigations which have rooted them out. We don't want the corrupt in the Met.'

The other forces with the most officers accused of corruption were West Midlands (32), Nottinghamshire (20), West Mercia, Police Scotland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (18 each).

The statistics, which cover the period from January 2009 to March this year, were given to MailOnline by all but one of the country's 46 police forces in response to a series of Freedom of Information requests.

While there is no official definition of police corruption, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) defines it as 'the abuse of one's role or position held in the service for personal gain or gain for others'.

Among the most high-profile examples of corrupt officers are Ali Dizaei, a Met commander who was jailed in 2012 for making false allegations against a business associate, and Grahame Maxwell, who tried to help a relative secure a job at West Yorkshire Police while serving as chief constable of the force.

Earlier this month, Scotland Yard officer Thomas Ridgeway was sentenced to 12 months in prison after he admitted selling stories to The Sun for £2,600, using his mother as an intermediary.

Conservative MP Mark Reckless, who sits on the Home Affairs Select Committee, described the number of corruption claims as 'worryingly high' and called for officers to be vigilant in looking out for wrongdoing.

'460 is a worryingly high number,' he told MailOnline. 'It's more than just a few rotten apples in the barrel.'

Mr Reckless, a former member of the Kent Police Authority, added: 'Policing provides a big temptation and opportunities for corruption - we rely on the integrity of officers and really strong prevention and enforcement to keep it in check.'

However, he also pointed out that the large number of allegations reported could reflect an increase in 'self-policing' as officers become more aware of the danger of corruption.

The College of Policing, which sets professional standards for Britain's police forces, vowed to implement new measures to stop officers taking advantage of their position for personal gain.

Assistant chief constable Richard Bennett, head of the organisation's 'integrity programme', said: 'The numbers provided in the freedom of information request are higher than expected and it is unclear if forces were all using the same basis for the data they provided.

'What is clear, however, is that corruption is a very serious offence and the College of Policing is working with the police service to do all that we can to prevent and detect corruption.

Among the steps being taken by the college are the publication of an official code of ethics and a new register listing all police workers who have been dismissed or resigned during a probe into their behaviour.

Mr Bennett added that information on the pay and benefits of senior officers is now routinely published in order to increase transparency and reduce the perception of possible wrongdoing.

Five forces – Dorset, Durham, Humberside, Northamptonshire and the British Transport Police – said that not a single officer or staff member had been suspended in response to a corruption probe since the start of 2009.

The only force which refused to reveal the number of officers suspended on suspicion of corruption was Essex Police, which claimed that the only way to answer the question would be to search through the files of every officer and employee individually.

Former police officers regularly make requests for preferential access to the force on behalf of consultancies and other private firms, according to one of Britain's top officers.

Lynne Owens, chief constable of Surrey Police, said that she was 'bombarded' by messages from former employees and suggested that she could start naming and shaming the offenders.

She wrote on Twitter last week: 'Still bombarded with requests from people who used to work in policing and want access from consultancies, private companies etc. Err ethics?'

When it was suggested that she should make such requests public, Ms Owens said she would 'think about how/if we could do that'.

The chief constable later told the Independent that she is frequently approached by ex-police looking to promote their services, and insisted that she takes care to act ethically in such cases.

A spokesman for Surrey Police said: 'Surrey Police has strict guidelines on procurement of services in order to ensure transparency in our business dealings. 'These guidelines are applicable to all employees.'

Because there is no uniform definition of corruption, it is possible that the various forces used different standards in calculating the figures they provided to MailOnline.

In addition, some forces excluded ongoing investigations on the grounds that disclosing them could jeopardise their outcome.

It is not known how many of the 460 suspended officers were found to have acted corruptly, as most of the forces did not provide data on the outcome of their investigations. The Met said that 31 corrupt officers faced disciplinary action between 2009 and this year, while a further 22 resigned from the force.

Several of the bodies which oversee policing have pledged to crack down on corrupt practices, while the Government is introducing a new offence specifically outlawing police corruption in order to make it easier to secure convictions for malpractice.

'The public expect the police to act at all times with honesty and integrity,' a spokesman for the Home Office told MailOnline. 'That is why this Government is introducing a range of measures to improve the integrity and transparency of the police.

'It is right that the full force of the criminal law is available to punish and deter acts of corruption by police officers. We are creating a new offence of police corruption, solely applicable to police officers, to sit alongside the existing offence of misconduct in public office.'

He also said that in the future officers would be unable to resign in order to avoid facing investigation.

A spokesman for the Independent Police Complaints Commission added: 'The IPCC is being given more resource to carry out independent investigations into serious and sensitive allegations against police.

'In 2013/14 we started supervised investigations into 141 of the corruption cases referred to us by police forces. We anticipate that more of the cases we presently supervise, including allegations of serious corruption, will be investigated independently in the future.'

The IPCC published a string of reports on corruption in 2011 and 2012, in response to claims of inappropriate contacts between police officers and journalists from News International.

The commission revealed that 837 cases of alleged corruption were reported to it by police forces between 2008 and 2011. However, the IPCC does not have the resources to probe most allegations itself, and relies on the individual forces to investigate their own officers and employees.

Among the examples of corruption cited by the IPCC were an officer who illegally sold firearms to members of the public, a policeman who used the force's computer database to stalk vulnerable teenage girls, and another who stole suspects' property while searching their homes.

The Police Federation, which acts as a quasi-trade union for officers, pointed that the vast majority of police act with integrity and are keen to eliminate wrongdoing from the force.

'Police officers and the PFEW do not accept or condone corruption in any form and in fact, the vast majority of cases of corruption are rooted out of the service by police officers themselves,' said chairman Steve White.

'We share the concern of the public that anyone found guilty of such behaviour after suitable due process has no place in the police service and should feel the full force of the law against them. However, it is important to note that suspension does not necessarily indicate guilt.'

The revelations about the scale of corruption come just a few days after it emerged that hundreds of officers had been investigated for breaching social media guidelines.

Among the policemen found to have committed offences were one officer who complained that Muslims did not observe the two-minute silence and a PCSO who posed with guns in a Facebook photo.

Original report here




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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Oklahoma City cop accused of raping, sexually assaulting seven women while on duty

Daniel Ken Holtzclaw allegedly raped one woman, forced three to perform oral sex and fondled and exposed several others. The three-year force veteran threatened to arrest his victims if they did not comply, police said.

Daniel Holtzclaw, a three-year veteran of the Oklahoma City police department, was arrested after seven women accused him of sexual assault. Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department Daniel Holtzclaw, a three-year veteran of the Oklahoma City police department, was arrested after seven women accused him of sexual assault.

An Oklahoma City police officer is accused of sexually assaulting at least seven women — including a 57-year-old grandmother — while on patrol duty, officials said.

Daniel Ken Holtzclaw was arrested Thursday afternoon on a probable cause warrant.

The 27-year-old officer attacked the seven women, between the ages of 34 and 58, over a period of months, police said. He allegedly raped one woman, forced three to perform oral sex and fondled and exposed the others, the Oklahoman reported.

Holtzclaw, a three-year veteran of the force, stopped his victims while on his patrol shift, between 4 p.m. and 2 a.m., police said. Sometimes, he attacked at the scene of routine traffic stops. Other times, he led his victims away to remote spots before assaulting them.

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty announced the arrest Thursday. Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty announced the arrest Thursday.

The accused officer threatened to arrest his victims if they did not comply, Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said at a Thursday press conference.

The first victim to come forward was a 57-year-old grandmother who claimed Holtzclaw forced her to perform oral sex in June.

"She was really, really fragile," Alitia Timmons, the woman's representative, told KOCO. "She was scared to leave her house, when she was driving and she saw a police officer drive by, it would terrorize her and she has been piecing herself together."

OCPD officer arrested, accused of rape

Charges have not been filed yet, but the district attorney expects the 27-year-old to face rape, forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery and indecent exposure counts.

Holtzclaw is being held on a $5 million bond.

Original report here

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Monday, August 25, 2014


Australia: Lloyd Rayney breaks silence, calls for cold-case review of wife Corryn’s murder

Lazy cops again -- grabbing anybody who happens to be nearby

ALMOST two years after he was cleared of murdering his wife, Lloyd Rayney has broken his silence in a documentary, saying he believes WA Police "owed" it to Corryn and his daughters to "get it right".

The former barrister, who until tonight had remained silent about his exoneration — and the years of intense speculation about his involvement — called for independent investigators to re-examine the unsolved case.

In the 90-minute television documentary which was broadcast tonight, he said his daughters Caitlyn and Sarah never doubted his innocence and that despite the intense scrutiny they have faced over the past seven years, their family remained "strong".

The father-of-two also spoke of his complete disbelief when WA Police named him as a prime suspect and welled up with tears when he recalled the moment he told his daughters their mother Corryn had gone missing.

"Three of us were standing in the hallway and I told them what had happened and I still remember Sarah looking up to me and saying to me: ‘What’s going to happen, Dad?’ And I had no answer because I didn’t know," he said.

"The three of us just hugged each other for a long, long time. Yeah, that was the start of this nightmare that’s gone on for seven years and still hasn’t finished."

During the program Mr Rayney spoke of the first time he met his wife, the birth of their children and the eventual collapse of their marriage.

Several times he struggled to hold back tears as he recalled the effect the intense media spotlight had on his family, in particular his two girls, and how the ordeal affted his professional and personal lives.

Mrs Rayney, a well-liked and respected Supreme Court registrar, disappeared after attending a boot scooting class on August 7, 2007. Her body was found buried in a shallow grave at Kings Park nine days later.

In the weeks following the discovery, police identified Mr Rayney as a suspect but it took more than three years before they charged him with murder.

During Mr Rayney’s murder trial it was revealed the couple’s marriage had broken down, they were sleeping in separate rooms and on the night she disappeared the pair were meant to discuss their divorce.

Mr Rayney was acquitted in November 2012 following a three-month judge-only trial conducted by retired Northern Territory chief justice Brian Martin. And a subsequent appeal by the state against the verdict was also dismissed in September last year.

But his legal battles are still not over. He is still facing two charges in the WA District Court in relation to allegedly installing a telephone tap at the family’s Como home.

And the former state prosecutor is still pursuing a defamation case against WA Police over comments made by Det-Sen Sgt Jack Lee who named him as the prime suspect. If successful, Mr Rayney could potentially receive millions in damages.

"I was just gobsmacked," he said of the comments. "(I) could not believe it. I still can’t believe it.

"The impact of what he said was felt by me immediately in every different way imaginable, professionally, personally, every aspect of my family’s life. Seven years on, the impact is still there."

Former British detective and forensic expert Robin Napper, who worked with Mr Rayney’s defence team, also told the documentary that two violent criminals who lived near the Rayneys at the time of the murder should have been investigated as thoroughly as Mr Rayney.

He said Ivin Eades had convictions for assault and indecent assault but was not interviewed for four months and Allon Mitchell Lacco had convictions for sex attacks on a girl aged 11 and a woman, 29.

Eades had been pulled over by police in the vicinity of the Rayney home on the night Mrs Rayney disappeared.

During the murder trial it was revealed a cigarette butt found on the verge outside the Rayneys’ Como home contained DNA from Eades.

Mr Napper told the program Mr Lacco was arrested by police on the night Mrs Rayney’s body was found for minor traffic offences and had injuries on his hands and eye. Sand was also found in his car.

He said the Rayney team were told of the arrest but his car and clothes were not examined.

During the trial, Mr Rayney’s lawyers cross examined the police on the matter but decided not to pursue the theory further.

While Justice Martin criticised some of the police involved in the investigation he said there was no evidence that lines of inquiry were not investigated.

Despite the amount of time that has passed, Mr Rayney said he still believes his wife’s murder can be solved, just not by the same investigators. "I really do think it can be solved," Mr Rayney says in the documentary. "The name doesn’t matter, call it a cold case, call it whatever you want but there needs to be an investigation conducted.

"Not by the same investigators who stuffed this up. It needs to be new blood, new people with sufficient experience to get it right.

"The police had a chance to solve this crime and that was for everyone’s benefit and for the benefit of Corryn. They owed it to her to get it right. They owed it to my children.

"They owed it to everybody that knew and loved Corryn and they didn’t do it, and I find that really hard to forgive, all of the things that they should have done and didn’t do."

Earlier today Premier Colin Barnett said he didn’t agree with calls for an external review to be carried out. Though he added that it would depend on whether Attorney General Michael Mischin backed the move.

A WA Police spokeswoman also would not comment on calls for an external review saying WA Police could not comment on any matters relating to this case "due to current legal proceedings, both criminal and civil".

Original report here




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Sunday, August 24, 2014

British cop 'had sex in station sluice room with mother of three who had been arrested for being drunk'

A police officer allegedly had sex with a prisoner whose clothes he tore off after taking her into a side room for a glass of water.

Richard Evans, 46, is accused of having sex with the woman, who told a court how she let the 'five-minute fumble' at a police station in Caerphilly, South Wales, go ahead, and had 'wanted it to happen'.

A jury heard how the woman, a mother of three, had been arrested the previous night for being drunk, then had sex with Evans the following morning.

She said she had asked him for a drink of water, and he then led her into a sluice room in the station before grabbing her waist and kissing her.

A woman prisoner boasted how she had sex with a police officer in the cells at his station, a court heard.

Custody sergeant Richard Evans, 46, is accused of having sex with the mother-of-three while on duty at Ystrad Mynach police station.

Evans has been accused of sexual assault against three women, and charges of misconduct on duty - all of which he denies.

Cardiff Crown Court heard how he allegedly returned to work after the encounter.

The woman said: 'I just let it happen, I wanted it to happen. It was flattering - you've got a man in uniform and he fancies you. 'I felt a bit cocky - not everyone can say they've had an affair with a policeman.'

Describing the encounter, she said: 'He put his arms around my waist and started kissing the back of my neck. 'Then he was undoing my jeans and pulling them done and then my underwear and we had sex.

'He had an orgasm then he pulled his trousers up and walked back up to the desk. He said nothing to me afterwards, like it was one of those things that had happened but so what?

'There was no feeling, it was just a quick bunk up and be done with it, there was no love. It was a giggle, it had been exciting but that's all it had been - it was no strings and no feelings, just sex.

'It wasn't promises and chocolates, it was just a five minute fumble.'

She said that when she was released home she told her daughter: 'You won't believe it but I just shagged a cop.'

The woman told the court how she first met Evans in 2003 when he gave her a lift back home.

He allegedly took her into the back of the van before kissing her and touching her breast.

She claimed he was aroused and wanted to 'go further' - allegedly asking her for oral sex.

A court heard that she didn't report the kiss in 2003 or the sex in 2006.

They only came out when Evans was investigated after allegedly sexually assaulting two other women at the police station.

Evans is accused of touching another woman's breasts and kissing her while she was being kept in custody at the police station.

He allegedly watched another woman getting changed before pulling off a blanket she had wrapped around herself to stop him seeing her breasts.

Prosecutor John Philpotts said: 'While acting in the capacity of a custody sergeant, he engaged in sexual activity with three females who were in his care.

'He also gave one of these females a lift in a police vehicle and on that occasion he touched her sexually. 'If a police officer engages in sexual activity with a member of the public who is in his care then that constitutes misconduct.'

Evans, of Pontypool, Gwent, denies misconduct in a public office and three charges of sexual assault.

He refutes all allegations made by three women who said he had sex with them or touched them inappropriately.

Evans has been suspended by Gwent Police since the allegations emerged last January.

Original report here




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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Elderly pastor suffered heart attack and stroke after British Keystone Kops stormed her home in a 'botched' drugs raid

An elderly female pastor suffered a heart attack after police in riot gear stormed her home in a 'botched' early-morning drug raid.

Relatives of Hyacinth Brown, 79, have complained to the Independent Police Complaints Commission saying the operation was a blunder by Scotland Yard who left empty-handed.

They are furious that Mrs Brown has not yet received an apology after her house in Hackney, North East London, was turned 'upside-down'.

Met Police executed a warrant and forced their way into her home in Hackney, east London at 8am last Friday.

Ms Brown, who leads a congregation, immediately began feeling unwell and paramedics were called. She was rushed to hospital and treated for a minor heart attack and stroke.

Family say officers also handcuffed Mrs Brown's daughter, Jacqueline, a minister for a congregation in Kensington, who was staying overnight to keep her mother company.

She said her mother was 'terrified' and added: 'The police said surveillance once saw the house selling drugs but they had got the wrong house.'

Police in full riot gear had a search warrant and said they were acting on 'intelligence' of drug activity. But whether or not it was the right address is now the subject of an investigation.

Her daughter Jacqueline said: 'I came running down the stairs as I thought someone was breaking in.

'My mother was terrified. They said surveillance once saw the house selling drugs but they had got the wrong house.'

Another of Mrs Brown's daughters, Sandra, 40, claims one officer stormed into her mother's bedroom in the house and police continued kicking down doors despite their protests that they had the wrong property.

She said: 'It was very upsetting. What is even more disgusting is police have not apologised or had any contact with us.

'It wasn't handled with any diligence. They burst into her bedroom and down the flights of stairs. They turned the house upside down, all the doors were taken or kicked off without any second thought. She was overcome with worry.

'After they realised she was an elderly woman they still continued with their raid. It was like something out of a movie. The whole thing was disgusting. 'We think she must have started to have the heart attack when they burst into her room, as she couldn't speak at first.

'My mum was telling them it wasn't the right house and they still carried on busting through doors and turning things inside out. She's really unhappy about the whole situation, really tearful and emotional. She doesn't deserve what happened to her.'

Neighbour Roy Smith described Hyacinth as being a 'pillar of the local community.' He said: 'She's a church lady, the family are not involved in anything like that.'

Police confirmed officers had obtained a warrant for the raid, but admitted no drugs were found or arrests made.

A spokesman for Met Police said: 'We are aware an official complaint is being lodged. Under these circumstances it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time.'

Original report here




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Friday, August 22, 2014

Australia: David Eastman released from prison after conviction quashed

One of Australia's most comtroversial convictions

David Eastman has been released on bail after a court ruled he did not get a fair trial on charges he murdered Police Commissioner Colin Winchester. He left court in a maroon sedan, with a blanket over his head.

After serving more than 19 years of a life sentence, he was driven out of the Alexander Maconochie Centre about 6pm, covered with a blanket in the back of a maroon sedan. It is not known where Eastman will be taken or whether the government will provide housing, however, ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell said he would receive all the assistance normally given to released prisoners and he would not go homeless.

Despite his newfound freedom, the prospect of a retrial for the 1989 murder of Commissioner will hang over Eastman's head.

ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Jon White issued a statement on Friday afternoon saying the new trial was under consideration.

Meanwhile, ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner John Hinchey spoke on behalf of the Winchester family, saying they were up for a retrial.

"The Winchester family remain steadfast and resolute in their pursuit of justice for Colin Winchester and would support any retrial of David Eastman," he said.

The ACT Supreme Court on Friday ordered Eastman face a new trial over the assassination.

The spotlight is now on the Director of Public Prosecutions, who has the ultimate say over whether Eastman will be hauled back before court for a second trial.

Eastman was released from the Alexander Maconochie Centre after agreeing to abide by bail conditions. The conditions include that he not approach a list of more than 200 people, including the Winchester family. He will also need to give authorities at least 48 hours notice if he intends to leave the ACT.

He will return to court on September 11, although a new trial - if it goes ahead - will not happen until at least 2015.

In a judgment published on Friday, the court, comprised of Justices Steven Rares, Michael Wigney and acting Justice Dennis Cowdroy, found Eastman did not receive a trial according to law.

The judges said a fair trial was a fundamental right of every person charged with a criminal offence.

"It would be an affront to justice to permit the conviction to stand. We have concluded that the conviction be quashed," Justice Rares said.

The judges said a new trial had been necessary as a strong circumstantial case of murder of a senior police officer existed against Eastman.

The court heard he should not "escape having a jury decide whether or not he is guilty of that crime".

"Weighing all the relevant factors and considerations, we have concluded that the interests of justice require that we order a retrial," Justice Rares told the court.

A retrial was thought by many to be an impossibility as witnesses are dead, forensic evidence has been destroyed, and finding a jury free from the taint of prejudice after so many years of media coverage would be difficult at best.

Eastman's lawyers say trying to defend the case decades down the track would put him at a severe disadvantage.

But the court on Friday said it had not been convinced that a new trial would be unfair.

"We are satisfied that an order for a new trial would not deprive Mr Eastman of the capacity to protect his position ... there was no evidence of any damage from publicity to Mr Eastman's position before us and any retrial would not occur immediately," Justice Rares told the court.

"Whether the director decides to present Mr Eastman for trial again will be a matter for the exercise of his prosecutorial discretion. "If that occurs, it will be open to Mr Eastman to make any application for a stay to the trial judge."

The ACT DPP has previously argued that an overwhelming case still points toward Eastman's guilt.

They say the evidence shows he had a clear motive, was linked to the murder weapon, was seen casing out the scene prior to the killing, and was unable to explain his whereabouts the next day.

Prosecutors say there is still evidence that Eastman made threats against Mr Winchester and uttered confessional-type statements, picked up on police bugs placed in his home.

Whatever comes next, this momentous decision closes a long-running chapter in the interminable Eastman saga. It also means another of Australia's most infamous criminal convictions has fallen over because of shoddy forensic work.

The gunshot residue analysis, so critical in proving Eastman's guilt in 1995, was completely discredited in an inquiry into the former Treasury official's conviction, presided over by former Northern Territory Chief Justice Brian Martin.

Earlier this year, Acting Justice Martin found a "substantial miscarriage of justice" had occurred and called for Eastman's conviction to be quashed.

Eastman will be freed in the face of a finding by Acting Justice Martin that he is fairly certain of his guilt, but holds a "nagging doubt".

The inquiry's recommendations came before a full bench of the ACT Supreme Court, who ultimately held Eastman's fate in their hands.

Prosecutors last month made a last-ditch attempt to convince the court to keep Eastman behind bars.

But, as a packed courtroom watched on, the three Supreme Court judges ruled in the prisoner's favour on Friday afternoon.

Experts have said Eastman may struggle to re-adjust to life outside, after spending so long in the highly-regimented and controlled environment of a prison.

He may eventually get a shot at compensation for wrongful imprisonment, which some lawyers have estimated could reach into the millions.

He was convicted on a circumstantial case, to which the forensic evidence was central.

Victorian-based expert Robert Collins Barnes strongly linked gunshot residue found in Eastman's Mazda boot with the murder scene.

Even Eastman's trial judge, Ken Carruthers, paid tribute to the strength of the forensics when sentencing Eastman to life in November 1995. "This investigation must surely rank as one of the most skilled, sophisticated and determined forensic investigations in the history of criminal investigation in Australia," he said at the time.

That statement was left in tatters by the Eastman inquiry.

A covert recording between the supposedly-independent Mr Barnes and a senior detective was played to the inquiry in which he described himself as a "police witness", and attempted to stymy attempts to have his work thoroughly reviewed.

Any serious investigation of Mr Barnes would have found he lacked objectivity, overplayed the strength of his evidence, and became emotionally involved in the case, the inquiry found.

The provenance of critical evidence was either non-existent or highly doubtful, and fundamental data was not produced by Mr Barnes prior to trial.

"In some instances it is apparent that Mr Barnes could not have undertaken the organic analyses upon which he claimed to have based his opinions," Acting Justice Martin found.

"In other respects, the contemporaneous accounts strongly suggest that such analyses were not carried out and that Mr Barnes' report was wrong."

Original report here




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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Innocent couple branded shoplifters in British CCTV release

They should sue

An innocent young couple found themselves wrongly accused of shoplifting after bungling police issued a CCTV 'wanted' photograph of the pair to the public.

CCTV shots of Charlotte and James Cozens shopping in their local Boots with their three-year-old son were sent to the media as part of a "caught on camera" appeal.

They were accompanied by a description of the pair and details of how they stashed stolen goods in their toddler's pushchair.

The release also came with the warning to the public not to approach the couple who were suspected of similar raids at other Boots stores.

Charlotte, 22, an NHS worker, knew nothing about the investigation until a friend texted her a link to the picture on a local newspaper's website.

By then it had been published for more than 24 hours and had been shared 250 times on Facebook - with users branding Charlotte a thief and a "bad mum".

Horrified Charlotte protested to Devon and Cornwall Police, who have since withdrawn the appeal and promised to review procedures on witness appeals.

The force issued the black and white images after several items went missing at a Boots in Exmouth, Devon, on June 29.

Officers were said to be hunting a "white male, with a shave head and white t-shirt" and a "white female with long black hair, white top with large number on chest, black short skirt."

The photos were accompanied by a description of the pair and details of how they stashed stolen goods in their son's pushchair

The two suspects were alleged to have walked inside then "concealed items in a push chair" before leaving "without making payment."

Police went on to say the same pair were believed to be behind a spate of similar thefts at Boots stores across Devon.

The appeal ended with the warning: "Members of the public should not approach anyone who they believe to be displayed in the images."

Charlotte said she and carpet fitter husband James, 30, are now worried about leaving their home in Exeter, Devon, in case they suffer abuse.

She said: "It was horrific, we were so shocked. It's broken us both, we're so upset. We both work really hard for our money and would never steal anything.

"The photo is really clear and we are recognisable in it. And for my son to be pictured too is just awful.

"I didn't know what to do. I felt like I couldn't leave the house. It's caused us so much stress - I haven't slept much or eaten properly.

"It's disgusting how this mistake could have happened to innocent people. Seeing everything which was written about me, including that I was a bad mum, has been so upsetting."

Devon and Cornwall Police promised to review their "Caught on Camera" scheme to prevent a similar mistake.

Original report here




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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Veteran Cop: 'If You Don't Want To Get Shot,' Shut Up -- Even If We're Violating Your Rights

Sunil Dutta, a 17-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department and professor of homeland security at Colorado Tech University, has a suggestion for victims of police violence searching for someone to blame: Look in the mirror.

In a column published Tuesday in The Washington Post titled, "I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me," Dutta responds to mounting criticism of the policing tactics on display in Ferguson, Missouri, amid the hyper-militarization of law enforcement and accusations that officers have violated the First Amendment rights of both demonstrators and journalists covering the events. In a particularly telling passage, Dutta argues that citizens could deter police brutality if they were simply more cooperative, even when they're unjustly targeted.

"Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you," he writes. "Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?"

It's worth noting that arguing with a cop and even verbally abusing one, as well as asking for a badge number, are not illegal actions, though they have been known to lead to punishment or arrest. Dutta goes on to admit that police officers aren't perfect and some have been known to be corrupt bullies, but he says your best bet is to swallow your pride, stay quiet and submit to any unlawful actions by police.

"But if you believe (or know) that the cop stopping you is violating your rights or is acting like a bully, I guarantee that the situation will not become easier if you show your anger and resentment," he writes. Dutta goes on to encourage people to seek legal recourse after the fact, rather than protest at the time of the encounter. Of course, an April 2014 poll found that half of Americans don't believe cops are held accountable for misconduct, so that likely won't be much solace to most people.

Dutta also claims that you can simply exercise a number of rights, and decline to submit to an illegal stop or search or question a cop's legal basis to search you -- as if those behaviors will automatically ward off an officer.

The column's general premise was never in doubt. Of course it's true that one way to avoid escalating a confrontation with a hot-headed or misbehaving cop is to follow orders or shut up, even if your rights are being trampled.

But it's concerning that Dutta, an officer who both admits structural problems with police behavior and has called for reforms -- including an overhaul of internal investigations and the use of officer-mounted cameras to record interactions with citizens -- appears so unsympathetic to citizens who are growing increasingly intolerant of police abuse.

As J.D. Tucille, managing editor of, writes, the tone of Dutta's column reveals that he is ignorant of the broader concerns expressed by police critics:

"If you have the attitude that you are owed deference and instant obedience by the people around you, and that you are justified in using violence against them if they don't comply, we already have a problem. That's especially true if official institutions back you up, which they do.

If you really think that everybody else should "just do what I tell you," you're wearing the wrong uniform in the wrong country. And if you really can't function with some give and take—a few nasty names, a little argument—of the sort that people in all sorts of jobs put up with every damned day, do us all a favor: quit."

Dutta is no doubt correct in claiming that being a cop is a difficult and dangerous job, and that the overwhelming majority of officers are not eager to use their service weapons on anyone, unarmed or not. But in the face of countless instances of officers harassing, abusing and brutalizing suspects far beyond the limits of department policy, it is unfair -- and even un-American -- to suggest that "not the cops, but the people they stop" are primarily responsible for avoiding this harsh and often illegal treatment.

Original report here




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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What I Did After Police Killed My Son

Ten years later, we in Wisconsin passed the nation’s first law calling for outside reviews

After police in Kenosha, Wis., shot my 21-year-old son to death outside his house ten years ago — and then immediately cleared themselves of all wrongdoing — an African-American man approached me and said: "If they can shoot a white boy like a dog, imagine what we’ve been going through."

I could imagine it all too easily, just as the rest of the country has been seeing it all too clearly in the terrible images coming from Ferguson, Mo., in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown. On Friday, after a week of angry protests, the police in Ferguson finally identified the officer implicated in Brown's shooting, although the circumstances still remain unclear.

I have known the name of the policeman who killed my son, Michael, for ten years. And he is still working on the force in Kenosha.

Yes, there is good reason to think that many of these unjustifiable homicides by police across the country are racially motivated. But there is a lot more than that going on here. Our country is simply not paying enough attention to the terrible lack of accountability of police departments and the way it affects all of us—regardless of race or ethnicity. Because if a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy — that was my son, Michael — can be shot in the head under a street light with his hands cuffed behind his back, in front of five eyewitnesses (including his mother and sister), and his father was a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who flew in three wars for his country — that’s me — and I still couldn’t get anything done about it, then Joe the plumber and Javier the roofer aren’t going to be able to do anything about it either.


I got the phone call at 2 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2004. It was my oldest daughter. She said you need to come to the hospital right away, Michael’s been shot by the police. My first gut reaction was, "Michael doesn’t do anything serious enough to get shot by a police officer." I thought he’d gotten shot in the leg or whatever. When I arrived, I saw the district attorney huddled with about five police officers. The last time I saw my son alive he was on a gurney, with his head wrapped in a big towel and blood coming out of it. I learned that an officer had put his gun up directly to Michael’s right temple and misfired, then did it again, and shot him.

From the beginning I cautioned patience, though Michael’s mother and sister were in an uproar. They had watched him get shot. But as an Air Force officer and pilot I knew the way safety investigations are conducted, and I was thinking that this was going to be conducted this way. Yet within 48 hours I got the message: The police had cleared themselves of all wrongdoing. In 48 hours! They hadn’t even taken statements from several eyewitnesses. Crime lab reports showed that my son’s DNA or fingerprints were not on any gun or holster, even though one of the police officers involved in Michael’s shooting had claimed that Michael had grabbed his gun.

The officer who killed my son, Albert Gonzalez, is not only still on the force ten years later, he is also a licensed concealed-gun instructor across the state line in Illinois—and was identified by the Chicago Tribune in an Aug. 7 investigative story as one of "multiple instructors [who] are police officers with documented histories of making questionable decisions about when to use force."

From the beginning I allowed the investigation to proceed and didn’t know it was a sham until many of the facts were discovered. But before long I realized a cover-up was under way. I hadn’t understood at first how closely related the DA and the police were—during his election campaign for judge, the DA had been endorsed in writing by every police agency in the county. Now he was investigating them. It was a clear conflict of interest.

The police claimed that one officer screamed that Michael grabbed his gun after they stopped him, for reasons that remain unclear though he was slightly intoxicated, and then Gonzalez shot him, sticking the gun so close against his temple that he left a muzzle imprint. Michael wasn’t even driving his own car. He’d been out with a designated driver, but the designated driver drank and was younger, and so my son made the decision to drive.

Wanting to uncover the truth, our family hired a private investigator who ended up teaming up with a retired police detective to launch their own investigation. They discovered that the officer who thought his gun was being grabbed in fact had caught it on a broken car mirror. The emergency medical technicians who arrived later found the officers fighting with each other over what happened. We filed an 1,100-page report detailing Michael's killing with the FBI and US Attorney.

It took six years to get our wrongful death lawsuit settled, and my family received $1.75 million. But I wasn’t satisfied by a long shot. I used my entire portion of that money and much more of my own to continue a campaign for more police accountability. I wanted to change things for everyone else, so no one else would ever have to go through what I did. We did our research: In 129 years since police and fire commissions were created in the state of Wisconsin, we could not find a single ruling by a police department, an inquest or a police commission that a shooting was unjustified. There was one shooting we found, in 2005, that was ruled justified by the department and an inquest, but additional evidence provided by citizens caused the DA to charge the officer. The city of Milwaukee settled with a confidentiality agreement and the facts of that sealed. The officer involved committed suicide.

The problem over many decades, in other words, was a near-total lack of accountability for wrongdoing; and if police on duty believe they can get away with almost anything, they will act accordingly. As a military pilot, I knew that if law professionals investigated police-related deaths like, say, the way that the National Transportation Safety Board investigated aviation mishaps, police-related deaths would be at an all time low.

And so, together with other families who lost loved ones, I launched a campaign in the Wisconsin legislature calling for a new law that would require outside review of all deaths in police custody. I contacted everybody I could. In the beginning, I contacted the governor’s office, the attorney general and the U.S. attorney for Wisconsin. They didn’t even return my phone calls or letters. I even contacted Oprah, every Associated Press bureau in the nation, every national magazine and national news agency and didn’t hear a word.

But Frank Serpico, the famous retired New York City police detective, helped. He had his own experience taking on police corruption. I set up billboards and a website and took out newspaper ads, including national ads in the New York Times and USA Today, and Serpico allowed me to use his endorsement. "When police take a life, should they investigate themselves?" the ad read.

Finally we began to get some movement, helped by a friendly Republican legislator, Garey Bies, and a Democratic assemblyman named Chris Taylor, in August of 2012. In April of this year we passed a law that made Wisconsin the first state in the nation to mandate at legislative level that police-related deaths be reviewed by an outside agency. Ten days after it went into effect in May, local police shot a man sleeping on a park bench 15 times. It’s one of the first incidents to be investigated under the new law.

I’m not anti-cop. And I am finding that many police want change as well: The good officers in the state of Wisconsin supported our bill from the inside, and it was endorsed by five police unions. But I also think the days of Andy Griffith and the Mayberry peacekeeper are over. As we can see in the streets of Ferguson, today’s police are also much more heavily equipped, armed and armored—more militarized. They are moving to more paramilitary-type operations as well, and all those shifts call for more transparency and more rules of restraint. And yet they are even less accountable in some ways than the U.S. military in which I served. Our citizens need protection from undue force, here in our own country, and now

Original report here




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Monday, August 18, 2014

Another Mom Thrown in Jail for Letting Kids Play at Park

Ashley, Richardson, a mom of four who went to a food bank while her kids, ages 6-8, played at the park for more than two hours, was arrested and jailed in Winter Haven, Florida. While the park day sounds like it was far less than ideal—the oldest in the bunch got stuck in a baby swing and required help from the Fire Department to get him out, and later on the kids were found playing near the road—the attitude of the police chief is even more disturbing. Bay News 9 quotes Police Chief Gary Hester saying:

"Six, seven and 8-year-old kids are not equipped to be left unattended, I mean period," he said. "I met some pretty mature 6, 7, 8-year-olds but you don't leave them unattended. I guess the question we should be asking is this 28-year-old mother, should she be left unattended. Doesn't look like she's mature enough to be a parent. She's being supervised today in the county jail. Hopefully she learns her lesson."

If it's true that even 8-year-olds are never to be left unattended "period," I guess Chief Hester would go on around arresting all the first, second and third graders who walk to school on their own, or get home and make themselves a snack while waiting for their parents to arrive?

I truly appreciate that the first officer on the scene waited a long time for the mom to arrive and didn't immediately call for backup or handcuffs. And it does seem like it was a day of some play and some misery for the kids. But it sounds like a day of only misery for Ashley Richardson, who expected the trip to the food bank to take less time than it did. The question then is: Should we arrest all moms who have a sub-optimal day and don't manage their time completely perfectly? Does arresting her improve her family's circumstances or leave the kids any safer or better cared for?

Original report here




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Sunday, August 17, 2014

The uniqueness of American policing

Evening, constable!

The "narrative" of Ferguson, Missouri changed somewhat today. But, amid the confusion, the blundering stupidity of the city's police department remains consistent.

This morning the Police Chief, Thomas Jackson, released security-camera shots of the late Michael Brown apparently stealing a five-dollar box of cigarillos from a convenience store. So the 18-year old shot dead by Chief Jackson's officer was no longer a "gentle giant" en route to college but just another crappy third-rate violent teen n'er-do-well.

This afternoon, the chief gave a second press conference. Why would he do that? Well, he'd somehow managed to create the impression in his first press conference that the officer who killed Mr Brown was responding to the robbery. In fact, that was not the case. The Ferguson policeman was unaware that Brown was a robbery suspect at the time he encountered him and shot him dead. Which is presumably why Chief Jackson was leaned on to give his second press conference and tidy up the mess from the first. So we have an officer who sees two young men, unwanted for any crime, walking down the middle of the street and stops his cruiser. Three minutes later one of them is dead.

On the other hand, Jackson further confused matters by suggesting that he noticed Brown had cigars in his hand and might be the suspect.

It's important, when something goes wrong, to be clear about what it is that's at issue. Talking up Michael Brown as this season's Trayvonesque angel of peace and scholarship was foolish, and looting stores in his saintly memory even worse. But this week's pictures from Ferguson, such as the one above, ought to be profoundly disquieting to those Americans of a non-looting bent.

The most basic problem is that we will never know for certain what happened. Why? Because the Ferguson cruiser did not have a camera recording the incident. That's simply not credible. "Law" "enforcement" in Ferguson apparently has at its disposal tear gas, riot gear, armored vehicles and machine guns ...but not a dashcam. That's ridiculous. I remember a few years ago when my one-man police department in New Hampshire purchased a camera for its cruiser. It's about as cheap and basic a police expense as there is.

Last year, my meek mild-mannered mumsy office manager was pulled over by an angry small-town cop in breach of her Fourth Amendment rights. The state lost in court because the officer's artful narrative and the usual faked-up-after-the-fact incident report did not match the dashcam footage. Three years ago, I was pulled over by an unmarked vehicle in Vermont and (to put it mildly) erroneously ticketed. In court, I was withering about the department's policy of no dashcams for unmarked cars, and traffic cops driving around pretending to be James Bond but without the super-secret spy camera. The judge loathed me (as judges tend to), but I won that case. In 2014, when a police cruiser doesn't have a camera, it's a conscious choice. And it should be regarded as such.

And, if we have to have federal subsidy programs for municipal police departments, we should scrap the one that gives them the second-hand military hardware from Tikrit and Kandahar and replace it with one that ensures every patrol car has a camera.

As for what's happened in the days since the shooting, I've written a lot in recent months about the appalling militarization of the police in America, and I don't have much to add. But I did get a mordant chuckle out of this line from Kathy Shaidle on the green-camouflaged officers pictured above:

Shouldn't a 'Ferguson' camo pattern be, like, 7/11 & Kool-Aid logos?

Indeed. To camouflage oneself in the jungles of suburban America, one should be clothed in Dunkin' Donuts and Taco Bell packaging. A soldier wears green camo in Vietnam to blend in. A policeman wears green camo in Ferguson to stand out - to let you guys know: We're here, we're severe, get used to it.

This is not a small thing. The point about "the thin blue line" is that it's blue for a reason. As I wrote a couple of months ago:

"The police" is a phenomenon of the modern world. It would be wholly alien, for example, to America's Founders. In the sense we use the term today, it dates back no further than Sir Robert Peel's founding of the Metropolitan Police in 1829. Because Londoners associated the concept with French-style political policing and state control, they were very resistant to the idea of a domestic soldiery keeping them in line. So Peel dressed his policemen in blue instead of infantry red, and instead of guns they had wooden truncheons.

So, when the police are dressed like combat troops, it's not a fashion faux pas, it's a fundamental misunderstanding of who they are. Forget the armored vehicles with the gun turrets, forget the faceless, helmeted, anonymous Robocops, and just listen to how these "policemen" talk. Look at the video as they're arresting the New York Times and Huffington Post reporters. Watch the St Louis County deputy ordering everyone to leave, and then adding: "This is not up for discussion."

Really? You're a constable. You may be carrying on like the military commander of an occupying army faced with a rabble of revolting natives, but in the end you're a constable. And the fact that you and your colleagues in that McDonald's are comfortable speaking to your fellow citizens like this is part of the problem. The most important of the "nine principles of good policing" (formulated by the first two commissioners of the Metropolitan Police in 1829 and thereafter issued to every officer joining the force) is a very simple one: The police are the public and the public are the police. Not in Ferguson. Long before the teargassing begins and the bullets start flying, the way these guys talk is the first indication of how the remorseless militarization has corroded the soul of American policing.

Which brings us back to the death of Michael Brown. Let's assume for the sake of argument that everything the police say about this incident is correct. In that case, whether or not the fatal shooting of Mr Brown is a crime, it's certainly a mistake. When an unarmed shoplifter* in T-shirt and shorts with a five-buck cigar box in one hand has to be shot dead, you're doing it wrong.

American police have grown too comfortable with the routine use of lethal force. To reprise a few statistics I cited three months ago:

So the biggest government in the free world chooses not to keep statistics on how many people get shot by law enforcement. So be it. It does keep figures on "justifiable homicide", which it defines as "the killing of a felon by a law enforcement official in the line of duty". When is a police homicide not "justifiable"? Ah, well. At any rate, for 2012, the corpse count was 410.

By comparison, for the years 2012 and 2013 in England and Wales:

'No fatal police shootings.'

In the Netherlands:

'The average for the last 35 years is three dead and 15 injured...'

In Germany, a nation of 80 million people, police in 2011 fatally shot six persons. In Denmark, police shot 11 people in 11 years, and this was felt to be so disturbing that the National Police Commissioner held an inquiry into why his cops had gotten so trigger-happy. In Australia, 41 people were shot by police in eight years, and the then Justice Minister Amanda Vanstone (whose friend thinks I'm "eminently shaggable", but I digress) thought that that was too high. In Iceland, police have fatally shot just one suspect. That's one guy in the entire history of the country. He was killed by police last December.

So comparisons between the kill rates from American police and those of other developed nations aren't worth bothering with. Indeed, the "justifiable homicides" of US cops are more like the total murder count for other advanced societies:

In Oz, the total number of murders per year is about 270, so a nation of 23 million would have to increase by 50 per cent to commit as many homicides as American law enforcement. In Canada, whose urban police departments have absorbed certain American practices, a dozen or so people get shot dead by cops each year, which is again somewhat short of the US rate. Indeed, that 2012 "justifiable homicide" figure of 410 compares to a total Canadian homicide count for 2011 of 598. In other words, in America 120,000 or so full-time law enforcement officers rack up the same number of homicides as about 24 million Canadians.

That strikes me as on the high side.

In Ferguson, both parties agree that the first shot was fired from inside the car. The rest were fired by the officer when he'd got out of the car, with Chief Jackson conceding there could have been ten bullets fired. For purposes of comparison:

In 2011 the German police fired 85 bullets. That's all of them. The entire police force. The whole country. Eighty-five bullets in one year. That's seven bullets per month. One bullet for every million German citizens.

So the Ferguson PD used as many bullets on Michael Brown as the Polizei used on ten million Germans. But, by American standards, that's relatively restrained. The same year as those German figures - 2011 - the Miami PD blew through the Polizei's annual bullet allowance on just one traffic incident:

Police killed Raymond Herisse, 22, of Boynton Beach in a barrage of gunfire after they said he refused an order to pull over while speeding down a crowded Collins Avenue in his Hyundai...

Twelve officers – from Miami Beach and Hialeah – unleashed more than 100 rounds at Herisse, police said. The hail of bullets also struck and wounded three bystanders.

By comparison, those 85 German bullets per annum were aimed somewhat more precisely:

85 Patronen verfeuerten Polizeibeamte in Deutschland im Jahr 2011 bundesweit auf der Jagd nach Verbrechern, 49 davon waren Warnschüsse. 36-mal gaben die Polizisten gezielte Schüsse ab. Dabei wurden 15 Personen verletzt und sechs getötet, wie aus einer Statistik der Deutschen Hochschule der Polizei im westfälischen Münster hervorgeht.

That's to say, of those 85 bullets, 49 were warning shots. America no longer does "the warning shot". But whatever happened to "the shot"? With the 36 non-warning bullets fired by German police that year, they killed six people and wounded fifteen. That's a bullet-and-three-quarters per target. Whether shooting to kill or to disable, they're trying to do it with a single shot. American policing takes a third of Germany's annual bullet allowance just to off a dog:

In July, three officers fired 26 shots at a pit bull that had bitten a chunk out of an officer's leg in a Bronx apartment building. And there have been other episodes: in 1995, in the Bronx, officers fired 125 bullets during a bodega robbery, with one officer firing 45 rounds.

Just what happened on Saturday is still being investigated. Police experts, however, suggested in interviews yesterday that contagious shooting played a role in a fatal police shooting in Queens Saturday morning. According to the police account, five officers fired 50 shots at a bridegroom who, leaving his bachelor party at a strip club, twice drove his car into a minivan carrying plainclothes police officers investigating the club.

The bridegroom, Sean Bell, who was to be married hours later, was killed, and two of his friends were wounded, one critically.

Three months ago I asked this question:

Are American civilians so different from Europeans or Aussies or Kiwis or Canadians that they have to be policed as if they're cornered rebels in an ongoing civil war?

A startling number of American readers wrote to say, with remarkable insouciance, that the US could not afford the luxury of First World policing. Large tracts of America had too many illegal immigrants, drug gangs, racial grievances, etc. Maybe. But the problem is that, increasingly, this is the only style of law enforcement America's police culture teaches - not only for the teeming favelas, but for the leafy suburbs and the rural backwaters and the college-town keg party, too.

Which is to say that one day, unless something changes, we will all be policed like Ferguson.


*NOTE: Several readers have queried my use of the term "shoplifter", insisting that this was a "strongarm robbery", the phrase du jour. It's not clear whether, legally speaking, this was any kind of robbery, in the sense of a prosecutable crime: The store owner did not report any theft and did not volunteer the video as evidence. Instead, the Ferguson PD went to a judge to get a court order to make the store owner cough it up on the grounds that it might contain something useful to them.

And then the chief says he had no choice but to release it because he was getting Freedom of Information requests for it. Which makes even less sense...

Original report here

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

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Make Cops Wear Cameras

"Everyone behaves better when they’re on video"

Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, shot to death in Ferguson, Missouri, by police. Eric Garner, a 43-year-old New Yorker, dies from a police chokehold. John Crawford III, 22, shot and killed by police in a Walmart outside of Dayton, Ohio.

Enough is enough. Each of these incidents has an unmistakable racial dimension—all of the victims were black and all or most of arresting officers were white–that threatens the always tense relationships between law enforcement and African Americans. As important, the circumstances of each death are hotly contested, with the police telling one story and witnesses (if any) offering up very different narratives.

Brown’s death in particular is raising major ongoing protests precisely because, contrary to police accounts, witnesses claim that he had his hands up in the air in surrender when he was shot. The result is less trust in police, a situation that raises tensions across the board.

While there is no simple fix to race relations in any part of American life, there is an obvious way to reduce violent law enforcement confrontations while also building trust in cops: Police should be required to use wearable cameras and record their interactions with citizens. These cameras—various models are already on the market—are small and unobtrusive and include safeguards against subsequent manipulation of any recordings.

"Everyone behaves better when they’re on video," Steve Ward, the president of Vievu, a company that makes wearable gear, told ReasonTV earlier this year. Given that many departments already employ dashboard cameras in police cruisers, this would be a shift in degree, not kind.

"Dash cams only capture about 5% of what a cop does. And I wanted to catch 100% of what a cop does," explains Ward, who speaks from experience. He used to be a Seattle police officer and his company’s slogan is "Made for cops by cops. Prove the truth."

According to a year-long study of the Rialto, Calif., police department, the use of "officer worn cameras reduced the rate of use-of-force incidents by 59 percent" and "utilization of the cameras led to an 87.5 percent reduction in complaints" by citizens against cops.

Such results are the reason that the ACLU is in favor of "police body-mounted cameras," as long as various privacy protections and other concerns are addressed. And it also explains growing support for the policy among elected officials. In the wake of Eric Garner’s chokehold death in July, New York City’s public advocate is pushing a $5 million pilot program in the city’s "most crime-plagued neighborhoods" as a means of restoring trust in the police.

Since 1991, when the beating of Rodney King by the Los Angeles Police Department was captured on tape by an amateur videographer, small, cheap recording devices have become a ubiquitous and effective means by which citizens are able to watch the watchers. In some cases, crowd-sourced footage exonerates the police, while in others it undermines the official narrative.

Over the same period, as the Washington Post’s Radley Balko has documented in Rise of the Warrior Cop, even small-town police departments have become "militarized" in terms of the training they received and the hardware they carry. When the results aren’t tragic, they increase tensions between police and the people they serve and protect.

Mandating that cops wear cameras wouldn’t prevent all tragedies from happening but they would certainly make deaths like those of Brown, Garner and Ferguson less likely. And in difficult cases, body cams would help provide crucial perspective that would build trust in law enforcement across the board.

Original report here




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Friday, August 15, 2014

Lawmakers Seek to Clamp Down on Abuse-Prone Civil Asset Forfeiture

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have introduced two different bills aimed at reforming civil asset forfeiture, a little-known law enforcement tool that can be used to seize people’s cash, cars or other property even if the owner has not been charged with a crime.

"My legislation raises the level of proof necessary for government to seize property, it restores the principle of innocent until proven guilty by placing the burden on the government to prove a property owner had knowledge of criminal activity, and restricts the uses of equitable sharing agreements between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and local or state law enforcement agencies that infringe upon state laws," Walberg said during a recent discussion on civil asset forfeiture sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.

Paul’s bill, the FAIR Act, will "ensure that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process, while maintaining the ability of courts to order the surrender of proceeds of crime," he said in a press release.

Because of the low evidentiary standards involved in civil asset forfeiture, property owners are often considered guilty until they prove themselves innocent, according to a report by the Institute for Justice (IJ) entitled "Policing for Profit."

In one example, Matt Lee was driving across the country from Michigan to interview for a job in California when a deputy sheriff in Nevada pulled him over. After questioning Lee about how much money he had, the officer seized Lee’s $2,400 in cash, a loan from his parents, claiming it was drug money.

Lee only got his money back three years later when Humboldt County settled another case in which the same deputy sheriff was accused of illegally confiscating $50,000 in casino winnings from Tan Nguyen.

In 42 states, at least 50 percent of forfeiture assets - including cash and vehicles - are kept by the police, giving law enforcement an added motivation to seize property. "The combination of tremendous financial incentives and limited protections for property owners creates a situation ripe for abuse," the IJ report stated.

In addition, police sometimes hold off on seizing property until it becomes usable, like waiting until drugs are sold for cash, said Washington Post blogger Radley Balko during the Heritage Foundation event.

A local Nashville TV station found that "by about a three to one ratio, the police were pulling over suspected drug couriers as they were leaving Nashville" rather than when they were entering the city, Balko reported.

"A car full of drugs coming into a city is of no use in terms of generating revenue," Balko explained. "A car leaving a city is much more likely to be full of cash than drugs."

Though some states have passed laws sending forfeited money into an education fund or the state treasury, any property seized by federal agencies must go back to law enforcement, according to the IJ report.

But when state police teams up with federal government, seized assets are often split between the two, despite what the state law may be.

As a result, states with more restrictive civil asset forfeiture laws will frequently engage in equitable sharing, or state/federal collaboration. Criminologists have found that "states that require law enforcement to share forfeiture proceeds are more likely to engage in equitable sharing in order to avoid state restrictions," the IJ report noted.

The forfeited money is sometimes spent on frivolous purchases, like the margarita machine purchased by a district attorney’s office in Texas that Rep. Walberg says "has been purchased at the expense of liberty."

According to Heritage, seized property is automatically kept by the authorities in the majority of federal civil forfeiture cases because the owners do not mount a legal challenge.

Walberg’s proposed legislation would ensure that people whose property is confiscated have access to an attorney. In one example cited, a doctor whose property was seized could not afford a lawyer. Yet he was not granted one by the court because he was considered too wealthy to need financial aid.

"More often than not, the official notice of seizure and proceedings scares individuals into settling for pennies on the dollar," said Sarah Kuziomko, a spokeswoman for Walberg. "And therefore we want to inform the defendant property owners as much as possible of their ability to challenge the seizure."

Although the bills introduced by Walberg and Paul are not companion bills, they do have much in common.

However, Paul’s bill mandates that state police adhere to state laws in equitable sharing cases, while Walberg's bill, which currently has just one co-sponsor, would rely on congressional oversight to ensure that agreements between the DOJ and local police departments are not made for the purpose of circumventing state laws.

Original report here




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