Saturday, January 31, 2015

Australia: Did a crooked cop skate?

Ex-Gold Coast police chief Paul Wilson left service with unresolved findings of misconduct against him. The Gold Coast cops are notoriously corrupt

The former chief of police on the Gold Coast left the Queensland Police Service (QPS) last year with unresolved findings of misconduct against him for inappropriately disclosing confidential police information.

The ABC can reveal Assistant Commissioner Paul Wilson was facing a Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) recommendation for disciplinary action when he left the service in January 2014, with a formal send-off and a Commissioner's Award for Meritorious Service.

The ABC understands he also received a significant severance payout.

Court documents show that three weeks before his departure, the CMC found Mr Wilson had inappropriately disclosed police information, leading to the identification of a Crime Stoppers informant.

The documents, which emerged in civil litigation in the District Court in Brisbane, include a letter from the CMC describing an investigation into allegations Mr Wilson had abused his position as a senior officer to gain an advantage in a bitter family dispute over his mother's estate.

They show other senior QPS officers became involved in an investigation of Mr Wilson's brother Robert after anonymous complaints to Crime Stoppers that Robert Wilson planned to murder his mother to get his hands on her money, and had previously murdered his father.

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Nothing was found to substantiate the allegations against Robert Wilson and he subsequently complained to the CMC about his brother's conduct.

The CMC's acting director of integrity services, Darren Brookes, wrote to Robert Wilson on December 24, 2013 telling him the anti-corruption body had found there was insufficient evidence to warrant the recommendation of any criminal charges against Paul Wilson.

"However, the investigation did find that AC Wilson had inappropriately disclosed information and QPS documents ... resulting in the Crime Stoppers informant being named and identified," Mr Brookes wrote.

According to the letter, the CMC investigation had also found that, based on the available material, Paul Wilson was in breach of procedural guidelines for professional conduct relating to conflicts of interest and rules regarding "improper use of QPS information".

"Therefore, we have recommended to the Queensland Police Service that consideration be given to taking disciplinary action against AC Wilson for misconduct under the Police Service (Discipline) Regulations 1990," the CMC official wrote.

"Accordingly, the CMC has referred the matter to the QPS for that purpose."

The QPS confirmed it received the referral, telling the ABC it was handled by Commissioner Ian Stewart.

By the time the CMC letter was sent, the QPS had already announced Mr Wilson's departure from the service, making this public on December 19.

A QPS spokesman told the ABC it had first learned of the CMC investigation in October 2013.

Asked if the CMC misconduct finding or investigation had had any bearing on the timing or nature of Mr Wilson's departure, the spokesman said: "Any response impinges on the privacy of Mr Wilson."

The QPS declined to reveal details of any severance payment to Mr Wilson.

Wilson siblings in long-running dispute over mother's estate

The CMC letter is attached to an affidavit filed by Robert Wilson in a long-running dispute with his brother Paul and sister Joan Clifford over the estate of their mother, Kathleen Wilson, who died in April 2014.

The documents include police memos and Crime Stoppers logs that originated in an earlier case relating to the mother's competency in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

Paul Wilson had filed in QCAT logs of six Crime Stoppers calls in which a confidential informant had claimed Robert Wilson planned to murder his mother in order to defraud her estate.

The memos show Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett had briefed the then head of the QPS Organised Crime Group, Detective Superintendent John Sheppard, about the allegations against Robert Wilson in January 2012.

Detective Superintendent Sheppard wrote in a May, 2012 memo to Assistant Commissioner Mike Condon - head of State Crime Operations Command - that he had uncovered the identity of the Crime Stoppers informant and interviewed him.

He found the informant "was not aware of any specific act or incident that could be interpreted as (Robert Wilson) threatening or committing violence towards his mother".

"He offered no direct evidence of any offence that may have been committed," the detective wrote.

Detective Superintendent Sheppard wrote that he had then briefed Paul Wilson.

"He was appreciative of what had been done to that point. He also accepted the difficulties that the criminal investigation into his brother's actions was facing," he wrote.

Detective Superintendent Sheppard told Assistant Commissioner Condon that he had discussed the matter with the head of the fraud squad, Detective Superintendent Brian Hay, and recommended the file be passed to him.

The Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) told the ABC its predecessor, the CMC, had written to the QPS on January 8, 2014 "to report on the outcome of the investigation and to recommend the consideration of disciplinary action against Assistant Commissioner Wilson and the provision of managerial guidance to two other officers".

A spokesman for the CCC said it would be inappropriate to name the other officers.

"Disciplinary action is the responsibility of the QPS," the spokesman said, adding that the timing of Mr Wilson's departure from the QPS was "a matter for Mr Wilson and the QPS".

Robert Wilson fails in bid to block eviction order

Robert Wilson was his mother's carer prior to her death and had been living in her house in the Brisbane suburb of Tarragindi for the past three years.

Last week, he failed in the District Court to block an eviction order in favour of Paul Wilson and Ms Clifford and left the house on Thursday.

As the eviction deadline passed, the ABC witnessed Paul Wilson - accompanied by a crew of removalists - greet police officers who were checking the building had been vacated.

Paul Wilson chairs the Brisbane Central committee of Crime Stoppers and was a director of Crime Stoppers between 2005 and 2007. He is also a director of the Police Credit Union.

He began his career in the QPS in 1974, working as a senior detective in the Whitsundays and as the divisional commander in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane before taking the reins on the Gold Coast, where he was responsible for 1,400 sworn officers.

His last posting was to the Police Academy, from where he was given a send-off at which Commissioner Stewart presented him with a Commissioner's Award for Meritorious Service.

The QPS said such medals were at the discretion of the Commissioner.

Mr Wilson's website, describes him as "one of the truly great leaders ... a hypnotic storyteller and enthralling voice on modern leadership".

Mr Wilson did not respond to emails and calls from the ABC.

Original report here. (Via Australian Politics)

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Scottish cop stalked a string of young women and sent naked pictures to one of them

A police officer has been jailed for 15 months after he stalked a string of girls and young women and sent one naked pictures of himself.

Special constable Ryan Reid, 27, wept and shouted 'I love you mum' as he was sentenced to prison at Lanark Sheriff Court today.

He terrorised his victims - one as young as 15 - by turning up at their homes and workplaces, as well as inundating them with sexual messages on Facebook

Reid also used his position with the police to access confidential data about other people and share it with his friends.

The defendant, from Lesmahagow in Lanarkshire, pleaded guilty to seven charges involving five different women.

Sheriff Nikola Stewart ordered that Reid be put on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years and banned from approaching two of his victims in addition to his prison sentence.

He admitted two charges of stalking women, three under the Communications Act and one under the Sexual Offences Act, as well as one offence under the Data Protection Act.

Reid carried out the offences between 2010 and 2013 - in one case, he repeatedly turned up at the petrol station where his victim was working alone.

He loitered outside the home of another young women, as well as approaching her outside a pub sending her online messages over a six-month period.

After he was charged, Reid wrote on Facebook that he was only trying to be a 'nice guy' and claimed to be the victim of sex discimination.

He wrote: 'I am willing to explain things to people if they ask me. 'If anyone has formed an opinion of me without actually speaking to me about things fair enough that's their problem, and if you don't want me on your Facebook anymore just f***ing delete me. Too hard to be a nice guy any more.'

He added: 'Every time a woman drops their trousers - promotion. Every time a man drops theirs - disciplinary action. Where's the equality in that?'

Joseph Cahill QC, defending, said in court: 'He fully accepts he did commit these things and he has full responsibility for them.

'I can tell you that he is sitting there terrified about the possibility of a custodial sentence.

'In respect to messages sent on Facebook, he says that at the time of sending them he was unaware of the impact these were having on the complainers.

'He misread the situation he was in, he was suffering mental health issues and was drinking but that is not an excuse.'

Jailing Reid, Ms Stewart said: 'The most distressing aspect of this is that he is a police officer and made it known to his victims. He was interested in grooming young girls.

'These numerous offences all displayed a course of criminal conduct which was intended for your sexual gratification and you were willing to cloud yourself with the status and office your position gave to you. No 15-year-old would report a serving police officer.

'This is not just a case about you letting down your uniform by your actions. I have listened to everything that has been said on your behalf but there is no alternative to custody in this case.'

Original report here

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Another wrongful conviction?

British footballer Ched Evans was convicted on very flimsy grounds. The sex was consensual but a court in its wisdom decided that the woman was too drunk to give consent. How was Evans to know that? There are no standards for how drunk a woman can be before being unable to consent. If there were, millions of normal conceptions might have to be called products of rape. In our society alcohol often accompanies sex. To Evans the woman seemed no drunker than normal. If so the mens rea (guilty intent) is absent and no crime was committed.

Rapist footballer Ched Evans claimed today he has new evidence he believes will help him overturn his conviction. The disgraced striker, 26, maintains he is 'innocent' of attacking his victim in a Rhyl hotel room in 2011 because he believes the sex was consensual.

Evans has successfully applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission to have his 2012 conviction re-examined, but sent a new bundle of evidence to them on Friday.

A statement on his website today said: 'Further detailed submissions - supported by previously unavailable fresh evidence that we believe strengthens Ched's application - were lodged with the Commission.'

His solicitor has told MailOnline today that he is confident that the disgraced former Sheffield United striker will be cleared.

Shaun Draycott said: 'We have fresh evidence that has been submitted late last week. 'We feel it is a strong case and I remain deeply concerned about Ched's conviction and we are hopeful that his application will lead to his case being referred to the Court of Appeal. 'But I cannot discuss the details of the application only to say it is very detailed and builds on the evidence submitted last July and includes fresh evidence'.

The footballer's legal team has handed its latest file of evidence to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which considers if convictions are unsafe. If they believe there is a case they then refer it to the Court of Appeal where judges will consider whether to overturn the conviction or order a retrial.

This process could take up to a year to complete meaning Evans is unlikely to return to football before 2016 if he is cleared.

MailOnline understands that Evans’ fresh submission may be connected to evidence not used at his trial by the prosecution that may have helped his case if it had been disclosed to the defence at the time.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has confirmed it has received the new legal bundle but would not discuss the case.

Evans was released from prison last October after completing half of a five-year jail sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman.

The Welsh striker denied rape, saying the sex was consensual, but he was found guilty by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court.

The prosecution said the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was too drunk to consent to sexual intercourse.

The woman was raped in a Rhyl Premier Inn in 2012 after his footballer friend Clayton McDonald, who was cleared of rape, texted Evans on the way there saying: 'I've got a bird'. McDonald had sex with the victim, before Evans arrived and raped her, as two others filmed it through the window.

After his release from jail his old club Sheffield United, who used to pay him £20,000-a-week, agreed to let him train with them. But the League One club was plunged into crisis when three patrons quit, fans threatened a boycott and its main sponsor warned it would scrap their deal if they tried to sign him.

Earlier this month he finally apologised to the woman he raped for the first time after a deal to sign for Oldham Athletic collapsed at the last minute.

He said in a statement: 'Whilst I continue to maintain my innocence, I wish to make it clear that I wholeheartedly apologise for the effects that night in Rhyl has had on many people, not least the woman concerned'.

Original report here

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

South Australia: Police Complaints Authority report found Constable Norman Hoy was unprofessional bully who was rude, arrogant and harsh to drivers

Nasty old goat got let off a charge because his form was not revealed

CONSTABLE Norman Hoy was a threatening, harsh, unfair, arrogant and rude bully whose insulting, unprofessional behaviour breached regulations, according to a damning Police Complaints Authority report.

The Advertiser today can reveal details of 11 Police Complaints Authority inquiries into Const Hoy, who was acquitted by a District Court jury last Friday of assaulting millionaire Yasser Shahin.

Within hours of the not guilty verdict being handed down by a jury, Const Hoy’s legal team, accompanied by SA Police Association President Mark Carroll, served an injunction on The Advertiser banning publication of the complaints.

That gag order was to remain in force until a hearing in the District Court today — however Const Hoy’s lawyers advised, just after 8am, they would not be pursuing their action.

Judge Paul Slattery formally dismissed the injunction just after 11am. He ordered Const Hoy, through the Police Association, to pay The Advertiser’s legal costs.

The injunction temporarily stopped The Advertiser from publishing details of a 2009 Police Complaints Authority report which concluded the "common theme" of complaints from members of the public against the 59-year-old traffic cop were descriptions of him as:

THREATENING, harsh, unfair and unfriendly.

ARROGANT and rude, someone who looked down on drivers.

A POLICE officer who made drivers feel like second-class citizens.

A QUITE aggressive, frightening bully.

ANGRY, confronting and intimidating while yelling at and embarrassing drivers.

One complaint, in 2008, arose from Const Hoy pulling over and defecting a luxury car because its front passenger window’s tint was too dark — two years before his clash with Mr Shahin over the tinting of his Rolls Royce.

In a sequence of events similar to those involving Mr Shahin, Const Hoy told the driver to "shut your mouth" and "don’t have a hissy fit".

Last week, a District Court jury cleared Const Hoy - described by SA Police Association President Mark Carroll as a "hero cop" for preventing a serious crash on the South Eastern Freeway - of assaulting Mr Shahin, one of South Australia’s most successful business figures.

Prosecutors had alleged he exceeded his lawful authority by grabbing Mr Shahin while defecting his 2008 Rolls Royce for apparently having windows which were too dark.

Mr Shahin’s family company, Peregrine Corporation, owns several of the state’s most profitable retail businesses, including On the Run, Smoke Mart and Krispy Kreme.

During the trial, Mr Shahin told jurors Const Hoy was "hostile" and "hellbent" on bullying him, and had "shoved and grabbed" him during the traffic stop in the Adelaide CBD in September, 2010.

Mr Shahin denied he did "everything in his power" to ensure he was charged.

In his evidence, Const Hoy said he had "no choice" but to grab Mr Shahin because the "intimidating, threatening" businessman would not obey his directions. He denied he engaged in "a power play" with Mr Shahin to show that he "was the boss".

After 75 minutes’ deliberation, the jury found Const Hoy not guilty.

It can now be reported Mr Shahin’s complaint, to the Police Complaints Authority, was the 12th matter filed against Const Hoy.

The PCA report did not form part of the evidence against Const Hoy in his trial.

According to the report, another driver recalled an encounter with Const Hoy in 2008 where he felt the "rudeness and aggression" displayed toward him was "totally unacceptable".

"Const Hoy said ‘look, do you want me to explain this to you or not?’ and when the driver said ‘no, I don’t’, he replied ‘well shut up then!’".

The PCA report, written in 2009, says that when Const Hoy felt the driver was showing "further agitation he said words to the effect of ‘don’t have a hissy fit, let me finish what I was saying, will you?’"

Const Hoy told the authority he was merely seeking to "control" the driver, who was "verbally bullying me". He said he "made a deliberate choice" of those words to "have him (the driver) comply". "I believe (the driver) was rude to me and verbally trying to bully me," the report quotes Const Hoy as saying. "He showed no respect for my position and I believe he was trying to influence my decision by his actions."

The PCA disagreed.

"I find it ironic that Const Hoy should accuse (the driver) of using bullying tactics," its report says.

"This is the very thing that (the driver) and numerous other, quite separate independent members of the public have accused Const Hoy of over the past 18 months.

"I recognise that not all of these complaints have been substantiated, but I also recognise that SA Police management have concerns that there may be a performance problem underlying this series of complaints. "I share those concerns.

"In the past 18 months, Const Hoy has been complained about on 11 occasions ... most, if not all, of these complaints (describe him) as rude, threatening and/or aggressive."

The report is critical of Const Hoy’s handling of the 2008 matter.

"Having considered the evidence, I have formed the view that Const Hoy handled this situation poorly and that his use of the words ‘shut up’ and ‘shut your mouth’ were both unnecessary and unprofessional," it says. "In my assessment, (his) conduct breached Police Regulation 17 in that it was both insulting and disrespectful to this complainant."

The report notes SA Police management had advised Const Hoy would be counselled and receive further training.

"I propose to simply reinforce and support the need for the speedy development and implementation of an appropriate intervention strategy," it says. "In the event he continues to generate complaints of this kind, then any future recommendations I make will be more punitive in nature."

The report seen by The Advertiser was obtained from a complainant to the Authority, not from Mr Shahin, his family nor anyone connected with them or their business interests.

When Const Hoy was approached for comment last week - through the Police Association - his lawyers responded with a letter warning they would sue for defamation. Const Hoy’s legal team then applied for the interim injunction, which prevented publication of the story until today.

The Advertiser has again approached Const Hoy, through his lawyers, requesting his comment on the 2009 PCA report.

In a statement his afternoon, Police Association president Mark Carroll said it was "quite common" for police to receive complaints from motorists. "Drivers who commit traffic offences hardly relish receiving fines for their transgressions ... high emotion often accompanies their reactions," he said.

"For this reason, and in the interests of full transparency, many traffic officers like Const Hoy purchase and use their own body-worn video or audio devices - as he did after he was the subject of complaints to the PCA."

Mr Carroll said the evidence gathered by such devices was "usually compelling", as "was the case" in Const Hoy’s trial. "It was surely a huge reason for the jury’s not guilty verdict," he said.

"Cases like this illustrate why the Police Association has, for many years, lobbied strongly for body-worn video to be standard issue for all frontline police. "We shudder to think what the outcome of this case would have been without Const Hoy’s audio evidence."

Mr Carroll also urged the public keep "perspective" about the matter. "Let’s remember that Const Hoy was shown by the unanimous decision of a District Court jury - and the subsequent comments of Judge Paul Rice - to have conducted himself entirely lawfully in his interaction with Mr Shahin," he said.

Original report here. (Via Australian Politics)

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Police officers who accidentally left foul-mouthed voicemail calling teenage abuse victim a 'f***ing slag' and 'b**ch' could face criminal charges

Two police officers could face criminal charges after being accused of calling a teenage abuse victim a 'f***ing slag' and 'b**ch' in a foul-mouthed voicemail.

Alex Faragher, 19, from Sutton Coldfield said hearing the abuse in a message mistakenly left by the male West Midlands Police officers felt like being assaulted all over again.

In the two-minute recording left while they were trying to contact the victim so she could make a statement, PC Cavan O'Connell, 48, is allegedly heard talking to another officer in his late 20s.

One of the officers said: 'F***ing b**ch, I specifically said, 'You are not going to give us the runaround are you?'. 'No, I want to press charges,' she said. F***ing slag.'

A second officer then referred to falsifying Faragher's witness statement because they couldn't get hold of her.

He could be heard saying: 'Either that or the only other thing we do is go back, f***ing draft the statement ourselves and then just get the b**ch to sign it.'

The force completed an internal investigation into the incident which involved PC O'Connell, 48, and a long-term colleague and shared the findings with Ms Faragher.

But the 19-year-old appealed the decision and took the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission who have upheld her complaint and referred it to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The CPS will now decide if the officers, who remain on restricted duties, should face criminal charges.

Speaking at the time, the wedding caterer said: 'When I heard the voicemail I was shellshocked. 'It is very serious and I can't believe they would consider writing my witness statement for me. It's horrifying. I feel so sick and upset at the thought of it.

'What if this had been a rape victim and these kinds of comments were being used? 'What kind of police practice is this? I have lost all faith completely. What happens if I need the police now? I wouldn't want to ring them.

'They can't be trusted. What the officers said was so hurtful, It was like being assaulted all over again, verbally assaulted, just after I had been through a stressful ordeal.

'The policemen verbally assaulted me. It's disgusting and I feel victimised and humiliated. 'I feel sure if a female officer was in the car I wouldn't have been referred to as a b**ch. It is so disrespectful and the police are meant to be in a position of trust and to help, not cause more harm.

'The voicemail made me feel angry. I only heard a short bit of the conversation but God knows what else they said about me after the recording stopped.

'The police, who are meant to help and make things better have belittled me and made me feel worthless.'

She had called the police at 5.30pm after an altercation with her boyfriend Dean Hannon, 19, and he was arrested.

The caterer said the police told her they would come back at 6pm to take her witness statement and she informed them she was going to her dad's house at 6.30pm.

'I waited for them to turn up but they didn't show. At 6.30pm I went to my dad's and later on I arranged to go to Sutton Coldfield police station to give my statement at 11pm,' she said.

'When I finally gave my statement, I wasn't given a proper chance to look through it. I struggle with dyslexia when they read it back, parts were wrong but they didn't get changed.

'I didn't hear the voicemail until after I had given the statement at 11pm, and it was clear the policemen just wanted to get the job done, that's why they were taking about writing my statement for me.

The allegation of gross misconduct in January last year was originally referred to the IPCC after the complaint was made.

The IPCC then determined that the complaint should be investigated by West Midlands Police Professional Standards Department.

This investigation has now been completed and Ms Faragher has appealed the decision, which has now been passed from the IPCC to the CPS.

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said: 'The complaint has been thoroughly investigated by the force's Professional Standards Department and the findings have been shared with the complainant.

'However, some of the findings were subject of an appeal to the IPCC who upheld the appeal and recommended the case be referred to the CPS. The CPS investigation is currently underway. The officers involved remain on restricted duties.'

Original report here

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Man freed 37 years after wrongful conviction

For the third time in less than six months, a North Carolina inmate was exonerated by DNA evidence and freed after spending decades in prison for a wrongful murder conviction.

This time, Joseph Sledge, 70, was set free on Friday after a three-judge panel found that he was innocent of killing a mother and daughter in 1976. The hearing was called after an investigation by the state’s one-of-a kind investigative panel on innocence.

As three judges listened to closing arguments, Sledge wrote down a few words on a Post-it note: "closure," "please" and "exonerated."

A few hours later, carrying his belongings in plastic bags, Sledge emerged from a North Carolina jail, saying he was looking forward to what most people consider the most mundane of things: "Going home. Relaxing. Sleeping in a real bed. Probably get in a pool of water and swim for a little while."

The lawyer who took his case in 2004, Christine Mumma, said she had been on the verge of closing the case in 2012 when court clerks discovered a misplaced envelope containing hair from the crime scene while cleaning out an evidence vault.

The envelope contained hair, found on the victim and believed to be the attacker’s, that turned out to be a key piece of evidence needed to do DNA testing, which wasn’t available when Sledge went on trial in 1978.

"I understand those shelves were very high, but there was a ladder in that room," said Mumma, a lawyer for the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence.

In 2013, the case was referred to the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, the only state-run investigative agency of its kind. So far, Sledge is the eighth person exonerated after an investigation by the commission, which started operating in 2007. It has reviewed and closed about 1,500 cases.

Nationwide, The Innocence Project reported there have been 325 post-conviction DNA exonerations.

The North Carolina commission found there was enough evidence of Sledge’s innocence to refer it to a panel of three judges, who were appointed by the state Supreme Court.

The judges considered the commission’s investigative file, and a DNA expert highlighted lab tests in her testimony Friday. Meghan Clement of Cellmark Forensics said none of the evidence collected from the scene — hair, DNA and fingerprints — belonged to Sledge.

The key jailhouse informant, Herman Baker, signed an affidavit in 2013 recanting trial testimony. Baker said he lied at the 1978 trial after being promised leniency in his own drug case and he said he’d been coached by authorities on what to say.

Testimony from another jailhouse informant was inconsistent, according to the commission documents. That informant died in 1991.

The victims, Josephine Davis, 74, and her daughter, Aileen, 57, were stabbed to death in September 1976. Aileen was also sexually assaulted.

They were found in their home in Elizabethtown, a day after Sledge had escaped from a prison work farm where he was serving a four-year sentence for larceny.

Sledge was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Katherine Brown, the granddaughter and niece of the victims, said Friday during the hearing that the women were humble and considerate people who looked after other family members.

During her statement, Brown said the family was "shocked that it will become an unsolved mystery" after years of believing they had some closure. She didn’t directly address Sledge’s innocence in her statement.

After his release, Sledge was headed to Savannah, Ga., to live with family. He told reporters he never doubted he’d be freed someday despite spending more than half his life in prison.

"I had confidence in my own self. The self will and the patience," he said before trailing off and searching for the right word. "Patience is the word."

Original report here

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Leaking cop let off with a slap on the wrist: Officer given 'management advice' after posting information on Twitter about probe into singer Cliff Richard

A police officer suspected of leaking information about an investigation into Sir Cliff Richard has escaped severe punishment.

South Yorkshire Police (SYP) gave the unnamed officer ‘management advice’ – tantamount to a slap on the wrist – after he posted information on Twitter in April last year. Management advice is the lowest sanction given for misconduct.

Referring the incident to the IPCC, the police watchdog, SYP queried whether he or she could be the source of the tip-off that led to SYP agreeing with the BBC to broadcast a raid of the pop star’s home.

Heavily redacted police files, obtained by The Mail on Sunday through a Freedom of Information request, reveal a complaint sent to former crime commissioner Shaun Wright days after the raid on Sir Cliff’s home on August 14 last year. The letter said that in April the unnamed officer tweeted about the arrest of a 73-year-old by Operation Yewtree detectives.

The IPCC handed the case back to SYP, which concluded that the junior officer (who was not part of the investigation into the allegations against Sir Cliff) was not the source of the leak – though it has not said why it came to that conclusion.

The star was in Portugal during the raid on his £3 million Berkshire home. He has denied all allegations that he abused a youth, now in his 40s, at a Christian rally in 1985.

The BBC faced criticism for broadcasting the raid live from a helicopter and stationing reporters at the gates of the property before police arrived.

The uproar led to the Home Affairs Select Committee concluding ‘No citizen should have to see their home raided in this way.’

Last night, Keith Vaz, chairman of the Select Committee, said: ‘People will be puzzled that the officer should be treated so leniently for such a serious matter.’

Sir Cliff declined to comment.

Original report here

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Suppressed evidence got aggressive South Australian cop off the hook

The case was largely one man's word against another so the credibility of the cop was central. We appear to have evidence, however, that he perjured himself. Subsequent to his acquittal, he obtained a legal order to suppress the report below of that evidence -- so he himself knows how crucial the extra evidence is. The case should go to appeal

JURORS in the Norman Hoy trial were never told that, in the moments after Yasser Shahin drove away, the police constable was recorded calling the millionaire businessman "a dick" who "made it big".

The Advertiser can now reveal prosecutors unsuccessfully tried to have another section of Const Hoy's audio recording played to the jury, saying it ran contrary to the evidence he gave under oath.

The legal stoush over the recording - parts of which were listened to by more than 27,000 people on - can be reported following Const Hoy's acquittal yesterday.

In his evidence, Const Hoy said he did not know who Mr Shahin was during their abrasive September 2010 encounter, and the businessman's identity only "sunk in" 15 minutes later.

That testimony, on January 19, prompted prosecutor Nick Healy to ask the jury be sent out of court so he could raise an issue with Judge Paul Rice.

He said his concern centred on the extended version of the audio recording Const Hoy had made of the alleged incident, which had been played for the jury numerous times.

"As Your Honour may or may not be aware, the audio that was recorded by Const Hoy was considerably longer," he said after jurors left court. "There is a considerable amount of audio there and, indeed, a conversation with his sergeant that appears to be at the scene immediately after Mr Shahin leaves.

"It's actually Const Hoy who advises his sergeant `it's the Shahin family', the sergeant says `who are they?' and Const Hoy says `they made it big on Smokemart and all this'.

"Then there is considerable conversation talking about `they've got all these houses in Burnside and they want to build a mansion up there'."

Mr Healy asked the jury be played the section but Marie Shaw, QC, for Const Hoy, objected. She said counsel had agreed, prior to the trial, that only the section recounting the incident itself would be played.

Mr Healy said the situation had changed. "That evidence was not to be led on the basis this witness would not get in the box and start denying, if you like, any contemporaneous knowledge of who Mr Shahin is," he said.

"There's a fair bit of evidence to the contrary, and a subsequent conversation with his sergeant includes when Const Hoy says Mr Shahin was `being a dick'."

Ms Shaw insisted that conversation occurred 15 minutes after Mr Shahin left the scene, which Mr Healy said was "news to me". Ms Shaw accused the prosecution of "ambushing" her client.

"What is the Crown seeking to do with this evidence? Pluck out bits and pieces of this conversation to attack Const Hoy on the way he discussed it with his sergeant?" she asked.

Judge Rice upheld Ms Shaw's objection, saying he did not "think it was proper" the additional section of the recording be played to jurors.

Original report here


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Friday, January 23, 2015

The Persistence of Policing for Profit

Eric Holder's forfeiture reform is welcome but does not go nearly far enough

Money-hungry cops are angry about the forfeiture reform that Attorney General Eric Holder announced last Friday, which suggests it's a move in the right direction. But contrary to initial press reports, the new policy represents a modest change to the rules governing civil forfeiture, which allows the government to take people's assets without accusing them of a crime.

"Civil forfeiture is fundamentally at odds with our judicial system and notions of fairness," two former directors of the Justice Department's Asset Forfeiture Office observed in a Washington Post op-ed piece last fall. "Civil forfeiture laws presume someone's personal property to be tainted, placing the burden of proving it 'innocent' on the owner."

Holder did not address that central issue, which is beyond his power. Rather, he modified the Justice Department's Equitable Sharing Program, which lets police and prosecutors use federal law to dodge state restrictions on forfeiture.

Holder's order deals only with "adoption" cases, where local agencies seize property on their own and ask the Justice Department to pursue forfeiture under federal law, which requires less evidence and lets cops keep a bigger share of the loot than many state laws do. According to a 2012 report from the Government Accountability Office, "adoptions made up about 17 percent of all equitable sharing payments" in 2010.

During the last six years, the DOJ says, adoptions "accounted for roughly three percent of the value of forfeitures in the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program." The program's reports to Congress indicate that equitable sharing payments to state and local agencies accounted for about 22 percent of deposits during those six years, which means adoptions represented less than 14 percent of equitable sharing.

In other words, the new DOJ policy leaves the Equitable Sharing Program mostly untouched. It explicitly exempts seizures arising from state or local investigations that are assisted by or coordinated with federal agencies, which include seizures by hundreds of federally subsidized multijurisdictional task forces.

"As virtually every drug task force I know of has a federal liaison on call, this means business as usual [for] local law enforcement," says Eapen Thampy, executive director of Americans for Forfeiture Reform. "The exception swallows the rule."

In a recent letter to Holder, four members of Congress, including three conservative Republicans, urged him to eliminate equitable sharing entirely. That is also the approach favored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who plans to reintroduce his forfeiture reform bill soon.

Legislation is necessary not only to prevent cops from evading state reforms but to give property owners more protection under state and federal laws. Ideally, legislators should require a criminal conviction prior to forfeiture and keep cops from getting part of the proceeds, a policy that perverts their priorities and fosters corruption.

It would be unfortunate if such reforms were killed by complacency. That could happen if the overenthusiastic response to Holder's new policy—which some commentators portrayed as putting an end not only to equitable sharing (which will continue) but to civil forfeiture (which extends far beyond this one program)—leaves people with the false impression that the problem has been solved.

That does not mean Holder's move accomplishes nothing. Greedy grumbling by cops suggests it will make legalized theft harder for some of them.

Douglas County, Nebraska, Sheriff Tim Dunning, for instance, complains that the elimination of federal adoptions in drug cases will force him to comply with his state's forfeiture law, which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, as opposed to the much weaker "preponderance of the evidence" standard set by federal law. Nebraska also gives cops a smaller share of the take.

"This benefits nobody but drug dealers," Dunning told the Omaha World-Herald. "Federal law is a tremendously bigger hammer. I don't see what hammer we are going to have over these people now."

Dunning's assumption that only drug dealers need to worry about forfeiture illustrates a familiar principle: When you've got a big hammer, everyone looks like a nail.

Original report here

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Policewoman whose paedophile boyfriend sexually assaulted a schoolgirl at ATC sleepover 'tried to persuade victim's parents not to report the attack'

The father of an abuse victim has told a jury how the sex attacker's policewoman lover tried to talk him out of reporting the assault to the authorities.

PC Sarah Cohen visited the parents just hours after they learned that their 14-year-old daughter had been groped during a sleepover party at an Air Training Corps hut in Devon.

The drunken attack was carried out by Cohen's boyfriend James Reading, who organised the unofficial party in the squadron hut, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Cohen is on trial accused of perverting the course of justice by trying to persuade the parents of the teenaged girl not to report his attack.

The victim's father told the jury she came to his house on the night the allegations came to light and warned them their daughter would have to re-live her ordeal in court if an official complaint was made.

She also told him she would arrange treatment for Reading if they did not report his assault on their daughter to the police.

Cohen, 36, from Lifton, Devon, denies two counts of perverting the course of justice in the two days after Reading sexually assaulted the girl in November 2011.

She was Reading's girlfriend at the time and was also the Flight Lieutenant in charge of the ATC squadron in Devon where he was the Flight Sergeant.

The jury have been told that Sgt Reading, 37, has been convicted and jailed for the sexual assault.

The prosecution allege she intervened to prevent him being arrested after he armed himself with a hunting knife, drove to Meldon Dam on Dartmoor drunk, crashed his car, and threatened to commit suicide.

The jury have been told learned of the girl's complaint the next day and informed her father but the prosecution say she later tried to persuade him and his wife not to report Reading to the police.

The girl's father said he had been at the sleepover party at which the assault happened but had been asleep after going on a pub crawl with Reading and having a glass of spirits-laced punch at the ATC hut.

He was unaware that other male cadets had thrown Reading out of the hut, leading to the incident at Meldon, and his first knowledge of either incident was when Cohen came to the hut on the Sunday morning to send the cadets home.

He saw her again the next evening when the squadron held their weekly parade and she informed him about the assault on his daughter after calling him into her office.

He said: 'I cannot describe how a father feels when his daughter has been sexually assaulted. I was shocked. She was saying 'That's my Jamie. That's my Jamie' but did not seem to be that agitated. She was quite calm.

'I spoke to my daughter in the car on the way home but she did not say a lot. She came in on herself. I told my wife and we did not know whether to report it.'

He said they rang Detective Superintendent Michelle Slevin, who they knew socially, who advised them to report the assault to the police and they were planning to do so the next morning when they were called by Cohen at around 11 pm.

She came to their house and remained for about 90 minutes and told them Reading had made suicide attempts in the past and drawn matchstick pictures of people hanging themselves.

The father said: 'She said she was in a dilemma because she was wearing three hats, her ATC hat, her girlfriend hat and her police hat.

'She said each of the hats had their own piece of advice. She said the easy one was a squadron boss because she had a duty to the cadets so she should report Reading to the police.

'Next came the girlfriend hat. She said if we did not report it she would make sure Jamie got treatment and never worked with cadets or children again. She said she had had him sectioned and taken to hospital.

'The third hat was her police hat. She said we were quite within our rights to report it to the police but we should bear in mind it would be a very difficult and trying time for our daughter.

'She said she would have to go through the courts and make a statement as a witness. She made it clear it would not be a very nice time for her and she would have to relive the assault again.

'She did not tell us to report the matter to the police or say she would report it to the police. I thought at the end we had the conversation so she could deliberately talk us out of reporting it to the police.'

Cohen denies all the allegations. Her case is that she acted properly in going to Meldon to defuse a critical situation and that she could not have tried to influence the girl's parents because they had already reported the matter to another officer.

Original report here

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Justice Department Ends Unconstitutional Property Seizure Program

The Department of Justice has announced that it will be ending its Equitable Sharing Program. The Washington Post reports that the Equitable Sharing Program "has enabled local and state police to make seizures and then have them ‘adopted’ by federal agencies, which share in the proceeds. The program allowed police departments and drug task forces to keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds of the adopted seizures, with the rest going to federal agencies."

The end of this federal program is a good step in the right direction. Though, there are some exceptions to the no seizure rule and police can still seize private property under their own state laws.

Civil asset forfeiture laws have allowed police departments to seize private property from people suspected of a crime, sell it for profit, and use the proceeds to fund their operation.The real kicker is that one does not technically need to be convicted of a crime or even arrested to permanently lose their property.

This is a clear violation of the 5th Amendment which states that no person shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

There are all kinds of stories of people unjustly getting their houses, cars, and cash taken away from them. The city of Philadelphia evicted the Sourovelis family and seized their home because unbeknownst to the parents, their son made a $40 drug deal right outside of the home. I'm not defending selling harmful drugs, but it’s difficult to argue that the entire family deserved to have their house seized.

The Sourovelis parents were eventually let back into their own house but had to promise to never let their son into the house. His father, Mark Sourovelis, said, "To me I'm home, but I feel violated at this point. I'm doing things in my house, but I worry is it always going to be my house? Are they going to take it one day like that?"

Their story is not an anomaly. Philadelphia government officials have seized over 1,000 homes in the last ten years alone.

It’s become common for the government to seize cars from crime suspects. Believe it or not, the government can take your car even if you’re not personally involved in a crime. That’s what happened to D.C. resident, Nelly Moreira.

Isaias Moreira, Ms. Moreira son, was driving her 2005 Honda Accord when he was pulled over by police. The officer searched him and found an unregistered gun tucked into his waistband. Isaias was arrested and his mother’s car was seized for "evidence purposes." He ultimately pled guilty to misdemeanor gun charges but the car was not returned.

Ms. Moreira faced difficulty in getting her car back and had to post a "bond" of $1,020. D.C. law requires that property owners post a bond of $2,500 or 10 percent of the property’s value before they can even appeal. Even then, there’s no guarantee that the bond money or the possession will ever be returned to the owner.

She was finally reunited with her Honda in a police department impound lot after 5 months—but a lot of people never get their cars back. Since 2009, D.C. police have seized more than 1,000 cars, typically due to drugs or guns.

Another example is a 78-year old Florida woman who was caught carrying $40,977 through customs when she was trying to board a plane to the Philippines. According to the Detroit News, the retiree had recently sold her home and "she did not wire the proceeds to the Philippines this time because she thought it was safer to carry the money."

Federal law says that you have to declare to customs authorities if you are carrying more than $10,000. Although no charges against her were ever placed, officers still seized the almost $41,000 in savings from her.

It’s good news that the Justice Department will be ending the Equitable Sharing Program. However, as you can see, we still have a lot of work to do to protect private property.

Original report here

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Wrongly Convicted Man Was His Own Best Advocate

Scarcella again

They would meet every week in the law library, researching legal databases, discussing United States Supreme Court decisions and reviewing copies of Justice Denied, a magazine for the wrongfully convicted.

They called themselves the "actual innocence team," jotting down notes on yellow pads as they served their sentences at Auburn Correctional Facility in upstate New York, hoping to build cases and motions that might lead to their freedom.

One of those self-taught jailhouse lawyers, Derrick Hamilton, stood in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn on Friday as his 1991 murder conviction was vacated. The hearing capped more than two decades of his filing motions, sending letters and securing affidavits arguing his innocence.

"Mr. Hamilton never for one second doubted his own ability to convince a court of law he was innocent," one of the defense lawyers who has worked on his case, Scott Brettschneider, said in court. "His capacity to turn out legal work was astounding."

The Brooklyn district attorney’s office, which revisited Mr. Hamilton’s case through its Conviction Review Unit, said that medical and scientific evidence, like the path of the bullets and where the victim’s bleeding occurred, undercut the sole eyewitness’s testimony and that the eyewitness was not credible.

Mr. Hamilton, 49, who was paroled in 2011, was one of the first to notice that there were troubling similarities in convictions involving a former police detective, Louis Scarcella. Mr. Hamilton discovered that Mr. Scarcella would often use the same eyewitness and produce confessions that defendants said were coerced or false.

Mr. Hamilton was just out of prison for manslaughter in 1991 when he was charged with shooting a man, Nathaniel Cash, in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Jewel Smith, Mr. Cash’s girlfriend, claimed she was the lone eyewitness to the shooting, but her version of what happened was inconsistent.

She told the first detective who interviewed her that she had not seen the shooting. But according to Mr. Scarcella, who interviewed her later, Ms. Smith said she had seen the murder and implicated Mr. Hamilton. In a post-trial hearing, Ms. Smith said she had been pressured by Mr. Scarcella to name Mr. Hamilton as the killer, according to a defense filing.

The Conviction Review Unit revisited the crime scene and interviewed Ms. Smith in North Carolina, and found she was "unreliable, incredible and for the most part untruthful," a prosecutor, Mark Hale, said in court. "They had to depend upon her credibility to convict Mr. Hamilton," and as a result, "his due process rights were violated."

Prosecutors did not mention Mr. Scarcella’s name on Friday, but defense lawyers did, to the point that Justice Raymond Guzman cautioned them to stop. "Detective Scarcella is not on trial here," he said, adding that he understood the defense’s position that "Detective Scarcella was instrumental in this wrongful conviction."

In a statement, Mr. Scarcella’s lawyers, Alan M. Abramson and Joel S. Cohen, said, "To date, there has been no finding by any judge, nor has there been a statement by any prosecutor to sustain the sensational claims that have appeared in the press that Detective Scarcella contributed to any person’s wrongful conviction."

From the spectator section, Mr. Hamilton’s daughter, Maia, 2, placed her doll next to her on the wooden bench. Also watching were men who are fighting their convictions or who have had their convictions vacated, holding "Wrongfully Convicted" caps that Mr. Hamilton had made up: Sundhe Moses, Jonathan Fleming and Kevin Smith.

"If there was no law books in prison, I probably would’ve been in an insane asylum," Mr. Hamilton said before the hearing.

To learn about the law, Mr. Hamilton took a paralegal course from prison and began researching his case, both on his own and with outside lawyers’ help. "I just couldn’t do anything else," he said in an interview. "I wasn’t a guy that worked out because I didn’t have time to work out. I made motion after motion after motion after motion."

At Auburn, he got a job at the law library, where he joined a group of men also working on their convictions.

Daniel Rincon, convicted of a 1991 quadruple murder in Manhattan, was the letter writer; he would summarize cases in neat narratives and send letters to journalists and lawyers. Shabaka Shakur, convicted of a 1988 double murder in Brooklyn that Mr. Scarcella worked on, was the researcher, looking up case law and helping hone arguments. Nelson Cruz — whose 1998 Brooklyn murder conviction came in part because of the work of Mr. Scarcella’s longtime partner, Stephen W. Chmil — would sketch out crime scenes, illustrating where witnesses and victims stood.

Once a week, in the afternoon, they would write their names on the law library sign-in sheet and take their seats at tables with a security officer stationed above them. Mr. Hamilton would put up a chalkboard and distribute handouts about whatever they would be working on that day.

Some days, they would dive into a recent ruling, like the Supreme Court’s decision on actual innocence in the 2009 Troy Davis case. Some days, they would analyze a recent article in The New York Law Journal. They received instruction on how to use the legal-research service Westlaw. And at just about every meeting, they would work on one of their members’ legal motions or letters or responses or arguments.

At the 2011 hearing where Mr. Hamilton was granted parole, a commissioner, Christina Hernandez, noted his legal work. "You are very legally astute," she said. "You spend a lot of time in the law library. It’s pretty apparent to us. You have been very active with your defense."

Mr. Hamilton also wanted to get the word out about wrongful convictions. Around 2010, he contacted Lonnie Soury, who had publicized wrongful-conviction cases.

"I told him that I really couldn’t help him and I just needed to get paid for my work," Mr. Soury said, assuming he would not hear from Mr. Hamilton again. Two weeks later, he said, he got a check made out on the prison commissary account for $500.

That led to rallies on the steps of City Hall with convicts’ families. And once Mr. Hamilton was released on parole, he helped persuade others, like Mr. Moses and Mr. Smith, who had also been paroled, to make this a public cause.

"He said: ‘Listen, you staying dormant. You got to get back involved,'" Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Hamilton has been a regular presence at hearings about innocence claims since then and is helping prisoners and former prisoners with legal aspects of their cases. Other members of the "actual innocence team," including Mr. Rincon, Mr. Cruz and Mr. Shakur, are all still fighting their convictions from prison.

"I sit there to watch the proceedings because when I see things, I’m going to talk about them; I’m not going to be quiet," Mr. Hamilton said. Seeing the injustice at his own trial, he said, "taught me that I have to be involved."

Original report here

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Monday, January 19, 2015

D.C. Prosecutors Name Legal Team to Review Wrongful Conviction Claims

Two lawyers serving as "independent consultants" will review wrongful conviction claims against the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, the office announced on Monday.

Jeffrey Robinson, a senior counsel at Lewis Baach and former associate director-counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Kristine Hamann, a visiting fellow with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, will work with the U.S. attorney’s office’s new conviction integrity unit.

The announcement came as federal prosecutors in Washington continued to grapple with fallout from a scandal involving FBI agent Matthew Lowry, who was accused of tampering with drug and firearm evidence. Prosecutors have already dismissed criminal cases that Lowry was involved in against more than two dozen defendants. Defense lawyers have questioned the reliability of the FBI’s policies for handling and safeguarding evidence and suggested the controversy could extend to a broader array of cases.

Over the past five years, judges in the District of Columbia granted certificates of innocence to a string of men who spent decades in jail for crimes they did not commit. Those cases exposed problems with FBI evidence analysis techniques and protocols and spurred an investigation by the U.S. attorney's office.

U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. announced the conviction integrity unit in September. The unit was tasked with reviewing violent felony cases in which defendants claimed to have new evidence of their innocence, including DNA evidence.

Machen said in a statement that his office "wanted to bring in outside counsel who would offer a fresh perspective to our review process in order to ensure that we were reaching the right conclusions when assessing these innocence claims."

Robinson and Hamann's positions are unpaid, according to a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office. In a phone interview on Monday, Hamann said she was still learning the details of the assignment. The two lawyers were making themselves available to the office as a "set of fresh eyes," Hamann said.

Hamann advises prosecutors across the country on best practices. She said she hadn't studied the U.S. attorney's office in D.C. and was going into the consultant position with "no preconceived notion" about how it handled innocence claims. "I’m honored that they asked me. I look forward to providing whatever insights I can provide," she said.

Robinson could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Robinson and Hamann will review innocence claims and make recommendations to prosecutors about how to proceed in individual cases. They’ll also advise the office on training, trial practices and policy changes along with Shawn Armbrust, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project.

Robinson came back to Lewis Baach in 2013 after spending four years at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. His work for the civil rights organization included leading efforts to reform California’s "three strikes" law and advocating on criminal justice reform issues in Congress. He represented former Vice President Al Gore during the 2000 election controversy.

Hamann works with prosecutors across the country to put together statewide best practices committees, according to the Justice Department. She previously served as a local prosecutor in New York and as the state’s inspector general.

Original report here

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

British police accused of acting 'above the law' after fatal shooting case against chief constable collapses because his force won't allow evidence to be heard in open court

Police have been accused of acting 'above the law' after the case against a chief constable over the fatal shooting of an unarmed man collapsed because his force demanded evidence be kept secret.

Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, was due to stand trial on Monday accused of Health and Safety breaches in the operation that lead to the death of a 36-year-old man.

Father-of-two Anthony Grainger died of a single gunshot wound to the chest after the car he was in was stopped in Culcheth, Cheshire, on March 3 2012.

Police believed they had intelligence Mr Grainger and two others were part of an organised crime unit and were planning an armed robbery on a Sainsbury's store in the village.

It was later discovered that he was unarmed and there were no weapons in the car. The three men with Mr Grainger were later acquitted of charges of conspiracy to rob.

The Crown Prosecution Service decided the marksman should not face charges for murder or manslaughter because a jury would be likely to accept that he believed his actions were necessary.

Instead, Sir Peter, who had pleaded not guilty, had been charged under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

But the prosecution abandoned its case after deciding some evidence collected by police was so sensitive it would not be in the public interest to be heard in open court.

The evidence is thought to relate to the role of paid police informants and decisions made during the extensive covert surveillance operation that led to Mr Grainger's death.

The judge, Mr Justice William Davis, had also granted anonymity to some 30 police officers who were witnesses or would be mentioned in the case.

But lawyers for Sir Peter, who was prosecuted as head of the force, argued he could not get a fair trail if certain evidence was not made public in court.

Mr Justice Davis ordered that the evidence should be given if the defendant was to get a fair trial - at which point the prosecution, after consulting with the police, decided not to proceed.

Mr Grainger's family said they were 'hugely disappointed' at the outcome and 'simply want answers'.

And their solicitor, Jonathan Bridge, warned it could set 'a really dangerous precedent where the police are in effect above the law in cases where there is sensitive evidence,' The Times reported.

He added that the family would approach the Home Office next week about the future conduct of the case and may seek a public enquiry.

The prosecution argued that during the covert operation, the Greater Manchester Police made '26 failings' arising out of armed police officers being deployed without any proper intelligence basis.

It also argued that the use of armed police was unnecessary or premature.

The decision by William Boyce, QC, to abandon the case at Liverpool Crown Court effectively ends all criminal proceedings over the death of Mr Grainger.

The CPS said: 'We have considered the rulings made by the judge that there is material which needs to be disclosed in open court in order for the defendant to have a fair trial.

'After consulting with relevant parties, we have concluded that we are unable to reveal that material for public interest reasons. We are therefore unable to proceed.'

Mr Grainger is believed to be the first person to die in a police shooting since Mark Duggan in London, whose death sparked rioting in the capital and other cities across the country.

Original report here

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

The problem with the police

It will come as a surprise to absolutely no one when I say that I have no sympathy for the crypiggies who've begun blubbering, since the mess at Ferguson, about how dangerous their "profession" is and how some kind of special steps have to be taken now to protect them. I haven't actually heard any demands for more victim disarmament (gun control) but they do want sales of body armor to civilians to be banned.

Before we go any further with this, kindly allow me to observe that nobody put a gun to their heads and told them "Be a cop!" And being a police officer isn't really all that dangerous—check the statistics, yourself. Being a fireman is more dangerous. Being a miner is more dangerous. Being a deep-sea salvage diver is hell of a lot more dangerous. Nor are these particularly dangerous times. When I was a young reserve officer in the wild and wooly early 1970s, more cops were injured or killed in California alone than in the entire nation now. That fact sparked many changes in policy, including choice of weapons, from revolver to semiautomatic, the design of holsters, and the angle at which the car should be parked during a routine traffic stop.

All that was in the 60s, and, for a while, the police did acquire a more human face. But then, something went wrong. Several things went really wrong, and it left us stuck in the mess we're in today.

To begin with there were police unions and lawyers who rode along with them like pilot fish. RICO allowed them to loot the countryside freely. There is nothing in a free society that we could have done, or can, directly, about this. But it has come to mean that no officer will ever have to face the music for whatever criminal act he may have committed, unless he has political enemies somewhere inside the structure.

Second, there were matters of accoutrement. Mace and revolver speed-loaders were the big news of my time, rapidly followed by CS gas and semiautomatic pistols, mostly Glocks in .40 caliber, while four-shot pump shotguns evolved into eight-shooters on the dashboard. Wooden nightsticks became nylon PR-24s and a engendered whole new martial art. Finally there was Kevlar body armor, and the Taser. Ammunition changed, as well. The Blue Knight's equippage was nearly complete.

All the while, the courts were depriving ordinary citizens of more and more rights and protections until the attacks on 9/11 swept what was left from the board. The police could now go anywhere, do anything—including locking people up on suspicion—without punishment for it.

At the same time, the cops have gone insane, shooting people's dogs, smashing in, beating up, and murdering innocent individuals, including little old ladies, and their pet kittens without even having to apologise about it. I'd cite some typical examples, but they happen every day and you can find them all too easily for yourself. You can't blame people for hating the police, they have good reason. I've deliberately avoided learning much about Ferguson—what little information I have would indicate that the cop behaved properly—but you can't blame the public, The police have brought this on themselves.

If they hadn't, I wouldn't be mildly worried about writing this.I wouldn't be expecting a flood of hate mail and death threats all next week.

Can the situation be fixed? No one in authority will let it be. Victimless crime laws must be repealed and those imprisoned for them released. All presently-serving cops must be laid off and replaced by individuals who are not tainted by violence and corruption, preferably individuals who've lived in the area they will police for at least a decade,

They must go back to six-shot revolvers and four-shot shotguns. No rifles of any description, no SWAT teams. No masks, and badge numbers must be displayed prominently on their uniforms. Most important of all, no more Kevlar armor—they must take the same risks that most of us do. Civilians are attacked many times as often as the cops. They also "Get their man"—shoot the actual culprit—several times as often.

I knew a guy once, a police officer of long standing, who was running for Sheriff. It was his view, he said, and his department agreed, that people should see to their own defense. It was the Sheriff's job to come by afterward to make sure the right person got shot.

I voted for him.

Which reminds me: I would abolish all police departments, and actively prohibit them reforming, turning every responsibility over to the Sheriff. Too many layers separate me from the cops: his superiors, the city council, the mayor and city manager. Not all are subject to recall. One electable man—the Sheriff—stands between me and his deputies.

All of the military equipment police departments have acqquired must be sold at auction. Official oaths must be administered in public (and on TV), with emphasis on the Bill of Rights. Courses on the Bill of Rights must be administered to all would-be police officers.

None of this offends me as a police officer. Nor would I be offended if I had to be one again. Clearly it needs doing and right away. If you want to know more, I very strongly urge you to read the chapter in my award-winning book, Down with Power [ paper and e-book] entitled "The Police".

Or listen to Brian Wilson's brilliant audio version.

I spend a great deal of time listening to talk radio. One thing that sets me apart from most of those guys presently defending the police is that I was a policeman. They are, and remain, merely copsuckers.

Remember that word and use it in good health.

Original report here

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Friday, January 16, 2015

SC: Mistrial declared in trial of ex-police chief charged in killing of unarmed black man

A mistrial was declared nearly 12 hours after the jury of nine women and three men started deliberating in the murder trial of a white former police chief charged in the killing of an unarmed black man.

Around 2:05 a.m., the jury deliberating murder and voluntary manslaughter charges came back into the courtroom and announced it was hopelessly deadlocked.

Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson declared a mistrial. "I appreciate your service," he told the jury.

The jury vote was 9-3 in favor of a guilty verdict, Solicitor David Pascoe said after the mistrial was announced. He did not know whether the vote in favor of guilt was on the murder charge or voluntary manslaughter charge.

Pascoe said he would seek to try the case again but added it was too early to be specific.

Just before midnight, the jury told the judge they were deadlocked in the case, in which Richard Combs, 38, was charged in the May 2, 2011 shooting death of Bernard Bailey, 54, outside Eutawville town hall.

Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson asked jurors: "You-all are deadlocked right now? Stuck?"

Jurors, their faces tired and serious, nodded.

Dickson then read them a standard legal charge for deadlocked jurors, telling them they "had a duty" to make every effort to reach a unanimous verdict but they shouldn’t surrender a deeply held conviction.

The jury, with seven black members and five white members, had begun deliberating around 2:30 p.m. Over the course of nearly 12 hours, its members asked for legal definitions for murder, manslaughter and malice, asked to see a police video of a traffic stop and asked to hear an emergency call made by former Police Chief Richard Combs made about one minute after he shot Bernard Bailey to death in the Eutawville Town Hall parking lot.

Then, around 9:30 pm, the judge sent out for pizza from Pizza Hut, which the jury had along with cold, canned soft drinks.

Up until Monday, the only charge against Combs was the more serious murder charge. The voluntary manslaughter charge being considered carried a two-year-to-30-year prison sentence. The murder charge carried a 30-year-to-life sentence.

Charges in the case, which attracted national attention, stemmed from the fatal shooting of Bailey, 54, under controversial circumstances.

Combs acknowledged that he shot Bailey – whom he had just placed under arrest – as Bailey started backing his truck out of a parking spot to leave the scene.

But the jury mulled two conflicting views of the situation, shared during roughly three hours of closing arguments Monday.

Defense attorney Wally Fayssoux said Combs only fired at Bailey as a last resort, in fear for his life after the chief found himself caught in Bailey’s Chevrolet pickup truck door and falling as Bailey backed out, apparently resisting arrest. At the time, Combs was trying to put handcuffs on Bailey.

"The chief doesn’t have to wait until the wheel goes across him before he fires in self-defense," Fayssoux told the jury.

But 1st Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe told the jury that Combs was a "rogue cop" who, nursing a grudge against Bailey, had plotted for five weeks to create a situation whereby Bailey, an assistant Wal-Mart manager and former prison guard, likely would become flustered and try to leave Town Hall.

Law and order itself is at stake in this case, Pascoe told the jury.

"The system breaks down when you have rogue police officers gunning down an unarmed man," Pascoe said, adding an argument of self-defense doesn’t apply in Combs’ case. "If you are going to take a human life and get away with it, you have to be completely without fault. You have to have clean hands."

Defense attorney Fayssoux told the jury the case only involved several seconds – the time at the pickup truck when Bailey clearly knew an officer of the law was serving a legal arrest on him, and Bailey was using his pickup truck as a deadly weapon to run the chief down.

State prosecutors, Fayssoux told the jury, "would have you believe that an officer goes from being the man he is to a monger of hate ... They have to prove that he shot Mr. Bailey based on hate and on fear."

Bailey, Fayssoux said, put the chief "in the impossible position of deciding whether he wanted to go home and see his family or being run over by Mr. Bailey’s truck."

Fayssoux also told the jury that despite being afraid for his life, Combs only fired three rounds into Bailey from his .40-caliber Glock.

But Pascoe reminded the jury of an earlier incident, five weeks before Bailey’s death, telling the jurors they couldn’t just look at the few seconds when the shooting took place to evaluate the incident. On March 15, 2011, Bailey showed up at a traffic stop where Combs had pulled over Bailey’s daughter, Briana, for a broken taillight.

Although a video played to the jury showed some brief, possibly tense exchanges between Bailey and Combs that night, there was no clearly overt menacing action by Bailey.

Five weeks later, when Bailey showed up unexpectedly at Town Hall to ask whether his daughter’s traffic court date for the broken taillight could be moved because she was away at college, Combs surprised him with an arrest warrant for obstruction of justice for the night of the traffic stop.

Bailey walked out of Town Hall with Combs walking behind him, saying, "Sir, stop, you are under arrest." Combs followed Bailey to his truck and then, as Bailey jumped in his pickup, started it up and put it in gear, the shots rang out.

Pascoe said there’s no doubt the jury should find Combs guilty.

"If I’m wrong, give him (Combs) back his badge, give him back his gun, and let him arrest someone else’s daughter," Pascoe said, calling Combs a liar because of what Pascoe said were Combs’ inconsistent statements in the case.

Earlier Monday, before closing arguments, Dickson denied defense motions for a mistrial.

In their jury arguments, Pascoe and Fayssoux – at times shouting in loud, gravelly voices – each attacked the other, with Fayssoux accusing Pascoe of portraying the ex-chief as "an evil monster" and tilting the evidence so he could notch up a win, and Pascoe accusing Fayssoux of wanting to give law officers permission to kill someone without legitimate cause.

The closing arguments came on the fifth day of the high-profile trial. Nine witnesses testified for the prosecution and seven for the defense, including Combs.

The trial has attracted national attention, following several incidents of white law enforcement officials killing unarmed black men. Last fall, a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., shot an unarmed black teen – an incident that provoked riots. More recently, an unarmed black man in New York died after being placed in a chokehold.

But the prosecution never claimed Bailey was shot because of his race, and defense lawyers told the jury specifically that race played no part.

Instead, the trial focused on the two incidents between the two men that led to the shooting.

Also emerging as a theme, though somewhat muted, was a small rural town’s lack of resources, such as immediate available backup and equipment such as Tasers or Mace that might lead to non-fatal resolutions of situations.

At the time of the shooting, on a weekday morning, Combs was the lone police officer in Eutawville.

Original report here

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

NM: Two cops face murder charges in 2014 Albuquerque homeless man’s shooting

Two Albuquerque, New Mexico, police officers will face first-degree murder charges in last year's shooting of a homeless man in the hills above the city, a prosecutor announced Monday.

Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez were ordered to appear at a preliminary hearing, the date of which has not yet been set, said District Attorney Kari Brandenburg of New Mexico's Second Judicial Circuit.

Sandy and Perez are accused of killing James Boyd in March. The 38-year-old homeless man spent the night before his shooting in a shelter, but when the shelter closed for the winter, Boyd tried to camp in the hills above the city, officials said. Overnight camping in the hills is illegal.

Helmet and body cameras worn by dozens of city police who converged on the campsite showed Boyd with two small camping knives in his hands.

Over several hours, Boyd talked with officers, at one point claiming to be "the Department of Defense."

The cameras captured officers converging on a small nest of rocks on the hillside. At one point, Boyd turned his back to the officers and they began firing.

Officers fired a shotgun and nonlethal beanbag pellets at Boyd, while other officers were caught on camera throwing flash-bang grenades. The video also shows one officer unleashing his K-9 German shepherd against Boyd.

The helmet cameras show Boyd wheezing for breath after the attack. He died later at a local hospital.

Sandy retired from the department in December of 2014, an Albuquerque police spokesman said. It's unclear if Perez is still on the force.

Local activists have demonstrated for months, protesting not only the Boyd shooting, but other shootings by city police officers since 2010.

Records show that 26 civilians have been shot, a dozen of them fatally, by city police since 2010. Before Monday, no officer had been charged in connection with any shootings.

The Justice Department in April 2014 found that "there is reason to believe" the city's Police Department had a "pattern and practice" of excessive force. The city has since agreed to a memorandum of understanding allowing the Department of Justice to monitor the department.

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