Monday, November 30, 2015

Complaints against Boston police pile up: Officers face multiple grievances; resolutions lengthy

Recent revelations about a botched police response to a 2014 domestic dispute that preceded a Hyde Park woman’s slaying has turned the spotlight on police officers who have amassed a substantial number of citizen complaints against them.

The officer involved in that case, who failed to arrest the man later accused of murder, had nearly two dozen complaints filed against him over the course of a 28-year career. The disciplinary process in the Hyde Park case has taken more than six months.

But a Globe review of Boston police records reveals that the officer’s record and the time it has taken to mete out punishment are not an anomaly. One dozen officers have faced 20 or more complaints over the past 20 years; internal affairs investigations can languish for years.

“Everybody has a right to due process, and we have to cross our Ts and do it all right,” Police Commissioner William B. Evans said. “It’s not as easy a process as people think it is.”

The officers with the most complaints work in the department’s homicide unit, and in stations downtown, in South Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, and Jamaica Plain, and have been the subject of complaints regarding untruthfulness, use of force, disrespectful treatment, unbecoming conduct, and criminal violations.

Lawrence D. Welch, a 26-year veteran of the force, has accumulated 55 complaints, 31 of which were at least partially substantiated. In an incident similar to the recent Hyde Park case, Welch was suspended for three days after failing to document a domestic violence incident in 2001 involving a Boston police officer.

Welch, who now works in District C11 in Dorchester, did not return calls seeking comment.

Sergeant Martin B. Kraft, who worked for the department for 32 years before retiring last year with charges pending, amassed 40 complaints with 15 upheld.

In an interview last week, Kraft said he received a lot of complaints because he made “the most arrests of any sergeant in the police department” at that time.

“An academy instructor said, ‘If you’re not getting complaints, you’re not working,’ ” he said. “I did my job.”

Kraft retired after coming under fire for accepting a job as the security chief at a marijuana shop in Roxbury.

An attorney who represents officers in legal matters said a high number of complaints does not necessarily mean an officer is bad at his or her job.

“There are some officers who are very active and by virtue of that they’re going to get more complaints,” said Kenneth H. Anderson, a Boston lawyer who represents police officers.

“Some officers work in areas where they’re going to generate more complaints than others,” said Jack McDevitt, director of Northeastern University’s Institute on Race and Justice, noting that most officers have few or no complaints at all.

Complaints filed by residents can serve as an early warning system.

“If lots of people are saying an officer is overly aggressive or swearing, you have to look at the complaints,” Boston civil rights attorney Howard Friedman said. “Police officers operate mostly outside of view of their supervisors, and complaints are a way of getting feedback.”

Overall, complaints against Boston police officers were down last year, to 386, compared with 527 in 2013. Use-of-force complaints are at a more-than-two-decade low. Now, most complaints allege disrespectful treatment.

The decline in use-of-force complaints means the department is moving in the right direction, policing experts say, but the disrespectful treatment allegations should be cause for concern.

“If we have interactions with the police that continue to build on the perception that people already have, it continues to erode the community’s trust and the community’s confidence in the police,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.

Complaints against police officers can be filed by any civilian or by a fellow member of the police department. For example, in the November 2014 Hyde Park domestic dispute case, the complaint against Officer Robert Boyle and Officer William Hubbard was initiated in April by a lieutenant detective who learned the pair had shirked their duty. The officers had failed to check a computerized system to verify the restraining order Stephanie McMahon had against Randall Tremblay, whom she wanted ejected from her home.

McMahon was killed the next day, allegedly by Tremblay.

Some civic leaders say they are troubled by years-long delays in resolving even the simplest concerns.

A 2005 accusation that an officer was negligent was investigated and upheld in just four days. But three years passed before the officer was disciplined — simply because the case file lacked the proper signatures.

A report this year by the city’s civilian oversight panel found that while most complaints were resolved in fewer than two years, “significant delays persist” — 30 percent of cases it reviewed took more than two years to be resolved.

“We need results in a year; after that, who cares?” said Jorge Martinez, executive director of Project RIGHT, a Grove Hall antiviolence organization.

A review of 45 complaint files shows the problems caused or exacerbated by a protracted process: Civilians get frustrated and stop cooperating. Officers sometimes do not recall certain incidents after several years or become difficult to reach.

In other cases, complainants fail to present the evidence necessary to support their claim, contributing to a delay.

Police Superintendent Frank Mancini, commander of the Bureau of Professional Standards, which includes the Internal Affairs Division, said internal affairs investigations are also affected by civil lawsuits or criminal prosecutions. In those instances, his investigations take a backseat.

Mancini said he does not believe a timeframe should be set for resolving complaints, such as in New Orleans, where complaints must be resolved within 90 days.

“My concern is more to do a thorough investigation even if it takes nine months,” Mancini said. “I want the right answer — the truth — rather than the quick and fast answer.”

Officials hope a mediation program launched in September can help reduce the backlog in complaints. Under the program, the complainant, the officer, and two mediators from the Harvard Mediation Program at Harvard Law School would meet at a neutral location to discuss the matter, a move Mancini said will “bring the community closer together with police officers.”

Mancini said his unit is currently identifying complaints that could be eligible for mediation. The remainder, such as those involving misconduct, will continue to be investigated by the Internal Affairs Division, and those involving serious criminal allegations will be reviewed by the city’s Anti-Corruption Unit.

Boyle and Hubbard — the officers who allegedly mishandled the Hyde Park domestic violence case in 2014 — will have a disciplinary hearing, and Evans, the commissioner, will decide whether the officers should be suspended.

Evans said meting out discipline can be a difficult task.

“We’ve had several officers that deserved to be terminated and we’ve had [those decisions] overturned by an arbitrator,” Evans said. “It’s very frustrating to us.”

In one ongoing case, officer David C. Williams was twice terminated for using excessive force and was reinstated both times. He was last fired in 2012 after using an improper chokehold to arrest former Middlesex County correction officer Michael P. O’Brien, who was awarded $1.4 million in a settlement. The city is fighting Williams’s reinstatement.

But, in the last 10 years, the Civil Service Commission has sided with the police department in 29 cases, affirming the commissioner’s disciplinary action. The commission ruled to overturn the department’s decision in 13 cases, according to records provided by the commission.

Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association Union president Patrick Rose said officers who feel they have been wrongly accused deserve due process.

“To point the finger at civil service or an arbitrator is absolute foolishness,” he said. “The officer has a right to defend themselves.”

Original report here

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

A man who became the victim of an obsessed woman

Canada: The case is called Robinson v Furlong and was decided on 18 September.

The 74-page judgement recounts an extraordinary saga, where one investigative reporter, named Robinson, went on a hugely damaging witch-hunt, generating a hornets’ nest of false allegations. Robinson was driven by a misplaced sense of social justice. She then sued her quarry Furlong for libel! She sued him after she had repeatedly accused him of historic abuse, and he had issued a series of stinging rebuttals, in which he accused her of acting irresponsibly and maliciously.

Furlong is a Catholic Irishman. He emigrated to Canada with his family in the mid-1970s, having previously worked as a teacher for a while in Canada, as a young man. He was president of the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation, which succeeded in bringing the Winter Olympics to Vancouver. He was named as one of 25 Transformational Canadians in 2010, and is an inductee of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

Robinson is a former distinguished athlete in the fields of cycling, skiing and rowing. She has written five books on issues in sport. Her work has been published in international media, and she has produced several documentaries. She has written extensively about gender and race disparity in sport; has coached and mentored First Nations communities; and is described as ‘an advocate, thought leader and mentor’.

In 2009, Robinson had a tip-off that Furlong had beaten kids up at a residential school where he had worked. She could find nothing to substantiate this allegation, and dropped the issue. Then, in 2011, she was asked to review Furlong’s autobiography, Patriot Hearts, and discovered that he had originally been sponsored in Canada by an order of Catholic missionaries known as Frontier Apostles, which taught in a number of Catholic schools in remote British Columbia, and whose pupils were mainly First Nation or Aboriginal children.

The development of a working hypothesis

Robinson became preoccupied by the idea that Furlong had concealed this part of his past in order to obtain the good will of the First Nations communities, in whose territory much of the Winter Olympics 2010 were to be held. She published a critical review voicing that unkind thought, and called his book ‘one big propaganda exercise’. She also published a hostile article called ‘Sins of omission’. She was then contacted by a stranger, who said she should look into Furlong’s time at Immaculata School in Burns Lake, where he had, allegedly, beaten two pupils.

He offered her the name of a friend of one of the former students, a Ms Hogan. She claimed to have witnessed a meeting between Furlong and a former student, who had previously recognised Furlong after seeing him on television. At this meeting, which did occur, it appears that the student had accused Furlong of beating her, and that Furlong had denied it. This encounter was shortly before the Winter Olympics were due to open. Ms Hogan’s partner, a lawyer, then told Furlong that ‘for $5,000 the complaint of the former student could possibly go away’. Furlong viewed this as a direct threat and called the police.

Robinson spoke by telephone to various individuals in Burns Lake. She then emailed Furlong’s lawyer:

‘There have been so many alleged abuse incidents committed by Mr Furlong against former students it would be impossible for him to have forgotten about the abuse though he may have forgotten the names of the children as they were many.’

Telegraphing her intention

Robinson then arranged to travel to Burns Lake to investigate further. She drafted a notice, which was posted at the local post office and the local band office, signaling her intentions in the following terms:

‘Did you attend Immaculata School or Prince George College? A journalist who is investigating abuse at both schools will be at the Burns Lake band office on Saturday, 21 April from noon until 6pm. Lunch provided. Please come and tell your story in confidence or leave your contact info and she will contact you.

She is interested in students who attended between 1969 and 1976 and had John Furlong as a phys ed teacher or had relatives who had him. He was a tall man from Ireland and a Frontier Apostle.’

The announcement ended with this quote:  ‘No legacy is so rich as Honesty – William Shakespeare.’

Thirty-five individuals attended. Robinson was an hour late. None of the attendees gave evidence, so it is impossible to know what was discussed in the hour they spent together, before she turned up. Robinson then met with each attendee separately. She did not record her interviews. Most had nothing to say about Furlong; rather, they complained generally about their experiences as First Nations children in a school system, which they found uncaring. Seven, however, did accuse Furlong of physical abuse, and one, named Beverley Abraham, accused him of sexual abuse.

Robinson returned home armed with eight initialled statements, and offered this ‘massive, massive story’ to a local paper. It agreed to run it, provided she got sworn declarations from the eight accusers. The editor voiced some concern, warning her that her emails were discoverable and stating, ‘I would have preferred to be involved at the outset because methodology is important, particularly in British Columbia’. He did not know what interview questions Robinson had used to elicit the responses recorded in their statements. But Robinson got the sworn affidavits.

‘I believe…’

Robinson then started asking questions of members of the Olympic Committee and others, including the mayor of Vancouver, about how Furlong came to be appointed. She told the mayor that Furlong’s appearances on television had upset many people in Burns Lake, triggering flashbacks and depression. She asked: ‘What can the city do to address this problem?’

Robinson also asked Abraham if she was going to sue, and to go to the police. By then, it was summer 2012 and Robinson was due to travel to the 2012 Olympics, so she was under pressure. She even helpfully did some maths for Abraham, emailing her, ‘if you went to kindergarten at age five in 1963, you would have been 11 in the spring of 1968; 12 in 1969.’ After more contact with Abraham, she learnt that Abraham was seeing the police. After contacting the police to check she had been to see them, Robinson then filed a draft article.

She passed her claims to a number of editors, writing to one:

‘I believe the complainant – I watched as she broke down more than once while she told me what he did. The other three girls he kept after phys-ed class (they were kept individually) started drinking with the complainant when they were 12. Other three committed suicide.’

Unsurprisingly, she had also sent Furlong’s lawyer the affidavits. His lawyer maintained that there was not a word of truth in any of the allegations. Various news outlets were understandably nervous about running the claims, and so her article was edited. Part of her story was about her efforts to get the Winter Olympics Bid Corporation to state what ‘due diligence’ it had carried out before hiring Furlong. She sent emails about her claims to 180 journalists, organisations and news outlets. One paper published the story on 27 September 2012, alleging physical and emotional abuse of former pupils; and a later version of the story also included the allegation of sexual abuse.

Furlong and his lawyer decided to call a press conference the same day, to put his position on the record. By then, they had issued many warnings to Robinson that the claims were denied in their entirety. At the conference, Furlong accused her of a ‘shocking lack of diligence’ and ‘inaccurate reporting’ which ‘recklessly’ challenged his character. He explained about the demand for money, which he had reported to the police, and said, ‘this feels very much like a personal vendetta’.

According to Robinson, many more former students of Furlong then contacted her and the newspaper. By November, she wanted to run a follow-up. She contacted an organisation Own the Podium (OTP), which was standing by Furlong. She wrote: ‘There is a great deal of confirmation that Mr Furlong was violent and a racist… How many First Nations people have to come forward about Mr Furlong’s abuse before OTP believes them?’ By then, Robinson was investigating whether Furlong had been violent to the women in his life, and was writing to OTP demanding answers on this from the CEO of OTP.

Furlong sued Robinson for defamation. She responded, making a raft of new accusations of rape and repeated domestic abuse of his former wife Margaret and another former partner. She posted her response on the internet.

Furlong’s family, including Margaret, his children, his new wife and his 11 grandchildren, fought back. They issued a statement saying the claims were completely untrue: ‘These shocking allegations are without merit and portray a character whom none of us recognises… The public should be deeply concerned at the power of a single journalist whose words can smash into a family like a wrecking-ball.’

Robinson’s campaign against Furlong – for that was what it had become – continued. She emailed several organisations with which he was involved, stating that she was presenting a conference paper at a meeting in Denmark, where she planned to report on the Canadian sports communities’ response to her abuse allegations. She sought answers to various questions, given that they had not asked Furlong to stand aside. How, she demanded, had they determined that Furlong remained a man of integrity, and that the First Nations accusers were not telling the truth?

Robinson prepared and presented her paper, Truth, Lies and History: John Furlong and Canadian Sport’s Moral Vacuum to the Denmark conference. By then, the complainants making allegations of sex abuse had risen to four, according to her.

‘Enough is enough’

Furlong then dropped a bombshell. The police had told him they would not be pursing Abraham’s claims, saying that, in their view, they could not be substantiated. Her story contained many troubling inconsistencies. Names and dates, among other information, had changed each time the police interviewed her. Her account to the police also differed from that she had given Robinson previously.

Furlong issued a press release stating that he intended to pursue Robinson, whom he called ‘the source of these lies’, stating that she had a two-decade-long record of inaccurate writing, and that her words had hurt innocent people. He accused her of harassment, and of using the courts as a platform for her campaign of ‘horrendous and false accusations’. So Robinson sued him for libeling her. Abraham then sued Furlong, along with two other (alleged) former students.

These claims by the former students fell by the wayside. It emerged that one of them, Grace West, had never attended the Immaculata School where Furlong had worked. West’s lawyer withdrew, and her claim was struck out. Abraham (who had introduced West to Robinson) then withdrew her claim.

That left a Daniel Morice, who had accused Furlong of rape. His lawyer had also acted for West, but rapidly withdrew from Morice’s case, too. Morice’s claim was struck out after his non-compliance with court orders; a series of abusive and obscene messages to Furlong’s counsel; wrongful threats to cause Furlong physical harm; and even attempts at blackmail (Morice falsely claimed to have photos of himself and Furlong which he would take to the press, but the court found these did not exist). The crunch came when the courts learnt that Morice had previously received compensation for abuse at another school, during the time when he now claimed Furlong had abused him at Immaculata!

Expert evidence

When Robinson’s libel suit against Furlong was heard, each party called an expert. Robinson called Mr Miller, a senior newsroom editor at the Toronto Star. He said it was acceptable for a journalist to have a working hypothesis about where a story was headed. He had not heard of the phenomenon of confirmation bias, but agreed that a journalist should seek out as many persons as possible to obtain all sides of an issue, which could disprove the hypothesis. He had not worked on any historic-abuse investigations.

Furlong called a psychologist and expert in memory science called Dr Yuille. He had conducted research into human memory for over 50 years and had written textbooks on standard practices for investigating childhood-sexual abuse. He had been engaged in training personnel involved in such investigations, from social workers to police officers.

Dr Yuille said, ‘interviewer bias is the single most serious obstacle to determining the truth in an investigation into childhood abuse. An investigator must not begin his or her investigation with a single hypothesis. He or she must formulate alternative hypotheses or possibilities – for example, that the abuse happened; that it did not happen; that a person other than the one accused committed the abuse; and so on. Abstaining from a single hypothesis ensures that the gathering of evidence is done by asking questions that are not leading or suggestive of the information the interviewer is seeking to obtain.’

He was asked to consider the notice that Robinson had posted in Burns Lake before her arrival. He said:

‘Such an approach was fundamentally flawed because it identified, before the interviews, the alleged perpetrator, the nature of the behaviour being investigated and the time frame and place in which the behaviour occurred. These are crucial facts that must come from the persons being interviewed in a non-leading, non-suggestive way. When these facts are provided in advance, it is impossible to obtain a spontaneous story. The interviewer cannot know with any certainty whether the story came from the person’s memory or the information provided in advance of the interview.’

As for the gathering of witnesses ahead of her arrival, he said that it is basic investigative protocol to ensure that witnesses do not interact with one another before the interview as they can, and will, unwittingly contaminate one another’s memories. And unless investigations are carried out in this way, an investigator cannot be confident that the information obtained is reliable. Using a particular hypothesis for an abuse investigation is dangerous, because it gives rise to the risk of confirmation bias.

Sister Melling, a nun who had been principal of Immaculata School, also testified. She remembered Furlong. He had never used the strap on a pupil. She introduced a punishment record book and discovered that a teacher had used the strap frequently on a student. She put a stop to this. It was not Furlong. Robinson had not contacted Melling, whose name was in the Vancouver telephone directory.

‘There are lots of journalists in hell’

The judge was critical of Robinson’s techniques. She had telegraphed her intentions ahead of the interviews. She had not recorded them. She did not seek independent verification of their claims. She had not taken the basic precaution of checking whether complainants had even attended Immaculata School, during Furlong’s time there. She failed to see that, while the complainants might believe their own stories, the issue was whether their memories were in fact reliable.

The court shared Dr Yuille’s concern about confirmation bias, saying that an investigator should attempt to disprove a hypothesis as vigorously as he attempts to prove it. This view is supported by Lee Hunter et al, the authors of Story-Based Inquiry: A Manual for Investigative Journalists (UNESCO, 2011), who say that hypothesis-based investigations can dig a deep grave for the innocent.

The judge noted that when subjected to even minimal testing, the claims of West, Abraham and Morice all foundered. She rejected the idea that historic-abuse investigations merit laxer standards. She rejected Robinson’s argument that the damage to Furlong’s reputation was done solely by the accusers: it was Robinson who set out to elicit their accusations. They had not come forward of their own accord. Robinson was not simply a conduit – she added her own personal attacks on Furlong to the reports and claims she made.

Moreover, she had bombarded various organisations, demanding to know how they intended to resolve the claims against Furlong, though by what process they were expected to do this, she never explained. Given the gravity of her accusations, Canadian law permitted Furlong considerable latitude in his response: the Queensberry rules did not apply. He was entitled to go on the offensive. His responses to her campaign were made in good faith and were relevant.

Moreover, by using the court process to ventilate fresh allegations under cover of litigation privilege, Robinson had misused it. She had also encouraged Abraham to go to the police. Robinson was invested in the police taking Abraham’s complaint seriously.

Case dismissed. The lessons for abuse investigations in the UK are obvious, however. Many historic-abuse cases kick off with a journalistic exposé, followed by national appeals from campaigners and state agencies for more ‘victims’ to come forward. We have become inured to the pre-identification of an alleged perpetrator, the nature of the behaviour being investigated and the timeframe and place in which it (allegedly) occurred, followed by a proliferation of complaints, which are taken to be mutually reinforcing. This cautionary tale from Canada on how not to witch-hunt should be required reading for UK journalists, media organisations, judges and law-enforcement agencies.

Original report here

More detail here. Excerpt:  "The ruling wraps a long legal battle that began with Furlong suing Robinson in the weeks after the article first appeared. He ultimately dropped his suit after winning a series of civil suits launched by former students. But Robinson continued with her defamation claim"

(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

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Los Angeles man exonerated after 16 years in jail over ‘Teardrop rapist’ attacks

HE MAY have looked like a killer to a jury, but it turns out that a man who served 16 years in jail for three sexual assaults was actually innocent.

Los Angeles man Luis Lorenzo Vargas was linked to a series of assaults in 1998 because of a teardrop tattooed near his left eye. He has always claimed he was innocent but his requests for an appeal were knocked back. It wasn’t until DNA tests were performed this year that he is now being released, the Los Angeles Times has reported.

Police believed Vargas was a man dubbed the “Teardrop rapist”, who was believed to have a similar tattoo and has been linked to 39 assaults extending back to 1995.

Investigators believe the rapist is still at large and are now uncertain whether the attacker actually has a teardrop tattoo, it could also be a scar or a mole near his eye.

Vargas was partly convicted because of his tattoo but suspicions were also heightened because he had pleaded guilty to raping his girlfriend while drunk in 1992.

Three victims identified him as the man who attacked them and even though several co-workers testified that Vargas had been at work at the times the attacks occurred, the jury convicted him and he was sentenced to 55 years in prison.

According to ABC News in the US, Vargas was convicted of kidnapping, forcibly raping and sodomising one woman and attempting to rape two others.

But as the attacks from the “Teardrop rapist” continued, Vargas got help from the California Innocence Project to examine DNA from one of the victims.

As the judge tossed out his convictions on Monday, Vargas broke down in court.

“I’ve believed in my father’s innocence the day he told me he was innocent,” Vagas’ 25-year-old daughter told reporters after the brief hearing.

Vargas has been released from jail but is still in federal custody because of immigration issues. There are hopes he will be released soon and can be reunited with his daughter, who was just 10 years old when he was convicted.

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

Friday, November 27, 2015

Don't have a miscarriage in Britain

British policing is as erratic as in a Third-world country.  Read the report below bearing in mind that they now mostly ignore both car theft and burglary.  Is there anything they are good for?  Oh, Yes! I remember.  They are good for devoting vast time and resources to  investigating  unsubstantiated and false allegations of pedophilia originating from known nutcases

A heartbroken mother-of-two was arrested on suspicion of murder after miscarrying a baby she did not even know she was expecting.

Laura Bull fainted three times after waking up in a pool of blood in the early hours of November 4. She miscarried a boy aged between 18-22 weeks in the bathroom of the family home she shares with partner Jack Walker and was rushed to hospital with a collapsed womb.

While being treated, the 29-year-old, from Braintree, Essex, told nurses that her baby's body could still be in her bathroom. Police and forensic officers headed round and, after investigating, arrested the couple the following day on suspicion of murder.

They then spent a night in the cells at Chelmsford police station.  Officers finally made sense of the traumatic experience and dropped the charge 24 hours later.

However, instead of scrapping it completely, they only downgraded it to the lesser offence of concealing the birth of a child, bailing the couple until February pending further enquiries.

The pair now say their lives have been made a 'living nightmare' by the experience - which has left them unable to bury the child's body and even turned their neighbours against them.

Before attending the hospital, the pair cleaned their blood soaked toilet to avoid worrying their children. 'There was a lot of blood on the floor and I didn't want the kids to see,' said Miss Bull.

However, when police attended their home, it is believed they considered that to be suspicious - and accused the pair of murder.

That charge has since been changed but the whole traumatic ordeal has been made even worse by the police involvement, the couple claim.

Since the incident, they say they have been unable to sleep, describing the situation as 'living in a nightmare'.

Mr Walker, an electrician, said the couple only found out the sex of their stillborn child after reading their own story in a local newspaper.

He added that he and Laura had done nothing wrong and only tried to cover evidence of the miscarriage for the sake of their four year-old daughter and 16 month-old son.

Mr Walker said: 'We didn't want our son to touch anything because he picks up stones and thinks they're sweets, so we covered everything up.

'I feel as if we are being treated like animals. We haven't had the body returned to us so we can't even hold a funeral.

'I had no way of contacting the kids. I didn't know what to think at the time. We don't even know if we can have children again, we haven't been told anything.'

Former care-worker, Miss Bull has now stated that the family of four may have to move from their home as their neighbours have refused to talk to them since the arrest.

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

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Chicago Cop Expected to Be Charged in Teen's Death

One would think that those 16 shots would vitiate any claim of self defense and constitute decisive evidence of ill-intent all by themselves

Cook County prosecutors are expected to charge a white Chicago police officer with murder in the death of a black teenager who was shot 16 times more than a year ago, an official close to the investigation said Monday night.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the charges, told The Associated Press that Jason Van Dyke is expected to be indicted Tuesday, as the city prepares to release squad-car video of the veteran officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

An attorney for Van Dyke did not respond to messages from the AP seeking comment, but said last week that the officer feared for his life and acted lawfully on the night of the incident.

Several people who have seen the video, which a judge ruled the city had to make public by Wednesday, say it shows the teenager armed with a small knife and walking away from several officers on Oct. 20, 2014. They say Van Dyke opened fire from about 15 feet and kept shooting after the teen fell to the ground. An autopsy report says McDonald was shot at least twice in his back. It also said PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, was found in the teen's system.

Also Monday night, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy recommended the firing of another officer who shot and killed an unarmed black woman in 2012.

A board that reviews allegations of misconduct by Chicago police recommended in September that Officer Dante Servin be fired for the shooting of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd. McCarthy said in a statement that he agreed with the assessment, saying Servin showed "incredibly poor judgment."

Boyd died after one of five bullets from Servin's handgun pierced her head. Servin said he fired because he felt threatened when he confronted a group at a park, and a judge found Servin not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and other charges during a trial that ended in April.

In the McDonald case, ministers, community leaders and others worry the graphic images of the shooting from the squad car dash-board camera could lead to the kind of unrest seen in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, after police-involved deaths. Mayor Rahm Emanuel called together a number of community leaders Monday to appeal for help in keeping the city calm.

The fears of unrest stem from longstanding tensions between the Chicago police and minority communities, partly due to the department's dogged reputation for brutality, particularly involving blacks. Dozens of men, mostly African American, said they were subjected to torture at the hands of a Chicago police squad headed by former commander Jon Burge during the 1970s, '80s and early '90s, and many spent years in prison. Burge was eventually convicted of lying about the torture and served 4½ years in prison.

Some attendees of the community meeting said afterward that city officials waited too long after McDonald was shot to get them involved.

"You had this tape for a year and you are only talking to us now because you need our help keeping things calm," one of the ministers, Corey Brooks, said after the meeting.

The judge ordered the Police Department to release the footage after the city had refused to do so for months, saying the investigations into the shooting weren't complete. Both the FBI and Cook County State's Attorney's Office had been looking into the incident.

Ira Acree, who described the meeting with Emanuel as "very tense, very contentious," said the mayor expressed concerns about the prospect of any demonstrations getting out of control.

Another minister who attended, Jedidiah Brown, said emotions were running so high that there would be no stopping major protests once the video is released.

Earlier Monday, Emanuel's office characterized the discussion as something "we regularly do on important topics." But Acree and another minister, Marshall Hatch, said it is a rare occurrence.

"This has the feeling of them scrambling," Hatch said.

The two ministers said blacks in the city are upset because the officer, though stripped of his police powers, has been assigned to desk duty and not fired.

"They had the opportunity to be a good example and a model across the country on how to improve police and community relations and they missed it," Acree said.

The Police Department said placing an officer on desk duty after a shooting is standard procedure and that it is prohibited from doing anything more during the investigations.

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Australia: For 26 years, the state of NSW has pursued Roseanne Beckett, AKA Roseanne Catt

Last week, NSW Supreme Court Justice Ian Harrison ordered the state to pay Beckett $4,091,717 in damages for maliciously prosecuting her on charges of perjury and soliciting a man to murder her then husband Barry Catt. He also ordered the Crown to pay her costs, likely to be at least $4 million dollars.

For the convictions that resulted from these charges – now overturned – Beckett served six years in prison.

This malicious prosecution case has already gone for seven and half years. Beckett and her many supporters were hoping that the NSW government might finally let it rest. But it is already clear that the state has not ceased its campaign.

Justice Harrison noted the speed with which senior counsel for the Crown John Maconachie announced its intention to appeal, even before his judgment “had been delivered into its hands, let alone read”, reinforcing his perception that the state has only ever been interested in a “capitulation” by Beckett.

The Crown had only until November 24 to apply for a stay or halt on Justice Harrison’s orders pending an appeal. Yesterday afternoon, Beckett received news from her lawyers Turner Freeman that the Crown will apply for such orders next Monday morning, just one day short of the deadline. The application will be opposed.

The big unresolved issue now hanging over this historic miscarriage of justice case is not whether Beckett was guilty of the nine charges initiated by then Newcastle Detective Peter Thomas, who led a team of other police on a raid on her home way back in August 1989. Instead the big questions are: why has the Crown so determinedly defended the improper conduct of Thomas? And why has the NSW government so comprehensively failed to hold those who acted on its behalf accountable?

Thomas, who avoided disciplinary charges related to intimidating witnesses in his campaign to send Beckett to prison, resigned from the NSW police force before her trial in 1991. But he remained actively involved in pursuing Beckett and any who he saw as supporting her cause until his death shortly before the malicious prosecution hearing ended last year. Reporters were not immune. He attempted to blacken my own name by spreading allegations to News Corporation, ABC’s Media Watch, Fairfax Media and the Media Alliance that I was biased against him because he arrested me in my youth. These allegations were false.

Malicious prosecution cases are notoriously hard to prove because the plaintiff must show not only that the prosecutor had malicious intent but also that there was an absence of any reasonable cause to prosecute. Harrison found Thomas “intensely disliked” Beckett, who had previously laid a complaint against him. He found that Thomas was a frightening and “corrupt bully” who used “intimidating antics” to pressure witnesses in the Beckett case. He found that the plaintiff had established the essential ingredient of malicious intent on all counts.

Beckett only succeeded in proving an absence of reasonable cause to charge her in two of six counts. Nevertheless, this still meant a verdict was entered in her favour. Although she did not prove absence of reasonable cause on the other four counts, she was acquitted of two other charges and another three were dismissed by the Court of Criminal Appeal in 2005. She remains convicted of two charges. She served terms of imprisonment on eight charges though Justice Harrison was of the view that most of these charges would not have ordinarily have led to a prison sentences and that the case would have been entirely different if Thomas had not been involved.

While she was in prison Beckett was badly assaulted, a contract was taken out on her life, and her health suffered. The damages are intended as some compensation for these long years of wrongful imprisonment and suffering, her loss of family and friends, her right to work, and damage to her reputation which began when Thomas arranged for her to be taken handcuffed from her home in Taree and paraded in front of the local media.

As Justice Harrison commented, there is no way of knowing what Beckett’s life might have been. In 1989, she was a 42-year old woman with no criminal record who he observed was definitely of “good character” and had considerable “energy and independence”. Her fight for justice has required every ounce of that energy and independence.

Last week’s decision was the second stage in Justice Harrison’s judgement. Twenty-six years from the day of her arrest in August 24, Justice Harrison handed down his decision and awarded Beckett $2.3m in damages. It’s normal to pay interest on damages and the judge asked lawyers for Beckett and the Crown barristers to agree on interests and costs before he finalised his judgement. Only if they failed to do so would he need to preside over a further hearing.

On that day Beckett and her supporters celebrated her victory at a press conference which most of the media also assumed was the finale. But this was not the first time that Beckett has made a victory speech.

After nearly a decade in prison Beckett was released in 2001 when a fresh appeal was ordered after new evidence emerged in her case. In 2004, at the end of a four-month inquiry, Justice Davidson found that it was likely that key prosecution witnesses had conspired to fabricate evidence against her. The Crown completely rejected his findings. Nevertheless, Beckett won her appeal. By now she had been acquitted of two charges and another five had been dismissed. At that stage, the NSW Labor government could have offered some compensation. It declined to do so.

She sued for malicious prosecution. The NSW state then spent a considerable amount of public money in an unsuccessful High Court bid to deprive her of the right to sue. No settlement was offered and the case continued with the Crown taking every technical point to keep evidence of Thomas’ misconduct in this and other matters out of the proceedings.

Last year, Beckett’s legal representatives offered to settle the case for $2 million. The Crown lawyers did not even reply. By that failure they added to the amount of public money at risk should they lose the case. Referring to the Crown’s failure to respond, Justice Harrison found that “the State’s total disregard for the offer of compromise does not inspire me with confidence that the State was anxiously hanging out for an opportunity to settle the proceedings. On the contrary, even allowing for the fact that my view of the settlement landscape was necessarily obstructed, I never once acquired the feeling that the State was even in the slightest fashion interested in settling the proceedings upon any basis other than a complete victory for it.”

The NSW Crown lawyers are supposed to act as ‘model litigants’. This means they should keep costs to a minimum and apologise where appropriate. They would appear to have fallen well short of model litigant conduct in this case.

The malicious prosecution trial took place last year. The Crown failed to call three key prosecution witnesses that Judge Davidson had found were likely to have fabricated evidence. This deprived Justice Harrison of the opportunity to see them give evidence and the plaintiff to chance to cross-examine them.

Beckett finally triumphed in August. Justice Harrison reminded the Crown that the case had already taken more than seven years. Would they finally accept the result? True to form, the lawyers representing the state did not blink.

Maconachie and his team of Crown lawyers proceeded to file submissions that normal legal principles should be varied so that Beckett would be deprived of both interest and costs. They described the damages as “staggering” and even “irrational”.

They turned once again on Beckett suggesting that she had “stigmatised” Thomas by falsely alleging that he had planted a gun on her. Although Beckett’s case that there was no reasonable basis for that charge was not accepted by Harrison, she was acquitted of the charge of possession of a gun by the Court of Criminal Appeal in 2005.

With no agreement between the parties the case resumed in late October. Acting for Beckett, Kylie Nomchong SC called on the Crown to withdraw the submissions and apologise to Beckett. But the Crown refused to do so arguing that the only possible reason why Harrison did not accept some aspects of Beckett’s evidence was that she had deliberately lied. Justice Harrison disagreed, pointing out that the Crown’s argument did not logically flow from his finding and that it could even be that he was wrong.

Without a hint of irony Maconachie argued that he should be given more time to consider arguments for a stay in judgement pending an appeal given that public money was at stake. Given the millions spent in pursuing her, the murmur his comment inspired from Beckett’s staunch supporters was hardly surprising.

According to information supplied in response to a freedom of information request from NSW Greens Legal spokesperson MP David Shoebridge, the Crown had already outlaid more than $2.8 million in fees and disbursements in the defending Beckett’s claim for damages up until April this year. This includes fees for senior counsel and two junior barristers during the malicious prosecution trial. It does not include the cost of months of time of a small team of in-house government solicitors or the court time. For every written submission and judgement and every minute of court hearing the public bill grows. Along with the damages and plaintiff’s costs this case will have cost more than $13 million. The public cost of the entire case against Beckett would be at least $30 million including costs of imprisonment, courts, police, and massive legal bills for the Crown and defence.

It is worth looking more closely at the findings in the two counts in which it was decided there was no reasonable basis for the charge.

At the time of her arrest, Beckett had charged her husband with assault. Instead of allowing the part-heard proceedings to continue, Thomas charged Beckett with perjury. On the day the assault case was due to continue, he improperly arranged for her bail to be withdrawn so that she was held in custody. Although the Supreme Court soon released her again, the assault proceedings were never finalised. Justice Harrison found that the “laying of the perjury charge was patently improper” and that Thomas could have formed “no honest or reasonable belief” that Beckett was guilty of the charge.

Justice Harrison described the allegation that Beckett had approached a drunken man called James Morris, whom she did not even know, to kill her husband as an “extraordinary” one which Thomas had “never once sought to verify it or test.” Instead he found that Thomas proceeded “at full throttle to prefer a serious charge for the wrongful purpose of getting back at Beckett for the mischief he felt she had caused him.” (The mischief was a complaint against Thomas’ conduct several years earlier). At the time Morris, who had resigned as the Aboriginal Police Liaison officer in Taree, was vulnerable because there were public rumours that he was involved in the abuse of Aboriginal girls. Justice Harrison found that Thomas “utilised the legal system in a way that did not secure justice but perverted it.”

These are the findings of fact that the state so strenuously resists. It is the verdicts on these two cases against which the Crown has indicated it will appeal. If it does, Beckett could counter appeal on the four counts that she did not win.

A Curiously Strident Submission

Justice Harrison was clearly not impressed by the Crown’s submissions.

He referred to their criticisms of his judgement as being submitted “somewhat boldly” and to their “curiously strident terms.” In response to the Crown’s description of the damages as “a staggering sum” and “irrational”, he wrote, “The significance of their characterisation in the present context is not immediately apparent to me.”

He noted that the Crown had made it “abundantly clear” that it would appeal his judgment. “However, the precise areas of challenge to my decision, apart from what may be gleaned from the generally agitated tone of his submissions, have not as yet been specified,” he added.

Justice Harrison’s judgment is cautious. He has clearly striving to be fair to both sides and did not overreach in his findings against the police. He has not accepted all of Beckett’s claims. But he did find there had been an “egregious failure in policing and an institutional failure of remarkable proportions” in allowing Thomas to be involved in the case. The Crown can only appeal on legal not factual grounds so it will be scrambling to find legal points on which to mount an arguable appeal.

At every point, the Crown has used its discretion to fight this case. It could easily have decided otherwise. So if it is not the law that is driving the Crown’s conduct, what factors might explain it?

What’s Driving The Crown?

The Crown stands to lose a lot of money on this case. Some may be arguing that it is better to risk losing EVEN more than give up NOW.

For years it seems that the Crown might be fending off damaging allegations about police involvement in a paedophilia ring in Taree, and abuse of Aboriginal girls. There were allegations even before Beckett was arrested about these activities and they were never resolved. The children of Beckett’s ex-husband, Barry Catt, alleged that when they were very young they had been made to watch pornographic movies and perform sexual acts in front of their father and police including Thomas. These allegations were withdrawn. Files disappeared and witnesses went missing. Several years after Beckett went to prison, more evidence emerged that police were involved in abuse of Aboriginal girls in Taree.

In the light of the revelations about child abuse in the mid north coast region of NSW and the Royal Commissions into institutional responses to child abuse, the allegations do not seem so unlikely today as they did in 1989. Only an open inquiry free of adversarial process could establish the truth of these allegations.

This aspect of the case has consistently been put aside as irrelevant by lawyers on both sides but ran as a dark unexplored current through the case. In the earlier years of the case it could be that some police and other witnesses had an interest in protecting Thomas and Barry Catt, both of whom died last years.

It is also true that miscarriages of justice cases involving corrupt police are hotly resisted because of the potential flow on impacts on other cases. Beckett was not Thomas’s only victim. The Crown settled at least one other malicious prosecution case while Beckett was in prison and another potential case was never launched because the victim lacked legal resources.

The Gender Issue

But there is also the issue of gender. The original Crown case depended on Beckett having almost magical witch-like powers. She was supposed to be able to manipulate police and psychiatrists against her husband and hypnotise witnesses. While the media treatment was fair before her conviction the trial judge’s phrase ‘evil and manipulative’ stuck. After her conviction there were double page spreads portraying her as a wicked stepmother and plotting wife. Prison files embedded the label in the official record when she would not admit her guilt.

Her strong exterior does not appeal to those who expect women to be vulnerable under pressure, especially when they have already been warned that she is ‘evil and manipulative’. One gets the impression that whatever the evidence, some Crown lawyers harbour an antipathy to her.

Those who know Beckett know what a toll the ordeal has taken on her but she has never crumbled. She has been fierce in her protestations of innocence and publicly scathing about the police and lawyers who pursued her.

The author knows from experience the whispering campaign among police, lawyers, journalists, and even judges to undermine any sympathy for her. She has been accused of being a prostitute, having an affair with a politician and involved in organised crime. None of these accusations had the slightest basis in reality.

She and her husband’s children were certainly the victims of domestic abuse. After she went to prison another woman who was severely assaulted by Catt stayed at a local women’s refuge. On the steps of the court last week Beckett expressed the hope that now that domestic violence is in the news another women in her situation might be treated differently.

Last week when Justice Harrison handed down his final judgement Maconachie was not there. But Justice Harrison categorically rejected the Crown’s proposition that Beckett’s conduct has somehow deprived the State of an opportunity to resolve the proceedings other than by litigation.

Those in charge of decisions about how the Crown should use its scarce resources must seek independent advice from a team with fresh eyes. A line should have been drawn on the 26-year campaign against Roseanne Beckett and compensation paid not just last week but a decade ago.

Original report here

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Police misconduct in Cairns, Australia

By Madelaine Stover, writing on 20th

Wow!!!!! What a crazy 48 hours our family has just been through.

It started yesterday morning when the police came to our house without a warrant to arrest my dad. They then ended up arresting my sister and letting her go which i'm assuming because the officers reason for the arrest wouldn't match up to the facts?

Then sometime between 2:30-3:00 am the property was raided by what I now know where members from the tactical crime squad. They all refused to identify themselves and came through my place without producing a warrant or any ID. They were forcing me to comply to their orders (even though I had no idea who they were) by using a dog to scare and intimidate me.

Then this morning another large number of police officers or tactical crime squad members swarmed the property and arrested my dad...I witnessed the officer slam his face into the ground and jam his knee into the center of my dads back. An extremely unnecessary force for a peaceful man who was complying (in fact one officer tripped over and my dad kindly asked him if he was okay while he was handcuffed....because that is the type of man my dad is).

My dad had his court case today and was released without any charges after he represented himself. All this force when no crime has been commited by this man.

My dad, sister and I have all been treated in such an unprofessional, disturbing way by the Cairns police in the past 48 hours and we have NO CHARGES and NO CRIMES have been committed by any of us.

This is important for people to know as there have been a couple of nasty comments such as 'well if you want to be treated fairly by police then don't break the law'. None of us have and the result of the court case today shows that.

Some people are aware that my dad reveals disturbing information about the police and the fraud of the government. We strongly believe this was the reason for being targeted by the police.

Everything that happened over the past 48 hours was in relation to an alleged minor traffic infringement, which my dad wasn't charged for in the court today. A lot of force for something so small right!?! A whole tactical squad (which is very expensive tax dollars) for an alleged traffic incident that my dad was not found guilty of.

The CCC have been contacted and were concerned about the police and the way they conducted their procedures. We will be putting our evidence together for them to start their investigation.

The past 48 hours were scary and tough for our family. Everyones kind words, love and support are what helped us through. Thank you so much to everyone who supported. We are all okay for now smile emoticon big love!!

Original report here.  Video here. (Via Australian Politics)

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Monday, November 23, 2015

British dickless Tracy who killed a young motorcyclist when she reversed in her marked police van is banned from driving for a year but keeps her job

A police officer convicted of causing the death of a young motorcyclist has kept her job. PC Patsy Blakeborough made a U-turn in her marked police van and collided with Scott Gibson, 23, who died of multiple injuries at the scene.

A misconduct hearing yesterday determined that she had committed gross misconduct. She was given a final written warning but retained her job with Cumbria Constabulary.

PC Blakeborough was found guilty of causing death by careless driving after a trial in August.

She was was given a 12-month community order, 180 hours unpaid work, was banned from driving for a year and ordered to pay costs of £2,800.

She appeared before a panel of Cumbria Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Darren Martland, Detective Superintendent Andy Slattery and independent panel member Brian Collins.

Barney Branston, presenting the case for the Chief Constable, told the hearing that PC Blakeborough failed to consider the location and potential for high speed vehicles on the A590 at Melton Brow, Cumbria.

Mark Aldred, defending, said PC Blakeborough was 'of the opinion the road was clear'.  Mr Aldred made reference to public and five police witness statements concerning the high speed that Mr Gibson had been travelling at.  He said a member of the public had been shocked by the 'phenomenal' speed.

A father and son said they felt Mr Gibson had been travelling at around 80mph in a 40mph area. Mr Aldred said the witness had remarked on a 'devil may care' attitude and his son had said 'someone is going to die'.

The hearing was told traffic police on another part of the A590 had flashed Mr Gibson to slow down and given a hand signal but there was 'no reaction'.

They assessed he was travelling at around 100mph when the limit was 60mph. The likely speed at impact was believed to be around 70mph.

After the panel returned with the gross misconduct finding, the defence called Superintendent Rob O’Connor, who told of PC Blakeborough’s exemplary career record with the police, which includes numerous commendations for bravery, professionalism and performance.

Supt O’Connor read statements from her superiors describing her as an 'outstanding officer', a 'key member of the team' and 'highly regarded'.

They said her professionalism continued after the incident in April 2014.  The South Cumbria commander said: 'She is an excellent officer and a valuable asset of the constabulary. That is what I have seen first hand.'

When PC Blakeborough was asked if she wanted to comment she struggled to through tears but said: 'I do regret what happened.'

Assistant Chief Constable Martland said the panel had considered all aspects, including the impact on Mr Gibson’s family, the trust in the police force and the impact on PC Blakeborough and her family.

The panel also expressed their condolences to Mr Gibson’s family.

PC Blakeborough was told she would have to carry out a full driver training programme at the end of her disqualification.

Original report here

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Police officer involved in fatal shooting defamed by trial lawyer

Trial lawyer thought he was judge and jury

A JURY has found a Queensland barrister defamed a police officer involved in the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Tyler Cassidy.  Tyler was shot dead in 2008 after an armed confrontation with police in a skate park near Northcote Plaza.

Sergeant Colin Dods says he was defamed by Queensland barrister Michael McDonald in articles written about Tyler’s death on a website.

This morning a six member jury agreed, finding the articles defamed Sgt Dods by saying he executed the teen, was guilty of manslaughter, had used excessive force and had “gunned him down like he was a monster and dangerous mangy dog”.

“I was doing everything in my power to avoid a fatal outcome for Tyler Cassidy,” Sgt Dods earlier told the jury. Sgt Dods said he was devastated by the shooting and had two dates “seared” in to his memory: the date of the tragedy and Cassidy's birthday: April 20, 1993.  “I'm forced to consider every year what the impact might be on that family,” Sgt Dods said.

In 2011 Coroner Jennifer Coates was unable to identify which of the four officers present when Cassidy was killed fired the fatal shot.

Sgt Dods is a former Scotch College student who worked as a teacher before joining the police force in 2000.

Sgt Dods said in evidence Mr McDonald had endangered his two young children by publishing his off-duty movements.

Sgt Dods tried to contact Mr McDonald several times and complained to various Queensland law bodies before launching defamation proceedings.

The matter returns before Justice Kevin Bell for further legal argument and submissions on damages.

Original report here

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Australia: The unaccountable destroyer of lives we call ICAC

When a corruption watchdog goes bad

ON the morning of May 2, 2014, Mike Gallacher, a cop who had risen to become police minister, was on stage addressing graduates of the Police academy at Goulburn.

“The community will always back the police to do the right thing,” Gallacher was saying, when his press secretary Clint McGilvray started fielding frantic text messages.

Geoffrey Watson, SC, counsel assisting ICAC, had just dropped the bombshell corruption allegation that would destroy Gallacher’s career.  Watson alleged in a question to a developer that Gallacher, 54, was the mastermind of a “corrupt scheme to make donations to the Liberal Party”.

Within hours Premier Mike Baird had demanded his resignation.

Gallacher is a man who prides himself on integrity, a former undercover cop in Internal Affairs, a working class battler who dragged himself up by his bootstraps from Mt Druitt High, and public housing in at Lethbridge Park. Now he had been accused of the one thing he had spent his life fighting.

“That C word for me is death”, he says.

“I am an ex undercover cop against corrupt police and the utterance of the word corrupt was the most devastating thing given my history in the police force.”

And so began the surreal nightmare that is now so familiar to anyone caught up with the unaccountable star chamber we call ICAC.

For 18 months Gallacher has been in limbo on the cross bench of state parliament, his salary halved, his family shell-shocked, his Liberal colleagues wary of the association.

Yet to this date ICAC has never produced any evidence to prove its incendiary claim that he is corrupt. Despite repeated attempts by Gallacher’s lawyer Arthur Moses for Watson to substantiate his allegations all the ICAC counsel has said is “we have plenty of stuff and we have sworn testimony from a reliable person.”

Gallacher appeared in the ICAC witness box for two days and Watson never produced any “stuff” linking him to a Liberal slush fund into which illegal donations from developers had been channelled.

The worst of ICAC’s allegations against Gallacher involve the presence of two property developers at a fundraising dinner at Doyle’s Circular Quay on New Year’s Eve in 2010. There were about 20 guests at the $1000 a head dinner, which made a profit of $5000, but property developers had been banned from donating money to political parties since the previous year.

Gallacher denies he has done anything underhand and is waiting for ICAC to provide the evidence against him so he can clear his name.

He can’t understand why it won’t publish its findings on Operation Spicer, the political donations inquiry. How complicated can it be? Magistrates decide more complex cases every day.

The personal toll of the long wait has been devastating.

“It has affected me very deeply because of the sheer nature of the shame, and the public humiliation.

“I would see police walking down the street and cross the road and walk on the other side because I felt I’d brought shame on the police by being named”.

Adding to his burden was his wife’s ill health. Judy was scheduled to have a nine hour operation for breast cancer on the first day Gallacher had to testify at ICAC.

His mother in law had a heart attack two weeks after Watson’s allegations. His mother collapsed at bridge and was hospitalised with high blood pressure and renal failure.

Staffers who worked for Gallacher have struggled to find jobs, even interstate, because the taint of ICAC is lethal to careers

Being named at ICAC is not a theoretical exercise. It has real and dramatic consequences, particularly for people who value their reputations.

In the last two years, ICAC has brought down a premier, a commissioner of the SES and 10 government MPs (all but Gallacher have left parliament), all without proving its allegations of corruption, or managing to muster a single prosecution.

It sidelined for more than a year Arthur Sinodinos, who had been Tony’ Abbott’s federal assistant treasurer, so that his expertise was denied to the government’s crucial first budget.

In other words ICAC has interfered with the running of democratically elected NSW and federal governments. And for what benefit?

Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, SC, as dedicated and effective a public servant as you would ever find, was targeted by ICAC over a private matter of a car accident involving her son’s girlfriend.

She and her family were dragged through the wringer until she cleared their names through expensive litigation that ended up in the High Court.

Cunneen, too, was forced to stand aside from a murder trial and twiddle her thumbs at home after ICAC cast a pall over her reputation.

Every public official or politician who has been named by ICAC has had to resign or stand aside. And yet when ICAC itself comes under fire, it is not bound by the same code of conduct.

When ICAC is humiliated in the High Court for having overreached in the Cunneen matter, or when ICAC inspector David Levine, QC, has to launch two inquiries into its conduct, and makes scathing findings about its “arrogance” and “hauter”, no gesture is made to safeguard the reputation of the institution.

Unlike ICAC’s victims, Commissioner Megan Latham has not offered to stand aside from her $689,856 a year job pending the outcome of David Levine’s inquiries.

For ICAC it is business as usual.

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

Friday, November 20, 2015

'The justice system has failed us outrageously': British mother's fury after pervert who raped her five-year-old daughter walks free from court

The family of a five-year-old girl raped by a teenager have blasted his sentence as pathetic after he avoided a custodial sentence and left court with just a £15 victim surcharge and two-year rehabilitation order.

Aged 16 at the time, the attacker - who cannot be named for legal reasons - subjected his young victim to a horrific ordeal in December last year.

While playing a computer game, he began kissing the girl before removing her clothes and raping her.

He told her to keep the sickening ordeal a secret but she confessed everything to her mother after being left in severe pain, who then phoned the police.

Since then her family have been 'ripped apart' by what happened, with the victim said to be a 'different girl' to what she was before.

At Leicester Crown Court, her now 17-year-old attacker, from Burbage, was given a two year youth rehabilitation order with a requirement to attend a sex offender programme.

He was told to pay a victim surcharge of £15 and to register himself on the sex offenders register for two and half years.

That sentence the family have slammed as failing their daughter 'so outrageously'.

The young girl's mother told the Hinckley Times: 'This whole thing has ripped our family apart - when I heard the sentence being handed down I felt sick.

'The trauma has been unbearable. My daughter is a different girl now and will have to live with this forever.

'It is unacceptable that Leicester Crown Court, the very place that this young girl was relying on to help get her justice, has failed her so outrageously.

'We say that the sentence must be appropriate and in accordance with the severity of the crime.'

The teenage rapist pleaded guilty to the charge at a hearing in September, admitting that he had carried out the serious sexual assault.

His victim's family expected a far tougher sentence but were left distraught by the outcome.

A campaign has since been launched by the girl's mother to try and raise funds to bring the teenager back to court.

A friend has set up an online petition to try and get the sentence reviewed.

The mother added: 'My daughter has since suffered dreadful emotional distress and has undergone counselling but sadly still suffers and always will.

'The offender is still walking the streets and I believe he is an extreme danger to any child who may come across him.'

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

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Black man was handcuffed when he was shot by Minneapolis police.  Why?

Reports from black witnesses to shootings have repeatedly been shown to be worthless so everything will depend on what the videos show

THE emergency call came from an ordinary looking apartment block in Minneapolis. A domestic incident, a man and his partner arguing.

When police arrived, guns drawn, they are said to have found Jamar Clark trying to prevent, or at least hindering, ambulance officers giving treatment to his partner.

Moments later Mr Clark, 24, was on his back on the pavement with a bullet hole above his eye. His heart was still beating but the wound left his brain dead, and his life support was switched off.

There is conflict about what happened in the crucial few seconds between the police arriving and Mr Clark being shot.

People watching from nearby apartments say he was on the ground, not resisting and in handcuffs. They said there were two officers standing over him before the shot was heard.

One neighbour, Nekelia Sharp, said he tried to speak to his partner; that’s when he was handcuffed and shot, she alleged.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is leading the investigation into what is officially a homicide, has obtained video of the scene from several sources, including police themselves and the ambulance, but will not reveal what they show.

“[We] don’t want to taint the interviews that may be ongoing with witnesses in this case and by having the videos being public we may potentially taint portions of the investigation,” Minnesota BCA superintendent Drew Evans told reporters.

However, he did confirm handcuffs were found at the scene.

For their part, police say Mr Clark was not handcuffed, but have not explained where the handcuffs came from. One possibility as they fell from an officer during the incident. But they have not said why police felt the need to shoot, which should be a last resort if they or others are in imminent danger.

In a statement, Mr Evans said there had been a “struggle” but did not directly address reports Mr Clark allegedly reached for an officer’s gun.

Supporters of Mr Clark say that he was virtually dead from the time police arrived; that a black man’s life is in far greater jeopardy than a white man’s in the same situation, while the police chief Janee Harteau said: “This incident should not and will not define us.”

The Mayor Betsy Hodges has called in federal investigators from the Department of Justice, well aware of the simmering anger in the community

“We’ve been saying for a long time that Minneapolis was one bullet away from Ferguson. Well, that bullet was fired last night,” Jason Sole, an associate professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University, told the local Star Tribune.

Details have emerged on social media of what officers were heard talking about on the police scanner before the shooting, including a call for backup. “We’ve got a big crowd; we need a lot of cops.”

This was in apparent response to the hysterical group of bystanders who saw the shootings and swarmed around emergency vehicles that were responding. In a video posted on Facebook by a witness, one woman was repeatedly shouting, “Y’all just killed that man!” Others stood close by taunting and pointing at police.

In the tense confrontation that followed several people were pepper sprayed to get the growing crowd back. Meanwhile, family of Mr Clark rushed to his bedside to discover there was nothing that could be done to save him.

One devastated family member told the Star Tribune he was shot in the head “execution style”.

Over the last 48 hours a rally called by Black Lives Matter a few blocks from the police headquarters with an estimated 250 people forming a barricade around the protest to form a “no cops zone”.

Protest organisers also ignored an invitation from Mayor Hodges to a formal community meeting she was conducting — at that meeting someone in the crowd loudly heckled her, while at the rally, organisers continued to maintain Mr Clark was shot while handcuffed, and doubted any official inquiry would be impartial.

So far there has not been any of the violence other US cities have faced after police shootings like the havoc wrecked in Ferguson, in Missouri, after the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.  But if the inquiry reveals police are guilty of what has been alleged, the tense situation, which is already on a knife-edge, could explode.

Mica Grimm, an organiser with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, was among a group of university students and activists occupying an entryway to the station.

She said people plan to stay there — taking turns for weeks, if necessary — until the officer responsible for the shooting is arrested, The Atlantic reported.  “We’re here because police officers have gotten away with murder for so long and we’re tired of it,” Ms Grimm said.

Original report here

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Girl Guide leader who sent hate mail packed with razor blades to herself that led to an innocent woman being locked up avoids jail

I hope the sentence is appealed.  She did a lot of harm.  The police are also to blame for acting on no evidence

A girl guide leader who sent herself threatening letters containing razor blades in an 'manipulative' stunt which landed an innocent woman in jail has today walked free from court.

Glesni Phillips, 20, sparked a major police inquiry by writing bogus hate mail from an imaginary stalker which led to female police officer Kaylie Davies being arrested.

The 27-year-old spent a night behind bars, had her computer seized and spent two months on bail before police realised Phillips was sending the 'disturbing' letters to herself.

Today, the Brownie leader, from Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, avoided jail 'by a whisker' as the judge branded her actions 'disgraceful and manipulative'.

Judge Jonathan Furness: 'Everyone was taken in by your behaviour and the police arrested Kayleigh Davies, a Special sergeant. It was demeaning and belittling for her to be locked up by her own colleagues.

'She went off work with anxiety and depression as a consequence of your false allegations. This was attention seeking, it made you feel good. It is a pathetic story.'

Swansea Crown Court had heard how Phillips, who was also a volunteer with St John Ambulance, initially went to police to report one threatening letter.  She then told them about a second letter which she claimed told her she was being 'watched'.

Officers soon began suspecting Miss Davies, whose car was spotted near Phillips' home. The pair knew of one another but were not friends and did not spend time with one another.

The court heard how the probe then escalated when Phillips was sent another letter containing razor blades, which apparently told her to 'use them.'

Despite Miss Davies being arrested over the letters, the court heard how Phillips did not tell police about the error. She even continued to complain to police about made-up allegations, including that someone had burgled her house and that she had been attacked on a clifftop.

Prosecutor Janet Gedrych said: 'Phillips was made aware of the arrest but did not tell the police they had made an error.

'She continued to complain to police that she was being stalked and that someone had burgled her house and scrawled offensive words on the walls.

'She later claimed she had been attacked while taking photographs on a clifftop at the seaside village of Solva. More than 10 officers were involved in the search for her attacker which involved dog handlers.

'But the police became suspicious of Phillips and during an interview she admitted writing some of the letters.'

Phillips sat with her head bowed in the dock as she admitted perverting the course of justice. James Jenkins, defending, pleaded for her not to be jailed because she had never named Miss Davies as a suspect.

Phillips, who was in court with her parents, was given a 12-month suspended sentence and ordered to carry out 240 hours unpaid work. She was ordered to pay £1,100 compensation to Miss Davies.

Miss Davies said after the case: 'I am disappointed - I expected her to go to jail for all the stress and worry she caused me. 'What she did will affect me for a long time, I feel as if I can't go back to working with the police after this.'

Original report here

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

UK police pay £12,500 compensation to man they bruised when tackling him to the ground during an arrest which was gleefully filmed by shoppers

A man who was left bruised after being tackled to the ground by police because he was selling CDs has been awarded £12,500 compensation.

Shocking footage shows the moment officers tackled the unnamed 45-year-old in Sefton Park, Liverpool, because he did not have the correct licence to sell.

The clip shows the man being approached by community support officers on August 3 last year.

The PCSOs then call for back up before two officers tackle the man, who is wearing a white T-shirt and shorts, to the ground and hold him down.

Onlookers gather as the incident happens with one woman, who is with a child in a wheelchair, appearing to film it on her mobile phone.

The clip ends with a crowd, including a number of young children, gathering as the man is put into handcuffs and led into a police van.

Chris Topping, the victim's solicitor, said the man was left with cuts and bruises after the incident.

He was charged with assault on the two officers but was acquitted at the Community Justice Centre in Bootle in February.

Mr Topping said: 'The client contacted us after he had been acquitted in court and we made a claim for damages.  'The police came back fairly quickly with the offer.'

A spokesman for Merseyside Police said the force carefully considered the civil action and it was thoroughly examined by the force's legal team. He said: 'It was considered that in this case it was appropriate to make an offer of compensation to the claimant.

'Merseyside Police is determined to demonstrate the highest levels of integrity and to ensure officers maintain professional standards at all times.

'The force recognises the importance of maintaining people's confidence and trust in the services we provide to our communities across Merseyside.'

Original report here

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Monday, November 16, 2015

FBI investigating 'senseless murder' of rancher, 62, gunned down by deputies while he was trying to euthanize his 2,500lb bull

The FBI has launched an investigation into the death of an Idaho rancher who was shot and killed by sheriff's deputies after one of his bulls was struck by a car and charged emergency crews.

Jack Yantis, 62, died on November 1 after an altercation with two Adams County deputies near the town of Council that was spurred on by his 2,500-pound Gelbvieh bull, Idaho State Police said.

The dead rancher's family claims the deputies had shot the bull before Yantis got to the scene with his .204-caliber rifle. As they had failed to kill the animal, they asked Yantis to put it out of its misery.

What happened next is unclear, but family members who claim they saw the shooting said Yantis aimed the gun at the animal lying on the highway pavement, the Idaho Statesman reported.

The deputies stood behind Yantis as he put the barrel a few feet from the bull's head with his finger on the trigger and then one of them turned the rancher around and pushed him, his family said.

Relatives think the gun might have gone off accidentally and caused the deputies to open fire, with bullets striking Yantis in the chest and abdomen.

'There was no shootout. It was a senseless murder,' said Yantis' daughter, Sarah.

Investigators said it is believed that Yantis and both of the deputies fired their weapons.

The well-known cattle rancher had a criminal record and had previously been found guilty of resisting or obstructing officers, and driving under the influence, according to state records.

US Attorney Wendy Olson said federal authorities are involved because of allegations the deputies used excessive force, which would violate US laws.

'The attorney general's office will carefully review the evidence, we'll carefully review the evidence, and decisions will be made.

'That does take a period of time to do and get right.'

Olson said the FBI's investigation is separate from the one by state police and that the Idaho attorney general and the US Attorney's Office would independently decide whether to file charges.

'Law enforcement should be trained to de-escalate situations,' said Rowdy Paradis, a nephew of the Yantis' who said he was a witness. 'In this case, I stood ten feet away and watched two deputies escalate the situation and needlessly kill a man.'

Yantis' wife, Donna, who was also at the scene, said she and Paradis tried to run to the fallen rancher but the deputies threw them to the ground.

She had a heart attack at the scene and had to be flown to a local hospital, where she recorded a video statement about what she said she had witnessed.

'And then they threatened me and my nephew ... threw us on the middle of Highway 95, searched us and handcuffed us, and wouldn't let us go take care of Jack,' she said in the video statement.

In the state's rural areas it is common for vehicles to strike livestock and Yantis had put down animals before, according to his relatives.

The deputies who were involved have not been identified and they are on paid administrative leave as per agency policy, according to the Adams County Sheriff's Office.

'Our thoughts are with our community and especially all those involved in this incident,' said Adams County Sheriff Ryan Zollman.

'The Adams County Sheriff's Office takes matters involving any use of force very seriously and we have requested detectives with the Idaho State Police to conduct the investigation into this incident.'

Original report here

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Police officer 'rejected call for help from disabled man before he was burned to death by his neighbours' because she was 'stuffing her face with POT NOODLE'

A police officer rejected a call for help from a disabled man who was later beaten and burned to death by his neighbours because she was 'stuffing her face' with a Pot Noodle, a court has heard.

Bijan Ebrahimi, 44, who was falsely branded a paedophile by a gang of neighbours, contacted police to report that there was a 'mob' of vigilantes outside his home in Brislington, Bristol.

But PC Leanne Winter - who had previously had contact with the victim - dismissed the call and asked the operator to tell terrified Mr Ebrahimi that she was 'busy' at a job, the jury was told.

In reality, the officer of nine years was allegedly sat in Broadbury Road police station - situated just three-and-a-half miles away from Mr Ebrahimi's home - tucking into an instant noodle snack.

Lee James, 24, beat up the man - whom he wrongly believed had been filming his daughters for sexual motives - before setting him alight and leaving him to die on some grass outside his flat.

James later pleaded guilty to murder and was jailed for life over the killing, while neighbor Stephen Norley - who had helped him set Mr Ebrahimi on fire - was sentenced to four years in prison.

This week, Bristol Crown Court heard how Mr Ebrahimi had frantically called the police, prompting the male operator to contact the local police station and ask to be put through to PC Winter, 38.

The operator - who was not identified - was allegedly told by one of the officer's colleagues: 'Leanne Winter is sat just opposite me stuffing her face with a Pot Noodle at the moment.'

PC Winter refused to speak with 'vulnerable' Mr Ebrahimi, the court heard

'I don't want to speak to him. Not at all. Tell him police will be with him when they can get there,' she apparently said. 'Tell him I am busy at a job and it won't particularly be me coming.'

PC Winter denies misconduct in a public office.

She has been charged in the case alongside colleagues PC Kevin Duffy, 52, PCSO Andrew Passmore, 55, and PC Helen Harris, 40.

Mr Ebrahimi had previously been visited by PC Winter and PC Harris after calling police on July 11, 2013, to report that James had beaten him up over the false belief he was a paedophile.

When the experienced officers arrived, one noted James was so angry he was 'foaming at the mouth' and bragged he would 'do time' to protect his children, the court heard.

The 26-year-old father mistakenly thought that Mr Ebrahimi, an immigrant, was filming children  for sexual reasons - but actually he was gathering evidence of alleged antisocial behaviour.

Despite viewing footage of James barging in Mr Ebrahimi's flat, the two officers arrested the victim in front of a 'vigilante crowd', it was said.

Mr Ebrahimi was released without charge on the morning of July 12 and driven home by PC Henrietta Staveley-Brown.

The victim made 12 further calls to police, hoping to speak to beat officer PC Duffy, whom he had been told would visit him later that day to log the assault, the court heard.

But although he was asked to investigate, Duffy allegedly said he was 'busy' because he 'disliked' Mr Ebrahimi and 'never found the time'.

Instead he sent PCSO Passmore, who despite claiming he spent an hour patrolling the area, actually stayed for 'three to four minutes', jurors were told.

By 2pm, Mr Ebrahimi had not heard anything from beat manager Duffy, so he started calling the non-emergency police 101 number to try and speak with him, it was said.

At 7.30pm, he then desperately asked to be put through to PC Staveley-Brown. However, the operator made a mistake and instead thought he wanted to speak with PC Winter.

But she allegedly ignored his call and said she was 'busy' - despite tucking into a Pot Noodle.

According to a statement made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in September 2013, that was read out in court this week, PC Winters said she was 'preparing an interview plan while waiting for a solicitor to arrive at the police station' at the time of Mr Ebrahimi's panicked call.

She said she didn't know why the victim wanted to speak with her.

And she even said she 'wasn't aware' Mr Ebrahimi knew her name, the jury heard.

But when Mr Ebrahimi was told PC Winter was not available, he reportedly got upset and said: 'What's going on? Your colleague told me forty minutes ago he is coming as soon as he can. 'I can't even open the door. What shall I do?'

Despite further calls to the police, Mr Ebrahimi was brutally murdered at 1am on July 14 on the green outside his flat. James punched and kicked him until he lost consciousness. Seconds later, he and Norley, 25, set the victim's body on fire.

Norley was charged with assisting an offender for his role in the murder.

The trial - which is expected to last up to six weeks - continues.

Original report here

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