Monday, October 31, 2016

British government's pogrom against journalists finally unwound

'The Met Police and Crown Prosecution Service effectively made up a law on the hoof.

A news reporter who was convicted after a controversial investigation into the payment of public officials has been cleared of all wrongdoing today.

Sun crime reporter Anthony France, 42, from Watford, was accused of having a four-year 'corrupt relationship' with a police officer but saw his conviction quashed by three judges at the Court of Appeal in London on Thursday.

He was initially found guilty at a trial at the Old Bailey last year and given an 18-month suspended sentence.

Mr France was investigated under the high-profile, multimillion-pound Operation Elveden, which was launched in 2011 to investigate payments by journalists to public officials.

The Metropolitan Police operation, which cost £14.7 million, led to 90 arrests and 34 convictions, including police officers and 21 public officials.

But, out of 29 cases against journalists brought by the Crown Prosecution Service, the only jury conviction to remain standing was that in Mr France's case.

A number of reporters were cleared by juries. Others had charges against them dropped, or they launched successful appeals following conviction.

After the ruling, Mr France said: 'I am delighted that this serious miscarriage of justice has ended today, allowing me to rebuild my life after 1,379 days of sheer hell.'

A News UK spokeswoman added after the ruling: 'Today, Anthony France's conviction has been overturned on appeal and we are delighted that these proceedings are now over for him.

'In the course of the last five years, 19 journalists from The Sun were prosecuted as a result of Operation Elveden and not one has resulted in any conviction being upheld.'

The ruling led to criticism of both the police and CPS from within the journalism and legal industries. Lawyer David Allen Green, who has a column for the Financial Times, wrote on Twitter that the CPS 'cobbled together' a piece of 'legal daftness' to go after journalists and that 'serious questions should be asked' over the decision to prosecute.

He said: 'When evidence of reporters paying public officials came to light, there was a legal problem for the police/cps. 'The problem was to identify what offences had allegedly been committed. What would be the charges? A basic point, you could say. 'The alleged offences took place before the Bribery Act was in place. So that Act couldn't be used.

'The public officials were therefore prosecuted for the ancient but vague offence of "misconduct in public office". Many pleaded guilty. 'But that left the reporters. They were not public officials and so could not be prosecuted for that (primary) offence.

'But the CPS decided to prosecute the reporters anyway: and used a strange legal means for doing so. The CPS constructed an elaborate (secondary) offence of aiding/abetting/conspiring with he public official to commit misconduct.

'The courts and juries could not make much sense of the offence - what was the requisite criminal intention? And so on. So in case after case in this "Operation Elveden", at great public expense, all the reporters (but one) were acquitted.'

He added: 'Some may say it is unfair to criticse the CPS over any acquittal. But this failure by CPS was wide-ranging and systemic.  'With France's acquittal, serious questions can and should now be asked of CPS over its prosecutions of reporters under Elveden.'

Press Gazette Editor Dominic Ponsford also wrote a column taking aim at the police and CPS over the 'shameful episode in the history of the UK criminal justice system'. He wrote: 'The Met Police and Crown Prosecution Service effectively made up a law on the hoof.

'They used the obscure offence of misconduct in public office against journalists who paid state employees for stories.'

Mr Ponsford added: 'What sort of a country puts journalists who wrote true stories about matters of public interest behind bullet proof glass at its top criminal court?'

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: 'The appeal court's decision shows why there needs to be far wider protection for journalists reporting in the public interest.

'In most of the cases in which journalists were charged, ordinary members of the public who made up juries clearly decided that journalists were working in the public interest.

'The police and the Crown Prosecution Service need to think more carefully before they charge journalists for informing the public.  'Careers and lives were destroyed by the over-long and hugely expensive police investigation.'

In May last year Mr France was given a jail sentence of 18 months, suspended for two years, after being convicted of aiding and abetting PC Timothy Edwards, who worked at Heathrow Airport in SO15 counter-terrorism command, to commit misconduct in public office between March 2008 and July 2011.

Mr France, described by the sentencing judge at his Old Bailey trial as a journalist of 'hitherto unblemished character' who was 'essentially a decent man of solid integrity', had his conviction overturned by Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice King and Mr Justice Dove.

Lady Justice Hallett said Mr France was 'one of a number of journalists and public officials whose conduct was investigated by police during Operation Elveden'.

She said: 'He was employed as a junior crime reporter at The Sun newspaper. The Sun openly advertised the fact it would pay money for stories.' Between March 31 2008 and July 1 2011, Edwards 'sold them 38 pieces of information'.

She added: 'The applicant wrote the articles that followed and submitted the necessary forms to his employers for Edwards to be paid. 'The forms had to be approved first by the news editor and then by an editor or deputy editor. In total, The Sun paid Edwards over £20,000.'

Edwards pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office and was jailed for two years in 2014.

The jury at Mr France's trial heard that Edwards passed on details ranging from airline pilots being breath-tested to a drunken model flying into a rage after 'catching her boyfriend romping with a woman next to him'.

The appeal centred on directions given to the jury at the trial by Judge Timothy Pontius.

Lady Justice Hallett said: 'Taking any one of those criticisms in isolation, we may not have been persuaded the summing-up rendered the conviction unsafe. 'However, we must consider their cumulative effect and read the summing-up as a whole.

'Having done so, we are driven to the conclusion that the jury were not provided with legally adequate directions tailored to the circumstances of the case and that the conviction is unsafe.'

Mr France said afterwards: 'Having spent more than three years and nine months fighting to clear my name, this is not a time for celebration. 'Nobody has 'won' and the public are less informed.'

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

Sunday, October 30, 2016

'F*** off and die you absolute a*******': Astonishing outburst from a police worker is recorded by man she failed to hang-up on before insulting

A police staff member has landed herself in hot water after she was recorded insulting a member of the public before adding he should 'f*** off and die'.

In the audio clip the unnamed Cleveland Police worker, who thought she had disconnected the call, can be heard describing a member of the public as an 'absolute complete and utter a*******'.

 She then continued: 'You just want to say, "f*** off and die, get a f****** life will you". You just want to say that to him, don't you?'

The recording was uploaded to Facebook by Michael Carey who had been speaking to the staff member about a Subject Access Request (SAR), when she failed to hang up properly.

The pair can be heard discussing the SAR, a request for information under the Data Protection Act, when the woman appears to put the phone down.

But she did not know the call was still connected when she began being abusive towards Mr Carey.

Mr Carey wrote on Facebook: 'So, today, I called up and spoke to Cleveland Police's Data Protection Manager about a Subject Access Request I made 11 months ago and still haven't received (they've legally got 40 days by the way, approx. 6 weeks, not 11 months!).

'She shouts at me for pretty much the entire call. However, it is the last part that is interesting as she hangs up on me... or at least thinks she does!

'Apparently people wanting to ask why the law is being violated and their rights denied should just 'F*** off and die!'

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: 'Cleveland Police is aware of the matter and it has been referred to the Professional Standards Department or initial investigation.'

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

Saturday, October 29, 2016

How My Husband Ended Up in Jail After Walking Our Dog

In 2007, my British husband got a ticket for walking our dog Henry without a leash in Washington, D.C. The National Park Service made it impossible to pay the ticket. So, a newly minted citizen, Peter said he’d wait for his day in court.

I told him that was most unwise and that he could end up in jail.

I was right. Overcriminalization is a serious issue in our country, and while Peter’s experience was trivial, it describes a terrible (yet hilarious) day.

Here’s an excerpt from my new book, “Let Me Tell You About Jasper.” This story is written by Peter, explaining how he ended up in jail while I was working at the White House. When he was given his “one phone call” from jail, I was in the Oval Office briefing the president. True story.

With that, I give you: my husband, the off-leash criminal.

It’s all Henry’s fault! My brush with the law started around 7:15 p.m. on Nov. 15, 2007, when I took Henry to Lincoln Park. I parked across the road and was walking in the park with him; the park was deserted apart from a few other dog owners there, and we chatted about our dogs as the darkness settled around us.

We were standing near the Lincoln statue when we noticed headlights entering the park toward the far end, and we saw a police car racing down the middle of the park toward us.

We soon realized the reason for the rapid approach: It was the Park Police and our dogs were off-leash. Everyone immediately called their dog and reached in their pockets for their leash. I did the same, but alas—no leash! I had left it on the seat of the car.

I quickly turned away and, with Henry walking extremely close, started to leave the park.

“You! Stop!” I heard. I turned and sure enough, the policeman had leapt from his car and was advancing rapidly toward me. Busted!

I explained to Officer Smith that I had left my leash in the car and was returning for it, so he asked for ID, then instructed me to wait while he went to the car. He took a few minutes, presumably checking I was not a serial dog-off-leash scofflaw and returned to write the ticket.

I tried to make light of the situation and joke with Officer Smith, but he was all business. No response, no smile, no pleasantries in reply to mine.

I duly received my ticket and was told that I could pay at any of the stations listed on the back. I informed Officer Smith that there were some suspicious squirrels at the end of the park that he might want to check on, and returned to my car.

Okay, I got a ticket. I was in the wrong, I broke the law, and I am not arguing with that. I had 15 days in which to pay and so on Nov. 24 I reported to First District Substation on E Street SE in Washington, D.C., as listed on the back of the ticket.

I was informed that they did not accept the payments anymore, and my inquiry as to where they thought I might be able to pay was met with a disinterested shrug and the words “Park Police headquarters.”

I returned home and, as we were leaving town for a couple of days, I decided to call the Park Police headquarters on Ohio Drive SW to check whether they accepted payment, or ask where I should mail the check, as the ticket stated, “You may mail in the collateral” but did not state where to mail the payment, how to make the payment, or to whom the payment should be made. However, all I got was an answering machine; an hour later I got the same. Are you starting to see a pattern here?

I have since learned that the ticket I received with both wrong and missing information had been incorrect for six years. A friend got a ticket six years prior and the station on E Street SE did not accept payment then.

So I duly wrote a check made out to U.S. Park Police and mailed it to the headquarters, with a letter explaining that their ticket contained wrong and insufficient information.

I also stated, “I know that the job of ticketing dog owners whose dog is off-leash is highly important—especially in time of war and terror threats, not to mention D.C.’s soaring crime rate. However, if someone at your department could see their way to having a ticket written in competent language with correct information, perhaps we might feel our taxes are not being totally squandered.”

They received my letter and did not reply for 12 days before stating that my payment was unacceptable and that I should send a money order to the D.C. Court.

By the time I received the letter it was already 10 days past the cutoff date and the ticket stated that this would “result in the case being presented at the District of Columbia Superior Court for disposition.”

Given that I had made three attempts to pay, and some information on the ticket lacked sufficient details while other information was just plain wrong, I decided to have my day in court. I wanted to explain to the judge just how apathetic/indolent/incompetent the Park Police are with their tickets. And as a newly minted citizen (for all of about two months), I knew it was my right!

I was therefore awaiting notice to attend court, but did not hear anything for some time. Given that the Park Police are apparently incapable of producing a competently written ticket, this didn’t surprise me.

However, upon returning from a business trip in April, I found a letter inviting me to go to the police station on Fourth Street SW so that they could process me through court on the same day. This was part of “Operation Clean Slate.” (I’m not kidding or exaggerating.)

On Wednesday the 18th I went to the station but was told it was too late for processing that day and was asked to return early the next morning, preferably before 7 a.m. When I asked how long the process would be, I was told, “Oh, an hour and a half, maybe two hours.”

So on the 19th I arrived at the station at 6:45 a.m. and was promptly arrested! The arresting officer asked what had happened and he shook his head in amazement. “They issued a warrant for that?” he asked incredulously. “Why didn’t you go to the court and pay the fine?”

Oops! That’s something else not mentioned on the ticket—apparently the Park Police expect citizens to be psychic. So during the 12 days my letter was sitting in the Park Police headquarters being ignored, they had gone ahead and issued a warrant.

My belongings and belt were taken and I was placed in a cell. Now, I am a normal, law-abiding person. I’ve never been in a cell in my life, and my reaction was somewhere between surprise and fascination. It was just like the TV shows. The fact that I knew a judge would release me as soon as I was through the court proceeding meant that I was never worried—this was in no way a long-term situation—but it was strange to know that I could not leave if I wanted to.

I no longer had any control over my own freedom, and while awaiting transportation to the court I contemplated how awful it must be for someone who knows they will be incarcerated for a long time. It doesn’t matter how many times you see it on the TV; it’s different when you are there yourself. I was tempted to ask if I could get a tattoo of Henry on my shoulder to mark the occasion.

However, when the other prisoners were taken to court and I remained there, I inquired as to why and was told that, as I was a Park Police case, I must await a Park Police officer.

Of course nobody turned up from the Park Police station for a couple of hours, so I sat and waited patiently, counting the tiles on the floor (8,280) and finding the whole situation actually quite amusing. Though by this time I knew that the parking meter was running out for my car; so much for a couple of hours.

Finally, the Park Police arrived and it was none other than my old nemesis Officer Smith! He searched me again and, after handcuffing me, led me to his car. At least I sat in the front so it wouldn’t look like I had been arrested if anyone I knew saw me.

When he got into the driver’s seat, I said, “When you put me in the car, weren’t you supposed to put your hand on my head, like they do in the movies?” He did not respond.

I tried making conversation with Officer Smith but the responses were monosyllabic and usually one word. I tried making jokes, but they fell on deaf ears. All business, this guy (or maybe the squirrel jibe was still rankling him).

Upon arrival at the headquarters building, I was taken to another cell and the cuffs were released, then after five minutes Officer Smith brought me out and cuffed me to a wooden bar while he filled in the necessary paperwork. It’s probably just as well he did, because by this time I was considering fleeing.

If I could just overpower this young, fit, armed officer and steal his ID to open the door before anyone noticed—the place was after all virtually empty—I could be free! I could see the headlines: Leashless Dog Walker Stalks D.C. parks.

I knew I was also allowed to call my wife, but I was a little afraid to. Dana had warned me several times about getting that ticket paid, and when I told her I was going to exercise my rights she told me I was going to be arrested. I didn’t believe her. Now I was going to have to call her at the White House, where she was the acting press secretary and surely “didn’t need this crap.” Her White House voice can still scare me to this day.

So I said to Officer Smith that I would like to make a call. He looked at me blankly. “I’ve seen the movies. I know my rights,” I said with a smile.  He grudgingly obliged.

When I called the press office, her assistant press secretary Carlton Carroll answered the phone. He said she was in the Oval Office and asked if I wanted to interrupt the meeting. Over my dead body! So I asked him to leave her a message, which he promptly emailed. She saw a message came in and snuck a peek at her messages. All it said was that I had been delayed and that she needed to arrange for the dog walker to come take care of Henry.

She later told me that she knew immediately. “That jerk’s been arrested.” (Right on both counts.)

More handcuffs, another car, and I was soon at the court building, where, once Officer Smith was sure we were behind locked doors, I was handed over to the processing officers.

Form-filling and fingerprinting followed; however, these fellows, while highly professional, were a lot more relaxed. When they asked the reason for my arrest and I told them “walking my dog without a leash,” the response was hilarity. I think I was the first, as it took them some time to find the nearest category for me on the computer!

When they stopped laughing, a mature officer of some years’ service also told me, “This is ridiculous.” He explained that most officers would have used their initiative, had the warrant delayed for a couple of days, and made a call, or even visited me to tell me to go to the court and pay.

Still, we enjoyed the humor of the situation and made a few wisecracks, while they fed me cheese sandwiches and lemonade and, after 10 minutes in my third cell, I was cuffed again and placed in the back of yet another car to be taken to the Superior Court building a couple of hundred yards away.

By this time, it was early afternoon, and the officer driving told us he was rushing so that we would be processed that afternoon. He explained that if we weren’t processed that day it would mean an overnight stay. Now it wasn’t quite so funny!

When he asked the reason for my arrest and I told him, it resulted in the same outburst of disbelieving laughter. “Are you serious? You were arrested for that?”

So now I arrived at the Superior Court, where the handcuffs were finally removed, only to be replaced with leg shackles! “If my friends could only see me now,” I thought with a wry smile.

Following another search, I found myself in the fourth cell, one I shared with 20 others.

A couple hours more cell time and after three court-appointed attorneys shared the humor of the situation and expressed their disbelief that an arrest had been made for this, I found myself in front of the judge.

I explained what had happened and even the judge smiled. With my English accent, I was clearly a relative newcomer to the United States, and I had made three attempts to pay via a Park Police system that I described to him as blatantly incompetent, but it had not been possible given the inadequate information they provided.

The judge told me that this should not have happened and that I should not have been there that day. I held up my manacled leg and said, “Well, your honor, it’s been a very interesting day and I’ve had a good insight into the U.S. judicial system.” He smiled and said, “Welcome to America!”

Upon payment my record would be expunged, and I left the court a free man. I had to collect my belongings from the Park Police station the next day—they had told me that after 3 p.m. the office would be closed. I hope nobody went there to pay a fine that afternoon.

As my car keys were with the belongings, I walked there with Henry on a delightful April morning. (On the leash all the way, I would add! Well, most of it—)

Oh, and the good news was—I did not get a parking ticket after being off the meter all the previous day! But if I had, I would have paid that ticket right away.

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, October 28, 2016

Australia: Ballarat police again accused of misconduct, heavy-handedness with assault victim

Ballarat police officers have been accused of dragging the victim of a violent assault along the ground, before charging her with assaulting her alleged attacker.

On May 17, Ballarat police were called to an assault in the city's north where they arrested a 43-year-old woman. The woman, who only wants to be known as Sofia, had been the victim of a brutal assault with a tyre iron.

"I just thought I was gonna die," she said. "I was really dizzy and I was on the grass and I just said to myself, I need to stand up and defend myself."

Sofia, who is from South America, said she became panicked and erratic when she saw her alleged attacker, a neighbour, speaking with police.

Her lawyer, Neil Longmore, questioned how officers then reacted.  "The police seemed to think that was reason to then handcuff her and throw her on the ground and start dragging her around and drag her to the ambulance," he said.

Sofia said: "I just want to be helped. Protected." "I was treated like an animal," she said.

Sofia was taken to hospital where she received 14 stitches on the back of her head, and the side of her face. She went home but hours later was woken up by police who arrested her.

"I said 'why am I being arrested if I'm the victim?'. He says, 'it happened, the same thing with your neighbour, don't worry'," Sofia said.

Mr Longmore said bias against his client was a common thread throughout the interview. "She clearly thinks that she's giving them information because they're investigating what's happening to her, not that she's going to be charged," he said.

"She should've been not just read her rights, she should've understood her rights and I think you can see there's a pretty clear line between when somebody's just being read them and doesn't understand them.

"If you do understand your rights in that situation, you certainly shouldn't be giving the police information because they're just about to use that against you to charge you."

Sofia said she thought she was helping with the investigation.

"Just at the end of the interview I understood that they [were] intending since the beginning [to] charge me, whatever I was going to say," she said.

"[The interviewing officer] was repeatedly saying ... 'so you attacked him? Did you attack him?' "And I was trying to say that I was fighting for my life."

Sofia was charged with recklessly causing injury and assault with a weapon, which referred to the mop she used to defend herself, and was served with an intervention order.

The charges were ultimately withdrawn when she appeared at the Ballarat Magistrates Court.

Sofia said she had no faith in Victoria Police's complaints process and instead made a complaint to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), alleging officers failed to investigate her case properly.

Her lawyer, Mr Longmore said: "What she really would like is an apology and a proper investigation of what occurred and some better training for police, or younger ones who seem to fall into this conduct."

"There's something not quite right about the police training that allows them to just roll through those rights ... go ahead with their interview ... and use it against a person and the person hasn't understood what's going on."

Sofia said she wanted justice. "I don't think they are prepared, prepared to treat people to protect people. I almost died and they did nothing to help me," she said. Victoria Police said the investigation was ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment.

Original report here

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

Thursday, October 27, 2016

'Serial' star Adnan Syed files motion asking to be released from prison while awaiting retrial for murder of his high school girlfriend

Adnan Syed - the star of a hit podcast who is awaiting a retrial for the killing of his high school girlfriend - is asking to be released from prison.

Syed, 35, was sentenced to life in prison in 2000 for strangling 17-year-old Hae Min Lee, whose body was found buried in a shallow grave in Baltimore's Leakin Park.

His story became the centerpiece for the first season of the successful 'Serial' podcast in 2014.

In June, a judge granted Syed a new trial because his attorney failed to cross-examine an expert witness about cell tower data linking Syed to the crime scene.

On Monday, Justin Brown, a lawyer representing Syed, filed a motion arguing that Syed should be released while awaiting retrial because he poses 'no danger to the community.'

Brown also noted his client has already served 17 years in prison 'based on an unconstitutional conviction for a crime he did not commit.'

'Completely absent from Syed's record are circumstances that typically cause courts concern regarding pretrial release,' Brown wrote in his motion.

Brown also wrote that Syed is not a flight risk because of his strong ties to the community, and because he enjoys so much support from the public after 'Serial.'

The podcast attracted millions of listeners and inspired an army of armchair investigators to help hunt down evidence to bolster his defense.

Christine Tobar, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General's office, which is handling the case, said in an email that the office had not yet received a copy of the filing but planned to 'review and determine how best to respond.'

In a statement, Brown said 'there is no reason to think Adnan would run from the case he has spent half his life trying to disprove.'

In his request for a new trial, Brown argued that Syed's original attorney erred by failing to call an alibi witness to share with the jury her claim that she saw him in the library shortly before Lee's murder.

Brown also said the attorney failed to ask any questions about cell tower records.

The state thus far has opposed Syed's motions, and appealed the judge's granting of a new trial.  State officials have said that if they lose the appeal, they will retry the case.

Original report here

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Former Army captain was arrested, dragged from her home and questioned for 14 hours over comments she made about an ex-partner a DECADE ago

A former Army captain was arrested and taken to a military base where she was questioned for 14 hours about comments she made about an ex-partner a decade ago, it has been revealed.

Rachel Webster, 48, was arrested months after she refused to give a statement about her former boyfriend's professional conduct in Iraq.

She was allegedly physically restrained and dragged from her home, before being driven to a military base in Portsmouth 80 miles away.

The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which is investigating historic abuses by British soldiers, has now admitted the arrest was 'unnecessary', The Telegraph reported.

Ms Webster had made the comments regarding her former partner -  another officer - in 2006. These comments were dealt with by her then commanding officer.

She was initially contacted by IHAT officers in October 2013. She was asked to give a witness statement about the activities of the former colleague but declined.

Three months later, in January 2014, she was arrested following a dawn raid on her home on suspicion of misconduct in a public office.

After being detained for hours of questioning she was released without charge.

Earlier this year, Ms Webster, originally from Brigg, north Lincolnshire, received £5,000 in compensation after her breasts were allegedly exposed in the wrongful arrest.

Ms Webster served in the Army for 24 years. She joined in 1989 and rose to the rank of Captain.

In 1999, she was given an award for her role in maintaining law and order while she was a corporal serving in Kosovo.

Four years later, while serving in Iraq, Sgt Webster met Tony Blair when he visited Basra soon after the invasion. She left the Army in 2013 and now has a job in finance.

Following the decision to give her £5,000 in compensation, Ms Webster said in a statement: 'Since my arrest I have waited over two years to clear my name.

'It's finally over and I can move on. Justice does prevail but at what cost!'

An IHAT spokesman said: 'Every effort was made to ensure that the arrest was carried out sensitively and we regret any distress that has been caused.'

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Senior policewoman who 'had a drunken row with a colleague over whose breasts were most attractive' is set for a humiliating public grilling

A senior policewoman is set for a humiliating public disciplinary hearing after an alleged drunken row with a colleague over whose breasts were most attractive.

Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe, 47, faces claims that she exposed her bosom during a late-night row and could be sacked if found guilty of gross misconduct.

She has been told she has a case to answer after an investigation, which was revealed by The Mail on Sunday. As a result, she must face the tribunal later this year.

But the evening ended in disgrace for ACC Sutcliffe as she argued with her junior colleague Superintendent Sarah Jackson at the Hilton hotel bar. It is claimed ACC Sutcliffe told her colleague she was ‘pandering to men’ by having cosmetic surgery, and tried to prove her own breasts were better by exposing them.

They were reported to bosses by a witness, and initially both were told they faced investigation over alleged inappropriate behaviour.

Social media photos show ACC Sutcliffe ‘opened the gala event’ at one night of the conference, standing near Supt Jackson at a party where wine flowed freely. Supt Jackson has been told she is in the clear.

But last night Greater Manchester Police said: ‘We can confirm that following an investigation by Durham Constabulary the Deputy Chief Constable has determined that a senior officer has a case to answer for gross misconduct and will face a disciplinary hearing.’

If the case against ACC Sutcliffe were proven, she would be hit with sanctions ranging from ‘management advice’ to dismissal.

It is the third investigation she has faced. Two years ago she was investigated for failing to declare her relationship with Detective Superintendent Paul Rumney, then in charge of the force’s Professional Standards Branch, when she sat on a disciplinary panel.

And in 2010 she was given ‘suitable advice’ by a senior officer after reportedly trying to gatecrash a Labour Party conference event.

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

Monday, October 24, 2016

Australian police force under investigation over claims of aggression and cover-ups

A culture of aggressive policing, cover-up and intimidation is infecting some police local area commands and driving officers to break their oath of duty.

The claims have been made by former NSW police officers, and come as one local area command on the border of the NSW and the ACT is plunged into crisis.

Intensive investigations are underway into the actions of officers at the Monaro Local Command at Queanbeyan in NSW's south, after former police officer Lucie Litchfield claimed she was pressured to lie in court and ultimately forced to resign her position due to relentless bullying.

Queanbeyan police are also under the spotlight after an officer drew his weapon and pointed it at the face of a driver who attempted to evade a random breath test.

In both cases, police professional standards officers are investigating.

A year after her resignation from the NSW Police Force, Ms Litchfield is calling for greater attention on what she says is a toxic culture that centres around protecting mates.

"There is still a significant lack of respect for women in policing," Ms Litchfield said.

"I believe that police are becoming a little bit more heavy-handed and getting away with it.

"I can quite openly say that I saw several incidents which were more excessive than they needed to be, which senior officers were also aware of and it never got reported and was never dealt with."

Ms Litchfield was a senior constable in the NSW Police force and was based at Queanbeyan when she was called to a roadside stop that turned violent, and would ultimately end her career.

On the evening December 21, 2013, she responded, with two male officers, to a urgent call that a green Holden Commodore had escaped the scene of a violent home invasion.

The three police officers pulled over a green Commodore in a suburban street in West Queanbeyan, but they had the wrong car.

When one of the male officers asked the occupants of the vehicle if they had any weapons, a passenger in the back seat, Ricky Caton, produced a plastic toy dinosaur, and declared: "No, but I've got a dinosaur … roaaaar!"

Mr Caton was then allegedly forcibly pulled out of the car along with the other passengers.

In a statement of claim filed with the NSW District Court, Mr Caton alleges he was forcibly pulled from the vehicle, kicked in the legs, his face shoved into the ground and handcuffed.

A second passenger, Adam Antram, who is also suing police, says that he was shoulder-charged by one of the male officers despite the fact he was complying with all police requests.

Mr Antram was allegedly thrown into a retaining wall where he hit his head and lost consciousness.

Ms Litchfield supports Mr Antram's version of events. But in statements filed in court, the two police officers involved provided a different version.

Constable Patrick Hicks, the officer alleged to have shoulder-charged Mr Antram, said he was forced to "check-drill" Mr Antram, who was charging at the other male officer, Senior Constable Todd Finnigan, as he handcuffed Mr Caton.

Both Mr Caton and Mr Antram were charged with assaulting police and resisting arrest. Charges were withdrawn after Ms Litchfield's evidence — described as "cogent and compelling" by Kiama Magistrate Mark Douglass — cast doubt on the bona fides of the prosecution.

Magistrate Douglass found the prosecution should never have been brought.

Mr Caton and Mr Antram are suing the police for assault and malicious prosecution. NSW Police are relying on Officers Hicks and Finnigan's original versions as presented in court in their defence.

"The amount of force that was used against these civilians I believed right from the start was completely unnecessary. It was just totally unprofessional," Ms Litchfield said. "I would still love to be doing the job that I loved and that I woke up every day enjoying.

"But I was very isolated right from the beginning [of this case]. Then after I gave evidence it just intensified.

"There were documents which were printed out and placed on my desk which were basically intimating that I needed security because my life was in danger.

The ABC understands the NSW Office of Public Prosecutions is currently considering whether there is sufficient evidence to charge Constable Hicks and Senior Constable Finnigan — who has been promoted to detective — with perjury, assault and perverting the course of justice. The two officers deny any wrongdoing.

Another case

Concern over aggressive policing at Queanbeyan intensified again recently when vision emerged of an officer pulling a gun on a motorist who was pursued for a random breath test.

A magistrate expressed shock during the prosecution for the man, who was charged with mid-range drink-driving, when the vision was broadcast in court.

Adrian McKenna, the motorist's lawyer, said he had filed a formal complaint with police and his client would be providing a statement to investigators who were probing the actions of the officer, Senior Constable Steven Hilhorst.

"In my view the police officer's actions were appalling," Mr McKenna said. "His conduct was completely unnecessary for the situation he was facing. It was excessive use of force, unnecessary and completely unacceptable.

"To the extent that this kind of conduct is indicative of a broader problem with aggression or lack of accountability in the Monaro local area command, then some serious questions need to be asked about that culture."

Former NSW detective Deborah Locke, a key witness at the Wood Royal Commission into corruption in the NSW Police Force 20 years ago, said she believes a "cowboy culture" is returning to some local area commands.

"I'm hearing of pockets of the boy's club, the bullying, the blue code of 'don't speak out, cover up, be a sheep, don't say anything' because if you do, you'll be squashed and anyone who supports you," she said. "I've had people contact me that are being bullied and harassed and pushed out.

"It's a club, it's a family. It's a job with a badge and a gun and a force of blue and they are tight-knit. But if you speak out about one of your own, there'll be repercussions to make an example to everyone."

The commander of the Monaro Local Area Command, Superintendent Rod Smith, declined the ABC's request for an interview.

The NSW Police Force issued a statement in response to detailed questions from the ABC. "Any complaints of bullying and harassment are investigated and, if found to be sustained, will result in the consideration of serious management action," the statement said.

"The specific matters are currently subject to investigations and inquiries are continuing. "At this stage, it is inappropriate to comment further."

Original report here

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mother was 'groped' by police officer who accused her of being drunk when she called 911 after a minor crash

Video at the link below shows that he clearly did grope her

A mother claims she was groped by a police officer who accused her of being drunk after a minor car crash.

Amanda Houghton called 911 when she was rear-ended by another car earlier this year while driving along a road in Layton, Utah.

However, when the male officer arrived at the scene, he suspected that Houghton was drunk so conducted sobriety tests before putting her hands in cuffs and giving her a pat down.

And now Houghton has launched legal action to sue the Layton Police Department, after she says the the male officer groped her breasts as he conducted the search, even though she asked him to stop and was later found not to be under the influence of alcohol.

It comes after the Layton Police Department released footage of her arrest that was captured from an officer's body camera.

It shows Houghton with her hands cuffed behind her back after failing the sobriety test, which she puts down to being in shock from the car crash.

The officer then begins to pat her down, but the mother shouts: 'Don't touch me!' The policeman then responds saying: 'I can search you, and that's what I'm doing.'

She continues to object to being searched but the officer continues his pat down, warning Houghton she has to comply.

Houghton told Fox 13: 'It was horrible, I was yelling at him to stop touching me. “Get somebody here to watch you grope me," I think were my words, I felt very violated.'

While her lawyer Robert Sykes added: 'I don’t believe they should have administered the field sobriety tests at all in this case.

'I think this amounted to an unconstitutional search of a woman without a necessity to do so.'

However, Layton Police say they believe the officer didn't do anything unlawful and added they only have three female officers on the force so males often carry out searches.

Judges are now set to determine if Houghton has a case and if the charges against her can be dropped.

Meanwhile her lawyer has offered a settlement to Layton City on behalf of his client, but they are yet to respond.

Original report here

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Police officer who stuck his middle finger up at a Mayfair cocktail bar bouncer before calling him a 'P***' is sacked from the force

A London police officer who used racist and abusive language towards a Mayfair cocktail bar bouncer - sticking his middle finger up and calling him a 'P***'  - has been dismissed from the force.

Pc Emilio Sabatino 'let himself and his colleagues down' through his behaviour while off duty, according to a senior officer from the Metropolitan Police professional standards unit.

Sabatino brandished his warrant card and mocked Gurmeet Singh's SIA (Security Industry Authority) accreditation when he was asked to leave the Dirty Martini bar.

Mr Singh told a Metropolitan Police misconduct hearing he approached Sabatino and a friend in the lavatory on August 29, 2015. He explained that door staff checked the toilets every 20 minutes to check there was 'no alcohol or broken glass on the floor.'

Mr Singh said: 'He said he was a police officer and showed me his badge. 'He said 'Can I vouch for my friend?', then he showed his ID card to me.

'I said 'I don't know what you are showing me your badge for.' 'He didn't say anything so I called my manager.

'He was asked to come out of the premises and make his way upstairs. As we came outside, he asked if he could come back inside. Then he questioned why I had my SIA badge on. 'He said 'I can show my [police] badge to whoever I want to. I said 'I haven't committed a crime.'

Mr Singh continued: 'He was a little bit aggressive because he wanted to get back downstairs. 'He stuck his middle finger up and said 'P***' and I said I would make a complaint.'

He added: 'I was quite shocked. You wouldn't expect that from anyone. I think it's bullying.'

Mr Singh told the hearing he found Sabatino in the lavatory standing three feet away from a friend and urinating at each other.

Pc Sabatino said he and his friend Tim Blunn - the fiancé of his girlfriend's sister - had joked about 'crossing streams' as they relieved themselves. He told the hearing he had been drinking for five hours before the incident occurred, although he said he was only 'seven' out of ten. Pc Sabatino said: 'I wasn't drunk as in staggering, I knew what was going on around me, but I was in good spirits.

'I was at the urinal. Tim has then come in behind me. I don't know for what reason, but he thought it would be funny to start urinating in my urinal.

'As Tim finished, he turns towards Mr Singh. Mr Singh then got quite close to him and said 'you can't be doing that. Why are you urinating on the floor?' 'I stupidly said 'I'm a police officer'. I wanted to calm Mr Singh down.

'Obviously, bouncers have to act in a certain way because they are dealing with people who are intoxicated.

'I showed him my warrant card, because anyone can say they're a police officer. 'From the moment I showed him my warrant card, he seemed to take offence.

'He took it as a threat. He said 'are you trying to threaten me?' He wouldn't let me explain.'

He added: 'I don't usually drink cocktails. I told Mr Singh to 'f*** off' as I was leaving. It wasn't directed in a threatening way towards him. It was more like 'f*** off, I'm done with this conversation'. 'I put my middle finger up at him, but it wasn't even towards his face height, it was just a swing of the arm.

'I don't know why it even came out of my mouth. I never swear at all really.. I have never sworn at members of the public. I truly, truly regret it.'

Sabatino had also told the hearing he wouldn't use racist language towards Mr Singh as he has an Italian father and colleagues from 'all different faiths'.

He said: 'I don't know where he's got this word 'P*** from. I told him to f*** off, which I truly regret, but I didn't say the word 'P***'. 'I didn't say anything racial, especially not after giving my name and being on camera.'

The misconduct panel found that Sabatino had used his status as an officer to excuse his own behaviour, that he was escorted from the premises, produced his warrant card a second time, verbally swore at staff, and used the term 'P***', all of which amounted to gross misconduct.

A charge of urinating on the floor was found not proved.

Chief Superintendant Matt Gardner, from the directorate of professional standards said: 'Mr Sabatino has let himself and his colleagues down as a result of off duty behaviour.

'He has been found to use racist and abusive behaviour to a member of the public who was simply doing his job, a scenario similar to what police officers do 24/7 in their role to protect Londoners.

'We do not want officers with these behaviours in the Metropolitan police and he has been rightly dismissed with immediate effect.'

Sabatino, based at Brent Operational Command Unit, was dismissed without notice.

Original report here

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Friday, October 21, 2016

British police goons at work

A couple who bought a £55,000 Porsche as an anniversary present have been left out of pocket after police stormed their home and seized it - claiming it was 'stolen'.

Simon and Susan Walker bought the burgundy Porsche Cayenne 4.8 Turbo for their 25th wedding anniversary from SK Performance in Bolton, Greater Manchester.

However, days later officers arrived at their home in Stockport claiming the vehicle needed to be seized after police in Scotland said they believed the Porsche had been stolen by means of fraud.

The original owner of the vehicle had contacted Scottish police after handing over his car to the Bolton garage, which has since gone into liquidation. He had given it to the garage to sell but never received his money after the sale to the Walkers.

A tracking device still attached to the Porsche showed it was in the Walkers' garage, prompting police to arrive at their home, question them and take the vehicle.

The couple now claim they have been left out of pocket after not only was their vehicle seized but their newly-laid driveway 'damaged' by the responding officer.

They have made a formal complaint to Greater Manchester Police claiming the officer walked across the 'wet' driveway - causing £16,000 worth of damage.

Mrs Walker, 52, said: 'There was red tape across the entrance to the drive. It had just been finished and we weren't allowed to drive on it for at least three days.

'The officer had pushed open my gates, gone through the tape up to my front door. When I told him the drive was new he said 'I thought it was a bit sticky when I was walking across it'.

'After showing him proof that we had bought the car through a bank transfer, he made a call and agreed not to arrest Simon. Instead, he just took the keys for the car.

'But the PC had damaged the drive walking on it before it was dry and we now have seven footprints in it. To put it right the whole driveway needs to be relaid, which will cost £16,000.'

However, in a letter the force says it is not liable for the damage to the resin-bound driveway as the actions of the officer were 'lawful, reasonable, and necessary' and there was 'no signage or writing that stated that a new drive had been laid'.

After their car was seized, the couple tackled the garage owner who showed them an email from an officer in Scotland which said he was satisfied the matter would be resolved between the garage and the original owner in no longer than 14 days.

In the email, the officer adds: 'At this time no criminality can be attributed. I will ask he (the owner) holds off on any further action until you have the opportunity to conclude the financial matters.'

Mrs Walker, who runs a boarding home for rabbits, said: 'The email is dated October 1 - on October 9 the police came to our house, before the end of the 14 days the garage had promised to resolve the issue.'

The garage gave the Walkers two BMWs as compensation for the Porsche being seized.

But Mrs Walker said: 'It was our intention to trade them in at Porsche Wilmslow in exchange for a Porsche Cayenne. But a week later I got a call from an enforcement officer saying the BMWs were going to be seized as part of the liquidation order, and we had no legal right to those cars. Once again we were spoken to like criminals.

'The next day ten enforcement officers turned up at our house. We also got told by Porsche Wilmslow that police had asked them what sort of people we were.'

The Porsche has since been returned to the original owner, resold and is now on sale at a showroom in Essex for £47,500. Meanwhile, the Bolton garage is under investigation by Greater Manchester Police.

Mrs Walker added: 'We were the only people to have their car seized. The whole situation has been traumatic, upsetting and embarrassing having police cars outside our house.'

In a formal complaint to the police force, her husband said: 'We want answers as to why we were treated as criminals and not as victims, and compensation for the damage caused to our property.'

Greater Manchester Police confirmed a complaint has been made and it is investigating.

Original report here

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Australia: Female police officer, 51, reveals how she was 'capsicum sprayed, stripped naked, beaten and jailed for 16 hours after being arrested for being DRUNK'

Being drunk is not an offence in itself

A policewoman, 51, was stripped naked, beaten, capsicum sprayed and held in cells for 16 hours for being 'drunk'. Yvonne Berry was allegedly assaulted by officers in Ballarat, north-west of Melbourne, in January last year.

She said the alleged brutality, captured on CCTV, made her think she was 'in Guantanamo Bay', she told ABC's 7.30 and Fairfax Media.

Ms Berry had been on extended leave from internal affairs, and the police involved did not know they were dealing with a fellow officer.

'If that's not why they were nasty to me, then they were just ... nasty to a member of the public, which is worse,' she told 7.30. 'It could happen to anyone — and I've since found out that it did, and it does.'

Ms Berry took time off in 2014 to deal with serious mental health issues which she partially attributes to dealing with the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires of 2009.

She said she and many other officers turned to alcohol after witnessing the trauma. 'I can still see the visions of all of that stuff today,' she said.

A local woman called police about 11pm on January 15 when she found Ms Berry drunk and incoherent. She was arrested when she tried to run away.

At the station, CCTV footage shows Ms Berry attempted to use a broken drinking fountain before gesturing for water. She drank from the toilet when she got no response.

When an officer later entered her cell, Ms Berry accidentally swiped her lanyard. She then reacted after seeing a bottle of capsicum spray and struggled with two officers until she was sprayed in the face. She said the spray 'burns like fire on your skin'.

Ms Berry was then allegedly handcuffed 'so tight they nearly broke my wrists', and photos reveal she sustained dark bruising.

She was then dragged on the floor to a cell. Facedown and still handcuffed, a male officer pulled down her underwear, apparently searching for the lanyard.

While she was still naked, a 95-kilogram policeman stood on her feet, stomped on her ankle and kicked her, the CCTV footage shows.

He later said he was trying to stop Ms Berry kick other officers, he told Victoria's Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC). A female office said she had kicked Ms Berry to 'calm her down'.

But Ms Berry rejected their explanations. 'I was basically lying there like a fat jellyfish,' she said.

A doctor later said Ms Berry's ankle was fractured. Photos show she sustained deep bruising, cuts and welts.

'I was just thinking: "I'm in Guantanamo Bay. This isn't Ballarat, it can't be",' she said.

She was then scalded in a hot shower, which exacerbated the effects of capsicum spray, and officers ignored her requests to turn the water down, Ms Berry claimed.

One of the officers instead called her 'f***ing disgusting', in an apparent reference to her weight.

Ms Berry believes the officers involved should have been charged, with CCTV footage of her allegations.

But she was told in February this year there was 'insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution in relation to allegations of assault'.

The two police officers accused have been told they could return to work, and the only person charged over the night is Ms Berry.

She was charged in January this year with multiple offences, including resisting arrest.

She was also charged for theft of a car after police found a stolen vehicle parked outside her home.

But all charges against Ms Berry were withdrawn in August, following advice from a senior barrister.

Police are now considering whether an officer should be charged for the alleged assault and senior police have made an acknowledgement of wrongdoing.

Original report here

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Moment a black man was arrested by a white cop for WALKING in the street - after he was left with no other option because the sidewalk was under construction

Shocking video showing a black man in Edina, Minnesota, being arrested by a white officer for allegedly walking in a suburban road because the sidewalk was under construction has sparked outrage and calls for the officer to be suspended.

The clip, which shows Larnie Thomas being arrested for walking in the street to get around the construction, has left many viewers horrified.

Thomas was walking down Xerxes Avenue, which is in a residential area with homes on either side of the street and has a speed limit of 30 miles per hour.

The footage, shot by Janet Rowles, begins with officer Tim Olson's hand tightly gripping the back of Thomas's jacket as the man shouts he's done nothing wrong.

Thomas appeared to have already passed the construction and was behind the white line that divides pedestrians and traffic when the video starts rolling.

Olson is insisting Thomas was walking in the middle of the road as he pulls him back to his unmarked squad car

Olson tells Thomas to 'come over here' as he grips the man's jacket to prevent him from running away, moving him momentarily back into the road before reaching the front of the unmarked squad car.

'You’re walking down the middle of the street,' Olson says.

Thomas becomes irate, shouting: 'I’m on the damn white line! You can’t just put your hands on me like that!'

Thomas begins frantically shouting at Olson that he's done nothing wrong, while Rowles films.

Thomas slams his backpack on the squad car, still confused by why he's being detained, and asks: 'You're gonna take me to jail for this s***?'

Olson says he's not going to take him to jail. Thomas then tells him if he's not taking him to jail, he should take his hand off of him.

Rowles then suggests to the officer that if Thomas can't walk around the construction, that he shows the man a different route to take.

The officer asks the woman to back away and then asks Thomas to put his hands on the squad car.

Another officer arrives at the scene and puts Thomas in cuffs

Olson doesn't release Thomas as he tries to flail out of the officer's grip, cursing at the officer and asking if he can leave.

Olson tells Thomas he cannot leave and they're 'going to have a talk about a whole bunch of things'.

As the camera turns, it's clear the road is in a residential area with homes lining the side.

Thomas then asks the officer if he 'settles down will you take your hands off me?'

Olson tells him to settle down but doesn't agree to take his hands off of him.

Rowles tries to tell the officer that Thomas did nothing wrong and later that he's scared as she attempts to de-escalate the situation.

Eventually, a second officer arrives and immediately cuffs Thomas.

The seven-minute video, which has been viewed more than 170,000 times, ends with Rowles agreeing to give an officer a statement as Thomas is put into the back of a squad car.

It's unclear if Thomas was booked, but he was cited for disorderly conduct and failure to obey a traffic signal.

He was also given a Breathalyzer test, which detected alcohol in his system.

Thomas was detained for 45 minutes before being released, according to the Huffington Post.

Many people who have seen the video have expressed disgust at officer Olson's handling of the situation.

'The way that man was treated was completely uncalled for and unacceptable. The officer had a hold on the back of the young man's shirt as if he were some sort of animal. No person of any color deserves to be treated with such contempt,' one person wrote.

Another wrote: 'This was terrible. That's all I could say even thought I have more.'

On YouTube, one commenter wrote: 'America, Land of the Free: Where walking the wrong way or talking the wrong way can get you arrested.'

Rowles released her own statement about the altercation saying: 'There was absolutely no reason for the officer to stop him from walking. I easily passed him in my vehicle because he was hugging the right side next to the construction, literally walking on the white line that marks the shoulder.'

After the video went viral, the city of Edina released a statement about the incident.

The statement said that after Olson tried to get Thomas's attention as he walked southbound, he pulled his squad car in front of him.

Thomas was wearing headphones and didn't hear Olson's initial attempts to get his attention.

The statement continued: 'The officer then drove in front of the man by approximately 15 feet, to block him from continuing in the southbound lane of traffic. The man deliberately went around the squad car and continued to walk in the lane of traffic.

The NAACP also asked that an apology to be issued to Thomas

'The officer got out of his vehicle and started to follow the man, asking him to get out of the lane of traffic and stop. The man did not stop and was defiant.

'It was after that point that the recording began. The officer smelled alcohol on the man’s breath during the incident. A breathalyzer later confirmed the presence of alcohol.'

Rowles said the police narrative of the incident prior to her recording is much more drawn out than her memory.

She added that regardless of the narrative, Thomas should not have been stopped.

The Minnesota NAACP also released a statement on Saturday regarding the incident.

'Watching that video and seeing a black man being manhandled and emasculated by Edina Police was not only painful and humiliating, it was a vivid reminder that blacks are still too-often seen as second class citizens in the State of Minnesota and in this nation,' it said.

It also asks the the police apologize to Thomas and that Olson be suspended without pay.

Original report here

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

London cop is caught on camera 'dragging 13-year-old girl by her hair like a piece of meat while handcuffed'

A police officer appeared to drag a terrified 13-year-old girl in handcuffs across the ground 'like a piece of meat'.

The drama unfolded minutes after a trivial row at the school gates.

The Metropolitan Police has now been accused of brutality after Katelynn Murphy King was allegedly forcibly restrained and handcuffed by a policeman outside the gates of Wapping High School in east London.

The footage, obtained by the East London Advertiser was captured on an iPhone by her twin sister.

It appears to show the Bethnal Green Academy pupil being hauled across the pavement on her knees with her hands in cuffs.

The schoolgirl's family claim police used unnecessary force and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been called on to investigate.

Joan Whittaker, 51, Katelynn's grandmother, said: 'This policeman wasn't tackling a grown man, this was a little girl of 13. 'It was extreme force and it absolutely was not justified.'

The youngster was restrained after arguing with a 16-year-old pupil from Wapping High School who had allegedly goaded her and branded her 'a slag' before trying to kick her.

The twin sisters were visiting the secondary school in Commercial Road to meet a friend when the row broke out.

'My grand-daughter lifted her hand as if to slap this girl,'  said Mrs Whittaker. 'But there was no physical contact with these two kids, it was just two kids having a dispute and the policeman went too far.

'He came up behind my grand-daughter. 'Katelynn didn't know he was there and he restrained her on the ground and on her side in handcuffs. She's not struggling, she's compliant. 'She tries to get up and he just drags her like a piece of meat.'

Mrs Whittaker branded the officer's actions 'out of all proportion to the incident'.

Katelynn's family released the video to their local newspaper, the East London Advertiser, in the hope of receiving an apology from the Met.

'I believe the way he handled himself was disgusting,' insisted Mrs Whittaker. 'I think it's really important that the whole thing is made public. It was very excessive.  'I would even say that it was a borderline assault.'

Katelynn was taken home badly shaken after the incident at 4.15pm on October 5 and was not arrested or questioned.

The family complained to police and the IPCC has today decided an investigation should be carried out internally by the Met Police's professional standards team

She was said to have been left with badly bruised and swollen knees, a lump on her head, and severe bruises to her arms and torso.

Her family, of Bethnal Green, said the policeman also tried to threaten Katelynn's twin sister into deleting the footage from her mobile phone minutes after the bust-up.

They complained to police and the IPCC has today decided an investigation should be carried out internally by the Met Police's professional standards team.

A spokesman said: 'The IPCC received a referral from the Metropolitan Police concerning an incident outside Wapping High School on October 5. 'Following a careful assessment we have decided that the incident should be locally investigated by the Metropolitan Police.'

A statement from Wapping High School said: 'The police were called to an incident outside of school concerning the conduct of a student from another school in order to safeguard our students and members of the public. 'The matter is currently in the hands of the police.'

Original report here

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Monday, October 17, 2016

‘Whitey’ Bulger won’t help man claiming wrongful conviction

In a series of letters three years ago, convicted gangster James “Whitey” Bulger wrote that Frederick Weichel had been wrongly convicted of a 1980 slaying in Braintree, as Weichel himself has long contended.

So to help Weichel in his bid for a new trial, Deborah McCauley Chin, a South Boston native who now lives in New York, recently sent Bulger a direct, heartfelt plea on her friend’s behalf.

She asked Bulger to detail what he knew about Robert LaMonica’s murder in an affidavit, saying it was heartbreaking that Weichel, 64, of South Boston, had spent more than half his life in prison.

But in a rambling response sent early last month, Bulger spurned her appeal, even as he wrote that Weichel had “suffered a fate Worse than Death.”

“I have never testified against any man, have never caused any man to be put in prison,” wrote Bulger, whose lawyers spent much of his 2013 trial trying to refute evidence that he was a longtime FBI informant who provided information on his rivals in the Mafia, as well as members of his own gang.

“I too have been falsely accused” of crimes, Bulger wrote in the letter, which was recently provided to the Globe.

Bulger, 87, is serving a life sentence at a federal prison in Florida for participating in 11 murders, drug trafficking, extortion, and other crimes while running a sprawling criminal organization from the 1970s to the 1990s.

In the four-page handwritten letter, Bulger said he was sympathetic to Weichel’s plight but would not provide an affidavit or any sworn testimony on his behalf, saying he had not even testified at his own trial.

“I never fought my case,” he wrote. “Waste of time.”

Bulger also took aim against a number of targets — a prosecutor who helped build the case against him, corrupt FBI agents who took money from him and leaked him information, and former associates who received leniency for their own crimes in exchange for testifying against him.

His one-time friends had lied on the stand, he said, accusing him of murders that they had committed.

Bulger boasted that he had “corrupted many” but identified just two former FBI agents: John J. Connolly Jr., who is serving a 40-year prison sentence for his part in a 1982 murder with Bulger; and John Morris, an organized crime supervisor who admitted taking cash and gifts from Bulger and was granted immunity for testifying against Bulger and Connolly.

Bulger wrote that his former sidekick, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, testified that they paid Connolly $142,000, but “I say higher.” (Flemmi actually testified at Bulger’s trial that they gave more than $230,000 in payoffs to Connolly over a decade).

Bulger said he would not identify LaMonica’s true killer, describing him only as a boxer who was close friends with Weichel. Weichel’s only hope was that “his friend has some courage” and comes forward on his own, he wrote.

“I wont name him or force him — Just as I choose not to tell the truth in my trial about certain incidents even though the guilty lied — Strange Perhaps but that’s what I felt the thing to do — Keep Silent in a Corrupt Trial.”

He signed the letter, “No Regrets J.B.”

In the margin of the letter, Bulger scrawled, “Free Fred!”

In a telephone interview from the state prison in Norfolk, Weichel said an affidavit from Bulger would probably “hurt me more than help me.” Neither he nor his lawyers knew Chin had written to Bulger until she shared his response with them, he said.

“He’s never going to come forward to help me,” he said. “Even if he wanted to, his credibility would be zero. Who’s going to believe him?”

Weichel has contended in previous court filings that Bulger had a hand in framing him for LaMonica’s slaying.

Attorney Michael D. Ricciuti, a partner in the Boston law firm K&L Gates who is representing Weichel without charge, with assistance from the New England Innocence Project, said Bulger’s letters “don’t do us any good unless there’s a witness to testify to them.”

Even if Bulger were willing to testify, Ricciuti said he wouldn’t be eager to call him as a witness.

“He does come with a little bit of baggage,” he noted wryly.

LaMonica, 25, was gunned down outside his Braintree apartment shortly after midnight on May 31, 1980. Weichel was convicted the following year, largely on the eyewitness testimony of a teenager who briefly saw the gunman jump into a waiting car and later identified Weichel.

In August, Superior Court Judge Raymond P. Veary Jr. held hearings on Weichel’s claim that he did not get a fair trial because prosecutors failed to turn over a police report that identified another potential suspect, the late Rocco Balliro. Prosecutors argue that the report was not connected to the case.

Expert witnesses for the defense also testified that the teenager was standing too far away from the shooter to see his face. The judge has yet to rule on Weichel’s motion.

While the recent hearings did not focus on Bulger, he has repeatedly been cited in court filings.

Defense lawyers submitted letters Bulger wrote to an unidentified friend of Weichel’s in 2013, in which he claimed that the boxer confided to him in 1980 that he was scared because he had badly beaten a man in a street fight and the victim’s friend, LaMonica, was vowing revenge.

“He wanted my advice,” Bulger wrote. “ ‘What would I do?’ I told him get him first, kill him . . . if you dont get him first I’d say he will get you.”

In court filings, Weichel’s lawyers said Bulger was apparently referring to Thomas Barrett. In 2004, a judge granted Weichel a new trial on the basis of a 1982 letter Barrett purportedly wrote to Weichel’s mother, confessing that he had killed LaMonica.

Two years later, however, the state Supreme Judicial Court overruled the judge, keeping Weichel in prison.

Barrett refused to testify at earlier court hearings, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Efforts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

Chin was only 10 when Weichel, a family friend, went to prison, but she has been writing to him for years. She said she never met Bulger but thought he “might want to do the right thing” if he knew Weichel was seeking a new trial.

But Bulger said he had not been following recent developments in Weichel’s case.

“I’m here in a prison cell,” Bulger wrote. “I make no phone calls and am computer illiterate.”

Original report here

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Canada: Retired police officer writing new book about Thomas Sophonow's wrongful conviction

Nearly 35 years after 16-year-old Barbara Stoppel was strangled in a Winnipeg doughnut shop, a former detective sergeant involved in the case feels his work still isn't done.

Andrew Mikolajewski retired in 2014, after 28 years with the Winnipeg police force. Now, he's writing a book about the case in an effort to reveal insight into the investigation of Stoppel's death, what led to the wrongful conviction of Thomas Sophonow and how other wrongful convictions can happen.

"In essence it explains the necessary ingredients for Tom's wrongful conviction, the consequences of inaction and the challenge for the Winnipeg police service to be accountable," said Mikolajewski.

Stoppel worked at the Ideal Donut Shop in St.Boniface. She was strangled in the woman's washroom on December 23, 1981 and died in hospital days later. Sophonow had been in Winnipeg to visit his young daughter at the time. Police announced Sophonow had been arrested and charged with murder on March 12,1982. He spent nearly four years in jail and went through three trials before he was acquitted on Dec. 12, 1985.

Mikolajewski was one of the people assigned to take another look at the homicide case in 1999, more than a decade after Sophonow had been acquitted of second degree murder.

His work helped lead the way to Sophonow's exoneration in 2000, and identified Terry Arnold as a new prime suspect in the case. Arnold was found dead of an apparent suicide in Victoria, B.C. in 2005. In a note, he denied killing anyone.

Mikolajewski isn't ready to disclose details about what he's writing, but said he hopes it will help people understand the truth about what happened during the course of the Stoppel investigation and bring closure to the families affected.

A lecture he received by an inspector in charge of the homicide division during a recruit class in 1986 is one of the things that has kept him motivated.

"He let us know that the most important person in a homicide case is the victim and that we look after the victim's interest," said Mikolajewski. "As far as I'm concerned, that wasn't done and now at this time I feel like I can do it."
Thomas Sophonow forever changed by wrongful conviction

Sophonow now lives in British Columbia with his family and spends his time working to restore his New Westminster home. He's spoken to Mikolajewski and thinks the book will give an inside look into what went wrong in his case.

After time in therapy, Sophonow doesn't think about what happened the way that he used to. Still, he's not the same person he was before living though the nightmare of a wrongful conviction, which included years spent living under a cloud of suspicion until his exoneration.

"I went in as a happy fellow," said Sophonow. "Came out as a cold, unfeeling person. Trying to get back to that happy person."  

He can remember what it's like to be convicted for a murder he didn't commit.

"The only real scary part of it all was when the cell doors slammed behind you," said Sophonow. "Because everything before that was 'Well I didn't do it. You know I will be found not guilty'.... But, it isn't until you are found guilty and the door slams behind you then you come to the realization that this is it. And the only thing that had me going after that was my appeals. I've always won my appeals."

'Tunnel vision' by investigators who focused in on Sophonow as a suspect and flawed police lineups were among some of the key factors identified by an inquiry into Sophonow's wrongful conviction.

Sophonow believes public and political pressure to find someone also played a role.

"What I've learned after my exoneration and everything is that if they would only have read a couple of (police) reports, they would have known that I didn't do it."

He believes what happened to him will stay with him for the rest of his life.

Original report here

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Two Australian cops charged after 8-year-old Aboriginal boy left alone in back of caged police wagon

Aborigines are very social and become very distressed if left on their own

Two police officers have been charged and will face court after an 8-year-old Aboriginal boy was allegedly left alone in the "rear pod of a police caged vehicle" for almost an hour.

The boy was put into the back of a paddy wagon when he was picked up by an officer at Coraki in northern NSW on April 13 at around 1.30pm.

He was suspected of committing malicious damage and was taken back to Coraki Police station, where he was allegedly left in the back of the police car, apparently forgotten. He was left there for "a period of about 50 minutes", a NSW Police statement said.

The boy's mother told the Northern Star in April she left work as soon as she heard her son had been put in a paddy wagon.

She said she searched around town for the 8-year-old but no-one seemed to know where he was, until she went to the police station.

"Whilst I was there, I said 'where's my son'," the boy's mother recalled.

"The police officer said 'I'll just ring up and check' and walked outside. Walked to front [of the car] and opened the door, then walked to the back and there my son's jumped out of the back of the bull wagon.

"He was all full of sweat, he looked hot, he was shaking, he was crying. I was just all hysterical. I grabbed him and we just couldn't let go of each other. I just felt like I was in a bad dream."

When the boy was released, he was examined by paramedics and found to be uninjured.

Police launched an internal investigation into the incident and two officers were placed on "restricted workplace duties".

On Thursday, two male senior constables were charged with neglect of duty and leave child in motor vehicle causing emotional distress over the incident.

Both officers are expected to appear in Lismore Local Court on November 22.

Original report here

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Video saved accused Australian ecstasy dealer from brutal execution in the Philippines - because it shows police made up their story

CCTV footage saved innocent Australian man Damain Berg from being brutally executed for selling drugs in the Philippines.

The 35-year-old spent three months locked up facing the death penalty under President Rodrigo 'The Punisher' Duterte's bloody war on drugs that has killed 3,000 people.

Police alleged Mr Berg was caught in a street buy-bust operation selling 50 ecstasy tablets to Canadian man Jeremy Eaton on the night of June 20 in Makati City.

But the Australian knew CCTV footage was the key to proving authorities of his innocence by confirming he was abducted from his hotel room, not in a Philippines backstreet.

'I told Marvie the first day that she came to the police barracks, 'You need to get that CCTV footage because this is all lies, it's the only thing that's going to prove my innocence',' 9News reports.

What CCTV showed was that Mr Berg was not arrested in a sting on the street but at the nearby Red Planet Hotel, where police stormed into his room, guns drawn.

Rather than selling drugs, he was doing some work for his job as the commercial manager for engineering company First Balfour.

CCTV footage shows the group of police officers approaching Mr Berg's room at the Red Planet Hotel

Mr Berg was first seen walking along a corridor outside his third-floor room at 10.50pm. Thirteen minutes later at least four plain-clothes police swam out of the lift.

With them is Eaton who leads them to Mr Berg's room and confirms it is the right one after police point to the door.

The armed officers barge into the room with their guns drawn while a hotel security guard looks on and Mr Berg's unknown companion inside the room steps out.

Mr Berg was hauled out of the room restrained with a quick tie and frogmarched out of the hotel, still in a state of shock

Initially, Mr Berg said he didn't know they were police or why Eaton was there. 'I thought it was some kind of robbery,' he said.

Mr Berg was hauled out of the room restrained with a quick tie and frogmarched out of the hallway, still in a state of shock.

The footage ends with him with his hands tied in front of him waiting for the lift to arrive, surrounded by police - one of whom places his hand on Mr Berg's shoulder.

The CCTV video secured his acquittal with the court finding it 'belied the claim of the prosecution... and destroyed the integrity of their testimonies'.

Throughout the trial Mr Berg had watched police officers give sworn evidence in court later shown to be false.

After his arrest, Mr Berg, bewildered and in a state of shock, hauled in front of the press and then locked in a police holding cell where he slept curled-up on the floor with 15 others for a month.

He was later transferred to 'horrible' Makati City Jail where prisoners mete out punishment in public beatings of inmates.

Mr Berg, from Adelaide, has now spent his first weekend back in Australia with pregnant girlfriend Marvie Torreon.

He knows how close he came to being killed after seeing first hand what it feels like to be a victim of the Philippine's bloody war on drugs.

Just weeks before Mr Berg was arrested, Rodrigo Duterte - aka 'The Punisher' - was elected president and by June's end the country's violent crackdown on drugs started to kick into gear.

Since then more than 3,000 people suspected of drug dealing have been estimated to have been killed in police operations and by vigilantes.

'In a split second, my life was gone. I was taken away from my pregnant girlfriend, I lost my job,' Mr Berg said on Monday.

But he still doesn't know why police burst into his life.

'I have thought about this every night, especially when I was incarcerated. I still don't know what happened,' he said.

'How are you meant to believe that all these people who are being killed in buy-busts are guilty of drug dealing when they completely fabricated this whole thing against me?'

'Marvie and I had been arguing while I was at work,' he said, explaining why he was not at the couple's shared home but at a hotel nearby when he was arrested.

Since his acquittal Mr Berg said he has received threatening text messages from unknown phone numbers.

Original report here

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Three British cops are charged with perverting course of justice and perjury over 2011 death of father-of-three

Three West Midlands Police officers have been charged with perverting the course of justice and perjury in connection with the death of Kingsley Burrell in 2011.

Mr Burrell, a student from Winson Green in Birmingham, died from cardiac arrest at the city's Queen Elizabeth Hospital on March 31, 2011 four days after being detained by police.

Officers Paul Adey, 36, Mark Fannon, 45, and Paul Greenfield, 50, are all due to appear at Birmingham Magistrates' Court on October 31.

Mr Burrell had dialled 999 claiming his life was under threat but was then sectioned and taken to a mental health unit, then days later was transferred to hospital.

An inquest jury ruled there were gross failures to get him proper medical attention, and that the use of force to restrain him and place a cover over his head contributed to his death.

In July protesters called for justice more than a year after an inquest found the gross failures contributed to the death of the father-of-three.

During the May 2015 inquest into the death of Mr Burrell the coroner said 'no tragedy like this should ever happen again'.

After a complaint from the victim's family about the evidence of three West Midlands Police officers' during the inquest, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) carried out an investigation.

In October last year it referred the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service 'for them to consider if any criminal offences may have been committed.'

The inquest jury also found that the use of force to restrain him and place a cover over his head contributed to his death

An inquest jury ruled there were gross failures to get him proper medical attention, and that the use of force to restrain him and place a cover over his head contributed to his death

In a statement, a CPS spokesman said: 'Following a referral by the IPCC we have decided there is sufficient evidence to charge three officers from West Midlands Police with perverting the course of justice and perjury in connection with the death of Kingsley Burrell in 2011. 'The officers and the family of Mr Burrell have been informed.

'Criminal proceedings involving the three police constables will now be commenced and each has a right to a fair trial.'

Mr Burrell died after being detained under the Mental Health Act. His relatives have protested for months at what they claimed was a delay in a decision on whether or not to charge, recently staging a sit-in at the CPS Birmingham office to highlight the issue.

West Midlands Police said that Wednesday's charges had been authorised by the director of public prosecutions. The force confirmed the officers have been suspended following the charges.

An initial CPS investigation in 2014 concluded there was not enough evidence to bring criminal charges against anyone involved.

In a statement following the announcement, a spokesman for the family said: 'The Burrell family welcome today's decision to prosecute the three officers concerned, in the belief that they must be publicly held to account for their actions in the circumstances surrounding the death of Kingsley.

'This has been a long time coming and the fight for justice for Kingsley continues. At this stage we have no further comment

Original report here

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