Category Archives: Police Watch

Sorry Granny, “But For The Good Of Everyone, The Law Was Put Into Effect.”

I tells ya, sometimes ya just gotta to make an example of ‘em:

When Sally Harpold bought cold medicine for her family back in March, she never dreamed that four months later she would end up in handcuffs.

Harpold is a grandmother of triplets who bought one box of Zyrtec-D cold medicine for her husband at a Rockville pharmacy. Less than seven days later, she bought a box of Mucinex-D cold medicine for her adult daughter at a Clinton pharmacy, thereby purchasing 3.6 grams total of pseudoephedrine in a week’s time.

Those two purchases put her in violation of Indiana law 35-48-4-14.7, which restricts the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, or PSE, products to no more than 3.0 grams within any seven-day period.

When the police came knocking at the door of Harpold’s Parke County residence on July 30, she was arrested on a Vermillion County warrant for a class-C misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. But through a deferral program offered by Vermillion County Prosecutor Nina Alexander, the charge could be wiped from Harpold’s record by mid-September.

You know the only thing worse than a police force given the discretion to determine whether or not a lawbreaker is a real threat to society and should be arrested for a crime — a situation which can lead to unintended consequences of racist enforcement, letting cronies off the hook, etc? A police force which enforces horrible, no-good, very bad laws evenly.

H/T: Reason

What’s Next, Richard Gere’s Hamster?!

It's comin' right for us!

It's comin' right for us!


After reading the litany of Radley Balko’s Puppycide chronicles, I still took solace in the fact that if some brute squad mistakenly came to bust down my door instead of a neighbor’s, my 10 lb Yorkshire Terrier, who I refer to as a “barking cat” due to his laziness, would probably not get himself shot. After all, what cop would put a bullet into such a harmless little guy?

I’m sure you can see where this is going… From TJIC:

Cops find 19 year old deaf, declawed, 6 lb house cat that escaped … and wrap a rope around it’s neck, shoot it in the skull (twice), put it in a plastic bag, and throw it away.

Because, ummm, it probably had – like – rabies, or something.

What ?

City Manager Eric Berlin … said Tobey may have appeared to officers to be diseased because he was wet.

Oh, it was wet, from having been sprayed with a hose. OK, then, by all means, shoot it twice in the skull, spattering potentially rabies-carrying brain matter all over.

I’m sure there won’t be too much uproar, of course, because a deaf 19-year-old cat, wasting away at 6 lbs and suspected of disease probably didn’t have that great of a quality of life anyway. Maybe we should just call this an instance of “Death Panel v1.0″.

Nearly 1.5 Million Americans Arrested For Victimless Crimes In 2008

The new FBI Crime Report is out and reveals some interesting information:

  • Prostitution and “commercialized vice” — 75,004 arrests
  • Gambling — 9,811 arrests
  • Drug Possession — 1,401,188 arrests
    • Heroin or Cocaine Possession — 342,210 arrests
    • Marijuana — 754,224 arrests
    • Synthetic drugs (i.e., crystal meth) — 56,184 arrests
    • Other “dangerous” drugs — 248,570

Which leaves us with a grand total of 1,486,003 Americans arrested in 2008 for victimless crimes.

H/T: Coyote Blog and Radley Balko

Shooting the Messenger

JERICHO, Ark. – It was just too much, having to return to court twice on the same day to contest yet another traffic ticket, and Fire Chief Don Payne didn’t hesitate to tell the judge what he thought of the police and their speed traps.

The response from cops? They shot him. Right there in court.

[…]

It’s unclear exactly what happened next, but Martin said an argument between Payne and the seven police officers who attended the hearing apparently escalated to a scuffle, ending when an officer shot Payne from behind.

Incredibly, the prosecutor says he doesn’t plan to file charges against the officer but the victim of the shooting, Payne, could face misdemeanor charges from the incident.

Georgia Pastor Is Latest Victim Of War On (Some) Drugs

A Georgia Pastor was mistakenly killed in the a police drug string operation:

STEPHENS COUNTY, Ga. — A pastor was shot and killed following a drug sting in Stephens County, Ga., on Tuesday, and the officers involved and friends of the pastor are giving different versions of what led up to the shooting.

The Stephens County coroner confirmed that 28-year-old Jonathan Ayers was pronounced dead at Stephens County Hospital on Tuesday.

Ayers, a father-to-be, was the pastor of the Shoal Creek Baptist Church. He maintained a personal blog linked off the church’s Web page, jonathanayers.blogspot.com.

Sheriff Randy Shirley said that officers had been involved in an undercover drug sting at an unnamed establishment in Toccoa. He said the target of the sting was a passenger in Ayers’ car. Shirley said Ayers dropped the woman off and went to the Shell station. He said the officers followed Ayers there.

hirley said, outside the Shell station, the plain-clothes officers identified themselves with a badge. The officers said that Ayers put his car in reverse and struck and agent. They said they opened fire on Ayers when he drove toward the second officer. Two shots were fired in the car, one hit Ayers. The officers said Ayers sped away and crashed about a half mile from the Shell station. They said they found him conscious and alert, but he died a short time later.

The woman who was the subject of the drug sting was arrested, but police are not identifying her yet. She is charged with selling cocaine. Other charges against her are pending.

Investigators said they did not find drugs in Ayers’ car.

“They deserve punishment,” said Ayers’ sister, Rebecca Floyd. “They deserve to feel somewhat of the pain we’re feeling, because I can’t get my brother back he’s gone forever.”

And, no doubt, the officers won’t receive any punishment at all.

Another Genuine Case of a Police Officer ‘Acting Stupidly’ (So where’s Obama?)

A 38 year-old mother of three, who posed no threat to the police or anyone else, was tasered right in front of her children in January of this year. Yet to my knowledge, President Obama has failed to address this genuine case of the police “acting stupidly.” Maybe it’s because Audra Harmon cannot help the president make his case about the “history” of race relations and the police since Mrs. Harmon appears to be a Caucasian woman.

No, Mrs. Harmon doesn’t have the ability to claim she was racially profiled for DWB but this does not make the actions of Deputy Sean Andrews any less shameful.

I’m not sure I agree that tasers should be banned from police use altogether but with every incident like this one that occurs tends to strengthen such an argument. As citizens, we need to hold law enforcement accountable when unnecessary or excessive force is used. When an individual poses no threat to a police officer or anyone else, no force should be used*. Tasers should not be a weapon to be used against an individual who does nothing other than annoy a police officer.** I imagine that even the most authoritarian bootlickers would have been outraged had the deputy used a nightstick on the woman, so how is tasering somehow more acceptable?

But there is even more at play in this case than unnecessary use of force which should not be overlooked. Mrs. Harmon was charged for talking on a cell phone while driving (though in the search of her vehicle, no phone was found), speeding (a charge that was added only after the deputy was unable to find a phone and without the aid of a radar gun), resisting arrest (Is calling bullshit on an arrest now considered ‘resisting’?) and of course the obligatory ‘disorderly conduct’ (a.k.a. ‘contempt of cop’). All these trumped up charges were dropped by the DA’s office.

I know, I know, if Mrs. Harmon had stayed in her car and hadn’t failed to ‘respect the deputy’s authoritah’ she would never have been tasered or arrested. Perhaps she should have had more control over her emotions despite doing nothing else wrong. Perhaps she should have waited for the deputy to return to her car and politely ask to see the video replay then or wait to have her day in court***.

But nothing Mrs. Harmon did that day merited a taser or arrest. The deputy should have acknowledged that he had made a mistake and moved on. Now Mrs. Harmon is suing the department for the deputy’ s conduct (and hopefully she will prevail).

President Obama did no favors for those like Mrs. Harmon who have legitimately become victims of police misconduct when he decided to turn the whole overblown Gates situation into a race issue. Like I said before, race did not need to be part of the discussion – at all. But when the president and others use a mild example of police conduct as an example of the current state of policing, it seems to others that those of us who have legitimate arguments to be taken less seriously.

Hat Tip: The Agitator

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The Nuance Of Medical Marijuana Raids In California

One of Obama’s campaign promises was to stop federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries which were allowed by state law. Many pundits (myself included) have been lambasting him for not living up to that promise based upon stories like these:

Police raids on medical marijuana dispensaries continue–and continue with federal help, despite an Obama promise to end federal raids on state-legal medical pot dealers.

Of course, Obama gave his Justice Department a loophole, with Attorney General Eric Holder saying back in March that his DEA’s resources would “go after those people who violate both federal and state law….Given the limited resources that we have, our focus will be on people, organizations that are growing, cultivating substantial amounts of marijuana and doing so in a way that’s inconsistent with federal and state law.” This was a way to live up to Obama’s promise that federal raids on people who were not violating their own state’s law regarding medical marijuana would cease.

Unfortunately, so far it’s hard to know how serious to take this promise in relation to these latest L.A. raids, since the federal agents’ role in the raids on two Westside pot dispensaries (and their owners’ private homes) is still unexplained as of this writing. As the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Authorities are not saying why they raided two medical marijuana clinics and arrested the operator at his Los Angeles home. Jeffrey Joseph was free on bail Thursday, one day after local and federal agents searched his home and the dispensaries in Los Angeles and Culver City. Agents seized 450 plants and hundreds of pounds of marijuana products.

Spokespeople for the Drug Enforcement Administration, Los Angeles police, and the U.S. attorney say they don’t know what Joseph was book on. County prosecutors released no details.

Distributing medical pot is legal under California law but it’s a federal crime. However, the U.S. attorney general has said he wouldn’t target distributors unless state and federal laws were broken. County prosecutors say the task force was acting on a state warrant.

There’s a little history here. Medical Marijuana dispensaries have become much more common in Los Angeles over the last few years due to several loopholes and exemptions that made it possible for them to open quickly. The city council has been trying recently to cut down on these loopholes in order to reduce the number of operating dispensaries, but their own legal exemptions are making it very hard to do this quickly.

So how to close these shops without having to go through arduous examinations of dispensaries’ “hardship exemption” applications? Simple, prove they’ve been doing something else to break the guidelines. On the bright side, they can then call in the big guns at the DEA to lend a hand! It’s win-win for the City Council and the Feds (and a big LOSE for the dispensary owners and their customers, of course).

Sadly, many of the dispensaries are making the job easy on the city. A personal acquaintance of mine is a CPA and runs the books for several of these dispensaries, and this is his take on the matter:

The more I interact within this industry the more I realize how illegal most of these operations are. The state attorney general set up specific guidelines, as did the state board of equalization, that would allow an owner to operate freely without fear of raids & prosecution. The key issue in these operations is transparency, which most dispensaries fail to realize. Those operations that have their doors and books open to state and city regulators are never harassed. The clubs that operate outside of the guidelines are always targeted. And from a accounting and tax standpoint, it’s extremely simple to figure out who is operating by the book and who’s not.

I tell all my new clients to always be aware of the fact that the board of equalization is keeping a close eye on the industry to ensure that every sale is taxed and that every penny is sent to the state. The state BOE is in bed with the Feds and have no problem calling for the leg-breakers (the IRS) when they feel they’re being ripped off; which in most cases they are.

These raids are a violent and disruptive elucidation of one critical aspect of business in our government-dominated world — your business exists at the pleasure of the state. If they want to find a reason to come after you, they will find a reason to come after you, or manufacture one. There are a lot of regulations attached to any business, and even more to the medical marijuana industry. If they’re watching, they’ll catch you breaking one of them:

The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.
-Ayn Rand

This is the modern equivalent to catching Al Capone on tax evasion, when there wasn’t enough to bust him on the charges of bootlegging (and everything else he was involved in). Obama’s not technically breaking his promise here, but he’s still offering to bring in the big guns and prosecute pot dispensaries if they violate tax laws. He’s violating the spirit of the promise.

Papers Please

Over at the Agitator, Radley Balko asks why people are amused by Bob Dylan’s latest run-in with the law.

I find it pretty depressing. There was a time when we condescendingly used the term “your papers, please” to distinguish ourselves from Eastern Block countries and other authoritarian states. Post-Hiibel, America has become a place where a harmless, 68-year-old man out on a stroll can be stopped, interrogated, detained, and forced to produce proof of identification to state authorities, despite having committed no crime.

Maybe what makes it comical rather than a tragedy is that it happened to a famous guy rather than some ordinary person.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Obama, Gates, Crowley, and the Troubling Controversy that Seemingly Won’t Go Away

Up to now I have purposely avoided this whole disorderly conduct arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. for a number of reasons.

First reason being that compared to the other cases I’ve written about here and elsewhere, this is a very minor case of police misconduct. I have yet to read or hear any reports that Mr. Gates was roughed up even a little bit.

Second, Mr. Gates seems like a real ass. Gates seems to be someone who has a chip on his shoulder and apparently views the world in black and white (i.e. if the police as much as ask a question, s/he is a racist!). A woman saw 2 men trying to break into Gate’s home; unbeknownst to the woman, one of the men was the resident of the home. The woman even said as much on the 911 call:

“I don’t know what’s happening. … I don’t know if they live there and they just had a hard time with their key, but I did notice they had to use their shoulders to try to barge in…”

Now some people are calling her a racist for making the call to the police to begin with!

Third, like President Obama, I “don’t have all the facts” but unlike the president, I’m not going to say definitively that the police “acted stupidly.” There are no videos that documented the encounter and I wasn’t there so I cannot make a judgment as to who acted stupidly or to what degree. My best guess, based on what I have read about the case, is that both Mr. Gates and Sgt. Crowley acted inappropriately and overreacted.

So why have I decided to weigh in now you ask? I think the reason has to do mostly with the fact that this story won’t go away and with so much commentary in the MSM, talk radio, and the blogosphere, I can’t help but offer my 2 cents because certain aspects of this saga trouble me.

I am troubled that this case has turned into a race issue. This was not a case where a white police officer pulled over a black man for DWB. The police responded to a 911 call of a possible break in. This is what the police are supposed to do!

I am troubled that the president would make a public statement without knowing more about the facts of the case. For whatever reason, President Obama thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to opine about the historically troubled relationship between racial minorities and the police. Whether or not the president has a legitimate case to make, this case is not what I would consider a good example of the police racial profiling. What he should have said was something like: “Mr. Gates is a friend of mine but I don’t know all the facts; it would be inappropriate for me to comment about this case at this time.”

I am troubled that (apparently) the police did not leave Mr. Gates home once he identified himself as the home’s rightful resident, thus proving no crime had been committed.

I am troubled with how the police can apparently arrest someone for disorderly conduct for just about any reason they wish. While I do believe that Mr. Gates acted like an ass…since when is that a crime? Sure, he yelled some nasty things at the police when he should have been thanking them for investigating what appeared to be an unlawful break in, but how is making his displeasure known to the police disorderly conduct? I believe Doug is right: arresting Gates in this case was an unconstitutional voilation of his civil rights.

I am troubled by the way certain commentators such as Glenn Beck have gone off the deep end on Obama’s handling of this case, even going as far as calling the president a racist. I didn’t like it when people called Bush a racist and I don’t like it when people call Obama a racist*. That is a hell of a nasty charge to make of anyone (and if one does make that charge, they should have some damn good proof). Like I said before, Obama mishandled this situation but to say he is racist for commenting on race relations with the police (however inappropriate in using this case as an example) is a bridge too far.

I am troubled that other commentators say that because Obama said that the police “acted stupidly” that this is a slap in the face to police officers everywhere…as if he called all police officers stupid. What complete nonsense. I think its worth pointing out that Obama called the actions of the police stupid; he did not call the police stupid. This is a very important distinction. Even the most intelligent, honest, and morally upstanding individual acts stupidly at times. Not even college professors, police officers, or world leaders are immune from this.

Yes, this is indeed a teaching moment. Its just too bad that too many people seem to be learning the wrong lessons.

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The Arrest Of Henry Louis Gates Was Unconstitutional

So says Fox News Channel Legal Analyst, and former Judge, Andrew Napolitano:

Civil liberties attorney Harvey Silvergate agrees:

Under well-established First Amendment jurisprudence, what Gates said to Crowley–even assuming the worst–is fully constitutionally protected. After all, even “offensive” speech is covered by the First Amendment’s very broad umbrella

(…)

Today, the law recognizes only four exceptions to the First Amendment’s protection for free speech: (1) speech posing the “clear and present danger” of imminent violence or lawless action posited by Holmes, (2) disclosures threatening “national security,” (3) “obscenity” and (4) so-called “fighting words” that would provoke a reasonable person to an imminent, violent response.

As Silvergate goes on to discuss in an article well-worth reading, none of these four exceptions can reasonably be said to have applied to the confrontation between Crowley and Gates. Additionally, as Jacob Sullum notes, neither would Massachusetts state law on disorderly conduct justify the arrest in this case:

In Massachusetts, as in many states, the definition of disorderly conduct is drawn from the American Law Institute’s Model Penal Code. A person is considered disorderly if he “engages in fighting or threatening, violent or tumultuous behavior…with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm” or “recklessly creates a risk thereof.”

Crowley claims Gates recklessly created public alarm by haranguing him from the porch of his house, attracting a small crowd that included “at least seven unidentified passers-by” as well as several police officers. Yet it was Crowley who suggested that Gates follow him outside, thereby setting him up for the disorderly conduct charge.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Crowley was angered and embarrassed by Gates’ “outburst” and therefore sought to create a pretext for arresting him. “When he has the uniform on,” Crowley’s wife later told The New York Times, “Jim has an expectation of deference.”

As the Massachusetts Appeals Court has noted, “the theory behind criminalizing disorderly conduct rests on the tendency of the actor’s conduct to provoke violence in others.” Yet police officers often seem to think the purpose of such laws is to punish people for talking back to cops.

And yet, that’s not what the law says, as Massachusetts’ highest Court has recognized:

The officers’ presence, alone, did not suffice to prove the public element, regardless of any concern they may have felt as they witnessed the defendant’s confrontation with Sergeant Boss. As recognized in the commentaries to the Model Penal Code, behavior that has an impact only upon members of the police force is significantly different from that affecting other citizens in at least two respects: it is an unfortunate but inherent part of a police officer’s job to be in the presence of distraught individuals; and, to the extent that the theory behind criminalizing disorderly conduct rests on the tendency of the actor’s conduct to provoke violence in others, “one must suppose that [police officers], employed and trained to maintain order, would be least likely to be provoked to disorderly responses.” Model Penal Code § 250.2 comment 7, at 350. Accordingly, police presence in and of itself does not turn an otherwise purely private outburst into disorderly conduct.(9)

In other words, the mere act of talking back to a cop does not constitute a crime and should not justify arrest.

Gates was a hothead, but Crowley stepped outside the bounds of his Constitutionally-limited authority.

Oklahoma State Trooper vs. EMT Follow-up

As promised, here is some additional video from News Channel 8. This video is a side-by-side of the cell phone cam and dashboard cam.The second video, from Fox News shows the dashboard cam video by itself. It seems to end about where the cell phone cam begins.

In all honesty, I will need to review this video a few more times because I cannot immediately tell which party got physical first. I would like to find a video that shows the whole event from start to finish. The Channel 8 website has the dashboard cam video, but I haven’t had any luck getting it to play. If I find a video that will play and show the event from start to finish, I’ll post it here.

UPDATE:
Here is the link to the dashboard cam video which shows the event in its entirety (thank you “Informer,” for posting the link and “informing” me).

Something about the video really stood out from my last viewing: the length of time it took the ambulance to actually move to the right to allow the State Trooper to pass. As the patrol car catches up to the ambulance, the ambulance swerves left as the car in front of it pulls off the road to the right. From the time the ambulance gets back into the lane it takes approximately 8 seconds for the ambulance to move over to the right for the patrol car to pass. Was this 8 second “violation” really an arrest worthy offense?

Oklahoma State Trooper Will Not be Charged for Assaulting EMT

I dare say that any individual sans badge would be charged for putting his or her hands on the throat of an EMT. Click here to read the rest of the story.

UPDATE I:

Once I figure out how to insert a pdf without hotlinking, I’ll have the official statements from both the EMT and the Ambulance driver. Until then, here is the link to the pdfs where I found them. (See Update II)

I realize that this only represents one side of the story (I’ll see if I can find the OK Highway Patrol statements as well) but what I found there was quite revealing. The EMT explained to the trooper that they were committing a felony for assaulting a Paramedic in the line of duty. The EMT was resisting arrest because he was doing his damn job attending to his patient! (remember the patient?)

It seems to me that the police could have handled this better. If the EMT and driver were really out of line, they could have waited to make their arrests once the patient was safely transported to the ER and under the care of the ER physicians.

UPDATE II:

I found the original news article that contains the statements from the EMT and the driver. According to another article from the same website, DA Max Cook has requested the trooper’s dash board cam video be released to the public (even though he has officially closed the investigation and opted not to file charges). The dashboard cam video should answer the question of who hit who first as well as other questions; I’ll post the video either here or in a separate post if or when it becomes available.

UPDATE III

Oklahoma State Trooper vs. EMT Follow-up

Sonia Sotomayor: Endorsed by The Badge Worshippers and Law Enforcement Bootlickers of America

Those who are of the badge worshipping and law enforcement bootlicking persuasion might assume that Judge Sonia Sotomayor may not have much to offer them as a Supreme Court Justice until they take a look at her record on the 2nd Circuit. As it turns out, Sotomayor has quite an authoritarian streak. It seems that when the powers that be are challenged by an ordinary individual, Sotomayor’s empathy seems to be with those who are employed by the government (and the facts of the circumstance be damned!).

Emily Bazelon writing for Slate warns those who are inclined to support Obama’s nominee: “Liberals, be careful what you wish for.”

The case which concerns Bazelon following her warning in Jocks v. Tavernier illustrates Sotomayor’s badge worshipping tendencies.

The story leading up to Jocks v. Tavernier begins in 1994 with truck driver Thomas Jocks’ truck breaking down on the Long Island Expressway. When the truck came to a stop, the end of his trailer was about 4 feet into the right lane. Trying to be a safe, responsible, and law abiding citizen, Jocks places safety flares as required to warn other drivers and walks nearly a mile to a gas station to find a pay phone* to call 911 about the unsafe situation. Upon arriving at the gas station, Jocks encounters Augusto Tavernier using the pay phone from inside his car.

Bazelon writes [emphasis mine]:

Jocks gave the following account of what happened next: He ran up and told Tavernier there was an emergency because his truck was jutting out onto the expressway. Tavernier told him to find another phone. Jocks repeated the emergency part of his story. Tavernier swore at him. Jocks knocked on his windshield and kept urging him to give him the phone. Finally, Jocks went into the phone stand and hung up on Tavernier’s call. At that point, Jocks said, Tavernier threw the receiver at him, tried to get out of his car, couldn’t because the phone stand was blocking his door, and drove forward. Jocks dialed 911. Tavernier charged him, yelling. Jocks yelled back. Tavernier said, “Why don’t I blow your fucking brains out?” and drew his gun. He pressed the gun into the back of Jocks’ head, and said, “Freeze, police”; and then an off-duty Nassau County police officer arrived, got the situation under control, and arrested Jocks.

Tavernier, too, proved to be an off-duty cop. After his arrest, Jocks was held for 24 hours and ended up having to make 28 court appearances before he was found not guilty of felony assault. He spent $20,000 on legal fees, lost his truck driving job, and had to give up full custody of his daughter, who went to live with her mother, his ex-wife. That dire, black moment on the LIE truly cost him.

Though Jocks was found not guilty of felony assault, much damage had been done. He still was out $20,000, his job, and custody of his daughter. Understandably, he wanted to be compensated for these very real damages. Jocks sued Tavernier and the detective who booked him for false arrest and malicious prosecution. The jury agreed and ordered Tavernier and the detective to pay damages of $600,000; the parties at fault successfully appealed to the 2nd Circuit.

Enter Judge Sotomayor – Bazelon continues:

The judges on the panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit were Sotomayor; Pierre Leval, a Clinton appointee; and John Walker Jr., appointed by President George Herbert Walker Bush […]

Walker wrote an opinion affirming the jury verdict, 2-1. But the drafting took a long time, and when a draft was finally circulated, Sotomayor responded to it by arguing that the grounds for a reasonable arrest are broad. As an off-duty cop who’d been hit in the face with a phone after an altercation, she argued, Tavernier was justified in making the arrest as a matter of law. That meant throwing out the jury verdict. Walker could not get her to change her mind. Instead, Leval decided he was persuaded by Sotomayor’s argument about how broad the grounds for making an arrest can be and switched sides. Finally, Walker gave up and switched, too. His written opinion throws one bone to Jocks by leaving open the possibility of a new trial based on one narrow argument (that he acted in self-defense when he threw the phone). But throwing out the $600,000-plus jury award was a huge blow to the plaintiff. The case was retried in 2007, and Jocks lost, based on the more constraining jury instructions that the trial judge gave because of the 2nd Circuit ruling.

Hold the damn phone** for a minute! In Sotomayor’s world view, even off duty police officers are given more standing, more benefit of the doubt***, and yes, more empathy than the rest of us? Whatever happened to “equal justice under law,” the very words engraved on the very U.S. Supreme Court building she intends work in?

If we want Judges and Justices to decide matters of law with empathy rather than the law and the facts, this is exactly the kind of “justice” we should come to expect.

But never mind that. The important thing is that we have a Supreme Court Justice who is a woman, Latina, and has “life experiences” that the rest of us couldn’t possibly understand!

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What Does it Really Mean to Respect Law Enforcement?

I know some who read my posts regarding police misconduct might not believe me when I say respect the police and the dangerous job they do. I believe that the police misconduct I write about generally are exceptions to the rule that most individuals in law enforcement do their jobs with the highest degree of integrity.

I respect those who are entrusted to “serve and protect” our communities from violent criminals but I also realize that they too are human which means they are capable of making bad choices or being corrupted as anyone else. At a minimum, the police should be held to the same standard as anyone else; I would argue that they should be held to an even higher standard than anyone else.*

What does it say about a respectful attitude toward law enforcement when seemingly a majority of people say that due to the “danger” surrounding such a hazardous occupation, that it’s okay to beat a surrendered, unarmed, or even unconscious person (see video below) senseless because of the “adrenaline” or “emotion” that comes with a dangerous pursuit? Does this show greater or lesser respect for the police?

I believe we should expect more not less than “how the average person would react under similar circumstances” from the police.

If I had a badge and gun, how would I have reacted if one of my friends was almost run over by a fleeing suspect?

The truth of the matter is I don’t know. I don’t know because I have never been confronted with a similar situation. I have not been trained on how to handle the kinds of situations police officers sometimes encounter.

The police, however, do not have this excuse. The officers who beat the unconscious person in Alabama were all veterans. Based on their training and experience, they should have known better.

The general consensus I’ve found on the message boards around the internet on this police chase is that because of the suspect’s actions, he “got what he deserved” and that these officers should not have lost their jobs, let alone be charged criminally.

Most seem to mistake criticism for the police as support for the suspect so let me say this one time: What the suspect did was stupid and put many lives in danger. The suspect should be charged for any and all crimes he committed and should be forced to pay restitution to anyone who was injured or damaged property as a result of his actions.**

The alleged crimes of the suspect and the police are two entirely separate matters which should be treated as two separate trials.

If the police are charged with the responsibility to enforce the law than it stands to reason that they cannot simultaneously violate the law and enforce the law with their actions. If ordinary citizens took it upon themselves to use unnecessary force to the point of brutality, we would call these people vigilantes or criminals. Why then do we make an exception when individuals who happen to wear uniforms do the same thing? We should not be defending these actions we should be condemning them as it is these individuals who disrespect the dignity, the professionalism, and honor of law enforcement as a whole!

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Presenting the Latest Nominees for the Ramos-Compean Medal of Valor

For going above and beyond the call of duty, I herby nominate these three members of L.A.’s finest to receive the Ramos-Compean Medal of Valor. As clearly shown in the footage below, the first officer bravely kicked the suspect in the head after he had surrendered. The second officer also deserves to be recognized for his efforts in protecting the community for punching the disoriented man as a precautionary measure. Last but not least, the third officer also deserves this distinguished honor for his dog handling skills to have the dog bite the suspect!

Clearly, these men are all heroes! While they may not quite live up to the high standard set by Ramos and Compean (not one member of the trio fired his weapon at the suspect after the surrender), we can be sure that the LAPD is quite proud that its reputation is still intact.

The Ramos-Compean Medal of Valor is an honor presented by The Badge Worshippers and Law Enforcement Bootlickers of America

Fake Cops, Fake Raid, Real Guns

Here’s yet another example illustrating why the practice of SWAT style raids should be ended: robbers posing as cops.

Here’s the news story from WRAL:

This is the unedited surveillance video:

As bad as this situation was, it could have ended much worse. It’s very fortunate that the armed robbers encountered the man on the porch first and the others inside could see what was happening thanks to the surveillance video (had this individual not been on the porch, the robbers could have gained entry as police officers serving a lawful warrant). Also, the fact that one of the patrons was armed and able to return fire was the difference in being cleaned out by the robbers (and possibly murdered) and forcing the robbers to abandon their criminal pursuit. It’s just too damn bad that neither robber was killed.

Of course if the police didn’t routinely use paramilitary tactics to raid poker games or those suspected of drug possession in the first place, then individuals would know without question that the intruders are indeed criminals attempting to do harm and could respond appropriately without fear of killing a police officer.

Hat Tip: The Agitator

When Did Maricopa County Become Red Square?

This seems even excessive for the Toughest Most Authoritarian Sheriff in America, Joe Arpaio:

Sheriff’s deputies and county Protective Service officers arrested two men and two women in the middle of the [County Board of Supervisors] meeting when they stood and applauded a speaker who criticized Arpaio.

Joel Nelson, Jason Odhner, Monica Sanschafer and Kristy Theilen all were charged with suspicion of disorderly conduct and trespassing, said sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Brian Lee.

Odhner is a member of the anti-Arpaio group Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability, said the group’s director Raquel Terán. Nelson, Sanschafer and Theilen are members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The trio frequently has participated with MCSA members during the group’s anti-Arpaio campaign.

The crackdown brought the anti-Arpaio activist arrest tally to nine in the past four months.

Here’s the video of the incident:

But perhaps the disorderly conduct charges are legit. After all, public meetings have to have order right?

One might be able to accept this explanation until considering this:

A double standard clearly was in effect during the Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday. At one point, public-transit advocate Blue Crowley used part of his public-comment time allotment to sing a birthday song to Kunasek. Kunasek blushed and several people applauded, but none was ordered to leave or threatened with arrest.

However, Kunasek, deputies and security officers refused to tolerate applause after the anti-Arpaio speech minutes later.

Don’t expect any apologies from Sheriff Arpaio for the actions of his deputies. He is THE LAW!

Maryland House Passes Mayor Calvo’s SWAT Bill by 126 to 9 Vote

Despite the objections of the National Tactical Officers Association, the bill championed by Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo passed the Maryland House by a wide margin:

Delegates adopted a bill, on a 126 to 9 vote, that would require law enforcement agencies to report every six months on their use of SWAT teams, including what kinds of warrants the teams serve and whether any animals are killed during raids. The bill was prompted by the case of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo, whose two black Labrador retrievers were shot and killed during a botched raid by a Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team in July.

Calvo has said he was surprised to learn that police departments use the heavily armed units far more routinely than they once did but that it is difficult to get reliable statistics about SWAT raids. The Senate has passed a similar measure.

Here’s hoping that the differences in the House and Senate bills are ironed out, that the Governor has the good sense to sign this bill into law, and that the remaining 49 states will soon pass similar legislation.

H/T: Reason Hit & Run

The Hubris of the National Tactical Officers Association

In my report following the live chat @ The Agitator with Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo last week, I made mention of some very modest reforms he was pushing in Maryland. The bill would require all police departments with SWAT teams to provide monthly reports to the state’s Attorney General, local officials and the general public.

Who would have a problem with just a little public oversight over law enforcement? Apparently, the National Tactical Officers Association’s executive director John Gnagey does:

[John Gnagey] says reporting requirements for SWAT teams should emanate from the law enforcement community, not legislators.

“Our data shows that when SWAT teams are deployed, the violence goes down,” said John Gnagey, who was a SWAT team member for 26 years in the Champaign, Ill., police department.

One question for Mr. Gnagey: That slogan that you have on your squad car that says “to serve and protect,” who exactly are you trying to serve and protect? Based on the tone from the article, it appears that you are only interested in serving and protecting law enforcement. Silly me, I was under the impression that the purpose of law enforcement was to serve and protect the general public! If you have some data that shows SWAT deployments bring the level of violence down, why are you so afraid of putting this data to the test?

The hubris of Mr. Gnagey illustrates exactly why more oversight of law enforcement is necessary. The article also points out that nationally the number of SWAT deployments rose from 2,500 annually in the 1980’s to between 50,000 and 60,000 in 2005; the War on (Some) Drugs is largely responsible for this dramatic increase. Not everyone agrees that these SWAT deployments have reduced violence.

Mayor Cheye Calvo was also interviewed in the article:

“It’s pretty clear to me that police are using SWAT teams for duties that used to be performed by ordinary police officers,” says Calvo, whose Berwyn Heights house was raided July 29 when police mistakenly thought his wife was involved in drug trafficking. “No question, there are times when SWAT teams are appropriate. What strikes me about this is that police are using SWAT teams as an initial response rather than a last resort.”

What we need is more transparency and it’s never going to happen if we depend on those who have something to hide to change the reporting requirements.

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