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Title: Police abuse in these United States (cont'd)

synergy - July 21, 2009 01:21 AM (GMT)
Tasers, Steroids and Police Brutality by Steven D [Booman Tribune] Mon Jul 20th, 2009 at 06:13:54 PM EST

synergy - January 2, 2010 11:44 PM (GMT)
For Being Tasered Repeatedly While Having A Diabetic Seizure, Man Sues Police By Susie Madrak [Crooks and Liars] Saturday Jan 02, 2010 3:00pm

synergy - January 26, 2010 03:39 PM (GMT)
You Should See the Other Guys by Steven D | Booman Tribune | Mon Jan 25th, 2010 at 06:58:20 PM EST
The other guys of the title are three unnamed Pittsburgh undercover police officers who tased and beat an 18 year old African American male student, Jordan Miles, for the crime of carrying a concealed bottle of Mountain Dew.

Here's how he looked after his arrest:

user posted image

For other pictures go to WPXI's story and check out their photo slide show. Here's how the reporter described Jordan's encounter with Pittsburgh's finest:


synergy - February 2, 2010 12:10 AM (GMT)
By ED WHITE, Associated Press Writer
6:05 pm EST Mon 01 Feb 2010

DETROIT – A Muslim prayer leader accused of encouraging his followers to commit violence against the U.S. government was shot 20 times during an FBI raid at a suburban warehouse last fall, according to an autopsy report released Monday.

The autopsy was completed a month after Luqman Ameen Abdullah's death, but Dearborn police were granted a delay in releasing the results while they investigate the Oct. 28 shooting, said Dr. Carl Schmidt, Wayne County's chief medical examiner.

Abdullah, 53, died instantly, he said. The FBI says agents were trying to arrest Abdullah at a Dearborn warehouse when he resisted and fired a gun.

Schmidt said Abdullah's body was handcuffed and on the floor of a semitrailer when his investigator arrived at the shooting scene.

"You cannot tell by the gunshot wounds whether he was lying down, standing up, sitting" when he was shot, Schmidt told reporters. "It is impossible to say which one was the fatal gunshot wound. It was a combination of gunshot wounds."

FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said anyone subject to an arrest warrant is handcuffed "no matter what the circumstances" for the safety of agents and the public.

Abdullah, also known as Christopher Thomas, was the imam of a small mosque in Detroit that served mostly black Muslims. At the time, he and 11 allies were being pursued for federal crimes, chiefly conspiracy to sell stolen goods in an FBI sting operation.

The FBI says Abdullah was spreading a radical anti-government ideology that called for an Islamic state within the U.S. His family denies it. There were no terror-related charges.

Dearborn police still are investigating Abdullah's death. Earlier Monday, Chief Ron Haddad said it will take several more weeks before detectives finish their work and share their findings with the Michigan attorney general's office.

"I'm not going to engage in opinions on the use of force," Haddad said when asked if agents fired too many times. "Whether it clears them, whether they're prosecuted, it'll be up to the next level."

He promised a "clear, honest and objective evaluation."

The shooting also is being examined by the FBI's Inspection Division, which will send results to the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said Berchtold, who called it a standard procedure.

"This is one piece of information from that day," she said of the 20 shots. "We'd like to ask people to wait for all the facts to come out to determine an overall reaction. The events that actually occurred in the warehouse have not been publicized."

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations want a separate investigation. Outside the Dearborn Police Department, a small group of protesters stood near a sign that said, "Stop FBI Terror!"

A lawyer for Abdullah's family, Nabih Ayad, questioned the FBI's tactics.

"A lot of raids are conducted when a suspect has a gun. That doesn't mean you shoot them 20 times," Ayad said in an interview.

Schmidt said the 20 shots caused 21 wounds, mostly on the left side of Abdullah's body, from the abdomen down.

synergy - February 3, 2010 07:56 PM (GMT)
Young Violist Brutally Attacked by Police by hester [Daily Kos recommended diary] Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 08:35:18 AM PST

synergy - April 30, 2010 03:51 PM (GMT)
AP 9:59 am EDT Fri 30 Apr 2010

BEIJING – China said Friday that a Chinese diplomat in the U.S. was beaten and injured by Houston police and urged an investigation to ensure diplomatic practices are not violated.

The U.S. State Department was taking the matter very seriously and findings of the investigation would be shared with China "as soon as appropriate," said Susan Stevenson, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

She referred further questions to Houston police, which did not immediately return calls seeking comment Friday morning.

The statement from China's Foreign Ministry said police harassed and beat a deputy consul-general while he was driving to the Chinese Consulate in Houston. The statement said a family member also was involved, but did not say if that person was injured.

According to a CBS News report, Houston police last Saturday tried to stop a car which was missing a license plate. When the car didn't stop, they pursued it into a garage without realizing the garage belonged to the Chinese Consulate. Police handcuffed and arrested the driver, injuring him, the CBS report said.

Under international practice, the premises of foreign embassies and consulates are outside the jurisdiction of local law enforcement, and diplomats have legal immunity.

The CBS News report identified the official as Ben Ren Yu. The Houston consulate website lists a deputy consul-general, Yu Boren.

"China urges the U.S. ... to quickly investigate the details of this incident and to look into the persons responsible to ensure that the Chinese diplomatic and consulate personnel and premises are not violated," said the statement attributed to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu. "The Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Chinese Embassy and the Houston consulate have already made solemn exchanges with the U.S. side."

U.S.-China relations only recently emerged from a tense period aggravated by spats over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, trade and Chinese currency policy. Comments on at least two major Internet portals had apparently been deleted, an indication the case was considered sensitive, perhaps because of its impact on U.S.-China ties.

synergy - May 6, 2010 04:40 PM (GMT)
SWAT Team Kills Dog With Child Present, Arrest Father In Misdemeanor Marijuana Bust - By: Jane Hamsher Thursday May 6, 2010 8:19 am | Firedoglake "ACTION"

synergy - May 8, 2010 12:21 AM (GMT)
Chris Halsne
KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter

Posted: 3:44 pm PDT May 6, 2010Updated: 1:50 pm PDT May 7, 2010
SEATTLE -- Internal affairs detectives have launched a review after seeing a racially charged videotape of two Seattle police officers stomping on an innocent detainee.

KIRO Team 7 Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne received the footage from a freelance photographer.

Before the camera rolled, here was the scenario, gleaned from redacted public records provided by SPD:

WATCH IT: Officer Threatens, Kicks Detainee

On April 17, Seattle police responded to several 911 calls near the China Harbor Restaurant on the west side of Lake Union. Patrons of a nightclub complained of an armed robbery occurring in the parking lot. They told dispatchers the suspects were Hispanic.

About eight blocks away, a pair of guys who appeared to be Hispanic were strolling along the boardwalk when Seattle police officers saw them.

The videotape shows it's about 2 a.m. At least six squad cars full of Seattle police are trying to sort out suspects about a half-mile from a robbery scene.

Three men are being detained, but two of them appear to have nothing to do with the alleged crime.

A member of the SPD gang unit can be seen, down on his knees, yelling at a young man lying face down on the ground. It was unclear what he was saying until the camera moved a little closer.

The audio then became much clearer. The camera microphone picked up the following threat from the officer to the detainee:

"You got me? I'm going to beat the f***ing Mexican piss out of you homey. You feel me?"

About 16 seconds after the officer threatens to "beat the f-ing Mexican piss out of you homey," the uncuffed young man moves his hand to wipe his eye. The officer immediately gives him a violent kick to the head.

Looking at it again closely, it's possible the officer was trying to stomp on the suspect's hand and instead skipped the toe of his boot off the guy's head.

Either way, a recognized expert on policy brutality, who watched the footage, says it should never have happened.

"I suppose I could speculate on some excuse, but looking at the actual facts as recorded in the video, which is always the best evidence, I just don't see any excuse," former Bellevue police chief Don Van Blaricom told Halsne.

Van Blaricom has testified as a police practices expert in more than 1,500 cases nationwide.

"Well, there's absolutely no excuse for stomping on somebody's head who's lying on a concrete surface. Absolutely no excuse for that whatsoever," Van Blaricom said.

The videotape also shows that about 12 seconds after the gang unit officer did his stomping, a female officer walked over to do some stomping of her own; this time onto the back of the knee or calf of the same guy lying face down on the sidewalk.

Once the officers realized they had the wrong guy, they helped him up, brushed him off, and let him go with a serious case of road rash from the concrete.

He seemed a little dazed when the freelance photographer spoke with him afterwards.

Q: "So they kicked you in the head, man?"
A: "Yeah, they did."
Q: "Tell me why they kicked you in the head?"
A: "I don’t know. They knocked me down and kicked me in the head."
Q: "You had nothing to do with what was going on?"
A: "Nothing to do."

While watching the videotape, Van Blaricom noticed the young man wasn't steady on his feet after getting up from the blow to the head. Audio tape confirms that the gang unit officers knew that, yet medical aid isn't apparent on the scene.

The Seattle police officer says to the now-released detainee, "I want you to relax your weight on the car, OK? All right. Put your hands back so you don't fall down. All right?"

Van Blairicom listened to that same officer's earlier comment ("I'm going to beat the f***ing Mexican piss out of you homey. You feel me?") and tells KIRO Team 7 Investigators his use of a racist comment is not only offensive, but could put the whole department in a bad light.

Van Blaricom adds, "If you add racial overtones to a police contact with a suspect, particularly with one that turns out to be totally innocent, that doesn't do anybody any favors. It's insulting to the individual who's called a racial epithet. It's insulting to that community or that culture and people react against it."

The Seattle Police Department today released a three sentence statement, essentially saying it's "aware of possible officer misconduct" and an internal review is under way.

synergy - May 8, 2010 12:24 AM (GMT)
The Seattle Times

Friday, May 7, 2010 - Page updated at 04:56 PM

By Sara Jean Green and Steve Miletich

Seattle Times staff reporters

The Seattle Police Department has launched an internal investigation after a gang detective and a patrol officer were captured on videotape kicking a prone detainee and using derogatory language.

On the video, the gang detective can be heard telling a man lying on a concrete sidewalk, "I'm going to beat the [expletive] Mexican piss out of you, homey. You got me?"

The video was first aired Thursday night on KIRO-TV.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn called the video "disturbing" in a written statement Friday.

The Police Department, in a statement, said an internal investigation was ordered April 17 after the department became aware of the incident. The two officers involved have been taken off street duties and assigned other work, said Interim Police Chief John Diaz.

Rich O'Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officers' Guild, said an internal investigation is warranted, but cautioned against jumping to conclusions until the full context of the incident is understood.

"I'm not condoning anything at this point, but we need to reserve judgment until the officers can say what they saw," O'Neill said. "After the officers have had an opportunity to tell their side of the story and it's reviewed [by commanders], then let the chips fall where they may."

Police have not released the name of either officer, but sources identified the gang officer as Shandy Cobane, 44. O'Neill confirmed that Cobane is the officer who made the comment and kicked the man. O'Neill said he doesn't know who the other officer is.

McGinn, in his statement, said, "I watched the video and found it disturbing. Chief Diaz has informed me that SPD and the Office of Professional Accountability are investigating the incident. We won't have any further statement until that process is complete."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg, who supervises the Seattle office's civil-rights division, said federal prosecutors are "aware" of the videotape and have seen news accounts of what it contains.

"We intend to review the situation," he said.

Diaz said Friday that he has not watched the video because he wants to keep an open mind before he might be asked make disciplinary decisions.

"As soon as it was described to me, I said this is going to the Office of Professional Accountability to be investigated fully," Diaz said in Olympia while attending a ceremony honoring fallen and wounded police officers.

"I am not going to make any predetermined judgments on this case," he said, "but I do have to say that if what I understand is on that video and what I heard is on that video, that's very disturbing to me."

Diaz said one issue investigators will examine is whether one of the officers used a racial slur or language intended to get the detainee under control.

"Am I offended by people using any kind of slur? Absolutely," said Diaz, who is Latino.

The disclosure of the video comes just days before a search committee formed by McGinn is to pick three finalists for Seattle police chief from a list of nine semifinalists, including Diaz and two high-level department commanders, Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer and Assistant Chief Jim Pugel.

The six other semifinalists are current or former chiefs from across the country, including Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

The 26-member search committee is scheduled to announce on Tuesday the three finalists, whose names will be submitted to McGinn. McGinn will make the selection of the next chief, subject to confirmation by the City Council.

The robbery

According to KIRO-TV, which got the video from a freelance videographer, Seattle police officers responded to the area near China Harbor restaurant after several nightclub patrons called 911 to report an armed robbery in the parking lot. The patrons apparently described the robbery suspects as Hispanic.

Around 1:15 a.m. April 17, a patron of China Harbor, located at 2040 Westlake Ave. N., went to the parking lot to say goodbye to his girlfriend, who had gotten into her car, according to a police report on the armed robbery.

Four Hispanic men walked up to him, and one of them demanded money and pulled out a 3-foot-long machete, according to the report. The man told his girlfriend to leave and began walking to his car, but was followed by the four men, the report says. According to the report, a second suspect told the victim, "We are [blank]. We can kill you right now. We can do whatever we want with you."

Seattle police typically redact — or black out — the names of street gangs in police reports.

The victim gave the men $20, but they demanded more money so he gave them another $20 before getting into his vehicle and calling 911, the report says. He told officers the man with the machete appeared to be drunk or on drugs.

The victim was able to positively identify at least one of the suspects at the scene, the police report says. Police later arrested two of the four men — one told officers he was from Mexico while the other said he was from El Salvador, according to the police report. A third man was interviewed and released at the scene, and the fourth man was not found.

It's unknown if the man released from the scene is the same man seen in the video.

The video

The video, shot around 2 a.m., shows a group of officers detaining three men, who are lying on a sidewalk about a half-mile from the robbery scene.

After one of the men moves a hand to his face, it appears Cobane is trying to stop the movement with his boot but ends up kicking the man's head. The man can be seen reacting, his head briefly flinching upward. Moments later, a female patrol officer is seen stepping on the back of the man's leg or knee.

It was later determined that the man and another detainee weren't involved in the armed robbery, KIRO reported. The officers help the man to his feet and sit him against a patrol car. The man, who has a scrape on his head, tells the videographer: "They knocked me down and kicked me in the head."

Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb said he didn't know if the two officers filed use-of-force reports, which are required when the use of physical force causes an injury, could reasonably be expected to cause an injury, or results in a complaint of injury.

Whitcomb said The Times would have to file a public-disclosure request with the department for that information.

O'Neill, who viewed the video for the first time Friday morning, said given that officers were "proning them [the detainees] out on the ground," something early in the contact must have happened before the camera started rolling — perhaps the men refused to answer questions, failed to comply with commands or showed signs that they planned to flee.

As for the comment by Cobane, who can be heard threatening to beat the "Mexican piss" out of a detainee, O'Neill said that gang officers deal with plenty of rough characters and often need to use coarse language.

"If people believe that in the course of police work that everything is 'Officer Friendly' and 'Mr. Rogers,' that's a very naive view of what goes on," he said.

From previous experience arresting roughly 1,000 people suspected of driving under the influence, O'Neill said it appeared to him that the man who was kicked was "absolutely intoxicated," pointing to the man's long eye blinks and slow responses as signs of impairment.

"Being intoxicated isn't illegal, but it does lead to perception problems," he said. "Did he know what was going on, that he was being questioned as a possible armed felon? Maybe he wasn't following directions and they didn't know who they had at that point."

The Latina/o Bar Association of Washington on Friday condemned what it labeled an act of brutality and demanded explanations.

"This police brutality is an outrage to all citizens, in particular, the Latino community," the organization said in a written statement. "Moreover, the incident occurred 19 days before the public learned, from a local television report, of the racially charged beating."

Seattle Times staff reporters Mike Carter, Jennifer Sullivan and Bob Young and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or

synergy - May 12, 2010 01:13 AM (GMT)

synergy - May 22, 2010 10:56 PM (GMT)
By ED WHITE, Associated Press Writer
5:02 pm EDT Sat 22 May 2010

DETROIT – Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton gave a rousing eulogy Saturday for a 7-year-old girl killed in a police raid, challenging the hundreds of mourners to take responsibility and help stop a spiral of violence that has swept the city.

Sharpton lobbed some criticism at Detroit police, whose explanation of how Aiyana Stanley-Jones died from a gunshot has been contradicted by the girl's family. But he mostly offered a broad cultural message to a city where at least three children and an officer have been killed in recent weeks.

"I'd rather tell you to start looking at the man in the mirror. We've all done something that contributed to this," he said referring to Aiyana's death.

"This is it," Sharpton said at Second Ebenezer Church. "This child is the breaking point."

The congregation stood and applauded Sharpton, the final speaker at a nearly two-hour service that included stirring gospel music and remarks from clergy.

Aiyana was shot in the neck while sleeping on a couch May 16. Police hunting for a murder suspect say an officer's gun accidentally fired inside the house after he was jostled by, or collided with, her grandmother. A stun grenade was also thrown through a window.

A lawyer for Aiyana's family, Geoffrey Fieger, is suing and claims the shot was fired from outside the house immediately after the grenade was used. A camera crew working on the A&E reality series "The First 48" accompanied police on the raid.

"Do they throw these flash grenades in everybody's neighborhood? Would you have gone in Bloomfield Hills and did what you did?" Sharpton said, referring to a wealthy Detroit suburb. "Have you ever heard of putting on a light and calling people to come out?"

Before the service, Aiyana's coffin was open for people to pay their respects. An arrangement of pink and white roses shaped like a princess crown and bearing her name was on a stand.

A few days earlier, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, a Republican running for governor, criticized Sharpton's visit, saying he was disgusted and accusing the New Yorker of a "drive-by at the scene of a tragedy."

"I'm disgusted when I look at a 7-year-old baby in a casket," Sharpton said during his eulogy. "And rather turn to each other, we name-call and ego-tripping and trying to jump in front of a camera rather than stand up and say, 'Enough is enough.'"

Sharpton said children need guidance and respect and maybe Aiyana's death will be the catalyst.

Young men carried Aiyana's white casket on their shoulders out of the church to a horse-led cortege for burial at Trinity Cemetery.

The mourners included Erica Milioni of Adrian, her husband and their seven children. They are trying to move to Detroit to get involved in urban farming and had heard about the tragedy.

"The Bible says weep with those who weep. I thought it was a blessing. I was blessed by the mix of truth and the pursuit of peace," Milioni said of the service.

Aiyana's cousin, Rachel Conley, 34, of Eastpointe said she was inspired by Sharpton and plans to start a program called "Aiyana's Angels" to give young girls a safe place to be, perhaps a few times a month.

Roshell Johnson, 9, was wearing a shirt with a picture of Aiyana, her best friend. The funeral program said she liked Disney's "Hannah Montana" show and all the Disney princesses.

"Why did the police do it to her?" Roshell said after the service. "I loved her so much. I want her to come back alive."

synergy - May 27, 2010 08:40 AM (GMT)
By KAREN HAWKINS, Associated Press Writer – Wed May 26, 8:30 pm ET

CHICAGO – A 63-year-old former gang member nicknamed "Satan" testified Wednesday that he still has nightmares about being shocked and suffocated by former Chicago police lieutenant and his men during a murder investigation more than 35 years ago.

Anthony Holmes was the first witness called in Jon Burge's federal trial on obstruction of justice and perjury charges.

Burge is accused of lying when he denied in a civil lawsuit that he and other detectives had tortured suspects. He faces a maximum of 45 years in prison if convicted of all charges. He's pleaded not guilty to the charges and is free on bond.

Burge was fired by the police department in 1993 for mistreatment of a suspect, but no charges were filed.

Holmes testified that Burge and several officers rousted him from bed early on May 29, 1973, and took him to the Area 2 police station on Chicago's South Side to question him about a murder.

Once there, he said Burge cuffed his wrists and ankles, put plastic bags over his head and attached wires to his body so an electric current could be sent through them.

"(It was) like a thousand needles going through my body," Holmes said, emotion in his voice. "I thought I had died."

After several rounds of passing out and being revived by Burge, he said he agreed to sign a confession to the murder to get the abuse to stop. He was later convicted and served 30 years in prison.

"Whatever he wanted me to say, I would've said it," he said.

Holmes said the abuse still gives him nightmares and he feels withdrawn and helpless.

"(You have) no control over the situation, it breaks you down," he said.

The founder of a South Side gang involved in a string of robberies in the 1970s, Holmes said he got the nickname "Satan" when he was 2 years old after he threw his older brother's pants in the dirt.

Earlier Wednesday, prosecutors and defense attorneys gave their opening statements, painting conflicting portraits of Burge as either a secretive and zealous torturer or a heroic Vietnam vet who fought to keep the streets safe.

"Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil — that could have been the motto of Area 2" when Burge was in charge, said Betsy Biffl, a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Justice Department. "Area 2 had a dirty little secret."

She laid out the prosecution's case, saying the jury would hear testimony from a former detective who worked under Burge and allegedly participated in the abuse. Prosecutors also plan to call more former suspects who, like Holmes, said they were tortured by Burge or other officers during the 1970s and 1980s.

The abuse allegedly included beatings, gun threats and electric shock. One man said his tormentors poured soda into his nose.

Many of the men have criminal backgrounds, including Andrew Wilson, who was convicted of killing two police officers in 1982. Wilson died in prison, and his testimony from an earlier case will be read to the jury.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Bill Gamboney painted the prosecution's witnesses as "street thugs." He reiterated Burge's claim that no abuse ever happened.

"He's an honorable man," Gamboney said of Burge. "He did not torture anybody, and he had no knowledge of any torture."

The cross-examination of Holmes is scheduled to continue Thursday. The trial before U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow is expected to last six weeks.

synergy - May 31, 2010 02:40 PM (GMT)
Caught on Tape: Hollywood LAPD Bash Bicyclists During BP Protest Ride - Lisa Derrick Saturday May 29, 2010 11:46 pm | Firedoglake "La Figa"

synergy - June 22, 2010 10:16 PM (GMT)
Iraq Veteran Beating Tape: Video Of NYPD Assaulting Walter Harvin Released (VIDEO) - The Huffington Post | First Posted: 06-22-10 11:31 AM | Updated: 06-22-10 11:31 AM

synergy - June 24, 2010 01:42 PM (GMT)
New York Daily News

BY Oren Yaniv

Thursday, June 24th 2010, 4:00 AM

Her hero son's PTSD only got worse after the beating he took from a city cop, an Iraq war veteran's mom testified Wednesday.

And now, he's missing.

"I don't know if my son is alive or dead," said Cora Page, 46, of son Walter Harvin, who was seen cuffed and on the ground, taking baton blow after baton blow from Officer David London.

London is on trial for assault and falsifying a police report after a video of the July 2008 beating surfaced.

He and Harvin tangled when the vet tried to slip into his mother's W. 93rd St. home without a key.

When Harvin, 30, got back from Iraq in 2006, he had posttraumatic stress disorder. He couldn't sleep well, talked loudly to himself and had paranoid episodes, his mom said.

After the beating, things got a lot worse, she testified: "He was a mess."

But London's lawyer Stephen Worth suggested Harvin's disappearance is more an act than a real concern: "Were he cross examined, he'd be asked about his actions and he'd have no good answers to give you," he told jurors.

synergy - June 26, 2010 12:31 AM (GMT)

Last Updated: 6:41 PM, June 25, 2010

Posted: 4:51 PM, June 25, 2010

He could have used a few more!

The cop in a violent, caught-on-video baton beating thinks he was "compassionate" in only hitting a prone and unarmed suspect about 20 times, his lawyer said in closing statements this morning.

"Did he use too much force, or did he use too little?" lawyer Stephen Worth asked jurors, reminding them of how the cuffed suspect had still lunged angrily at defendant Officer David London two years ago in a Manhattan project lobby -- even after his beating.

The suspect, Army vet Walter Harvin, 30, was fresh from the battlefields of Iraq when London stopped him in the lobby and asked him for ID. Harvin has since disappeared, say his family and prosecutors.

"I suggest to you that out of compassion, he used too little," Worth told jurors.

Prosecutor David Drucker countered that London's force was unnecessary and excessive. Harvin is clearly in a fetal position, his hands and arms protecting his head, as the bulk of the blows from London's baton strike him, Drucker pointed out.

"He's covering up. He's covering his head," Drucker told jurors in his own closing statements this morning.

"He's covering up the place where he's been hit. He's given up... at that point, there's no fight in him," Drucker said ."He's certainly no threat."

Jurors began deliberating at 3:30 p.m. assault charges carrying a penalty of anywhere from probation up to seven years. London is also charged with falsifying police paperwork claiming the suspect had punched him.

Read more:

synergy - July 1, 2010 05:12 PM (GMT)
The New York Times

June 28, 2010
Officer Acquitted of Assaulting Iraq Veteran

A police officer captured by a surveillance camera repeatedly striking an Iraq war veteran with his baton while the veteran lay in the lobby of a housing project in Manhattan was acquitted Monday of assault and other charges.

Jurors deliberated in State Supreme Court in Manhattan for about a day before rendering the verdict for the officer, David London.

Officer London, who has been on desk duty since the episode in July 2008, showed no emotion as the forewoman read the words “not guilty” on each of the counts against him: second-degree assault, filing false records, falsifying business records and making a false written statement.

But moments later, Officer London — flanked by his lawyers, Stephen C. Worth and Cary London, who is not related to the officer — bowed in his seat and sobbed, clutching crumpled tissue and a small red Bible in his fist.

“I’d like to thank God and my family,” Officer London said in a soft voice outside the courtroom after exchanging tearful embraces with his supporters.

Mr. Worth said, “We’re happy people are realizing police work doesn’t always look pretty, but that is the nature of the job.”

The family of the Iraq war veteran, Walter Harvin, stormed out of the courtroom and cried injustice.

“I would like to take the same club he whupped my son with and whup” Officer London with it, said Cora Page, 46, the mother of Mr. Harvin, outside the courthouse.

Mr. Harvin did not testify at the trial because the district attorney’s office and his family could not locate him. Ms. Page and prosecutors have said that Mr. Harvin suffered from mental problems after his tour in Iraq.

Jurors left the courthouse without commenting.

The video of the confrontation between Officer London, 45, and Mr. Harvin was dramatic in that it showed the officer delivering blow after blow with a retractable baton. Prosecutors said that although Officer London’s first couple of blows might have been justified, many of them, including some delivered while Mr. Harvin lay handcuffed on the tile floor, were excessive.

Prosecutors also accused Officer London of lying about the details of the confrontation in the criminal court complaint that was filed against Mr. Harvin.

But Officer London and his lawyers argued that the video did not tell the entire story.

The confrontation started, Officer London testified, when he was closing the front door to the housing project as Mr. Harvin tried to squeeze in. Officer London said he asked Mr. Harvin for identification or proof that he lived in the building, and Mr. Harvin immediately became irate, swearing at him and refusing to stop.

Officer London said he struck the first blow after Mr. Harvin lunged toward him. Officer London said he thought Mr. Harvin was about to punch him, and he continued to strike Mr. Harvin while he was on the ground because he continued to thrash around and yell threats.

Officer London still faces departmental charges.

synergy - July 9, 2010 09:24 PM (GMT)
Fri Jul 9, 1:35 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Police clashed with protesters who looted businesses and smashed windows in Oakland, California after a white policeman was convicted on a lesser charge of killing an unarmed black man.

Several hundred people initially gathered peacefully Thursday in downtown Oakland, a city east of San Francisco, to protest the involuntary manslaughter ruling against Johannes Mehserle, the lesser charge that fuelled concerns of unrest over the racially polarizing case.

Prosecutors had sought more severe murder charges against Mehserle, 28, for shooting 22-year-old Oscar Grant in the back as he lay face-down at a transit station on New Year's Day in 2009 -- a killing bystanders caught on tape.

After night fell, brief riots broke out between police and a small group of protesters, who were quickly subdued by police. Following a short lull, some protesters broke into a Foot Locker sportswear store and took items under applause from participants.

Looters were seen distributing shoes and t-shirts to the crowd before police stopped several dozen people.

A jewelry store was ransacked and several other businesses were damaged, while trash cans were set on fire and protesters threw rocks at a police car.

By 11:00 pm (0600 GMT), the crowd had not yet fully dispersed and police reinforcements arrived from San Francisco and other nearby cities, according to the Oakland Tribune, as the Grant family's lawyer, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger urged calm.

Mehserle, who was a police officer with the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) association, has said he had meant to draw and fire his Taser electroshock gun, not his gun.

Grant's death had prompted unrest immediately following the incident, with some 100 people arrested in the wake of one of the riots.

Mehserle's is due for sentencing on August 6.

synergy - July 14, 2010 01:21 PM (GMT)
The rules of engagement in rural Georgia[QUOTE] - by Gaius Publius on Tuesday 7/13/2010 04:59:00 PM | AMERICAblog

synergy - August 1, 2010 12:07 AM (GMT)
Film a cop, face 16 years in jail - by Gaius Publius on 7/30/2010 08:40:00 PM | AMERICAblog

synergy - August 4, 2010 03:34 PM (GMT)

By ADAM COHEN – Wed Aug 4, 6:25 am ET

Anthony Graber, a Maryland Air National Guard staff sergeant, faces up to 16 years in prison. His crime? He videotaped his March encounter with a state trooper who pulled him over for speeding on a motorcycle. Then Graber put the video - which could put the officer in a bad light - up on YouTube.

It doesn't sound like much. But Graber is not the only person being slapped down by the long arm of the law for the simple act of videotaping the police in a public place. Prosecutors across the U.S. claim the videotaping violates wiretap laws - a stretch, to put it mildly.

These days, it's not hard to see why police are wary of being filmed. In 1991, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) beating of Rodney King was captured on video by a private citizen. It was shown repeatedly on television and caused a national uproar. As a result, four LAPD officers were put on trial, and when they were not convicted, riots broke out, leaving more than 50 people dead and thousands injured (two officers were later convicted on federal civil rights charges). (See TIME's special: "15 Years After Rodney King.")

More recently, a New York Police Department officer was thrown off the force - and convicted of filing a false report - because of a video of his actions at a bicycle rally in Times Square. The officer can plainly be seen going up to a man on a bike and shoving him to the ground. The officer claimed the cyclist was trying to collide with him, and in the past, it might have been hard to disprove the police account. But this time there was an amateur video of the encounter - which quickly became an Internet sensation, viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube alone. (Read about the hidden side of the NYPD.)

In the Graber case, the trooper also apparently had reason to want to keep his actions off the Internet. He cut Graber off in an unmarked vehicle, approached Graber in plain clothes and yelled while brandishing a gun before identifying himself as a trooper.

Back when King was beaten, it was unusual for bystanders to have video cameras. But today, everyone is a moviemaker. Lots of people carry video cameras in their pockets, on iPhones, BlackBerrys and even their MP3 players. They also have an easy distribution system: the Internet. A video can get millions of viewers worldwide if it goes viral, bouncing from blog to blog, e-mail to e-mail, and Facebook friend to Facebook friend. (See photos from inside Facebook's headquarters.)

No wonder, then, that civil rights groups have embraced amateur videos. Last year, the NAACP announced an initiative in which it encouraged ordinary citizens to tape police misconduct with their cell phones and send the videos to the group's website,

Law enforcement is fighting back. In the case of Graber - a young husband and father who had never been arrested - the police searched his residence and seized computers. Graber spent 26 hours in jail even before facing the wiretapping charges that could conceivably put him away for 16 years. (It is hard to believe he will actually get anything like that, however. One point on his side: the Maryland attorney general's office recently gave its opinion that a court would likely find that the wiretap law does not apply to traffic stops.)

Last year, Sharron Tasha Ford was arrested in Florida for videotaping an encounter between the police and her son on a public sidewalk. She was never prosecuted, but in June, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida sued the city of Boynton Beach on her behalf, claiming false arrest and violation of her First Amendment rights.

The legal argument prosecutors rely on in police video cases is thin. They say the audio aspect of the videos violates wiretap laws because, in some states, both parties to a conversation must consent to having a private conversation recorded. The hole in their argument is the word "private." A police officer arresting or questioning someone on a highway or street is not having a private conversation. He is engaging in a public act.

Even if these cases do not hold up in court, the police can do a lot of damage just by threatening to arrest and prosecute people. "We see a fair amount of intimidation - police saying, 'You can't do that. It's illegal,'" says Christopher Calabrese, a lawyer with the ACLU's Washington office. It discourages people from filming, he says, even when they have the right to film.

Ford was not deterred. According to her account, even when the police threatened her with arrest, she refused to turn off her video camera, telling her son not to worry because "it's all on video" and "let them be who they continue to be."

The police then grabbed her, she said, took her camera and drove her off to the police station for booking.

Most people are not so game for a fight with the police. They just stop filming. These are the cases no one finds out about, in which there is no arrest or prosecution, but the public's freedoms have nevertheless been eroded.

Ford was right to insist on her right to videotape police actions that occur in public, and others should too. If the police are doing their jobs properly, they should have nothing to worry about.

Cohen, a lawyer, is a former TIME writer and a former member of the New York Times editorial board

See photos of U.S. gun culture.

See photos of ammunition being made in the U.S.

View this article on

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synergy - August 14, 2010 02:20 PM (GMT)
by Gaius Publius on 8/14/2010 12:47:00 AM | AMERICAblog

Digby has been writing about police abuse of tasers forever. It looks like a toy and it kills. Now comes Stephen Colbert with his own tale to tell:


synergy - September 3, 2010 01:04 PM (GMT)
64-year-old man, Tased three times at home, sues - by Gaius Publius on 9/02/2010 10:34:00 PM | AMERICAblog

synergy - October 11, 2010 11:59 PM (GMT)
Monday 11 October 2010

by: Linn Washington Jr.  |  This Can't Be Happening | Report

(Photo: A Gude; Edited: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)

Hours after police in a Philadelphia suburb proudly paraded Kenneth Woods, 21, in front of the news media as the man responsible for killing a college student during a high-speed crash while allegedly fleeing police in a stolen SUV, the cops backpedalled, admitting they arrested the wrong man.

Shortly after Woods’ arraignment on vehicular homicide and third-degree murder charges, the real culprit – Donny Sayers – telephoned police, reportedly confessing to his crimes and clearing Woods of any involvement.

Oops! Kenneth Woods, body-slammed by arresting officers, was later released and declared entirely innocent in car crash case

That confession imploded a case against Woods that police had previous proclaimed was rock-solid, resting, they claimed, on fingerprint evidence, a cell phone photo and supposedly positive identification by the policeman who had pursued the SUV immediately before the fatal crash. (The driver of the stolen vehicle had fled on foot after the collusion and escaped pursuing police.)

Yet, when law enforcement authorities in Delaware County staged a press conference hours after Sayers’ surprise confession, they refused to fully accept responsibility for erring in so quickly fingering Woods, who was roughly body-slammed during his arrest despite his offering no resistance.

Delco DA G. Michael Green and Haverford Township Police Chief Carmen D. Pettine, during their press conference remarks, both defended Woods’ arrest as “absolutely correct” – citing that supposedly rock-solid “evidence,” which they simultaneously acknowledged had been incorrect.

No question, authorities were absolutely right to question Woods, even elevating him to the status of ‘a person of interest. But authorities were absolutely wrong in their rush to judgment, given the shaky nature of the evidence they declared certified Woods’ guilt.

It turns out that the so-called “fingerprint evidence” police and prosecutors had touted was not on the steering wheel but was Woods’ print found on the outside of that SUV’s rear passenger side window. Woods readily admitted having been with the SUV driver hours before the crash, telling police he only knew the driver by his first name: Donny. (Woods’ fingerprint had been in the law enforcement system because of a prior conviction for smoking in a non-smoking area.)

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While some say ‘the system’ worked, clearing Woods of a crime he didn’t commit, others contend the Woods incident is yet another example of an unspoken scandal in the criminal justice system…the scandal of false arrests.

False arrests – some from honest mistakes by authorities but far too many others resulting from malicious misconduct – produce hundreds if not thousands of wrongful convictions annually in America, including persons who end up on death row.

The injustice of false arrests disproportionately impacts persons of color like Woods, an African-American…charged with the killing of a white.

Three days after the release of Kenneth Woods, news broke in New York City that authorities there had agreed to pay two brothers $300,000 for their false drug arrest in 2008.

One of the narcotics officers who arrested brothers Jose and Maximo Colon resigned and pled guilty. The other officer responsible for the false arrest of the Colons, who lost the grocery store they owned during their legal ordeal, is awaiting trial. That officer also resigned from the NYPD yet is working for a suburban NYC police force that hired him despite his indictment for falsely arresting the Colon brothers.

Weeks before Woods’ release the ACLU filed a lawsuit against police in Camden, NJ just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, charging that city’s police with widespread false arrests of innocent people on drug charges.

Late last December authorities in Chicago grudgingly dismissed hundreds of DUI cases upon discovery of false arrests by two decorated policemen.

Surprisingly, some judges encourage and facilitate the malicious practice of false arrests.

Danita Mitchell, a single parent, fled North Carolina this past summer after judges in Charlotte falsely jailed her multiple times during the past two years on questionable charges arising from a child support payment dispute with her ex-husband.

In June, Mitchell says a Superior Court judge in Charlotte jailed her for fourteen days after holding her in contempt when she challenged the truthfulness of a Sheriff’s Office employee during cross-examination.

At that trial, Mitchell had represented herself because that judge declined to provide the indigent woman with a court-appointed attorney. That Sheriff’s employee initiated charges against Mitchell claiming, according to an official report, that Mitchell starred at her “like she wanted to kill me” weeks after that employee was disciplined for failing to properly process legal paperwork paid for by Mitchell.

“I have a legal right to confront my accuser but I get sent to jail. This is wrong,” Mitchell said in an interview with TCBH.

“In March, a judge sent me to jail for 48-hours for not swearing on the Bible. Judges put me in jail for seventy days last fall because I objected to unlawful abuses,” said Mitchell, who has filed formal complaints against three Charlotte judges, including the jurist during that June trial.

All six persons released from Pennsylvania’s death row after being found innocent on appeal, often after years awaiting execution were victimized by authorities who knowingly ignored and/or even hid compelling evidence of their innocence.

One of those exonerated, Neil Ferber, successfully sued Philadelphia police for the false arrest that placed him on death row for 1,375-days, where he developed ulcers and endured a nervous breakdown. Police arrested Ferber in 1981 on a charge of murdering an organized crime figure.

A judge’s written opinion in Ferber’s civil lawsuit, which was settled for $1.9-million, stated how “a variety of Philadelphia police officers” had engaged in a litany of illegal conduct “all for the singular purpose of obtaining Ferber’s arrest and subsequent conviction…”

False arrests constitute an expensive, corrosive rot in the criminal justice system that elected officials ignore largely because many of them fear being labeled “soft on crime” – an ironic stance since false arrests end up being soft-on-criminals by allowing the real culprits to remain at-large.

A proposal in the “Contract With America” released recently by the GOP would make it much easier to succeed with false arrests by permitting police to utilize illegally seized evidence in courts.

Incredibly, many false arrests are simply the result of the venal police practice of trying to pad their pay checks with overtime for making court appearances. Those NYC cops who framed the Colon brothers, for example, were just angling to collect overtime, according to the two men’s lawyer.

The false arrest of Kenneth Woods is all too typical in exhibiting overzealous police work to quickly solve a horrific crime, false statements by police, and the pervasive rights-sabotaging, guilty-till-proven-innocent mentality that prevails among authorities in America’s “justice” system.

While typical, several elements of Woods’ encounter with law enforcement were startlingly atypical.

First off, Woods had an ‘avenging angel’ in Robert Herdelin, a wealthy businessman who had once employed Woods’ grandmother. Had Herdelin not swung into action on his behalf, Woods would probably still be in prison awaiting trial for crimes he didn’t commit. Police had dismissed his pleas of innocence and ignored his alibi witnesses, who offered to take lie-detector tests.

Herdelin, after the young man’s arrest, began his own investigation, interviewing witnesses and ultimately identifying the real culprit--in other words he did the due diligence and legwork that police detectives should have done in the case. He also offered to post his multi-million-dollar Jersey shore home as collateral for Woods’ release on bail. Authorities were holding Woods on $1-million dollars bail.

Herdelin’s efforts forced detectives to reexamine their case against Woods, who Herdelin calls his “god-son.”

After Herdelin’s intervention, authorities tap-danced away from declaring that cell phone photo was Woods who told police that the cell phone recovered from the stolen SUV was not his. The confessed culprit, Donny Sayers, admitted that the cell phone belonged to him and he had left it in the SUV when he fled following the fatal crash.

Also, authorities later acknowledged that the policeman who identified Woods as the SUV driver (from mug shots not a lineup) had in fact only seen the driver momentarily as the vehicle passed him at a high rate of speed on a darkened road shortly after midnight, prompting a chase that ended in the death of a Villanova University student and serious injuries to that student’s friend.

A skilled prosecutor could have used that shaky (midnight) identification by the policeman to sink Woods during a trial because many jurors accept testimony from police without question.

Herdelin’s intervention in all likelihood also contributed to Sayers’ confessing and surrendering to police, which compelled authorities to release their original suspect.

Herdelin credits Haverford Township detectives with examining the evidence he provided, while Woods, for his part, claims he holds no anger against police who were just “doing their jobs.”

Herdelin, however, did find aspects of police handling of this case to be “disgusting.”

“How can someone be involved in a 100-mile-per-hour crash and not have a scratch on them?” Herdelin asks, wondering why doubts weren’t raised in the minds of investigators by the lack of any accident- related injuries on Woods when they arrested him, within just hours of the incident.

Also, during remarks to reporters prior to his going to the county lock-up to take Woods home, Herdelin pointed an accusing finger at the news media. “To desecrate a person’s name, forcing them to lose their reputation and their job, is outrageous,” he said.

Woods, immediately after his arrest, was fired from the McDonald’s restaurant where he had just begun working as an employee.

Delaware County DA Green, during his press conference, said he hoped the restaurant that had fired Woods would rehire him, not holding Woods responsibility for the mistake made by authorities. Herdelin said that if McDonald’s didn’t rehire Woods, he would give him a job.

synergy - October 29, 2010 11:34 PM (GMT)
October 29, 2010
Hundreds in Mass. Mourn Athlete Shot by Police

Filed at 6:46 p.m. ET

BOSTON (AP) — He was a little boy beaming under Mickey Mouse ears. He was a driven college football player nicknamed Smooth and had a wrist tattoo that read "Family First." He was an incredibly slow eater.

Photos, family and friends portrayed different sides of Danroy "D.J" Henry at his memorial service Friday in Boston, less than two weeks after he was shot to death in his car by police in suburban New York.

Conflicting stories and confusion surround his death, but no one mourned the 20-year-old Henry as a victim Friday.

"We are gathered to celebrate the life of D.J. Henry. Let me say it again, we are here to celebrate his life," pastor Gideon A. Thompson of Jubilee Christian Church said to applause on what would have been Henry's 21st birthday.

An estimated 2,000 people attended the service in a ballroom at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, including childhood friends, college teammates and classmates at Pace University and U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

Speakers told of Henry's faith and devotion to others and asked the audience to honor him by how they live.

"There is no cure for how you feel, but there is a treatment for dealing with it. ... You must find a way to pick up where D.J. left off and promise to do all that he would have done with his life," said Pace University coach Chris Dapolito.

Henry, of Easton, was shot by police who were responding to a disturbance that spilled outside a Thornwood, N.Y., bar on Oct. 17.

Police have said an officer knocked on the window of a car Henry was driving, and he drove away and hit two officers. But passengers said Henry was trying to move his car out of the fire lane and wasn't a threat to police.

A law enforcement official said Henry's blood alcohol level was above the legal limit to drive at the time. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the autopsy report hadn't been released.

The attorney for Henry's family questioned that and is conducting separate blood tests.

Earlier Friday, the lawyer, Michael Sussman, said a police officer was not in harm's way when he fired the first shot at Henry. Sussman said a ballistics expert he hired determined the same officer fired at least three shots, one into the hood and two into the windshield.

Sussman said the angle of the shot into the hood indicates it was fired from the side and that it would have come first since the officer was on top of the hood when he fired twice into the windshield.

Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the Westchester County District Attorney's office, declined to comment because the investigation is ongoing.

At the memorial, some speakers referred to the cloud around Henry's death, with Thompson saying it had been "snuffed out." Henry's uncle Dan Murphy sang in lyrics he wrote for Henry: "What makes men do the evil that they do? How the hell did they disrespect you?"

His mother, Angella Henry, told the audience, "As we continue to fight for the truth, we will continue to need your love and support."

But most of the service focused on Henry's personality and life up until the night of the shooting.

Childhood pictures of Henry — at the beach, showing off a Burger King crown, buried in bubbles in a tub — flashed on a screen as mourners walked in.

His friend Desmond Hinds, who was in the car the night of the shooting, recalled hours sitting with Henry as he ate his meals with excruciating slowness. "He wanted to digest his food, that's what he said," Hinds said.

His younger sister, Amber, shared an essay she'd written in junior high about how oldest brother was her hero. His younger brother, Kyle, talked about his brother's closet full of stylish shoes and how he'd keep Kyle looking good, dropping piles of clothes on the floor when he visited and announcing, "Hand-me-downs!"

"I just smiled because I knew it was coming," Kyle said.

Speaking at a lectern draped with a cloth with Henry's Pace football number, 12, his father talked about how his son adopted the number in youth sports after he saw a picture of his father wearing it during his basketball-playing days. It became a symbol of how important family was to his son, he said.

His father said the family still feels his presence.

"That's what sustains us now," he said.

Looking out at the large crowd, he added, "Even though he didn't want to have a big 21st birthday, he's going to."


Associated Press writer Jim Fitzgerald in Valhalla, N.Y., contributed to this report.

synergy - November 7, 2010 05:14 PM (GMT)
By Dan Whitcomb – Sat Nov 6, 4:25 pm ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Police arrested 152 people in Oakland late on Friday when protests over the sentencing of a former police officer for the shooting death of an unarmed black man turned confrontational.

The rally, which came after a Los Angeles judge sentenced Johannes Mehserle to two years in prison for involuntary manslaughter, ended with police taking unruly demonstrators into custody for trespassing, unlawful assembly, disturbing the peace and vandalism.

Police in riot gear had tried to stop several hundred people from marching into a residential area, declaring unlawful assembly, and the crowed became unruly.

An Oakland police spokesman said 152 people were arrested, including 7 juveniles, mostly for unlawful assembly. He said further charges could follow a review of videotapes taken of the incident.

Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said in a written statement he was disappointed that what began peacefully got out of control.

Batts said a few protesters pelted officers with rocks and bottles, tore down fences and broke car windows. One officer had his gun and holster taken from him, he said.

"I want to be clear that people have a right to assemble, a right to protest and a right to free speech," Batts said. "But people do not have a right to tear the city up. Oakland already has a lot of pain, and it's not fair. This city has been torn up too many times."

Video of the January 1, 2009, shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant by Mehserle, who is white, sparked a night of rioting later that month and civil unrest erupted again in July after the former Oakland transit officer was cleared of murder charges.

Prosecutors in the racially charged trial, which was moved to Los Angeles because of pretrial publicity, had portrayed the killing as the intentional act of a rogue cop, and sought a 14-year prison term for Mehserle.

Mehserle, 28, testified during the trial that he mistakenly drew his gun instead of an electric Taser when he shot Grant while grappling with him during a scuffle at a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) rail station.

The jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter, meaning they thought he lacked the intent to kill but nevertheless engaged in conduct so grossly negligent that he should be held criminally responsible.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry ordered Mehserle to serve two years in state prison, minus 292 days for time already served and other credits, and dismissed a "sentencing enhancement" for the use of a gun during the commission of a crime.

"I well understand that my decision today will not be well received by many people," Perry said during the court hearing. "I'm sorry for that. But please remember I did my best."

(Additional reporting by Peter Henderson, editing by Philip Barbara)

synergy - January 10, 2011 02:24 PM (GMT)
Mon 10 Feb 2011

The Associated Press

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Three former Pennsylvania police officers are set to go on trial on charges they obstructed the investigation into the fatal beating of an illegal Mexican immigrant.

Former Shenandoah police Chief Matthew Nestor and two other former officers will stand trial in federal court in Wilkes-Barre (WILKS'-behr-ee) on Monday.

Prosecutors say Nestor, William Moyer and Jason Hayes orchestrated a cover-up that protected high school football players involved in the July 2008 death of 25-year-old Luis Ramirez.

Ramirez died after an altercation with a group of teenage athletes. Two suspects were convicted in October of a federal hate crime for beating and kicking Ramirez. They face a maximum of life in prison when they're sentenced later this month.

synergy - February 9, 2011 06:29 PM (GMT)
ACLU "Blog of Rights"

Feb 8th, 2011

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department today launched an internal investigation after Esther Lim, a jail monitor for the ACLU of Southern California, submitted a sworn statement in federal court yesterday recounting the details of a brutal beating she witnessed of an inmate in the Twin Towers Correctional Facility by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy. Twin Towers is one of the several facilities that make up the Los Angeles County jail system.

Detained for a nonviolent marijuana possession charge, the inmate, James Parker, lay motionless, face-down on the floor while sheriff's deputies repeatedly punched, kneed and tasered him. Esther said in the statement: "Mr. Parker looked like he was a mannequin that was being used as a punching bag. I thought he was knocked out, or perhaps even dead."

Christopher Brown, the inmate Lim was visiting that day, also submitted a statement corroborating her account.

The next day, sheriff's deputies claimed in the jail's Inmate Reception Center Daily Log that Parker had been fighting and resisting, a charge that Peter Eliasberg, the managing attorney for the ACLU of Southern California, calls "blatantly false." Lim told the Los Angeles Times in a story that appeared online last night that the ACLU commonly receives complaints form inmates who say deputies beat them while screaming at them to "stop resisting," even when the inmates aren't resisting.

Lim and Brown's statement were filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, to bolster a motion in a long-standing lawsuit against the county jail system. That motion, filed last November, seeks a federal court order prohibiting jail deputies from retaliating against prisoners through violence or threats.

A report released last September shows this kind of violence is, unfortunately all too common in L.A. County Jails. We hope the court will take action to protect prisoners from this kind of abuse.

Learn more about prisoners' rights: Subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on Twitter, and friend us on Facebook.

synergy - February 13, 2011 03:15 PM (GMT)
The Augusta Chronicle

Sheriff says criminals are more violent

By Sandy Hodson
Staff Writer
Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011

Thursday's shooting of a theft suspect by a Richmond County sheriff's deputy is the third time Augusta officers have used their firearms so far this year.

Since Sept. 6, when a 22-year-old man was shot to death outside a Washington Road restaurant, officers have fired their weapons at people a total of five times, killing three men.

Based on population, Augusta has maintained a higher rate of police shootings than much larger cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Miami.

The rate of police shootings in Augusta over the past 12 months is 2.5 per 100,000 residents, which includes Thursday's shooting. It is the same rate The Augusta Chronicle calculated in November 2009 after a string of police shootings that began in 2008.

In New York, the rate of police shootings was 0.29 last year; in Los Angeles it was about 0.41 and in Miami, 0.24. One city with a higher rate is Spokane, Wash., at 3.5 because of seven shootings there since August.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength said the number of recent shootings by officers is directly linked to their encounters with increasingly violent suspects.

"We live in a much more violent society than we ever have, and that's not just locally," he said. Crime has lessened, but the suspects are more violent, he said.

About 6:30 a.m. Thursday, Deputy Bill Walker spotted a car that matched the description given to him the day before by a Kirk Place resident whose vehicle was stolen, Strength said.

Walker called for backup, but before another officer could reach his Bransford Road location, Walker shot 24-year-old David A. Dawkins as the suspect resisted arrest and aimed a handgun at him, Strength quoted his officer as saying.

Law enforcement expert Maria Haberfeld said violence in the United States is related to the proliferation of weapons. It might be time to look at what open access to weapons has done to the country, said the chairwoman of the department of law, police science and criminal justice at John Jay College in New York City.

New York City had 93 fatal police shootings in 1971, according to a recent article in The New York Times . In 2010, that number was eight.

Haberfeld said the drop in fatal shootings is attributed to more and better training, but it is also because of the heightened public scrutiny of police shootings.

Still, considering there are a half-million law enforcement officers in the U.S., it's surprising there aren't more such incidents, she said.

According to the first national study of its kind, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 1,540 people were killed by police officers between 2003 and 2006.

But only 14 percent of all law enforcement agencies had a fatal shooting in that time period.

Philip Sweeting -- a retired Boca Raton, Fla., officer who now consults and serves as an expert on use of force and other law enforcement issues -- said in an e-mail that the number of police shootings in Augusta might reflect a need for the department to examine the reasons for the incidents.

"There could be a number of reasons valid or otherwise ... "

The numbers alone don't necessarily mean there's a problem, Sweeting said, but if the department doesn't take a hard, objective look, no one will know for sure.

Strength said he believes his officers will be cleared in each shooting.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is in charge of looking into the Richmond County police shootings where people are wounded or killed.

Once investigations are completed, the cases are turned over to the district attorney.
Most recent incidents

In the past six months, officers have fired at people in Augusta five times:

SEPT. 6: Kevin B. Pao, 22, was shot to death in the back seat of a patrol car by Deputy Walter Garrison who told investigators he shot an armed Pao during a struggle.

DEC. 8: Bobby Flippo, 34, was shot to death in the driver's seat of his vehicle by Deputy Corey Carlyle who told investigators an armed Flippo threatened to kill himself and his baby who was in the back seat of the car.

JAN. 16: Phillip Pope, 24, was shot and wounded at a Deans Bridge Road business by Deputy Austin Shepherd, who told investigators the burglary suspect, armed with a crowbar, struggled with him and tried to flee.

JAN. 31: Fredrick D. Hall, 23, was shot at but not wounded by two officers who reported an armed Hall fired at them after fleeing a pat-down search on London Boulevard.

FEB. 9: David A. Dawkins, 24, was shot and killed by Deputy Bill Walker, who told investigators an armed Dawkins aimed a gun at him while resisting arrest.

synergy - February 18, 2011 01:45 AM (GMT)

synergy - May 11, 2011 12:43 PM (GMT)
'I don't see how these officers could be cleared ... He was literally gang killed,' victim's brother says

The Associated Press
updated 5/10/2011 5:23:23 AM ET

DENVER — Five sheriff's deputies won't be disciplined for their involvement in the death of a street preacher at Denver's jail, even though the coroner ruled it a homicide.

An investigation concluded that the deputies did not violate the department's use of force policy or any other department rules related to the death of 56-year-old Marvin Booker, Manager of Safety Charles Garcia said.

Booker died after deputies subdued him in the booking area at Denver's downtown jail after authorities said he cursed at a female deputy and refused to follow orders.

"The death of Mr. Booker while in custody is a tragic event for everyone," Garcia said.

In a 43-page public statement, the department said that deputies were reasonable in believing that he could harm a deputy and that physical force was necessary to maintain order and discipline.

Authorities also released video of the jailhouse scuffle.

Booker died July 9 after the five deputies tried to subdue him by getting on top of him, placing him in a "sleeper" hold and shocking him with a stun gun after he had been handcuffed.

Man wanted his shoes

Some of the 40 inmates in the booking area, which looks like a waiting room, told investigators that Booker said he wanted to get his shoes.

Authorities said a guard didn't hear that, and it was difficult to tell whether Booker had his shoes on because he was wearing black socks.

Rev. Spencer Booker of Kansas City, Mo., said his brother had a habit of taking off his shoes as homage to the civil rights movement.

Booker had been arrested for investigation of possession of drug paraphernalia and had already posted bail when he died, his brother said.

"I didn't see what they saw," said Spencer Booker, who drove overnight to Denver for the announcement and release of the video. "I don't see how these officers could be cleared... He was literally gang killed. And it's unfortunate that this is the kind of behavior that we will allow to take place.

"That these officers can do this is frightening for the citizens, it's frightening for the visitors that would come to your city to know that it's OK for these officers to do that and actually, actually, actually, use excessive force and go back to work," he said.

A civil lawsuit seeking unspecified monetary damages is pending.

A coroner's report said Booker died of cardiorespiratory arrest during restraint and ruled his death a homicide.

The report said the deputies had their body weight on Booker's back for four minutes while he was face-down on the floor but also found other factors in his death, including emphysema, an enlarged heart and recent cocaine use.

The report also noted that Booker did not have any bruises, cuts or broken bones or other injuries except for scrapes on his wrists and ankles from restraining devices.

'Sleeper' hold used

The surveillance video, which has no sound, shows three deputies wrestling Booker onto some chairs, then down to the floor before two other deputies join the fray.

One deputy puts his arm around Booker's neck in a carotid "sleeper" hold, which is meant to cut off circulation to his head and disorient him or render him unconscious. It appears the guard had his arm around Booker's neck for about three minutes.

Sheriff's investigators interviewed several inmates who corroborated deputies' statements that during the struggle they were ordering Booker to stop resisting.

Officials said that the 5-foot-5, 135-pound Booker was cursing and trying to put his hands beneath his body. A guard warned him before shocking him with a stun gun, but by that time he had already been handcuffed, officials said.

Gary Wilson, an undersheriff who oversees the jail, said Booker was kicking after being handcuffed and stopped after he was shocked.

Wilson has banned the carotid sleeper hold in the jail and a review of the use of force policy is under way. Wilson said Booker's death is the first at Denver's jails involving excessive force.

"I don't really understand how anyone can blame the victim for his death," said the Rev. Timothy Tyler, pastor at the Shorter Community AME Church who denounced the decision afterward.

"If that's acceptable behavior in the Denver jail, where a man gets killed before he's restrained, then something has to change," he added.

Arrestee compliance 'mandatory'
In declining to file charges, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey in September wrote that "arrestee compliance is not optional, it is mandatory."

The announcement follows the firings in April and March of four police officers accused of using excessive force in incidents caught on the city's video surveillance system.

In one case, two officers allegedly lied about using a billy club to shove some women to the ground and spray a woman on her knees, as well as a crowd, with mace.

Two other officers were fired in March for deceptive acts involving the high profile beating of a man outside a Denver nightclub.

The public release of the videotape, as well as the then manager of safety's refusal to fire those officers, led to the manager of safety's resignation.

Denver's independent police monitor, a post established in 2005 after a rash of fatal officer-involved shootings, had been vocal in denouncing previous investigations involving police officers and the lack of discipline.

Richard Rosenthal said the investigation was thorough and complete and he said he supported Garcia's decision not to discipline the deputies.

"I'm not shy about being willing to criticize," Rosenthal said. "In this case, I support the manager's decision."

synergy - May 12, 2011 12:15 AM (GMT)
L.A. Times blogs "L.A. NOW"

May 11, 2011 | 12:56 pm

A 43-year-old man from the Lake Arrowhead area died after San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies used a Taser to subdue him after a traffic stop, authorities said Wednesday.

A deputy attempted a traffic stop on Allen Kephart, a local DJ and teacher’s assistant from Crest Park, after he allegedly ran a stop sign Tuesday on Highway 189 in Blue Jay, said Cindy Bachman, a Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman.

Kephart pulled into a Valero gas station parking lot about a quarter mile away, got out of the car and "became combative and uncooperative" with the deputy, Bachman said. Additional deputies arrived at the scene to assist, she said.

"The deputy attempted to place him under arrest, at which time he was Tased," Bachman said. “He became unconscious, and medical aid was immediately provided -- CPR."

Kephart was taken to a local hospital, where he was declared dead.

Kephart’s father, a member of the Sheriff’s Department’s volunteer mounted Rangers unit for decades, called his son’s death a senseless use of excessive force. The incident happened when his son was returning to the family home after filling up his car with gas in Crestline.

"To me, it’s not just a traffic stop. It’s murder. You don’t kill a person for running a stop sign," said Jack Kephart, also of Crest Park.
The father said witnesses told him that the deputy slammed his son to the ground. His son was Tased about eight times by two deputies, said Jack Kephart, who dismissed assertions that his son was combative with the deputies.

“He’s never raised a hand in 43 years. He goes to church three times a week. He does the audio for the church in Crestline," Jack Kephart said. “He works three jobs. He’s never had a drink. Never done drugs. Never smoked. Never done nothing."

Allen Kephart was heavyset, weighing about 350 pounds, and had high blood pressure, his father said.

“Those Tasers are deadly," the father said. “They should know there could be problems ... using them on someone who is heavy." He said he is considering taking legal action against the department.

Allen Kephart ran his DJ service in the mountain community, and also worked as a teacher’s aide and janitor for a local school district. He also held jobs at a local radio station and television station, his father said.

Sheriff’s Department homicide detectives are investigating the incident, and the Riverside County coroner will perform an autopsy to determine Kephart’s cause of death, Bachman said.

synergy - May 18, 2011 01:57 PM (GMT)

Tim Cavanaugh | May 16, 2011

    "Please send me an ambulance and you can ask more questions later, please!"

    Guerena tells the dispatcher that her husband had returned home about 6:30 a.m. after work and was sleeping.

    Prompted by the dispatcher, Guerena says her husband was shot in the stomach and hands.

    The dispatcher asks Guerena to put her cheek next to her husband's nose and mouth to see if he's breathing, but she replies in Spanish that her husband is face- down.

    The operator tells Guerena to grab a cloth and apply pressure to his wounds, but the wife responds frantically: "I can't! I can't! There's a bunch of people outside of my house. I don't know what the heck is happening!"

    A dispatcher asks if the people outside are the SWAT members. "I think it's the SWAT, but they ... Oh my God!" Guerena says.

    A dispatcher asks that she open the door for the SWAT, but Guerena replies that the door was already opened by police.

    "Is anybody coming? Is anybody coming?" she asks.

    The operator tells Guerena help is on the way, but they're still trying to figure out what happened.

    "I don't know, that's it, whatever I told you, that's it," Guerena says.

    Just after the five-minute mark, Guerena's end of the line goes silent.

    The two dispatchers spend about four minutes talking to each other and calling out for Guerena while trying to figure out if the call is coming from the same residence where the warrant was served. At the end of the 10-minute 911 call, a dispatcher says she has confirmation that Guerena is outside with deputies on the scene.

Jose GuerenaThis is from Arizona Daily Star reporter Fernanda Echavarri's effort to piece together the death of Jose Guerena, 26, at the hands of a Pima County, Arizona SWAT team. Guerena, who joined the Marines in 2002 and served two tours in Iraq, was killed just after 9  a.m. May 5. Guerera had just gone to bed after working a 12-hour shift at a local mine when his home was invaded as part of a multi-house crackdown by sheriff's deputies.

Like enemy of the state Osama bin Laden, Guerena died with his wife close by. Widow Vanessa Guerena, who hid with her four-year-old son when sheriff's deputies raided the home, fills in detail that has been slow to come from Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik’s office:

    "When I came out the officers dragged me through the kitchen and took me outside, and that's when I saw him laying there gasping for air," Vanessa Guerena said. "I kept begging the officers to call an ambulance that maybe he could make it and that my baby was still inside."

    The little boy soon after walked out of the closet on his own. SWAT members took him outside to be with his mother.

    "I never imagined I would lose him like that, he was badly injured but I never thought he could be killed by police after he served his country," Vanessa Guerena said.

    The family's 5-year-old son was at school that morning and deputies say they thought Guerena's wife and his other child would also be gone when they entered the home.

    Guerena says there were no drugs in their house.

    Deputies said they seized a "large sum of money from another house" that morning. But they refused to say from which of the homes searched that morning they found narcotics, drug ledgers or drug paraphernalia. Court documents showing what was being sought and was found have not been made public. A computer check on Guerena revealed a couple of traffic tickets and no criminal history.

Tucson KGUN’s Joel Waldman says the SWAT team prevented paramedics from going to work on Guerena for one hour and fourteen minutes.

The sheriff’s department maintains that Guerena was holding an AR-15 when the paramilitary force fired 71 bullets in his home, but other key parts of the government story have collapsed. While PCSD initially claimed Guerena fired the weapon he was alleged to have been holding, the department now says it was a misfire by one of the deputies that caused this deadly group panic inside a home containing a woman and a toddler:

    A deputy's bullet struck the side of the doorway, causing chips of wood to fall on his shield. That prompted some members of the team to think the deputy had been shot, [PCSD spokesman Michael] O'Connor said.

Questions about the official story from Ghost32.

synergy - May 18, 2011 02:06 PM (GMT)
Arizona Daily Star

Fernanda Echavarri | Arizona Daily Star |  Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 1:00 pm

The wife of a Tucson man killed in a Pima County SWAT raid May 5 pleaded for five minutes with 911 dispatchers to send an ambulance for her mortally wounded husband, audio records show.

Often through tears and sometimes in broken English, Vanessa Guerena, tells 911 operators that her husband had been shot by a "bunch of people" who opened the door of their southwest-side home and "just shoot him." Meanwhile, dispatchers worked to determine if she was calling from a house where the SWAT team was serving a search warrant, audio released Friday by Drexel Heights Fire Department reveals. It takes about an hour for waiting medics to know what happened, and the man is dead before fire crews are allowed into the home.

Jose Guerena, 26, a former Marine, was sleeping after the graveyard shift at Asarco Mission mine about 9:30 a.m. when his wife woke him saying she heard noises outside and a man was at their window. Guerena told his wife to hide in a closet with their 4-year-old son, his wife has said. He grabbed an AR-15 rifle and moments later was slumped in the kitchen, mortally wounded from a hail of gunfire.

For about five minutes after Guerena was shot, his wife stays on the phone trying to explain what happened and asking for an ambulance.

More than a week later, few details about the investigation that brought the SWAT team to the home Guerena shared with his wife and their two young sons are known. Details of the search warrant have not been made public and deputies would not comment on what was seized from the home.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department has provided no details about the investigation that prompted the raid and little information about the moments leading up to 71 gunshots being fired at Guerena, whose gun had the safety on. He was shot 60 times, doctors told the family. Initially the Sheriff's Department said Guerena fired at officers, but they retracted that this week. Drexel Heights provided audio of the 911 calls after the Star filed a public records request.

Vanessa Guerena, 27, continuously asks the operator to "please, please" send somebody to help her husband in a call in which she seems desperate, frustrated and panicked and says she could hear people talking outside.

About a minute into the 911 call a dispatcher who says she is with the Sheriff's Department comes on and asks if the SWAT team was at her house. Guerena sounds confused, and says her husband isn't talking to her anymore. She then talks over two operators who are trying to figure out if the house in the 7100 block of South Redwater Drive is among those targeted to be searched that morning as part of an investigation.

The operator asks again if there were law enforcement officers at her house and Guerena says yes, that they're outside. She then adds that they had come inside earlier, shot her husband and pointed a "big ol' gun" at her. She grabbed her son and worried she would be shot.

"Please send me an ambulance and you can ask more questions later, please!"

Guerena tells the dispatcher that her husband had returned home about 6:30 a.m. after work and was sleeping.

Prompted by the dispatcher, Guerena says her husband was shot in the stomach and hands.

The dispatcher asks Guerena to put her cheek next to her husband's nose and mouth to see if he's breathing, but she replies in Spanish that her husband is face- down.

The operator tells Guerena to grab a cloth and apply pressure to his wounds, but the wife responds frantically: "I can't! I can't! There's a bunch of people outside of my house. I don't know what the heck is happening!"

A dispatcher asks if the people outside are the SWAT members. "I think it's the SWAT, but they ... Oh my God!" Guerena says.

A dispatcher asks that she open the door for the SWAT, but Guerena replies that the door was already opened by police.

"Is anybody coming? Is anybody coming?" she asks.

The operator tells Guerena help is on the way, but they're still trying to figure out what happened.

"I don't know, that's it, whatever I told you, that's it," Guerena says.

Just after the five-minute mark, Guerena's end of the line goes silent.

The two dispatchers spend about four minutes talking to each other and calling out for Guerena while trying to figure out if the call is coming from the same residence where the warrant was served. At the end of the 10-minute 911 call, a dispatcher says she has confirmation that Guerena is outside with deputies on the scene.

Other audio records Drexel Heights released to the Star Friday indicate the agency dispatched a medical unit at 9:43 a.m. but was told by the Sheriff's Department to hold off.

Dispatchers said there were several addresses where the SWAT team was going that morning and they were not sure if this house was one of them, the audio shows.

The Sheriff's Department dispatcher said she had not received any requests for medical help from deputies on scene. Drexel Heights fire dispatcher asked: "You don't want us going in, right?" The sheriff's operator then said: "I don't know what is going on. You guys go ahead and hold off until we know what it's going to be."

The Sheriff's Department operator said people at the scene wanted the medical help to stay back because they might be dealing with a "barricaded subject."

Three other homes within a quarter mile of the Guerena house were served search warrants that morning as part of the sheriff's investigation. The addresses and the names of people who live in the homes have not been made public. However, the Sheriff's Department has said they found drugs and money.

Guerena was a Tucson native and Flowing Wells High School graduate. He joined the Marines in 2002. He served two tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2005 as part of the Yuma-based MWSS-173.

Contact reporter Fernanda Echavarri at or 573-4224.

synergy - May 20, 2011 10:21 PM (GMT)
ABC News

Police Have Yet to Say If Any Drugs Found in the Home of the Ex-Marine


May 20, 2011

A Tucson, Ariz., SWAT team defends shooting an Iraq War veteran 60 times during a drug raid, although it declines to say whether it found any drugs in the house and has had to retract its claim that the veteran shot first.

And the Pima County sheriff scolded the media for "questioning the legality" of the shooting.

Jose Guerena, 26, died the morning of May 5. He was asleep in his Tucson home after working a night shift at the Asarco copper mine when his wife, Vanessa, saw the armed SWAT team outside her youngest son's bedroom window.

"She saw a man pointing at her with a gun," said Reyna Ortiz, 29, a relative who is caring for Vanessa and her children. Ortiz said Vanessa Guerena yelled, "Don't shoot! I have a baby!"

Vanessa Guerena thought the gunman might be part of a home invasion -- especially because two members of her sister-in-law's family, Cynthia and Manny Orozco, were killed last year in their Tucson home, her lawyer, Chris Scileppi, said. She shouted for her husband in the next room, and he woke up and told his wife to hide in the closet with the child, Joel, 4.

Guerena grabbed his assault rifle and was pointing it at the SWAT team, which was trying to serve a narcotics search warrant as part of a multi-house drug crackdown, when the team broke down the door. At first the Pima County Sheriff's Office said that Guerena fired first, but on Wednesday officials backtracked and said he had not. "The safety was on and he could not fire," according to the sheriff's statement.

Tucson SWAT Team Shot Iraq War Vet 60 Times

SWAT team members fired 71 times and hit Guerena 60 times, police said.

In a frantic 911 call, Vanessa Guerena begged for medical help for her husband. "He's on the floor!" she said, crying, to the 911 operator. "Can you please hurry up?"

Asked if law enforcement was inside or outside the house, she told the operator, according to a transcript of the call, that they were inside. "They were ... going to shoot me. And I put my kid in front of me."

A report by ABC News affiliate KGUN found that more than an hour had passed before the SWAT team let the paramedics work on Guerena. By then he was dead.

A spokesman for Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said he could not discuss whether any drugs had been found at the home or make any other comment. "We're waiting for the investigation to be complete," he said.

In a statement, the sheriff's office criticized the media, saying that while questions will inevitably be raised, "It is unacceptable and irresponsible to couch those questions with implications of secrecy and a coverup, not to mention questioning the legality of actions that could not have been taken without the approval of an impartial judge."

Mike Storie, a lawyer for the SWAT team, said at a press conference Thursday that weapons and body armor were found in the home as well as a photo of Jesus Malverde, who Storie called a "patron saint drug runner," according to KGUN.

Storie defended the long delay in allowing paramedics to enter the home, saying of the SWAT team, "They still don't know how many shooters are inside, how many guns are inside and they still have to assume that they will be ambushed if they walk in this house."

But Scileppi, Vanessa Guerena's lawyer, said officers were "circling their wagons."

Tucson SWAT Team Defends Shooting Iraq Vet 60 Times

"They found nothing in the house that was illegal," he said. Framing the delay in providing medical attention as a tactical decision is "nonsense," Scileppi said. "There was an ambulance there in two minutes and they were never allowed in."

He pointed out that when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Tucson, law enforcement let paramedics have access to victims in a far more volatile situation.

"The pieces don't fit. I think it was poor planning, overreaction and now they're trying to CYA," Scileppi said.

Guerena served two tours of duty in Iraq until he left the Marines in 2006.

"Every time he was under my command, he definitely pulled his weight," said Leo Verdugo, his master sergeant in Iraq, who helped arrange for Guerena to be buried in his Marine dress blue uniform. "I have a hard time grasping how something so tragic could happen."

He speculated that perhaps it was a case of mistaken identity. "At the wrong place at the wrong time in his own home," he said.

Vanessa Guerena is "devastated and distraught" and seeking justice for her husband and two sons, said her lawyer. "The main thing she wants is her husband's name cleared and his honor restored."

The oldest boy, Jose, turns 6 on Tuesday. "He went to school, came back and never saw his daddy again," said Ortiz. As for Joel, "He's asking, 'Why did the police kill my daddy?'

"We were so worried when he was over there fighting terrorism, but he gets shot in his own home," Ortiz said. "The government killed one of their own."

synergy - June 18, 2011 02:26 PM (GMT)

By Jean-Guy Allard. Argenpress via Watching America
Argenpress via Watching America
Thursday, Jun 16, 2011

22 year old Raymond Herisse, shot to death while sitting in his car, by Miami police on May 31 during Urban Beach Week. Police say they found a gun in his car after they killed him and made vague references to an unnamed witness who said that Raymond was shooting at the cops. The remaining question is why the police tried to destroy videotaped evidence.

To Protect and Serve
In the meantime, the ”big” press agencies maintain an alarming silence around this scandalous event, demonstrating that, in the country that continuously accuses the nations it attacks of violating human rights, skin color alone justifies a death sentence.

Not one word has yet been published by the international press agencies, which are so prone to broadcasting the minor incidents that happen in countries who confront the American imperial power, about the execution in Miami of a 22-year-old-Haitian man by 12 police officers who fired on him 100 times while he was unarmed in his car.

In Miami itself, the local press — characterized by its blind cooperation with calls from law enforcement — has diverted public attention with a controversy over a cellphone, whose owner was filming the savage police intervention that ended with the death of young Raymond Hérissé.

Apparently the murder of this son of a humble Haitian immigrant doesn’t interest anyone, including those holders of power in this city with their persistent traits of racial hate and segregation.

Following Shooting, Miami Cops Grab Cell Phones at Gunpoint, Destroy Them. But video survives.
Criticized for confiscating and destroying cameras and mobile phones after killing Hérissé during the hip-hop festival, Urban Beach Week, the municipal authorities of Miami Beach questioned one witness’ testimony that said a police officer had aimed a gun at his head, handcuffed him and destroyed his mobile phone by kicking it.

The testimony confirms that the police detained a witness — an African American — not because he was filming but because he was “very similar” to the description of the suspect that was supposedly seen fleeing. This is a version of the story whose racist tones don’t escape anyone.

No report of the events in the local press mentions Hérissé’s death nearly as much as they have, with the help of the police, been encouraged to describe a criminal, with an emphasis that is more than suspicious. The court file resembles those of thousands of young African Americans in this city whose segregated neighborhoods are patrolled daily by SWAT teams with horrible reputations.

A few days after Herisse’s death, the Police announced that they “found” a gun “hidden” in his car, something very suspicious in a city where cases of ”planted guns” have been cause for scandals in the past.

Hérissé was shot after crashing his Hyundai into a police barricade. He then fled into the popular event that attracts thousands of hip-hop fans annually, most of whom are African American.

Six youths from segregated neighborhoods in Miami have become victims of fatal police shootings within the last 10 months, without even one investigation report having been filed, or one police officer accused, even of criminal negligence.

In the meantime, the ”big” press agencies maintain an alarming silence around this scandalous event, demonstrating that, in the country that continuously accuses the nations it attacks of violating human rights, skin color alone justifies a death sentence.

Translated By Natasha Mann. Edited by Andrew Schmidt.

Sources:  Argenpress- Original Article (Spanish)

Source of Translation: Watching America

synergy - July 3, 2011 02:11 AM (GMT)
Courthouse News Service

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

DAYTON, Ohio (CN) - Dayton police "mistook" a mentally handicapped teenager's speech impediment for "disrespect," so they Tasered, pepper-sprayed and beat him and called for backup from "upward of 20 police officers" after the boy rode his bicycle home to ask his mother for help, the boy's mom says.
    Pamela Ford says her "mentally challenged/handicapped" son Jesse Kersey, 17, was riding his bike near his Dayton home when Officer Willie Hooper stopped him and tried to talk to him.
    The mom says that "Prior to the incident described below, defendant Hooper knew Jesse and was aware that Jesse was mentally challenged/handicapped and a minor child."
    Nonetheless, Ford says, Hooper "apparently took Jesse's speech impediment for disrespect ... [and] began yelling at Jesse and after Jesse attempted to communicate with him[.] Jesse, being a minor and mentally challenged/handicapped, turned and rode his bike back to his home in an attempt to ask his mother, Ford, to help him communicate with defendant Cooper," according to the complaint in Montgomery County Court.
    On the way, the mom says, "A neighbor attempted to communicate with Officer Hooper about Jesse's disabilities and was told to go back into his home, or he would be arrested."
    As Ford opened her front door, she says, Hooper and co-defendant Officer John Howard, "fired their Tasers, striking Jesse in the back with both probes."
    "Once inside the house, defendant Hooper and defendant Howard began to struggle with Jesse, who was standing against the back door with his hands up in front of his face, saying 'Please quit, please quit.'
    "On numerous occasions, Ford and a family friend, Christopher Peyton, informed Officer Hooper that Jesse was mentally challenged/handicapped, and that Jesse did not understand what was happening," the complaint states.
    But the mom says the cops continued their assault: "Officer Howard utilized his Cap-Stun pepper spray and sprayed Jesse ... [and] struck Jesse with a closed fist in the upper chest area.
    "Officer Howard utilized his ASP and repeatedly struck Jesse in the upper left side of his left thigh.
    "Back-up units were requested to Jesse's house, wherein upward of 20 police officers from different jurisdictions were present.
    "At no point, even after being advised of Jesse's mental challenge/handicap by Jesse's family and numerous bystanders, did defendant Hooper, defendant Howard, or any other police officer present, attempt to communicate with Jesse or explain in terms he could understand as to why Jesse was being chased.
    "Jesse was handcuffed and hogtied before being placed in the back of a police cruiser.
    "Jesse was charged with assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest, and obstructing official business."
    However, "Jesse was declared incompetent by the Montgomery County Juvenile Court and the charges against Jesse were dismissed."
    Jesse and his mom seek damages from the city and the two lead officers, for false imprisonment, false arrest, malicious prosecution, assault, battery, excessive use of force, infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy.
    They are represented by Richard Boucher.

synergy - July 18, 2011 02:15 PM (GMT)
S F Police Shoot Young Black Man 5 Times After Chasing Him Down For Not Paying a Bus Fare!
Occurred on July 16, 2011 The black man who was shot died on the scene. Ambulance arrived after he died. Man was shot in the back & neck area.

synergy - August 3, 2011 11:34 PM (GMT)
The Christian Post

Wed, Aug. 03 2011 05:23 PM EDT

By Alex Murashko | Christian Post Reporter

FULLERTON, Calif. – The death of a homeless and mentally disabled man as the result of a confrontation with police officers near an Orange County bus transportation center has city residents angry and victim advocates riled.

Kelly Thomas was approached by Fullerton police officers responding to reports of cars being burglarized in the area on July 5. In a surveillance video taken aboard a public transportation bus, two passengers say officers had pounded the 37-year-old Thomas in the face and tased him six times.

One of the passengers is heard saying, “They beat him up, and then all the cops came and they hog tied him, and he was like, ‘Please God, please dad!’”

Thomas, who suffered severe head and neck injuries, died in a hospital five days later.

Photos of Thomas’ in the hospital show the gruesome results of the beating. A video of the confrontation that has more detail than a video previously found has not been released to the public.

A Fullerton City Council meeting Tuesday night at City Hall had more than three hours of comments from the public and a crowd of approximately 400 people, including overflow. Many of the community members addressing the council asked for a proper investigation of the six police officers involved in the incident.

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Five officers were placed on administrative leave just hours before the city council meeting, joining a sixth officer already on leave.

Fullerton resident Christine Walker said her brother was also a schizophrenic homeless man. She said she was at the meeting to see justice prevail. Walker said she believes that the Fullerton police are using harmful tactics to remove homeless people from the city. A group of people have been meeting in front of the police department for the last several Saturdays.

“We’ve been on a crusade. The week before last there was maybe 30 of us protesting. Last week there were 200 of us. It took the community to stand up to the Fullerton police department to make them take action,” Walker told The Christian Post. “They need to clean house. They need to get the chief of police out of here.”

Several public commentators addressed the issues of homelessness and mental illness.

Fullerton police need to take classes regarding dealing with the mentally disabled, Walker said. “They have no idea what schizophrenia is all about.”

Jeff Levine, 40, was holding a banner outside council chambers that read “Release the Video Tape” in reference to the video police are still holding. Levine, who was born and raised in Fullerton, said he was previously homeless and became friends with Thomas during that period of his life.

“Later on, when I got off the streets I would still come over to the downtown Fullerton area and try to help him out,” Levine said. “He never bothered anybody and in my opinion he was not violent. And as far as him breaking into cars – no way.”

Thomas’ father, Ron, sat in the first row of the council meeting room and was often hugged by members of the audience who had just addressed the council at the podium. During a break in the public testimony, he talked to the overflow crowd in the lobby.

“It’s only because of you folks, the community that has come together, that we are here tonight and able to do this,” Ron Thomas said. “It’s only because of you the people that those cops were taken off duty.”

Ron Thomas told CP that the large crowd at City Hall was the result of his son’s circle of people, including the homeless.

“I had nothing to do with this gathering tonight,” he said. “This community is doing this for my son, and that’s huge.”

An attorney for the six officers being investigated for the death is defending the actions of the police. Lawyer Michael D. Schwartz said Thomas was combative with officers, according to The Los Angeles Times.

synergy - August 27, 2011 08:49 PM (GMT)

Published: 06:59 AM, Sat Aug 27, 2011

By Andrew Barksdale
Staff writer

The man who died Thursday after Fayetteville police officers used a stun gun on him had helped many local political campaigns and was the son of an anti-drug activist.

Michael Evans, 56, was a familiar face in politics and handed out postcards to voters on Election Day.

Over the years, he had worked for several candidates, including Mayor Pro Tem D.J. Haire.

Haire said he paused from his work Friday when he learned that Evans had died.

"I'm hurt, man," Haire said.

According to witnesses, Evans was in front of Fuller's Old Fashion Barbecue restaurant at 113 N. Eastern Blvd., behaving erratically in the roadway Thursday afternoon. He was described as attempting to jump into the path of cars.

He struggled with three police officers trying to arrest him when he was stunned with a Taser.

According to a statement by police, Evans collapsed after he was stunned and became unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.

The State Bureau of Investigation has begun a review, which is routine when police use lethal force. The three officers involved in the struggle - Alexander Leviner, Christopher Crews and Travis Smith - have been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome. That's also a routine procedure.

Evans has encountered police before. In 2008, he was charged with resisting a public officer.

Court records allege that Fayetteville police officer Paul Songalewski stopped Evans for driving a vehicle with an expired inspection. Evans, who also had a revoked driver's license, refused to cooperate by putting his hands behind his back when the officer tried to arrest him, according to court documents.

"I had to ask the defendant multiple times to turn around to the point where I was forced to call for additional units and go hands on," Songalewski wrote in court documents.

Prosecutors later dismissed the case.

The SBI probe into Thursday's death will probably take weeks, officials said, but the circumstances have left many people who knew Evans bewildered.

"That's not him," Cumberland County Commissioner Charles Evans said. "He had a mouth, but Michael would not confront anybody."

Charles Evans is not related to Michael Evans, who also went by Mike. The commissioner said Michael Evans was his campaign manager when he won a seat on the Fayetteville City Council in 2005.

Michael Evans' sister, Tonya Moses, who lives in Fayetteville, said her brother's reportedly bizarre behavior "doesn't even sound like him."

"He was a good person, all around," she said. "He would do anything for anybody."

Evans was unmarried and did marketing for CenturyLink, his sister said. He attended Rock Spring AME Zion Church on Legion Road and was a student last year at Fayetteville State University studying business administration.

Michael Evans spoke with a slightly slurred speech, and the right side of his face was affected by a stroke, said people who knew him.

His mother was Lois Moses, who helped lead an anti-drug task force in the 1990s. She sought to improve the lives of children and working families in her neighborhood of Savoy Heights, which is off Robeson Street.

After Lois Moses died in 2009, the city named the conference room at Myers Recreation Center in Savoy Heights in her honor.

Although Evans' behavior Thursday is puzzling, several people, including his sister, said they would refrain from commenting about the police response until they have more information.

"I will be asking a lot of questions," Haire said of the incident.

Jimmy Buxton, president of the Fayetteville branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said some of Evans' relatives have already contacted him with concerns.

"I'm at a wait-and-see mode," Buxton said.

Staff writer James Halpin contributed to this story.
Staff writer Andrew Barksdale can be reached at or 486-3565.

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