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Vigilantes With A Badge: Warrior Cops Endanger Our Lives And Freedoms



by Tyler Durden
Fri, 08/31/2018 - 23:35




Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“There are always risks in challenging excessive police power, but the risks of not challenging it are more dangerous, even fatal.”
- Hunter S. Thompson, Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century
I have known a lot of good cops, I have defended a lot of good cops, and I have been fortunate to call a number of good cops friends.
So when I say that warrior cops - hyped up on their own authority and the power of the badge - have not made America any safer or freer, I am not disrespecting any of the fine, decent, lawful police officers who take seriously their oath of office to serve and protect their fellow citizens, uphold the Constitution, and maintain the peace.



My beef is with the growing squads of warrior cops who have been given the green light to kill, shoot, taser, abuse and steal from American citizens in the so-called name of law and order.

These cops are little more than vigilantes with a badge.

Indeed, it is increasingly evident that militarized police armed with weapons of war who are allowed to operate above the law and break the laws with impunity have not made America any safer or freer.

Don’t take my word for it.'



A new study by a political scientist at Princeton University concludes that militarizing police and SWAT teams “provide no detectable benefits in terms of officer safety or violent crime reduction.”

In fact, according to researcher Jonathan Mummolo, if police in America are feeling less safe, it’s because the process of transforming them into extensions of the military makes them less safe, less popular and less trust-worthy.

The study, the first systematic analysis on the use and consequences of militarized force, reveals that “police militarization neither reduces rates of violent crime nor changes the number of officers assaulted or killed.”

In other words, warrior cops aren’t making us or themselves any safer.

Consider that not a day goes by without reports of police officers overstepping the bounds of the Constitution and brutalizing, terrorizing and killing the citizenry. Indeed, the list of incidents in which unaccountable police abuse their power, betray their oath of office and leave taxpayers bruised, broken and/or killed grows longer and more tragic by the day.

Americans are now eight times more likely to die in a police confrontation than they are to be killed by a terrorist.

The problem, as one reporter rightly concluded, is “not that life has gotten that much more dangerous, it’s that authorities have chosen to respond to even innocent situations as if they were in a warzone.”

This battlefield mindset has gone hand in hand with the rise of militarized SWAT (“special weapons and tactics”) teams.

Frequently justified as vital tools necessary to combat terrorism and deal with rare but extremely dangerous criminal situations, such as those involving hostages, SWAT teams—which first appeared on the scene in California in the 1960s—have now become intrinsic parts of local law enforcement operations, thanks in large part to substantial federal assistance and the Pentagon’s military surplus recycling program, which allows the transfer of military equipment, weapons and training to local police for free or at sharp discounts.

Ponder this: In 1980, there were roughly 3,000 SWAT team-style raids in the US.

Incredibly, that number has since grown to more than 80,000 SWAT team raids per year.

There are few communities without a SWAT team today.

Where this becomes a problem of life and death for Americans is when these SWAT teams dressed, armed and trained in military tactics are assigned to carry out routine law enforcement tasks, such as serving a search warrant.

No longer reserved exclusively for deadly situations, SWAT teams are now increasingly being deployed for relatively routine police matters, with some SWAT teams being sent out as much as five times a day. In the state of Maryland alone, 92 percent of 8200 SWAT missions were used to execute search or arrest warrants.

For example, police in both Baltimore and Dallas have used SWAT teams to bust up poker games.

A Connecticut SWAT team swarmed a bar suspected of serving alcohol to underage individuals.

In Arizona, a SWAT team was used to break up an alleged cockfighting ring.

An Atlanta SWAT team raided a music studio, allegedly out of a concern that it might have been involved in illegal music piracy.

A Minnesota SWAT team raided the wrong house in the middle of the night, handcuffed the three young children, held the mother on the floor at gunpoint, shot the family dog, and then “forced the handcuffed children to sit next to the carcass of their dead pet and bloody pet for more than an hour” while they searched the home.

A California SWAT team drove an armored Lenco Bearcat into Roger Serrato’s yard, surrounded his home with paramilitary troops wearing face masks, threw a fire-starting flashbang grenade into the house in order, then when Serrato appeared at a window, unarmed and wearing only his shorts, held him at bay with rifles. Serrato died of asphyxiation from being trapped in the flame-filled house. Incredibly, the father of four had done nothing wrong. The SWAT team had misidentified him as someone involved in a shooting.

And then there was the police officer who tripped and “accidentally” shot and killed Eurie Stamps, an unarmed grandfather of 12, who had been forced to lie facedown on the floor of his home at gunpoint while a SWAT team attempted to execute a search warrant against his stepson.

Equally outrageous was the four-hour SWAT team raid on a California high school, where students were locked down in classrooms, forced to urinate in overturned desks and generally terrorized by heavily armed, masked gunmen searching for possible weapons that were never found.

These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg.

Nationwide, SWAT teams have been employed to address an astonishingly trivial array of criminal activity or mere community nuisances: angry dogs, domestic disputes, improper paperwork filed by an orchid farmer, and misdemeanor marijuana possession, to give a brief sampling.

If these raids are becoming increasingly common and widespread, you can chalk it up to the “make-work” philosophy, in which you assign at-times unnecessary jobs to individuals to keep them busy or employed. In this case, however, the make-work principle is being used to justify the use of sophisticated military equipment and, in the process, qualify for federal funding.

Remember, SWAT teams originated as specialized units dedicated to defusing extremely sensitive, dangerous situations. They were never meant to be used for routine police work such as serving a warrant.

As the role of paramilitary forces has expanded, however, to include involvement in nondescript police work targeting nonviolent suspects, the mere presence of SWAT units has actually injected a level of danger and violence into police-citizen interactions that was not present as long as these interactions were handled by traditional civilian officers.

What we are witnessing is an inversion of the police-civilian relationship.

Rather than compelling police officers to remain within constitutional bounds as servants of the people, ordinary Americans are being placed at the mercy of militarized police units.

This is what happens when paramilitary forces are used to conduct ordinary policing operations, such as executing warrants on nonviolent defendants.

Moreover, general incompetence, collateral damage (fatalities, property damage, etc.) and botched raids tend to go hand in hand with an overuse of paramilitary forces.

In some cases, officers misread the address on the warrant.

In others, they simply barge into the wrong house or even the wrong building.

In another subset of cases (such as the Department of Education raid on Anthony Wright’s home), police conduct a search of a building where the suspect no longer resides.

SWAT teams have even on occasion conducted multiple, sequential raids on wrong addresses or executed search warrants despite the fact that the suspect is already in police custody. Police have also raided homes on the basis of mistaking the presence or scent of legal substances for drugs. Incredibly, these substances have included tomatoes, sunflowers, fish, elderberry bushes, kenaf plants, hibiscus, and ragweed.

As you can see, all too often, botched SWAT team raids have resulted in one tragedy after another for the residents with little consequences for law enforcement.

Unfortunately, judges tend to afford extreme levels of deference to police officers who have mistakenly killed innocent civilians but do not afford similar leniency to civilians who have injured police officers in acts of self-defense.

Even homeowners who mistake officers for robbers can be sentenced for assault or murder if they take defensive actions resulting in harm to police.

And as journalist Radley Balko shows in his in-depth study of police militarization, the shock-and-awe tactics utilized by many SWAT teams only increases the likelihood that someone will get hurt.

Drug warrants, for instance, are typically served by paramilitary units late at night or shortly before dawn. Unfortunately, to the unsuspecting homeowner—especially in cases involving mistaken identities or wrong addresses—a raid can appear to be nothing less than a violent home invasion, with armed intruders crashing through their door. The natural reaction would be to engage in self-defense. Yet such a defensive reaction on the part of a homeowner, particularly a gun owner, will spur officers to employ lethal force.

That’s exactly what happened to Jose Guerena, the young ex-Marine who was killed after a SWAT team kicked open the door of his Arizona home during a drug raid and opened fire. According to news reports, Guerena, 26 years old and the father of two young children, grabbed a gun in response to the forced invasion but never fired. In fact, the safety was still on his gun when he was killed. Police officers were not as restrained. The young Iraqi war veteran was allegedly fired upon 71 times. Guerena had no prior criminal record, and the police found nothing illegal in his home.

The problems inherent in these situations are further compounded by the fact that SWAT teams are granted “no-knock” warrants at high rates such that the warrants themselves are rendered practically meaningless.

This sorry state of affairs is made even worse by U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have essentiallydone away with the need for a “no-knock” warrant altogether, giving the police authority to disregard the protections afforded American citizens by the Fourth Amendment.

In the process, Americans are rendered altogether helpless and terror-stricken as a result of these confrontations with the police.
Indeed, “terrorizing” is a mild term to describe the effect on those who survive such vigilante tactics. “It was terrible. It was the most frightening experience of my life. I thought it was a terrorist attack,” said 84-year-old Leona Goldberg, a victim of such a raid.

Yet this type of “terrorizing” activity is characteristic of the culture that we have created.

If ever there were a time to de-militarize and de-weaponize local police forces, it’s now.

While we are now grappling with a power-hungry police state at the federal level, the militarization of domestic American law enforcement is largely the result of the militarization of local police forces, which are increasingly militaristic in their uniforms, weaponry, language, training, and tactics and have come to rely on SWAT teams in matters that once could have been satisfactorily performed by traditional civilian officers.

Yet American police forces were never supposed to be a branch of the military, nor were they meant to be private security forces for the reigning political faction.

Instead, they were intended to be an aggregation of countless local police units, composed of citizens like you and me that exist for a sole purpose: to serve and protect the citizens of each and every American community.

As a result of the increasing militarization of the police in recent years, however, the police now not only look like the military—with their foreboding uniforms and phalanx of lethal weapons—but they function like them, as well.

Thus, no more do we have a civilian force of peace officers entrusted with serving and protecting the American people. Instead, today’s militarized law enforcement officials have shifted their allegiance from the citizenry to the state, acting preemptively to ward off any possible challenges to the government’s power, unrestrained by the boundaries of the Fourth Amendment.

As journalist Herman Schwartz observed, “The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official.”

Armed police officers, the end product of the government—federal, local and state—and law enforcement agencies having merged, have become a “standing” or permanent army, composed of full-time professional soldiers who do not disband.

Yet these permanent armies are exactly what those who drafted the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights feared as tools used by despotic governments to wage war against its citizens.

This phenomenon we are experiencing with the police is what philosopher Abraham Kaplan referred to as the law of the instrument, which essentially says that to a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

In the scenario that has been playing out in recent years, we the citizenry have become the nails to be hammered by the government’s henchmen, a.k.a. its guns for hire, a.k.a. its standing army, a.k.a. the nation’s law enforcement agencies.

Yet the tension inherent in most civilian-police encounter these days can’t be blamed exclusively on law enforcement’s growing reliance on SWAT teams and donated military equipment.

It goes far deeper, to a transformation in the way police view themselves and their line of duty.

Specifically, what we’re dealing with today is a skewed shoot-to-kill mindset in which police, trained to view themselves as warriors or soldiers in a war, whether against drugs, or terror, or crime, must “get” the bad guys—i.e., anyone who is a potential target—before the bad guys get them.

The result is a spike in the number of incidents in which police shoot first, and ask questions later.

Making matters worse, when these officers, who have long since ceased to be peace officers, violate their oaths by bullying, beating, tasering, shooting and killing their employers—the taxpayers to whom they owe their allegiance—they are rarely given more than a slap on the hands before resuming their patrols.

As I document in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this lawlessness on the part of law enforcement, an unmistakable characteristic of a police state, is made possible in large part by police unions which routinely oppose civilian review boards and resist the placement of names and badge numbers on officer uniforms; police agencies that abide by the Blue Code of Silence, the quiet understanding among police that they should not implicate their colleagues for their crimes and misconduct; prosecutors who treat police offenses with greater leniency than civilian offenses; courts that sanction police wrongdoing in the name of security; and legislatures that enhance the power, reach and arsenal of the police, and a citizenry that fails to hold its government accountable to the rule of law.

Clearly, it’s time for a reality check, for both the police and the citizens of this nation.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...-warrior-cops-endanger-our-lives-and-freedoms
 

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'My boys were racially profiled': Mother hits out at officers after her 11-year-old twins and a family friend, 17, are handcuffed at GUNPOINT

  • Martrell and Martrez Coston, 11, and a 17-year-old family friend, were handcuffed
  • Officers were responding to a report of juveniles with a handgun at the time
  • Each boy was briefly handcuffed and searched, but they were all released
  • The twins' mother Juanita Ligon, says her boys were racially profiled
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6123923/Officers-handcuffing-twin-boys-11-investigation.html
 

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Murder ‘stress’: US cop who killed unarmed black man teaches how to cope with it
RT


Published on Sep 3, 2018
People are protesting over an Oklahoma police officer, who killed an unarmed black man, teaching officers how to cope with stress after ‘critical incidents.’ RT spoke to the victim’s sister who said police should be ‘ashamed.’

READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/9dkt
 

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Chicago on Edge as Officer Who Shot Laquan McDonald 16 Times Faces Trial

NYT
By MITCH SMITH
1 hr ago


CHICAGO — The grainy dash camera video showed a black 17-year-old named Laquan McDonald writhing in the street as a white Chicago police officer fired bullet after bullet into him. In the end, the autopsy showed, he was shot 16 times.

That police footage, not released to the public for more than a year, led to first-degree murder charges in 2015 against the officer, Jason Van Dyke, and a painful, prolonged reckoning for the city and its leaders. It laid bare decades of distrust over Chicago police officers’ treatment of black residents and over City Hall’s lack of transparency.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired the police superintendent, but rejected calls to quit himself. Protesters marched for weeks, pointing to the city’s slowness to reveal the video and claiming a top-to-bottom cover-up. And the mayor pledged, tearfully at times, a wholesale rethinking of how the Chicago police interacts with black residents, how officers use their weapons and how allegations of wrongdoing are investigated.

Laquan’s death changed Chicago, in ways obvious and still to be determined. But with jury selection scheduled to start Wednesday in Officer Van Dyke’s trial, many here say the promised overhaul of the Police Department has not gone far enough.

Trust in the department remains low, Chicago’s homicide rate remains high and new police shootings continue to bring tense protests. With a mayoral election just months away, Officer Van Dyke’s trial could help shape Mr. Emanuel’s political future.

“This city’s in a world of hurt right now, and this trial and this election I think are watershed moments in this city’s history,” said Garry F. McCarthy, the police superintendent whom Mr. Emanuel fired and who is now a candidate to replace him as mayor.

A Turning Point for the Mayor
Mr. Emanuel’s seven and a half years as Chicago mayor can be separated into periods: pre-Laquan and post-Laquan.

In the pre-Laquan era, after a stint as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Mr. Emanuel had a broad base of black supporters, crime rates were declining and he wielded immense power over the City Council. In the post-Laquan era, the mayor has been weakened and frequently on the defensive, burdened by the fallout from the McDonald shooting and a spike in homicides.

Mr. Emanuel, who declined to be interviewed, is up for re-election early next year, and faces challengers who have made gun violence, policing and the McDonald case central to their campaigns. Mr. Emanuel has not announced whether he will run for another term, but he has been amassing campaign money.

Much of the anger with Mr. Emanuel is focused on the 13-month period between Laquan’s 2014 death, which attracted little immediate news coverage, and the court-ordered release of the dash camera video in late 2015. In those months, Mr. Emanuel was elected to a second term as mayor and the Chicago City Council approved a $5 million settlement with the McDonald family. Even then, Chicago officials refused to release of the video, saying it was part of a criminal investigation, until a judge ordered that it be made public over the city’s objections.

As the images of Laquan crumpling to the ground set off marches through Chicago’s downtown, protesters accused the mayor of keeping the video under wraps to help in a difficult re-election fight. “Sixteen shots and a cover-up” became a rallying cry. “Rahm Emanuel’s will was forced,” said the Rev. Ira Acree, a critic of the mayor who leads a West Side church and who said trust in the police continues to recede.

Amid the protests, Mr. Emanuel pledged to equip all patrol officers with Tasers and body cameras, and spoke in frank terms about inequity and distrust in the police.

“Nothing less than complete and total reform of the system and the culture that it breeds will meet the standard we have set for ourselves as a city,” Mr. Emanuel said in an emotional address to the City Council.

One thousand days have elapsed since that speech. City officials say the Police Department is being transformed. Some residents say they’ve seen few changes.

An Officer on Trial
As Officer Van Dyke’s trial begins, Chicago is watching intently, nervously. Protesters have vowed to gather outside the county courthouse every day. Officer Van Dyke, who is free on bond and on unpaid leave from the Police Department, has pleaded not guilty. He told The Chicago Tribune last week that he behaved as he had been taught.

“I might be looking at the possibility of spending the rest of my life in prison for doing my job as I was trained as a Chicago police officer,” Officer Van Dyke told The Tribune.

Police officers have wide latitude to use deadly force. But prosecutors say Laquan posed no lethal threat and that Officer Van Dyke’s decision to shoot, and keep shooting, was unreasonable. Of at least seven other officers at the scene, none fired a single bullet. Later, many of them provided an account of the shooting that was favorable to Officer Van Dyke but not supported by the video.

On the evening of Oct. 20, 2014, officers encountered Laquan after receiving a complaint about someone with a knife trying to break into vehicles. Laquan has been remembered by family members as an affectionate, funny kid; Laquan also had contended with significant hurdles, including questions about who would take care of him, problems that landed him in alternative school and the death in 2013 of the grandmother who had, in large part, raised him.

That night, two officers trailed the teenager at a distance and asked dispatchers to send an officer with a Taser. More officers arrived. At one point, city officials said, Laquan pounded on the window of a squad car and punctured its front tire with a knife. Still, officers followed at a distance for several blocks as Laquan jogged ahead of their cruisers.

The tenor changed as soon as Officer Van Dyke pulled up. He quickly got out of his cruiser with his gun drawn and started shooting as Laquan moved slightly away from him. Even after the teenager collapsed onto the road, the shots kept coming.

“That video was such a flash point — just watching it felt like you were being injured,” said Lori E. Lightfoot, who at the time was president of the Chicago Police Board, an oversight agency, and who now is running for mayor.

No Chicago police officer has been convicted of murder for an on-duty shooting since 1970, according to The Tribune, and recent high-profile police shooting trials in Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin have ended in acquittals or mistrials. There are exceptions, including last week in Texas, where an officer in suburban Dallas was convicted of murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.

A Tense Summer
Faith in the Chicago Police Department remains so low that many people instinctively reject the official version of events.

When a teenager fled police officers on the West Side in August and died of a gunshot wound, the medical examiner called it a suicide.

Members of the boy’s family said they believed officers killed him.

When a “bait truck” loaded with Nike shoes was parked on the South Side this summer and officers waited to arrest any thieves, residents were appalled by the idea and blamed the police. City officials insisted the project was the idea of a railroad company.

And when officers fatally shot Harith Augustus, an African-American barber, on a busy street in July, it outraged neighbors and led to a tense night of protests. Police officials scrambled to release body camera footage showing that Mr. Augustus had a gun. Many said they remained upset about how officers handled the encounter.

“I don’t have a trust” in the police, said Patricia Summers, a South Side resident. Ms. Summers, who is black, said officers have unfairly profiled members of her family. “Chicago has been so corrupt for so long it would be a force of God in order to change it.”

Chicago, which has roughly even numbers of white, black and Hispanic residents, has long struggled with segregation and economic inequity. Complaints about the police, especially common in black and Hispanic neighborhoods, have been backed up by formal reviews.

A task force assembled by Mr. Emanuel after the McDonald video came out concluded that the Chicago Police Department was plagued by systemic racism. And in 2017, in the final days of Mr. Obama’s presidency, a Justice Department review found a pattern of discriminatory policing and unjustified shootings and called for a court-enforced consent decree.

Chicago officials are now in the final stages of negotiating a consent decree, based on the damning findings in those two reports, with the Illinois attorney general, who stepped in after President Trump’s Justice Department declined to pursue such an agreement.

Walter Katz, a deputy chief of staff for Mr. Emanuel, said the city has already made significant changes. The police tightened the rules on when officers can use force. A new agency was created to investigate police shootings. Officer training was revamped.

“There is no magic wand,” Mr. Katz said. “You rebuild trust one block at a time.”

Eddie Johnson, the police superintendent, said he believed the Police Department was about halfway through putting in place changes needed to rebuild trust.

But Mr. Johnson, who is black and grew up in Chicago, said he recognized why some remain skeptical. “Let’s face it,” he said, “we’re fighting decades of past history with the relationships between the black community and the Police Department.”

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/ch...ld-16-times-faces-trial/ar-BBMRfsh?ocid=ientp
 

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Stephon Clark family seeking $15million in damages from the city of Sacramento
Family of Stephon Clark, the unarmed black man who was shot dead by cops in his grandmother's backyard, sue for $15 MILLION

  • The family of Stephon Clark is seeking more than $15million from the city of Sacramento for funeral expenses, attorney fees and punitive damages
  • The family could be considering filing a lawsuit after two Sacramento cops shot and killed Clark as he was fleeing through his grandmother's backyard in March
  • The police department said officers thought Clark, 22, had a gun but he was only carrying a cell phone
  • The family is seeking the money for funeral expenses, attorney fees and punitive damages
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...hon-Clark-family-files-claims-Sacramento.html
 

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Dallas officer mistakes apartment for own and shoots dead her neighbor, 26
Dallas police officer shoots dead her neighbor, 26, in his home after she 'walked into his apartment thinking it was her own'

  • A Dallas police officer was returning home from work Thursday night
  • She says she entered her neighbor's apartment thinking it was her own
  • Police say she was 'confronted' by the man who lived there and pulled her gun
  • The unnamed officer shot dead 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean
  • An investigation is ongoing and the officer has been put on administrative leave
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...las-officer-mistakes-apartment-kills-man.html
 

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Mom of black accountant shot dead at home by white police officer wants to know if race motivated
Mother of 26-year-old shot dead in his OWN home by white cop who 'mistook his apartment for HERS' wonders if race played a factor as police investigate if the two 'had a personal relationship'

  • Botham Jean, 26, was killed in his own apartment by a policewoman on Thursday
  • The officer, a white woman, says she thought he was in her apartment
  • Jean's mother has questioned if her son was shot because he was black
  • Alison Jean says the officer's explanation of events makes no sense to her
  • She faces manslaughter charges and has been placed on administrative leave
  • A blood sample was drawn to determine her drug and alcohol levels
  • The woman has not yet been named or pictured by authorities
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...police-officer-wants-know-race-motivated.html
 

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The Latest: Laquan McDonald Trial
RT America


Published on Sep 7, 2018
Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke has violated a gag order according to an Illinois Judge. Van Dyke, who is charged with murder for shooting Laquan Mcdonald, who is black and was unarmed at the time of his killing has done several media interviews regarding his case. The interviews are a violation of a gag order that was in place, and Van Dyke had $2000 added to his $1.5 million bail. Van Dyke was only required to pay $200 in order to stay out of jail, this as well as the fact that he is the first Chicago officer to be charged with first-degree murder since 1980 has many people saying the system still strongly favors police officers. RT’s Ashley Banks Reports.
 

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Picking a jury for the Jason Van Dyke trial: Part psychology, legal strategy and guesswork


Megan Crepeau and Stacy St. ClairContact Reporters
Chicago Tribune
September 7, 2018 6:00 PM


One by one, dozens of strangers will be summoned into a small chamber behind Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan’s courtroom on Monday to face a battery of questions about private details of their lives.

Attorneys will want to know more about their professions, their families, their homes, their history with police. At the heart of the questions will be one simple issue: Who can give Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke a fair trial?

The jury selection process is always a delicate one — part psychology, part legal strategy and part guesswork. But given the high stakes and unusual nature of the Van Dyke case — a national news story that led to protests and major police reforms locally — it promises to be an even thornier exercise.

When a police officer is on trial, the usual assumptions about what kind of juror each side wants are turned on their head, with prosecutors seeking jurors who lean toward skepticism of cops and the defense looking for people with strong connections to law enforcement.

Prosecutors, who usually enjoy the benefits of wearing the so-called white hats, may be most outside their comfort zones, say legal experts contacted by the Tribune, because in Van Dyke’s case, it will be law-and-order versus law-and order.

That’s one reason why it may take a week or longer to pick 12 jurors and four alternates.

“We know the prosecution has a tough task ahead of them because the jurors know the importance of police officers,” said Doug Godfrey, a former prosecutor and a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law. “We don’t need drug dealers. We don’t need petty thieves. But we need police officers.”

Van Dyke faces six counts of first-degree murder, 16 counts of aggravated battery and one count of official misconduct in 17-year-old Laquan McDonald’s slaying in October 2014.


Police dashboard camera video released by court order more than a year later showed Van Dyke opening fire within seconds of exiting his squad car as McDonald, holding a knife, appeared to walk away from police, contradicting reports from officers at the scene that the black teen had threatened officers with the weapon. The release of the graphic video led to months of protests and political upheaval.

The defense has argued impartial jurors cannot be found in Cook County because of the overwhelming amount of publicity surrounding the shooting and the charges. Van Dyke’s attorneys even asked last week for the entire jury pool to be dismissed because the candidates had to walk by a mass of protesters as they entered the courthouse one by one.

Legal experts, however, told the Tribune that impartial jurors can be found even in such a heater case, particularly with a jury pool of this size — about 200 people.

“It may be difficult, but I don’t think it will be impossible,” said attorney Antonio Romanucci, who has handled several high-profile civil cases involving allegations of police misconduct. “This is a county of 5 million people. They’ll find enough people who can serve.”


Complete coverage of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald »

The task of questioning potential jurors could be arduous with Gaughan bringing them behind closed doors one at a time to speak with him and attorneys. The would-be jurors came to the courthouse last week to fill out questionnaires.

Those prospective jurors determined to be biased will be removed from consideration for “cause.” Beyond that, each team of attorneys will have seven “peremptory challenges” to reject potential jurors without needing to give a particular reason.

The process, experts told the Tribune, is often more about weeding people out rather than finding people they want to keep.

One key goal, said Chicago-based jury consultant Alan Tuerkheimer, will be to tease out the attitudes of potential jurors toward police.

The defense will want jurors “who don’t have a lot of run-ins with police officers, that think police officers are there to protect and serve,” Tuerkheimer said. “They probably have relatives who are on the job.”

By contrast, prosecutors want those who “don’t necessarily put police on a pedestal,” he said.

The racial aspect of the case will be inescapable with a white officer and black teen involved. The case, after all, has laid bare many of Chicago’s long-standing racial fault lines.

Indeed, Van Dyke’s attorneys already have signaled their concerns about black jurors from Cook County. Based on an internal poll, the defense contended that 98.5 percent of local African-Americans who have seen the video don’t believe Van Dyke was in danger when he shot McDonald — an opinion that strikes at the heart of the officer’s self-defense argument.

Legal precedent holds that attorneys cannot strike jurors because of their race. The Van Dyke prosecutors can be expected to bring that up if they sense that the defense is systematically removing African-Americans from the jury.

Van Dyke’s lead attorney, Daniel Herbert, was accused of excluding jurors based on race during a criminal trial for a different on-duty police shooting last year. Though Herbert denied the allegation levied by federal prosecutors, the judge refused to let him use a peremptory challenge to excuse one particular black man, making him the 12th and final juror on the panel.

The officer was later convicted of excessive force for firing 16 times into a moving vehicle filled with teens. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

In most cases involving race-based juror rejection, the defense only needs to give a reason for excluding that person other than race — even something as simple as “I don’t like the way he was looking at Officer Van Dyke,” Tuerkheimer said. “It really doesn’t have to be real substantive.”

Attorneys should pay particular attention to where the potential jurors live, said veteran attorney Lawrence Wolf Levin. A black juror from a middle-class Chicago neighborhood such as South Shore or Kenwood will see the case differently than one from the more violent Englewood neighborhood, he said.

Levin said he believes the team of special prosecutors will be at a disadvantage in that regard because most of them are from far west suburban Kane County. Attorneys more familiar with Chicago can draw better conclusions about jurors based on the neighborhoods or suburbs they come from, he said.

The prosecution should look for jurors from Chicago’s Gold Coast or the more affluent suburbs, particularly if they have families, Levin said. They could see Van Dyke's actions as perpetuating city violence and creating more instability, he said.

“They’re going to believe that what the police officer did was a vehicle to create violence, further violence, and they’re going to take exception to it,” said Levin, who believes jurors often try “to send a message.”

As a former prosecutor, Godfrey said he favored putting teachers and nurses on juries. Both professions require an ability to listen and judge a person’s credibility. He also preferred supervisors who have made employment decisions.

“I like people who have made difficult decisions about people’s credibility,” he said. “You want someone who knows what it’s like to make decisions that have serious ramifications for other people.”

Defense attorney Sam Adam Jr., who won an acquittal for singer R. Kelly during a jury trial in Gaughan’s courtroom in 2008, said he’d look for prospective jurors who work as crossing guards, air traffic controllers or emergency room nurses if he were representing Van Dyke.“I’d also want people who weren’t just in the military, but who have combat experience as well,” Adam said. “I’d want people who know what it’s like to make split-second decisions and have to live with the consequences. From a defense lawyer’s perspective, those are the people who will best relate to the pressure Jason Van Dyke felt.”

READ MORE: A study in contrasts: Competing lawyers in Van Dyke trial strikingly different in style »
Vincent Gaughan: The Van Dyke judge known for his smarts, sharp tongue and secretive style »


When attorney Romanucci selected a jury for a high-profile civil case involving a Chicago police officer accused of shooting a close friend after a night of heavy drinking, the process was more about rejecting candidates than picking them.

Before the trial, he conducted at least a half-dozen focus groups to create a profile of both an ideal juror for his side and the type they wanted to avoid.

“We clearly wanted females, preferably mothers,” Romanucci said. “We didn’t want anyone who had a connection with law enforcement. It would have been too much of a risk.”

Once the prospective jurors completed their questionnaires, the attorneys scoured them, looking for clues about their personalities and beliefs based on the books they read, their sources for news and the movies they watched. When trying to prove a cop had broken the law, for example, Romanucci wanted someone more likely to watch MSNBC every night than Fox News.

Even when armed with all that information and the advice of a jury expert, though, not every juror fit the ideal profile for Romanucci’s side.

When he got down to his last challenges, Romanucci did not object to a suburban firefighter who had several family members employed as Chicago police officers. It was a gamble at the time, but the case included allegations that the officer interfered with paramedics while they were trying to treat his friend. Romanucci believed a firefighter would understand the seriousness of such actions.

“We thought he would be able to grasp the issues and even explain them to the jury during deliberations,” Romanucci said.

In the end, a predominantly female jury, led by a suburban forewoman, found that Chicago police Officer Patrick Kelly likely shot and severely injured his best friend, Michael LaPorta. Jurors awarded LaPorta $44.7 million, the largest jury award for police misconduct in Illinois history.

Godfrey often shakes his head at some approaches during jury selection, believing attorneys often mistake wonky sociological theories with scientific fact. Not every social worker will side with the defense each time, he said, just as military veterans don’t always side with the prosecution.

“There’s a lot of folklore in jury selection and a lot of pseudo-psychology,” he said.

When jury selection begins in earnest Monday, two unanswered questions loom: Could the trial end up moving outside Chicago, where fewer people may have seen the video of Van Dyke shooting McDonald? And is Van Dyke really going to place his fate in the hands of a jury, an unusual move for Chicago cops in the past to make?

The judge has said he will delay deciding whether to hold the trial outside Chicago until after jury selection begins. If both sides struggle to find a dozen people who can promise to be impartial, it’s possible the judge would bring in a jury from outside Cook County or even move the trial somewhere else.

The yet-to-be-rendered decision could be why the defense has not yet formally announced whether it wants a jury to decide Van Dyke’s fate.

Even with the first prospective jurors set to be interviewed this week, Van Dyke’s team still has time to choose to let the judge decide the officer’s guilt or innocence at a bench trial.

Van Dyke can automatically switch to a bench trial at any point before all 12 jurors have been sworn in. If he waits until after the jury has been impaneled, though, Gaughan would have to give his approval, seemingly unlikely after all the work the judge has already done toward a jury trial.

Under Illinois case law, the judge could deny the request by finding it to be waste of government resources and money.

At this point, though, the trial appears headed for a decision by a jury, especially after Van Dyke endured Gaughan’s wrath for violating a long-standing gag order in the case. The judge slightly hiked Van Dyke’s $1.5 million bond by $2,000 Thursday after the officer granted two media interviews just days before the jury pool was sworn in.

In a 40-minute, tightly controlled interview with the Tribune late last month, Van Dyke described the shooting as his "darkest day" on the job and expressed his fear of spending the rest of his life in prison.

In raising Van Dyke’s bond, Gaughan would not speculate on whether the interviews were an attempt to influence the jury pool or if they proved beneficial to the defense team. Those kinds of questions, he has said repeatedly, can be figured out during jury selection.

Legal experts doubt Van Dyke’s media appearances — or any other of the other sideshows the case has endured since the video’s release — will stand in the way of finding unbiased jurors in Cook County – or at least jurors in Cook County who say they are unbiased.

“It’s going to be surprisingly easy (to pick a jury) because, at the end of the day, all the juror has to say is ‘I can be fair and impartial,’” Godfrey said.

mcrepeau@chicagotribune.com
sstclair@chicagotribune.com
Twitter @crepeau
Twitter @StacyStClair


MORE COVERAGE
Van Dyke trial gets underway as potential jurors pass by protesters, learn whose fate they could decide »
Minute by minute: How Jason Van Dyke shot Laquan McDonald »
Officer Van Dyke speaks out for the first time since shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times »


http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/...-van-dyke-jury-selection-20180909-story.html#
 

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Gun Show #1 – LEO Round Table – 1st Quarter 2018


Published on Sep 3, 2018
*NOTE: THE LEO ROUND TABLE LAW ENFORCEMENT TALK SHOW WILL BE LIVE THIS WEEK ON TUESDAY, SEP 4TH, AT 7PM EST DUE TO THE LABOR DAY HOLIDAY BEING ON MONDAY.

01:40 Chinese Taser knockoffs
05:15 Shotgun shells being fired in a flare gun
12:39 Shotguns and rifles over .50 cal as destructive devices
18:31 Vertical fore-grips & folding forearm braces on handguns

On this special edition Gun Show, retired ATF Special Agent Dan O'Kelly and retired Captain Bret Bartlett, along with your host Chip DeBlock, discuss the following topics:

1. Chinese Taser knockoffs

2. Shotgun shells being fired in a flare gun

3. The fact that a shotgun over .50 cal has to be found "sporting" by the Attorney General to avoid Destructive Device (DD) status, but a rifle over .50 cal only requires the determination of the owner

4. The concept of putting a vertical foregrip and a folding forearm brace on a handgun, then ATF rules it an Any Other Weapon (AOW)
 

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The TRUTH About Police Public Support According To New Gallup Poll - LEO Round Table episode 650
LEO Round Table


Published on Sep 5, 2018
00:54 New Gallup poll shows law enforcement 3rd most trusted
09:05 Former Texas cop sentenced to 15 years in prison
16:40 Controversial California AB 931 shelved this leg session

LEO Round Table (law enforcement talk show)

Episode 650 filmed on 09/04/2018

Chip DeBlock (Host)
Luke Lirot (Attorney)
Kevin Bouis (Attorney)
Cody Ann Cook

Schedule:
1 hour LIVE show every Monday at 7 pm EST
Episodes uploaded to YouTube Tue - Sun at approx. 4 pm EST

Topic 1 concerns a new Gallup poll ranking law enforcement as the third most trusted institution in America (behind the military and small businesses).

https://www.policeone.com/community-r...

https://news.gallup.com/poll/236243/m...

Topic 2 concerns an update on former Balch Springs (Texas) Police Officer Roy Oliver being convicted of murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison for fatally shooting unarmed vehicle passenger Jordan Edwards in April of 2017.

https://www.policeone.com/legal/artic...

https://www.policeone.com/legal/artic...

https://www.policeone.com/legal/artic...

Topic 3 concerns an update on controversial California use-of-force Assembly Bill 931 being shelved and not moving forward this legislative session. This announcement came from Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assemblywoman Shirley Weber. AB 931 seeks to raise the California state standard for using lethal force from Reasonable to Necessary.

https://www.policeone.com/legal/artic...
 

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Texas Cop Cleared After Pulling Gun And Drawing Down On Obnoxious Kids - LEO Round Table episode 651
LEO Round Table


Published on Sep 6, 2018
00:54 Texas cop cleared after drawing down on obnoxious children
08:01 Arizona cops justified in punching suspect for not complying
12:30 Family drops $5 million lawsuit against former LAPD cop

LEO Round Table (law enforcement talk show)

Episode 651 filmed on 09/04/2018

Chip DeBlock (Host)
Luke Lirot (Attorney)
Kevin Bouis (Attorney)
Cody Ann Cook

Schedule:
1 hour LIVE show every Monday at 7 pm EST
Episodes uploaded to YouTube Tue - Sun at approx. 4 pm EST

Topic 1 concerns an update on El Paso (Texas) Police Officer Jose Rios being cleared after an internal affairs investigation into accusations of him wrongfully pulling out his firearm and choking a minor were unfounded. Chief Greg Allen, mother Elizabeth Flores, Julian Saucedo and Jacob Saucedo were referenced in the story.

https://www.policeone.com/investigati...

Topic 2 concerns an update on Mesa (Arizona) Police officers not facing criminal charges and being justified after punching subject Robert Johnson when he failed to obey orders.

https://www.policeone.com/investigati...

Topic 3 concerns an update on a federal lawsuit filed against former Los Angeles (California) Police Officer Kevin Ferguson by the family of a teenage boy he detained for trespassing while off-duty. Officer Ferguson also accidentally fired a gunshot during the altercation. The family agreed to drop the $5 million lawsuit against the officer, the city of Anaheim and the LAPD. The family's attorney, John Christl, was referenced in the story.

https://www.policeone.com/investigati...
 

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Runner Turns Into Shooter As Cops Close In During Foot Chase On Video - LEO Round Table episode 653
LEO Round Table


Published on Sep 8, 2018
00:54 Video of Texas cops rescuing suicidal woman on overpass
04:47 Video of Denver mayor's son berating Colorado cops
12:21 Video of shoplifter pulling gun and firing on NM cops

LEO Round Table (law enforcement talk show)

Episode 653 filmed on 09/04/2018

Chip DeBlock (Host)
Luke Lirot (Attorney)
Kevin Bouis (Attorney)
Cody Ann Cook

Schedule:
1 hour LIVE show every Monday at 7 pm EST
Episodes uploaded to YouTube Tue - Sun at approx. 4 pm EST

Topic 1 concerns a video of Fort Worth (Texas) Police officers Trae Cierzan and Justin Henry saving a suicidal woman who was attempting to jump from an overpass.

https://www.policeone.com/police-hero...

Topic 2 concerns a video leaked by Aurora (Colorado) Police officers Paul Timmons and Judy Gurley-Lutkin showing driver Jordan Hancock berating officers with foul language as he bragged that his father (Michael Hancock) was the mayor of Denver. Both officer were suspended.

https://www.policeone.com/Patrol-Vide...

Topic 3 concerns a video of Albuquerque (New Mexico) Police officers Kyle Frederickson and Brock Knippwrath chasing shoplifter Charles Purvis at a Walmart when Purvis produced a firearm from just a few feet away and fired at the officers.

https://www.policeone.com/officer-sho...
 

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Dear Cops - Be Careful What You Post Online!
officer401


Published on Sep 7, 2018
 

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Police name white cop who shot dead her black neighbor
Police name white cop who shot dead her black neighbor after she 'mistakenly walked into his apartment thinking it was her own' as video shows officer crying on phone while paramedics try to revive victim

  • Amber Guyger returned from shift and entered the wrong apartment, she says
  • Belonged to 26-year-old Botham Jean, who died in hospital after she shot him
  • Jean was from St Lucia and studied at Harding University before joining PwC
  • New footage shows female officer crying on a walkway outside the apartment
  • Moments later medics rush past pulling Guyger on a trolley administering CPR
  • Guyger also shot someone in 2017, this time a suspect who had taken her Taser

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6147459/Police-white-cop-shot-dead-black-neighbor.html
 

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Dramatic footage shows police shootout at point-blank range in LA
Horrifying moment a police officer is shot at POINT BLANK range and her partner returns fire in a split second to kill gangster during routine stop-gone-wrong

  • WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
  • Los Angeles police release shocking video of a suspect getting shot by officers
  • Gangster Richard Mendoza, 32, fired at both officers at point-blank range
  • Mendoza died after he was hit 'multiple times' in the head and torso by officers
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...e-shootout-point-blank-range-Los-Angeles.html
 

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Seven NYPD officers 'ran a prostitution and gambling ring' as years-long investigation also results in arrest of more than 40 others

  • NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau busts up prostitution ring in Brooklyn, Queens
  • Three sergeants, two detectives, and two officers were among those arrested
  • A retired vice detective and his prostitute wife were also among those arrested
  • Authorities allege that the couple ran multiple brothels in Queens and Brooklyn
  • Investigation entailed 'hundreds of hours of surveillance and multiple wiretaps'
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...n-prostitution-gambling-ring-40-arrested.html
 

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Ohio police officer gets 43 years in prison for sexually assaulting four women while on duty

  • Justin Sanderson, 33, an officer in the Montgomery County village of Phillipsburg, said in court that he still considers himself innocent
  • He was found guilty of rape, kidnapping and gross sexual imposition during a bench trial in late August
  • The Huber Heights resident was arrested in July 2017 after two women told police they had agreed to have sex at a motel with a person from Backpage.com
  • Sanderson was said to have gone in the room with his uniform and told the woman that they had a warning, later coming back to have sex with them
  • Two more women came forward after he was arrested
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6161111/Police-officer-gets-43-years-duty-sex-assaults.html
 

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RAW Bodycam Footage: Man bitten by K-9 Sues MCSO for Torture
PoliceActivity


Published on Sep 13, 2018
** (Disclaimer: This video content is intended for educational and informational purposes only) **
A tubing trip at the Salt River last year ended with a Phoenix man arrested and bitten by a K-9. Now, the man has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office for excessive force and misconduct. Shane McGough, 27, claims deputies allowed the dog to torture him while he was handcuffed, with the incident captured on camera McGough said it all began as he and his friends were about to leave the Salt River. There was an argument in the parking lot over a car accident, and MCSO deputies got involved. McGough was taken into custody, and later, while he was in a holding cell, bitten by a k-9. "It's just unfathomable because I was handcuffed, defenseless, pinned down," said McGough. McGough calls the incident "torture", and bodycam video of the incident was captured inside a holding cell. Earlier, there was a confrontation between McGough and MCSO deputies. "He grabs my throat, and I'm pinned up against the car there," said McGough. "It was just a reaction. I didn't think once I realized I can't breathe, I reacted and punched him in the face." The second deputy joined the scuffle, and was seriously injured. McGough was handcuffed and taken into custody. McGough admits he was verbally aggressive, but denies being violent. He ended up taking a plea deal and went to jail for aggravated assault.

"I have taken responsibility on my end. I did six months in jail. I have a felony conviction, but never has the Sheriff's Office said, 'we're sorry. This shouldn't have happened,'" said McGough. Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone described McGough's actions as "extremely violent". He says one deputy suffered a broken leg and broken ribs during the fight with McGough, and may not be able to continue his career as a deputy. "I met with that deputy several times. To see where he is mentally and physically disgusts me," said Penzone. "I am always set back when we have to use force, but I will defend the force when it's necessary to use." McGough claims he graduated from Arizona State University two years ago with a degree in Business Communications. He was fired from his job after the incident, and says his felony conviction is keeping him from working in his career choice. Meanwhile, an internal investigation into the deputies' use of force is ongoing, and Sheriff Penzone says he will hold deputies accountable, if it's determined the actions were indeed excessive.

The K9 officer that deployed his K9 filed a report on the incident, which reads in part:
“During the escort, I verbally advised McGough to comply with the deputy and if he fought, he would get bit by the canine. We were able to enter the jail portion of Blue Point and into an open and empty jail cell. While in the cell, McGough continued to resist as Deputy Jackson was attempting to remove the handcuffs, which McGough had slipped to the front of his body from the position previously secured behind his back when he was placed into the patrol vehicle for transport. McGough began lunging at Deputy Jackson and was physically fighting, including kicking Officer K. Fleming from the US Forest Service. The fight went to the ground and I deployed Canine Shadow on a placement bite on McGough's upper rear portion of his right leg. McGough was still actively resisting and fighting. McGough was also kicking me while the canine was on the bite. The canine bite altered McGough's behavior and he even stated he would stop fighting if we removed the dog. When it was safe to do so, I removed Canine Shadow from the bite using a tactical out method.”
 

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LEOs Who Treat Law Enforcement As A Job Instead Of A Profession - LEO Round Table episode 655
LEO Round Table


Published on Sep 11, 2018
00:53 LEOs who treat law enforcement as a job instead of profess

LEO Round Table (law enforcement talk show)

Episode 655 filmed on 09/10/2018

Chip DeBlock (Host)
Luke Lirot (Attorney)
Bret Bartlett
David D'Agresta
Cody Ann Cook

Schedule:
1 hour LIVE show every Monday at 7 pm EST
Episodes uploaded to YouTube Tue - Sun at approx. 4 pm EST

Topic 1 concerns a panel discussion on law enforcement officers (LEOs) who treat law enforcement as a Job instead of a Profession.
 

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The shocking moment gang member points gun in police officer’s face before shooting him twice during a routine traffic stop

  • John Ezell Jr, 36, points gun at officers, then jumps out from the car and shoots
  • Officer Ken Fortune was left hospitalised after Ezell shot him in the shoulder
  • Ezell will be charged with two counts of attempted murder, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, two counts of use of a weapon to commit a felony
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ace-officer-routine-stop-shooting-police.html
 

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Milwaukee cop who was involved in the controversial stun-gun arrest of NBA star Sterling Brown is FIRED for making racist social media posts in the aftermath

  • Police Chief Alfonso Morales said the firing decision was not tied to anything Erik Andrade did when Sterling Brown was arrested
  • Brown sued the police department in June and accused officers of using excessive force and targeting him because he's black
  • Andrade later mocked Brown on Facebook for his arrest
  • 'Nice meeting Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks at work this morning! Lol#FearTheDeer,' one Facebook post read
  • Morales said in a statement that Andrade's posts violate the department's social media policies.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...fficer-involved-NBA-players-arrest-fired.html
 

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PICTURED: Six NYPD cops charged with operating brothel ring appear in court as it's claimed they had sex with prostitutes while on duty

  • Ludwig Paz, 51, and Arelis Peralta were named in an indictment on Thursday
  • Paz is allegedly the ringleader of the prostitution ring which took in $2million between 2016 and 2017
  • He is a retired Vice detective who allegedly used his police knowledge to evade capture
  • He paid for information from active cops and gave them discounts at his brothels in exchange for protection, it is claimed
  • The pair allegedly ran seven of the organization's eight brothels and also operated an illegal lottery racket
  • They were indicted along with seven active NYPD cops and 40 others as part of the sweep
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...D-cops-charged-running-prostitution-ring.html
 

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The Lawyers Protecting the N.Y.P.D. Play Hardball. Judges Are Calling Them Out.

NYT
By ALAN FEUER
1 hr ago


In one case, lawyers for the City of New York missed several filing deadlines and disobeyed court orders. An angry federal judge said they had “blown off” instructions, which he said was “outrageous.”

In another case, lawyers from the same legal unit never fully investigated an excessive-force complaint against the police and then neglected 14 orders to produce discovery evidence. A judge called their behavior “egregious.”

In a third case, the city lawyers took more than a year to give a man who had sued the police a recording of his questioning from the day of his arrest. The prolonged delay, a judge remarked, was “negligent, if not grossly negligent.”

All of the lawyers worked for what is known as the Special Federal Litigation Division, an elite team in the city’s Law Department that deals with some of the most important and politically sensitive cases the city has to fight: allegations of police misconduct.

Special Fed, as the team is often called, has great success in defeating suits against the police and corrections officers. But it has also been repeatedly accused by civil-rights lawyers — and at least six federal judges — of engaging in a pattern of obstructionist behavior.

City officials note that Special Fed has received judicial censure in only a fraction of the 1,400 cases the unit is currently handling. Each of those cases is complex, they say, often including dozens of requests for discovery materials that can tax the roughly 100 lawyers on the team.

“The feedback this office has received from the federal judiciary has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Nicholas Paolucci, a Law Department spokesman. “While we work diligently to meet our discovery obligations, the sheer volume of cases can lead to occasional unintended delays in production. The city has no interest in prolonging litigation unnecessarily.”

Patricia Miller, who has run Special Fed since 2015, said in an interview that the unit had succeeded in its central mission of defending the police by fighting lawsuits more aggressively in recent years.

“For years, there was this idea that you could hang up a shingle, file a lawsuit and get a few bucks,” Ms. Miller told The Chief, a municipal union publication. “Sue the Police Department, or sue the city in general, and we’ll go from there. Those days are done.”

This aggressive stance has led to courtroom victories and also warded off frivolous lawsuits, Ms. Miller said. Even at a moment of cultural and media scrutiny of the police, new misconduct suits have dropped by almost half in recent years, she noted, and her team won 88 percent of the 44 cases it took to trial last year.

Still, the unit’s tactics have drawn the ire of several federal judges.

Take the case of Karen Brown, who sued a group of officers three years ago after her son, Barrington Williams, died in police custody in 2013.

Mr. Williams, 25, had been selling MetroCard swipes inside the Yankee Stadium subway station. When he fled the police, an officer gave chase and tackled him to the ground.

A lifelong asthma patient, Mr. Williams suddenly stopped breathing. He was dead 10 minutes later when an ambulance arrived.

Ms. Brown claimed in her suit that the officers involved in the arrest should have saved her son with CPR and used a defibrillator to restart his heart. One was stored at a stadium police post less than a minute away.

The suit was the sort of litigation the city might have settled in the past. But today, Ms. Brown is still engaged in a protracted legal fight with Special Fed.

First, court papers say, lawyers from the unit took their time providing discovery on the basic facts of the case, and also dragged their feet in making two firefighters who treated Mr. Williams available for depositions. There were further delays producing documents about the CPR training the officers had received.

This spring, when Ms. Brown’s lawyers asked Special Fed if any of the officers had violated Police Department policies by not providing medical attention, lawyers from the unit first claimed the request wasn’t “relevant.” Then they filed an incomplete answer to the question, asked for more time to respond and eventually missed their own extended deadline. When they finally submitted a response — the officers hadn’t violated any policy or procedure — they broke court procedure. The document was never formally signed by the defendants.

Last month, losing patience, a Manhattan judge ordered the lawyers to explain the delays in a formal memorandum, adding that they needed to get it personally signed by Ms. Miller to ensure “she has approved.”

“There have been fights about the most unnecessary things,” Joshua Moskovitz, one of Ms. Brown’s lawyers, said. “There have been fights about things they know they can’t win and fights where it seems like they’re just fighting. It actually feels tactical at times. It happens too often to be coincidental.”

Similar problems have plagued other cases. In July, for instance, a Brooklyn magistrate judge said he was considering referring a Special Fed lawyer to the court’s grievance committee for a “very troubling” violation of professional rules. The lawyer had refused to let the plaintiff’s lawyer in a police-misconduct lawsuit use the Law Department’s phones to call the judge to question a line of inquiry during a deposition.

Last November, another Brooklyn judge excoriated Special Fed lawyers for ignoring their ethical obligations after it emerged that they knew a plaintiff had accidentally sued the wrong detective for malicious prosecution and moved to dismiss the case — instead of promptly telling the man of his mistake.

A few months earlier, a different Brooklyn judge sanctioned the city after one of the unit’s lawyers “acted improperly” at an officer’s deposition, objecting nearly 600 times to questions, even though many were deemed to be “relevant to the case.”

Special Fed itself was born in 1998, when federal civil-rights lawsuits against the police were rising dramatically, spurred in part by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s new zero-tolerance law-enforcement strategy. The suits had been traditionally handled by the Law Department’s general litigation division.

More than a decade later, with no sign of police-related lawsuits slowing down, Police Department executives complained that the city was settling too many cases and did not have their officers’ backs, plaintiffs’ lawyers and city officials said.

“The Police Department was angry at the time,” said Richard D. Emery, a veteran civil-rights lawyer who also once ran the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board. “They didn’t feel represented by their own attorneys.”

And so in 2011, the Law Department, under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, created what it called the Trial Initiative, a program in which Special Fed took more cases to trial and assumed a more aggressive posture in settlement negotiations. Ms. Miller was promoted to lead the effort, and the number of cases the city took to trial grew from about a dozen a year to sometimes more than triple that.

Four years later, in consultation with police officials and unions, Mayor Bill de Blasio bolstered the work of Special Fed by establishing a 40-person legal team inside the Police Department to help defend against civil-rights lawsuits. The new team, Mr. de Blasio noted at the time, was “a practical response” to the “cynical reality of lawyers trying to scam the system.”

Ms. Miller said the two efforts had not only protected officers against so-called nuisance lawsuits, but also made the police more accountable. “Putting cases in front of a jury is how we hear from the public — it’s like a focus group,” she said.

But several plaintiff’s attorneys said that after the city altered its approach, Special Fed lawyers stepped up delay and obstructionist tactics to make it harder for plaintiffs to prevail.

“They will use every trick in the book to prolong a case and wear down the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s lawyers, delaying discovery and basically making fights over nothing,” said Joel B. Rudin, a lawyer who has fought against the unit numerous times in his career.

Mr. Rudin said the unit’s hardball tactics have continued under Mayor de Blasio, even though the mayor has a record of settling high-profile suits against the police. Mr. de Blasio agreed to pay up to $75 million to end litigation over the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk strategy. He also settled the case of the Central Park Five, a suit brought by men wrongfully convicted of the 1989 rape of a jogger.

Eric Phillips, a spokesman for the mayor, said that Mr. de Blasio “demands city litigators be as principled and aggressive on high-profile cases as they are in the hundreds of more mundane cases they handle every day.”

On Aug. 20, Special Fed filed its memo to Chief Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein, explaining what went wrong in the case of Karen Brown.

The city lawyers “sincerely” apologized for what they called a “failure to comply with the applicable court orders” but said the mistakes didn’t ultimately affect the case. After receiving the memo, Judge Gorenstein acknowledged that their “delay and inaction” was “indicative of negligence, not willfulness.”

Either way, Ms. Brown has been waiting years for her suit to be resolved.

“There’s just no words,” she said. “My heart can’t take any more.”

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/th...es-are-calling-them-out/ar-BBNfdOo?ocid=ientp
 

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US Border Patrol agent in Texas is suspected of murdering four women and abducting a fifth, authorities say

  • Juan David Ortiz was arrested on Saturday morning
  • Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar announced the arrest at a news conference
  • Three bodies have been found in the northwest area of the county this month
  • The body of 29-year-old Melissa Ramirez was found near Laredo on September 4
  • On Thursday a second victim, 42-year-old Claudine Anne Luera, was found fatally wounded off a roadway not far from where the previous body was
  • A third body was reportedly found in the area Friday night or Saturday morning
  • Cuellar said authorities are investigating whether there may be a fourth body
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ted-murdering-four-women-abducting-fifth.html
 

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How respected NYPD detective fell on hard times after divorce before 'setting up a two million dollar gambling and brothel ring to fund a lavish lifestyle with his second wife'

  • Details emerged in the downfall of former NYPD vice detective Ludwig Paz, 51
  • Paz and Arelis Peralta were indicted for running a prostitution ring on Thursday
  • Allegedly made $2 million a year running brothels and illegal gambling rooms
  • Paz is accused of using his police knowledge and contacts to evade capture
  • Now sources reveal he fell on hard financial times after his bitter 2008 divorce
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...YPD-detective-prime-suspect-brothel-ring.html
 

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An officer with PTSD fatally shot a mentally ill man. He's still on the force

Tribune News Service
By Molly Sullivan, The Sacramento Bee
3 hrs ago


LOS BANOS, Calif. - Los Banos police Officer Jairo Acosta knew he had post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in the Army.

On a medical questionnaire, he reported severe hearing loss and blurry vision, severe anxiousness and recurring tense feelings. He wrote that he struggled with forgetfulness and had difficulty concentrating, according to evidence admitted in court. He also reported having a very low frustration tolerance and that his symptoms were affecting his social life, marriage and work.

He never told his superiors about those problems, and continued to patrol the streets of this rural farming town in Merced County.

In 2013, Acosta shot and killed a schizophrenic man during a domestic disturbance call. In a narrow bedroom hallway, Acosta said Sonny Lam, 43, attacked him with scissors, leaving him no choice but to use deadly force.

Last month, a federal jury in Sacramento gave a resounding vote of no confidence to Acosta's version of events and said his conduct was "malicious, oppressive or in reckless disregard" of Lam's constitutional rights. They awarded Lam's family $2.75 million. Only about a half-dozen cases involving police use of force have yielded sums that large in shootings in the Sacramento region during the past 15 years.

The case provides an unusual look into the mental health and disciplinary history of a California police officer. In California, the privacy of law enforcement personnel is closely guarded by the Police Officers' Bill of Rights - a protection that was hotly debated in the state Legislature this year after the high-profile shooting of Stephon Clark in Sacramento. The Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 1421, which would force law enforcement agencies to release the details of use-of-force investigations, as well as personnel records of cops who commit crimes while on duty. The bill is on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk.

In a rare occurrence, Melissa Nold, the civil rights attorney representing the Lam family, was able to win access to Acosta's medical records. She said more routine access to this type of information could prevent incidents like the Lam shooting and provide better policies and practices for law enforcement.

"Transparency allows for different observations from different people who have different skill sets," Nold said. "When things become public, that puts us in a position to demand policy changes. The only ways those changes are made is with public pressure. The only way you get public pressure is when the public knows."

Acosta could not be reached for comment. Dale Allen, Acosta's attorney, said the litigation was ongoing and Acosta could not comment on it until it came to a close.

"We respectfully disagree with the jury," Allen said.

The victim

On Sept. 2, 2013, Acosta responded to a non-urgent assault call. Acosta saw then-80-year-old Tan Lam, Sonny's father, standing outside. Tan, a Vietnamese immigrant, told the officer in the little English he knew that his son was inside and he'd "lost his mind."

They had argued over car keys. Sonny pushed his father, tried to slap him and told him to stay out of his room, Tan said.

Sonny had been off his medications for months, and his father called the police hoping they would take his son to a "special hospital" where he would get treatment, according to court testimony. The younger Lam had been diagnosed with schizophrenia while working as an engineer in San Jose, his sister Mimi Lam said. He had demanded his parents take him to the hospital because he said the government had put a chip in his leg and he had to get it out, she said. "That's when we found out he had schizophrenia."

Slowly, the disease began to eat away at the life he had worked to build since immigrating to the United States as a teenager. He would hear voices, see things and talk back to those voices, Mimi said. When he could no longer keep up with his engineering work, Sonny went to work at a family member's restaurant in Paso Robles and eventually moved to Los Banos with his parents, where he - with the help of medications - became their full-time caretaker.

He took his parents to doctor's appointments, did the cooking and grocery shopping and paid the bills, Tan said.

But then it all stopped. "He stopped taking the medication and his mind was not clear and his health was weak," Tan said in court with the help of an interpreter.

Tan and Mimi said they sought help from a mental health rehabilitation facility, looking for a way to get Sonny back on his medications, but they said they could not because he was over 18. They advised Tan to wait until Sonny's condition worsened and then call the police.

On the day he died, Sonny Lam retreated to his room after arguing with his dad.

Tan drove to a friend's house and asked her to call 911 because she spoke more English than he did.

The shooting

Acosta arrived to what he thought was an "assault" call at the Lam home, according to court documents. Tan was standing outside and Acosta observed that Tan had blood on his lip, court documents say.

Acosta entered and found Sonny in his room, sitting in a swivel chair wearing only jersey shorts, according to court testimony. Sonny was extremely protective of his room, Tan said in court documents. He would become agitated and upset when people tried to enter.

Acosta entered, put his hand on Sonny's shoulder, and tried to get him to leave the room. Sonny did not budge and swatted his hand away, court records said.

Then, according to Tan, Acosta "challenged" Sonny, saying "beat me, beat me," but Sonny didn't hit the officer.

Acosta testified in court he never made that challenge, and Sonny hit him without provocation.

The two men struggled. Acosta had ordered Tan to wait in the hallway, Tan said in court.

Acosta said in court Sonny came at him "with what I thought at the time was a knife," and stabbed him in the forearm, above the wrist. That attack tore a hole that appeared to be smaller that the buttonhole on the shirt cuff but broke the skin, according to photos shown in court.

A knife was never found, but investigators took red-handled scissors into evidence

Acosta pulled his .45-caliber pistol and said he fired his first shot after Sonny grabbed the barrel, trying to take it away. The bullet went through Sonny's right lower leg and lodged in the bedroom floor, court records show. Acosta then backed into the hallway because his gun jammed. As he tried to fix it, he said, Sonny advanced with the scissors again, making a stabbing motion. Acosta fired a second fatal shot, court documents say.

The autopsy report found Sonny Lam had no markings or gunshot residue to indicate that he had touched the gun or was close enough to it for them to show up.

There were no stippling abrasions, soot or muzzle burns on Sonny's body, said Merced County medical examiner Dr. Mark Super in court.

Tan only heard the shots, but he came around the corner to see his son on the floor, bleeding and crying out in pain, he said. He watched Sonny wheeled out on a stretcher by police officers. He found out his son was dead later that night after giving his statement at the police station.

The cop

Acosta was not criminally charged for Sonny's death, nor was he disciplined for not disclosing his diagnosis. But the jury didn't agree with Acosta's version of events, saying in the verdict that they didn't believe Sonny grabbed Acosta's gun prior to the first shot or that he approached Acosta with scissors before the second shot.

Chief Gary Brizzee of the Los Banos Police Department said an internal investigation after the shooting cleared Acosta of breaking department policies or procedures. He said he was unsure if Acosta's PTSD diagnosis was known to the department of if it factored into the investigation.

"I'm sad and disappointed in the verdict in this case, and the city is appealing the verdict," Brizzee said.

He said if the diagnosis were true, the department "would follow up on that," but at this point no further investigation was planned.

Acosta's PTSD came to light when attorneys for the Lam family reviewed Acosta's disciplinary record and noticed a trend.

"When I reviewed his disciplinary history, a couple of the incidents to me showed hyper-vigilance, things that startled him that would not usually spark a startle response," said Nold, the Lam family attorney. "Those things sparked what to me I knew to be PTSD, so that started the inquiry."

"If nothing else this guy needs to be evaluated, and he hasn't been," she said.

Before joining the Police Department, Acosta was assigned to an artillery unit in the Army and was deployed to Iraq in 2005, where he served as an infantryman, Allen said.

Sitting expressionless in court in August, Acosta still has a military bearing with a shaved head and square posture, his hands often clasped in front of him.

Acosta said in court he started experiencing symptoms in 2010, feeling anxious and on edge.

While in Iraq, Acosta was exposed to improvised explosive devices, known as IEDs, which doctors say gave him a mild traumatic brain injury, according to a court deposition.

Traumatic brain injuries are essentially concussions, according to the National Center for PTSD, and often affect soldiers and veterans who encountered explosions, commonly from IEDs. Many people who suffer traumatic brain injuries develop PTSD, according to the center.

That year, he was reprimanded at work for kicking in a door after he thought someone inside a house had thrown a rock at his patrol car, disciplinary records admitted as evidence in court showed. No one was in the house, and the police department admonished him for damaging the door.

He said he kicked the door because "he was pissed off," according to court documents.

His symptoms were exacerbated by a demanding work schedule on the graveyard shift and the stress associated with raising two young children, Acosta said in court. After a year of wrestling with the ups and downs, his wife asked him to get help, and in February 2011 he tried to, he said.

While waiting for his appointment at the VA Medical Center in Fresno, Acosta was asked to rate the severity of his symptoms on a survey, and for the first time, he reported the extent of his mounting problems, a court deposition showed. An attorney for the Lam family read his responses in court; Acosta circled 3's and 4's indicating his symptoms were severe and very severe.

After an 80-minute conversation, a VA clinical psychologist diagnosed Acosta with chronic PTSD, and scheduled a follow-up appointment. But he never showed. Nor did he seek out any further professional treatment - and he never told his police department, court testimony showed.

Acosta later filed for disability with the VA, but his claim was denied because of his lack of follow-up, according to court testimony. His problems at work continued, however.

A year after his diagnosis, in 2011, Acosta unholstered his gun and told a community service officer to "go to the (expletive)police department." The community service officer later filed a complaint and the department reprimanded him for "discourteousness," according to court records.

Allen, Acosta's lawyer, said he will file a motion this week with the intent of eventually appealing the verdict in the Lam case.

"We do believe that the only evidence in this case supports that Officer Acosta was under a lethal threat," Allen said. " ... We believe that evidence will support and did support that he was under an immediate threat. The jury disagreed with us. It was a highly emotionally charged case and I think that emotion may have carried the verdict."

The aftermath

Tan now lives alone in the same Los Banos home. Faint bloodstains from his son are still visible in the hallway carpet. His wife, who was hospitalized at the time of the shooting, died a year after Sonny.

Sonny's room is mostly empty and the door is usually kept closed. His clothes still hang in the closet, new socks are still in a plastic bag from the store. Sonny has been gone for five years, but the odor of his cigarettes still lingers in his room.

"I come in here every now and then to visit my son," Tan said, his daughter Mimi translating for him.

Acosta is still on active duty and now works as a detective in Los Banos. He still has not reported his diagnosis to the Los Banos Police Department, according to Allen.

Ed Obayashi, a deputy sheriff in Plumas County and use-of-force expert, said officers are obligated to report conditions to their department that may affect their work.

"If you can't do your job, you're supposed to report it to your supervisor," he said. "That's just dereliction of duty, period."

"It's not a crime to not report it, but If you fail to disclose that, as a peace officer you could be subject to discipline up to and including termination," Obayashi said.

The Lams were not aware that Acosta remained at the department, and said it causes them further pain to know he is still on the force without having received treatment for his PTSD.

"Wow, that would break my dad's heart," Mimi said. "I mean, you know, we went through all this. It's just about justice for my brother but also that, I mean, there should be consequences, you know, for (Acosta's) wrongdoing. ... I thought after all the evidence came out, there should be some changes."

Visit The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) at www.sacbee.com

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/an...-hes-still-on-the-force/ar-BBNoB7i?ocid=ientp
 

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Are You Prepared For Street Survival? The Bad Guy Is! - LEO Round Table episode 660
LEO Round Table


Published on Sep 16, 2018
00:53 Accidental discharge of AR-15 by Houston cop in airport
04:18 New "Street Survival" update, the Bible of Survival

LEO Round Table (law enforcement talk show)

Episode 660 filmed on 09/10/2018

Chip DeBlock (Host)
Luke Lirot (Attorney)
Bret Bartlett
David D'Agresta
Cody Ann Cook
Gary Gilkey

Schedule:
1 hour LIVE show every Monday at 7 pm EST
Episodes uploaded to YouTube Tue - Sun at approx. 4 pm EST

Topic 1 concerns an on-duty Houston (Texas) Police officer who accidentally discharged his AR-15 rifle in the baggage area of the Hobby Airport.

https://www.policeone.com/officer-sho...

Topic 2 concerns an update to author Charles Remsberg's "Street Survival, Tactics for Armed Encounters" which is affectionately known as the Police Officer's Bible of Survival. The new and updated book, "Street Survival II, Tactics for Deadly Encounters", was written by Jim Glennon (Calibre Press) and Lt. Dan Marcou.

https://www.policeone.com/Officer-Saf...
 

TAEZZAR

LADY JUSTICE ISNT BLIND, SHES JUST AFRAID TO WATCH
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US Border Patrol agent in Texas is suspected of murdering four women and abducting a fifth, authorities say

  • Juan David Ortiz was arrested on Saturday morning
  • Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar announced the arrest at a news conference
  • Three bodies have been found in the northwest area of the county this month
  • The body of 29-year-old Melissa Ramirez was found near Laredo on September 4
  • On Thursday a second victim, 42-year-old Claudine Anne Luera, was found fatally wounded off a roadway not far from where the previous body was
  • A third body was reportedly found in the area Friday night or Saturday morning
  • Cuellar said authorities are investigating whether there may be a fourth body
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ted-murdering-four-women-abducting-fifth.html
I think he should talk with this cop, she has a great way of finding excuses ! They are both in Texas, so it should be easy ! :belly laugh:

“Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall said Guyger had left work on Thursday night and entered what "she believed to be her apartment," when she encountered Jean and fatally shot him. It is unclear if the two had any interaction before the shooting, police said.“
 

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Jury is shown video of the white officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times as he walked away as his defense attorney dramatically holds up victim's knife

  • Prosecutors on Monday showed jurors video of Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times
  • Van Dyke is facing first degree murder charge for the 2014 Chicago killing
  • His defense attorney held up the knife McDonald was holding at the time of death
  • Attorney Daniel Herbert dramatically motioned with the 3-inch blade to jurors
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...cide-police-officers-trial-stays-Chicago.html
 

TAEZZAR

LADY JUSTICE ISNT BLIND, SHES JUST AFRAID TO WATCH
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The kid was a POS, BUT he posed no danger at the time the video shooting occurred. Pepper spray would have worked just fine.
The shooting was not justified. Hang the cop !
 

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Excited Delirium Dangers For Law Enforcement - LEO Round Table episode 661
LEO Round Table


Published on Sep 18, 2018
01:15 Study reveals danger for LEOs encountering excited delirium

LEO Round Table (law enforcement talk show)

Episode 661 filmed on 09/17/2018

Chip DeBlock (Host)
Luke Lirot (Attorney)
Bret Bartlett (retired Captain)
David D'Agresta (retired Corporal)
Cody Ann Cook (active Officer)
John Newman (retired Assistant Chief)

Schedule:
1 hour LIVE show every Monday at 7 pm EST
Episodes uploaded to YouTube Tue - Sun at approx. 4 pm EST

Topic 1 concerns a new study by Simon Baldwin for Advanced Force Science that shows heavily increased dangers for law enforcement when dealing with people experiencing excited delirium. Reference was made to the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, police use-of-force and the Force Science Institute.

https://www.policeone.com/Officer-Saf...
 

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Two Memphis police officers turned their cameras off, and one never had theirs on before shooting of man, 25, after a traffic stop

  • Three police officers did not have their body cameras on when a man was shot
  • Officers fired at Martavious Banks, 25, during a confrontation on Monday
  • Banks was left in a critical condition in hospital, and community protests began
  • Two officers deactivated their cameras, while it is not clear if the third, who fired the shot, ever had theirs turned on
  • All three have been stood down from duty pending an investigation
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...cry-police-shooting-man-remains-critical.html
 

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New Jersey sheriff is caught on secret recording making 'appalling' racist remark lamenting that pot legalization will 'let the blacks come in and do whatever the f**k they want'

  • Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino allegedly made the remarks in January
  • Secret tape records conversation in reaction to new governor's inauguration
  • Saudino, a Democrat, blasts governor's remarks about marijuana legalization
  • Laments that policy will 'let the blacks come in, do whatever the f**k they want'
  • Says Sikh Attorney General Gurbir Grewal was appointed due to 'the turban'
  • Then ponders whether new Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who is unmarried, is a lesbian
  • Democrat Governor Phil Murphy called for Saudino's resignation on Thursday
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...caught-secret-tape-making-racist-remarks.html