Another instance of police abuse! What a coincidence; I have a man coming in this morning with a similar tale; the cop shattered his teeth on Friday.
Excerpts from the Article:
A federal lawsuit has been filed against a Wilmington police officer seen on social media repeatedly slamming a man’s head during an arrest last month inside a Southbridge convenience store.
In addition to using “excessive force,” the lawsuit filed in Wilmington’s U.S. District Court claims Wilmington Patrolman Samuel Waters used a racial slur when arresting 44-year-old Dwayne Brown who is Black. Waters is white.
The lawsuit, filed by the Jacobs & Crumplar Law Firm, claims Waters called Brown the N-word.
“Such racial statements are reflective of his state of mind and discriminatory intent in this incident,” the lawsuit states.
Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki’s office issued a statement Monday afternoon.
“While we can’t comment on pending legal matters, we can confirm that an officer was placed on administrative duty related to this matter, and that an investigation of the incident is continuing which we hope to have wrapped up as quickly as possible,” Purzycki’s Deputy Chief of Staff John Rago said.
Wilmington police, who placed Waters on administrative duty before the video of the Sept. 21 incident went viral, said its Office of Professional Standards immediately launched an investigation into what the video captured.
No public press release about Brown’s arrest or the investigation was issued by the department until a Delaware Online/The News Journal reporter asked about the incident.
It was not known Monday what Waters’ current status is with the department. . The Wilmington Police Department has not released the officer’s name, but said he has been on the force for three years.
The lawsuit, which names only Waters as a defendant, claims Brown’s constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable seizures guaranteed to him by the Fourth and 14th Amendments were violated.
The suit seeks that Brown be awarded, among other things, compensatory and punitive damages. The lawsuit states that the repeated slamming during the arrest has caused Brown to suffer serious physical and emotional injuries.
A press release issued by Brown’s lawyers asks that anyone who knows of other incidents of “improper actions” by Waters to come forward.
Attorney Thomas C. Crumplar gives remarks during a press conference earlier this month in which he asked for full transparency in an incident where his client was slammed into a plexiglass wall by a Wilmington officer.
Earlier this month, civil rights activists called for Waters’ firing and arrest.
Members of the Delaware NAACP also said they want the resignation of Wilmington Police Chief Robert J. Tracy and a federal investigation of the Wilmington Police Department and other police agencies that have continuously mistreated people of color in the state.
“This incident is just the one straw that broke the camel’s back,” New Castle County Councilman Jea Street said during an Oct. 4 press conference.
The activists and Brown’s lawyers have urged the department to release Water’s body camera footage.
The incident, however, was captured on surveillance video and shared widely on social media.
The video shows Brown inside 3 C’s Food Market in Southbridge ready to leave when he stops to let a man on crutches enter. Brown then appears to start speaking to someone.
That’s when the officer appears in the frame.
The officer grabs Brown’s right wrist and begins to turn him, putting Brown’s right hand on plexiglass near the cashier. Brown, who is turning his head over his right shoulder, can be seen saying something to the officer.
As the officer has Brown turned toward the plexiglass, the officer then grabs Brown’s left wrist and, with his body, slams Brown toward the plexiglass. This, according to the lawsuit, occurred despite Brown not being “combative, physically aggressive, actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.”
The officer then takes his left hand and grabs the back of Brown’s head, banging it twice against the plexiglass before taking Brown down. Both the officer and Brown then disappear from view.
The lawsuit claims Waters never identified himself as a police officer and that he did not give a warning that use of force would be used as the department directive requires.
According to the lawsuit, Brown was taken outside the store where Waters continued to use excessive force. During this time, Brown feared he would end up being killed, according to the lawsuit.
“Given the current national climate regarding police brutality and in light of the Eric Garner, George Floyd, and countless other cases involving members of law enforcement killing black men, Mr. Brown was in fear for his life when he was brutally beaten and slammed against the convenience store wall,” the lawsuit states.
Dwayne Brown, right, whose head was slammed by a Wilmington officer, attends a press conference at Spencer Plaza in Wilmington on Oct. 4, 2021. The resignation of Wilmington’s police chief and the arrest and firing of the officer was sought.
All of this occurred despite police knowing that Brown had no violent adult criminal record or history of violence as an adult, the lawsuit states.
The officer said in court documents that Brown has a “no contact” order prohibiting him from being on New Castle Avenue, the street on which 3C’s is located. The no-contact order stems from a May incident in which Brown was charged with possession of marijuana and a controlled substance.
That case is pending in Superior Court.
After his September arrest, Brown was charged with two counts of harassment, resisting arrest, breach of release and possession of marijuana. Brown was released on $4,100 unsecured bail.
Another good reason to expand the Court. Cops should be accountable, like everyone else.
Excerpts from the Article:
In two unsigned opinions Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of police officers seeking qualified immunity from allegations of excessive force.
In both cases, the justices overturned lower court decisions that went against the officers.
The rulings — and the fact that no justice publicly dissented — suggests that the court is not willing, at least for now, to radically transform how it considers qualified immunity cases.
Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine, developed by the courts, that shields law enforcement from liability for constitutional violations including allegations of excessive force. In recent years, legal scholars, lawmakers and judges have criticized the doctrine, arguing that it is not grounded in the proper legal authorities and too often shields officials from accountability. Calls for the court to take a substantial new look at the doctrine intensified after the killing of George Floyd in 2020.
Under existing precedent, an officer is not liable, even if he or she violates the Constitution, unless it was “clearly established” by prior cases that the conduct at issue was unconstitutional. Critics say that bar is too high and forces those claiming excessive force to search for a prior case with nearly identical facts.
Last term, there were two instances where the court wiped away lower court opinions that had granted qualified immunity to government officials, leading some to believe the court was moving in a new direction to chip away at the doctrine.
But on Monday, the justices made clear that last term’s cases were outliers, and that the traditional framework could stand.
“Monday’s cases are further evidence that the Supreme Court is not going to reconsider the fundamentals of the doctrine and the justices are reaffirming the general idea that in most cases plaintiffs still need to find a nearly identical precedent to make their case,” said Jay Schweikert, a research fellow the Cato Institute who studies the issue.
“This means that until and unless Congress addresses qualified immunity, public officials can continue to violate people’s rights with impunity” Schweikert said.
Police face a ‘crisis of trust’ with Black motorists. One state’s surprising policy may help. VA is the first state to ban low level traffic stops.
This is what happens when the police are so racist and out of control.
Excerpts from the Article:
In the months after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, public defenders in Virginia saw an opportunity to overhaul policing in the state. Among their key priorities to address racial disparities: a ban on traffic stops for such infractions as broken taillights, tinted windows and the aroma of marijuana.
What happened next stunned police officials across Virginia. In just three months, the ban the public defenders pitched to Democratic legislators sailed to the governor’s desk and was signed into law. With Covid-19 shutting down the state Capitol and forcing the legislative sessions to take place via Zoom, the law enforcement officials who objected to the bill had failed to galvanize the opposition.
In March, Virginia became the first state to prohibit the kind of low-level traffic stops that disproportionately affect people of color and are often used as pretexts to search for drugs and weapons. An NBC News analysis of the early data shows that the measure is having an impact on the percentage of Black motorists searched by police during traffic stops.
“As public defenders, we aren’t exactly used to winning, let alone winning big,” said Brad Haywood, the chief public defender for Arlington County and executive director of Justice Forward, a criminal justice reform organization made up of public defenders across the state. “This will dramatically reduce race-based policing and impact so many lives.”
Long a cornerstone of American law enforcement, the traffic stop has emerged as a flashpoint in the debate over police reform.
Over the last 20 months, district attorneys in California and Minnesota have ordered prosecutors to drop cases in which officers found guns or drugs during traffic stops for minor infractions. Other states, including Washington and Massachusetts, are considering restrictions similar to Virginia’s.
Dozens of states have tried to end qualified immunity. Police officers and unions helped beat nearly every bill.
Bad news indeed. I have written many articles about the power of police officers’ and prison guards’ unions!
Excerpts from the Article:
In the months after George Floyd’s murder, state legislators across the country tried to undo a legal doctrine that makes it virtually impossible to sue police officers for violating a person’s civil rights.
Fueled by outrage over the actions of former Minnesota officer Derek Chauvin, the efforts to eliminate “qualified immunity” seemed poised to usher in a new era empowering citizens who felt wronged by police.
But then, in state after state, the bills withered, were withdrawn, or were altered beyond recognition. At least 35 state qualified-immunity bills have died in the past 18 months, according to an analysis by The Washington Post of legislative records and data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The efforts failed amid multifaceted lobbying campaigns by police officers and their unions targeting legislators, many of whom feared public backlash if the dire predictions by police came true. Officers said they would go bankrupt and lose their homes. They said their colleagues would leave the profession in droves.
While advocates argued that qualified immunity allows rogue officers to brutalize citizens without paying a personal price, law enforcement officials countered that it protects police from being financially destroyed for the rapid life-or-death decisions they must make on the job.
So far, police are winning the argument nearly everywhere.
Among at least four bills that are still alive, three initially called for a complete ban on qualified immunity. One of these, in Michigan, has since been amended to allow use of the legal defense in many instances. And among the seven qualified-immunity bills that have become law since last year, only Colorado has completely barred the legal defense for officers. Iowa actually strengthened qualified-immunity rights of its officers and Arkansas did so for its college and university police officers.
In New Mexico, changes were made so quietly that many advocates didn’t know that the ability to sue individual officers had been taken out as they testified for the bill.
Stephanie Maez, a former state legislator, tearfully told lawmakers earlier this year in an online hearing how a court granted qualified immunity to an Albuquerque homicide detective she accuses of framing her 18-year-old son for murder.
“He was released and vindicated and the real murderers were caught and are serving time,” the 41-year-old said of her son, “[but] there has been no accountability.”
But Maez didn’t know at the time that the bill she was supporting, the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, had been fundamentally altered days before to drop a provision allowing people to sue officers in state court. And new language was inserted that explicitly prohibited an accuser from naming an officer in a state civil rights lawsuit.
Now, she has little doubt why the Democratically controlled legislature — facing heavy pressure from police unions — assented to changing the bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) in April.
THIS IS A LONG BUT EXCELLENT ARTICLE … IF YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT OUT OF CONTROL POLICE, OPEN “The Whole Story”!
Although Maez can’t use New Mexico’s new law to file a second lawsuit in state courts — since the incident predates the law’s passage — she believed when she testified that the bill would help future victims by eliminating qualified immunity.
Now, she said she has little doubt that lawmakers caved to police opposition.
“It’s really disappointing and frustrating. For me it was less about the money and more about a means to hold individual officers accountable,” she said. “If there are no consequences for them, how can we expect change?”
Body camera video shows Minneapolis police discuss ‘hunting’ suspects, celebrate shooting protesters during George Floyd unrest
This is really scary, and the DOJ should educate some of these cops by locking up a few of them.
Watch the chilling video!
The attorney for Jaleel Stallings, who was found not guilty on all charges of shooting at Minneapolis police officers during the unrest that followed George Floyd’s killing last year, released additional body camera footage from the night of the incident which shows officers discussing “hunting” people on the streets and mocking journalists and the mayor.
Edward E. Bartlett, PhD
Coalition to End Domestic Violence
3220 N Street, NW, Suite 114
Washington, DC 20007
Contact: Rebecca Stewart
Ignoring Science and the Constitution, Police Chiefs Push for Mass Incarceration of Black Men
WASHINGTON / September 28, 2021 – African-Americans experience the highest incarceration rates of any group in the United States (1). And the over-incarceration of Black men is recognized as a threat to fundamental notions of justice (2). A new report reveals that policies currently being promoted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) are a major cause of the mass incarceration of men. Titled “Predominant Aggressor Policies and the Mass Incarceration of Men,” the report probes the predominant aggressor policies currently being advanced by the IACP.
The IACP predominant aggressor publications reveal pervasive sex bias. For example, the IACP’s “Intimate Partner Violence Response: Policy and Training Content Guidelines” (3) advises front-line police officers to evaluate whether there is a “physical size difference between the parties” in order to decide whether to arrest the male or female. This is likely to sway the officer’s decision to arrest the male, even if the female, who is physically smaller, initiated violence.
The IACP also has developed a training program on “Predominant Aggressor Determination” (4) that is even more biased:
Instructs officers to assess the “Comparative height and weight” of the parties (Slide 38).
Describes “Presence of calm” as an indication of “power and control” (Slide 10)
Uses an implausible case example that reinforces the flawed “male-as-perpetrator, female-as-victim” stereotype (Slides 13-24)
According to the Department of Justice, 77% of persons arrested for domestic violence are male (5), even though scientific surveys reveal that each year, Black men are more likely than Black women to the victims of partner abuse (6):
• Black men: 1.47 million victims
• Black women: 1.38 million victims
The IACP recommendations openly violate Constitutional guarantees of equal treatment under the law:
The Ms. Foundation for Women decries how the “Criminalization of social problems has led to mass incarceration of men, especially young men of color, decimating marginalized communities.” (7)
One public policy group has sharply criticized the gender-profiling of men (8) and concludes that “Domestic violence policies have contributed significantly to increasing the number of persons living in violent places: prisons and jails.” (9)
The “Predominant Aggressor Policies and the Mass Incarceration of Men” report, written by the Coalition to End Domestic Violence, is available online: http://endtodv.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Predominant-Aggressor-Mass-Inceration.pdf
Bureau of Justice Statistics (2021). Jail Inmates in 2019. https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/ji19_sum.pdf
International Association of Chiefs of Police (2017). Intimate Partner Response: Policy and Training Content Guidelines. Page 6. https://www.theiacp.org/sites/default/files/all/i-j/IACPIntimatePartnerViolenceResponsePolicyandTrainingGuidelines2017.pdf
International Association of Chiefs of Police (March 24, 2020). Predominant Aggressor Determination. https://www.rit.edu/fa/compliance/sites/rit.edu.fa.compliance/files/PredominantAggressorPresentation.PDF
Durose MR et al. Family Violence Statistics. Washington, DC: Department of Justice. NCJ 207846, 2005. Table 5.9. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/fvs.pdf
Centers for Disease Control, National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010-2012 State Report. Tables 5.3 and 5.6. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/NISVS-StateReportBook.pdf
Ms. Foundation for Women. Safety and Justice for All. New York, 2003, p. 17.
Across Walls. Gender-Profiling Men for Arrest for Domestic Violence. https://www.acrosswalls.org/gender-profiling-men-arrests-domestic-violence/
Our great AG, Kathy Jennings, does the right thing again. 🙂
Excerpts from the Article:
A former Dewey Beach police officer was convicted of assaulting an injured person on the job and was permanently stripped of his badge and gun Wednesday.
Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced in a news release that the Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust indicted and reached a conviction for Gregory Lynch for assaulting an innocent, injured person and then lying to the court to have the victim incarcerated.
“Abuse of authority, brutality and dishonesty are cardinal sins for any law enforcement officer,” Jennings said in a statement.
“The defendant’s violent acts harmed his victim and made it harder for his honorable colleagues to do their important work,” she said. “Today the defendant becomes a felon who will never carry a badge or a gun again. Our thoughts are with his victim, and our thanks are with the EMTs and fellow police who did the right thing by stepping forward to blow the whistle on his actions.”
During the August 2019 incident, police and EMTs were called to Bellevue Street to assist a 26-year-old man who had lost consciousness and injured the back of his head, according to the earlier indictment. The indictment detailed that the man didn’t want to go to the hospital and was sitting on a stretcher with one foot on the ground as first responders and witnesses tried to convince him to lie down. That was when Lynch grabbed his leg and put it on the stretcher, according to previous reporting by Delaware Online.
Lynch then climbed onto a stretcher and repeatedly punched an injured, unaggressive victim in the face, according to the Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust.
Other officers present told investigators that the punches were powerful enough to spray blood from the victim’s face onto their uniforms, according to the DOJ. Lynch then handcuffed the victim to the stretcher and pulled him into an ambulance by his head.
The victim was later diagnosed with a concussion, a broken nose, multiple hematomas and lacerations to his face.
Lynch later falsely stated in a sworn affidavit that the victim had committed strangulation and two counts of offensive touching of a law enforcement officer, but witness statements contradicted those claims, according to the DOJ.
Lynch’s lies were discovered days later when EMTs and fellow police came forward.
Lynch pleaded guilty on Wednesday to perjury second degree (a felony) and assault third degree (a misdemeanor).
Under the victim-supported plea, Lynch will serve one year of Level 3, or intensive supervision, probation and sacrifice his Council on Police Training certification – permanently banning him from serving as a police officer again.
Because of the felony conviction, Lynch will also be prohibited from buying or possessing a firearm.
But this incident was not the first time that Lynch was accused of excessive force. In 2014, a 65-year-old man sued Dewey Beach police saying that Lynch and another officer used excessive force when they arrested him in 2011.
He claimed that a Dewey police vehicle, with its lights activated, swerved in front of him as he was riding his bicycle from The Cove Restaurant and Bar at about 12:30 a.m.
The plaintiff said Lynch and the other officer threw him off of his bicycle and onto the pavement, causing some injuries, including to his shoulder and ribs. The lawsuit also claimed Lynch placed his foot on the side of the plaintiff’s face and ground the man’s head and face into the pavement and gravel.
The department settled the federal lawsuit for $175,00.
Good for the U S DOJ! All such outrageous conduct by police should be investigated. But another culprit here is the local prosecutor! Local prosecutors should have prosecuted the police! I was a prosecutor for 5 years, and it was clear to me from day one that my job was not “to back the police at any cost”; my job was to be FAIR, and that is the job of every prosecutor!
Excerpts from the Article:
A Louisiana State Police trooper was captured on video repeatedly beating a Black motorist with a flashlight more than two years ago, according to body camera footage of the incident obtained by CNN — the latest footage linked to a state police division that is under investigation for possible systemic abuses against Black motorists.
Seven minutes of footage from the officer’s body-worn camera from the May 2019 incident was recently turned over to attorneys for the motorist, Aaron Larry Bowman, pursuant to a court order last week. CNN obtained a copy of that video Wednesday from Bowman’s attorneys.
The trooper in the video, Jacob Brown, was charged in December with aggravated second-degree battery and malfeasance in office. He has not entered a plea. State prosecutors said that case remains on hold as federal investigators are conducting their own investigation into Brown’s actions.
The Department of Justice said this case is the subject of a criminal investigation being handled by the FBI, “along with career prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.”
The body-worn camera footage shows Brown swinging what appears to be a flashlight and repeatedly striking Bowman while he’s facedown on the ground with his hands behind his head for part of the beating as he tells them, “I’m not resisting.”
“Fighting us ain’t gonna help you bud,” an officer says. “I’m not fighting you,” Bowman responds.
He can later be heard moaning and saying, “They hit me in the head with a flashlight. I’m on dialysis, man, it hurt me. It hurt me. I don’t have nothing.”
As part of the probe, investigators are working to determine whether there’s a history of abuse in interactions between troopers in Troop F and Black people, two sources familiar with the process previously confirmed to CNN.
The video was first obtained by The Associated Press. What’s known of the cases involving this unit within the Louisiana State Police is largely the result of reporting by the AP, which has exposed various issues with the conduct and covering up of that conduct by state troopers.
According to court records, as a result of the beating, “(Bowman) sustained multiple lacerations,” that include “a cut to the top of his head, a fractured arm, and broken ribs amongst other ailments.”
Ron Haley, one of Bowman’s attorneys, said Brown beat his client with an 8-inch aluminum flashlight. Brown hit him within seconds of initial contact and hit Bowman at least 18 times in 24 seconds, Haley said. CNN affiliate WBRZ reported that an arrest affidavit says Brown went on to strike Bowman 18 times in the span of about 24 seconds.
It wasn’t immediately clear to Bowman’s attorneys or prosecutors that body-worn camera footage of the beating existed.
A statement from Louisiana State Police said the agency found the footage after Bowman’s attorneys filed a lawsuit, adding that after investigators located the footage, they began administrative and criminal investigations. State police have said at the time of Brown’s arrest “detectives learned that Brown engaged in excessive and unjustifiable actions during the incident and failed to report the use of force to his supervisors.”
The result of the criminal investigation was turned over to the district attorney’s office, and Brown was charged in December. Robert Tew, the district attorney in Monroe, said it is being continued until the US Department of Justice decides whether to charge him with federal crimes.
Bowman fought with at least one of those deputies, according to an affidavit filed in the case against Bowman. According to the affidavit filed by a Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy, Bowman “began swinging his arms at me and screaming he did not do anything wrong. (Bowman) then struck me on top of the head with a closed fist.”
Bowman disputed the police version of events in his civil suit. He “asserts that the published police report is fabricated, and aspects of Deputy (Donovan) Ginn’s narrative is untrue.”
Just disgraceful! A gross injustice due to one lazy and/or incompetent cop; the officer should be sued by Mr. Spriestersbach inasmuch as it seems he has suffered permanent trauma!
Excerpts from the Article:
A homeless man was wrongly arrested by Hawaii officials in 2017 in a case of mistaken identity and was institutionalized in a state hospital for over two years when he repeatedly insisted he was not the person they said he was before quietly being released, the Hawaii Innocence Project said in a court document.
The Hawaii Innocence Project filed a petition Monday night asking a judge to vacate the arrest and correct the records of Joshua Spriestersbach. Spriestersbach was arrested in 2017 after falling asleep on a sidewalk waiting for food at a Honolulu shelter, the Associated Press reported.
When he woke up, Spriestersbach believed he was being arrested for the city’s ban on sitting or laying down on public sidewalks. But the officer mistook him for a man named Thomas Castleberry, who was wanted for violating probation in a 2006 drug case.
Authorities admitted Spriestersbach to a state hospital for denying he was Castleberry and was forced to take psychiatric drugs for two years and eight months before the mistake was corrected, releasing Spriestersbach with only 50 cents to his name.
It’s unclear how this happened as Spriestersbach and Castleberry had never met. Spriestersbach somehow ended up with Castleberry as his alias, even though Spriestersbach never claimed to be Castleberry, according to the Hawaii Innocence Project.
Spriestersbach’s attorneys argue it all could have been cleared up if police simply compared the two men’s photographs and fingerprints.
Instead, against Spriestersbach’s protests that he wasn’t Castleberry, he was eventually committed to the Hawaii State Hospital.
“Yet, the more Mr. Spriestersbach vocalized his innocence by asserting that he is not Mr. Castleberry, the more he was declared delusional and psychotic by the H.S.H. staff and doctors and heavily medicated,” the petition said.
“It was understandable that Mr. Spriestersbach was in an agitated state when he was being wrongfully incarcerated for Mr. Castleberry’s crime and despite his continual denial of being Mr. Castleberry and providing all of his relevant identification and places where he was located during Mr. Castleberry’s court appearances, no one would believe him or take any meaningful steps to verify his identity and determine that what Mr. Spriestersbach was telling the truth—he was not Mr. Castleberry.”
No one believed him—not even his various public defenders—until a hospital psychiatrist finally listened. All it took were simple Google searches and a few phone calls to verify that Spriestersbach was on another island when Castleberry was initially arrested, according to the court document.
A detective, who was asked by the psychiatrist to come to the hospital, verified fingerprints and photographs to determine that the wrong man had been arrested and that Spriestersbach spent two years and eight months institutionalized, the petition said, noting that it wasn’t hard to determine that the real Castleberry has been incarcerated in an Alaska prison since 2016.
According to records, a 49-year-old man named Thomas R. Castleberry is in the Spring Creek Correctional Facility in Seward, Alaska. His relatives couldn’t be reached for comment. The Alaska public defender listed for him declined to comment Tuesday.
The Hawaii Innocence Project document also claims Spriestersbach had ineffective counsel: the Hawaii public defender’s office.
Police, the state public defender’s office, the state attorney general and the hospital “share in the blame for this gross miscarriage of justice,” the petition said.
Hawaii public defender James Tabe and spokespersons for the state attorney general’s and health department didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment Tuesday.
Once the fingerprints and photographs were finalized, officials moved quickly, but secretly, to release Spriestersbach in January of 2020, the petition said. “A secret meeting was held with all of the parties, except Mr. Spriestersbach, present. There is no court record of this meeting or no public court record of this meeting. No entry or order reflects this miscarriage of justice that occurred or a finding that Mr. Spriestersbach is not Thomas Castleberry,” the court document said.
His lawyers think officials didn’t think anyone would believe Spriestersbach or no one would care about the homeless man who fell asleep waiting for food, only to wake up to a living nightmare. Spriestersbach, 50, who lives with his sister in Vermont, declined to comment for this story.
His sister, Vedanta Griffith, spent nearly 16 years looking for him. He moved to Hawaii with Griffith when her husband was stationed on Oahu with the Army in 2003. He moved to the Big Island and then disappeared, while suffering mental health issues, she said.
“Part of what they used against him was his own argument: ‘I’m not Thomas Castleberry. I didn’t commit these crimes….This isn’t me,'” she told AP. “So they used that as saying he was delusional, as justification for keeping him.”
After his release, he ended up at a homeless shelter, which contacted his family.
“And then when light is shown on it, what do they do? They don’t even put it on the record. They don’t make it part of the case,” Griffith said. “And then they don’t come to him and say, ‘We are so sorry’ or how about even ‘Gee, this wasn’t you. You were right all along.'”
Spriestersbach now refuses to leave his sister’s 10-acre property. “He’s so afraid that they’re going to take him again,” Griffith said.
Another cop out of control, and another case demonstrating the importance of vastly improving our mental health care systems. This lawsuit will be won or settled for many thousands of dollars … YOUR tax money again being wasted; the whole thing could have been prevented.
Excerpts from the Article:
Kelly Rooks called Delaware State Police for help, but the officer who responded shot and killed her and broke her elderly mother’s hip, according to a complaint filed in federal court.
The 51-year-old Rooks was bipolar and had been experiencing severe paranoia the week before she died, calling Troop 5 in Bridgeville multiple times, the complaint says.
Most of the officers who responded “were nice and approached her carefully, understanding she had a mental illness,” and one even spoke to her psychiatrist, court documents say.
One trooper, however, “was hostile and aggressive” toward Kelly, according to the complaint, and he was one who responded March 25 after Kelly called because she thought she’d been poisoned.
A short time later, she was dead from multiple gunshot wounds.
Wilmington law firm Jacobs & Crumplar filed the lawsuit against a yet-to-be-named Delaware State Police trooper on July 12 on counts of excessive force, assault and battery, gross negligence and wrongful death. The suit is seeking punitive damages as well as funeral expenses.
The trooper is not known to the Rooks family because police records are protected in Delaware until an investigation into the use of force is completed. Instead, the lawsuit refers to him as John Doe.
Kelly’s brother, Raymond Rooks, is representing her estate in the lawsuit. Her mother is listed as a separate plaintiff.
Delaware State Police spokesman Gary Fournier said the trooper is still employed and on active duty but declined to otherwise comment on the lawsuit.
In the days following the shooting, Delaware State Police said they were dispatched to the scene to “assist medical personnel,” who were already at the residence when the woman “armed herself with a firearm” and “threatened” the troopers and medical professionals.
Rooks’ bipolar disorder surfaced about the time she was injured in a car accident, around 2015. The mental illness “substantially limited her in the performance of major life activities,” according to the complaint.
She appears to have lived a full life in spite of it. She worked for many years as a phlebotomist. Her longtime boyfriend, Robert Krause, lived at the Danny Drive residence with her. To her mother, Kelly Rooks was “beloved,” the complaint states.
“As a human being, she deserved better,” the Rooks family wrote in a statement issued shortly after the shooting.
Krause, who used a wheelchair, was at the home at the time of the shooting, along with Rooks’ mother, Geraldine Rooks.
When the trooper and medics arrived at about 7:30 p.m. March 25, a neighbor asked if Kelly had done anything wrong. The trooper, seeming “agitated or tired,” responded, “You tell me, I’ve got multiple calls from this address,” according to the complaint.
After the trooper entered the Rooks’ home without a warrant or announcing his presence, Kelly came out of her bedroom, court documents say, “rubbing her stomach and saying she needed to go to the hospital. She did not have a weapon.”
The situation escalated within two minutes of the trooper’s arrival, according to the complaint.
The trooper “was acting angry, hostile and aggressive. He was screaming, ‘What have we got here?’ Kelly asked him if Geraldine could go with her to the hospital. The angry, hostile … (trooper) aggressively screamed, ‘No!’
“Kelly and Geraldine felt they were not free to leave and that they were unable to decline (the trooper’s) requests or otherwise terminate the encounter. Geraldine walked toward her daughter to comfort her as she was obviously in mental distress that increased when (the trooper) screamed at her. … She was not disobeying any lawful command (the trooper) had given.”
That’s when the trooper shoved the 78-year-old Geraldine Rooks to the ground, breaking her hip, the complaint says, and Kelly Rooks ran to her room and grabbed a shotgun.
Both Krause and Geraldine Rooks were removed from the home before shots were fired, according to the complaint, and Geraldine Rooks was in the front yard when she saw the trooper point his gun at her daughter’s bedroom door and fire multiple times.
Three shots were fired through the door, which, based on the angle of the bullet holes, was closing or closed, the complaint says.
The complaint asserts that knowing Kelly was emotionally disturbed, the trooper should have proceeded slowly and with caution, using a calm voice. He failed to de-escalate the situation despite being trained to do so, and instead escalated it when he “provoked an otherwise static situation by his reckless tactical response,” the complaint says.
“The standard of care required a police officer, upon seeing Kelly retrieve a gun, (is) to get to a covered position, which was within (the trooper’s) ability,” the complaint states. “The situation was not so fluid or time dependent that Kelly could not have been talked down by a properly trained professional. A Crisis Intervention Team officer or negotiator specially trained in negotiation should have been employed.”
After shots were fired, backup arrived, parking along Danny Drive and the adjacent Airport Road. Two tanklike vehicles responded to the scene and a helicopter hovered above, according to the complaint. Neighbors were evacuated and police searched the woods surrounding Danny Drive.
Police cut a hole in the bottom of the home and ran a camera inside, presumably to see if Kelly was dead, the complaint says.
The activity lasted until after midnight.
Kelly died from her wounds at 9:47 p.m.