At least some bad cops were convicted, but no amount of money can right a wrong like this.
Excerpts from the Article:
Baltimore officials are set to approve a roughly $8 million settlement to two men who went to prison after drugs were planted on them a decade ago during an encounter with members of a rogue police unit that brutalized, robbed and falsely arrested residents.
The city’s spending board is scheduled to take up the settlement Wednesday, news outlets reported. The Board of Estimates has approved several settlements in recent weeks stemming from the misconduct of members of the Gun Trace Task Force, a once-lauded group that was supposed to take guns off the streets of Baltimore.
The settlement for Umar Burley and Brent Matthews is the largest settlement in connection with the task force and surpasses the amount paid in 2015 to the family of Freddie Gray, a young Black man who died a week after he was critically injured in police custody and whose death lead to civil unrest.
The proposed payment includes $6.3 million for Burley and Matthews as well as $1.8 million to pay off a lien due to the estate of Elbert Davis, which sued Burley. Burley and Matthews encountered task force members in 2010 during an illegal traffic stop that led to a high-speed chase. Burley crashed with another vehicle, killing Davis.
Burley spent seven years in prison, while Matthews served two-and-half years behind bars. Their convictions were vacated in 2017 after officers cooperating in the federal investigation into the task force told authorities that a member of the unit had spoken of drugs being planted in the incident.
“Mr. Burley and Mr. Matthews were overtly and undeniably framed by a conspiracy of at least four police officers,” the men’s attorneys, Steve Silverman, said in a statement. “It should not take an army of lawyers litigating for years to right wrongs like this.”
The investigation into the task force has led to the convictions of more than a dozen officers. Hundreds of criminal cases based on their work have been dropped or vacated.
Our friend, Lynn, sent me this article. If we really want to reduce crime, WE MUST DO MORE OF THESE PROGRAMS!
Excerpts from the Article:
County leaders will use nearly $665,000 in grant money to reduce gun violence and help ex-prisoners reintegrate. The grants were reviewed and approved Nov. 5 by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. They were spurred in part by a 2018 Safety and Justice Challenge study paid for by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, county Community Development Specialist Aisha Shepherd told commissioners. The foundation’s goal is to reduce jail numbers, address racial disparities and increase community engagement.
“Both violence and the justice system have desperate impacts on Black people living in Buncombe County,” Shepherd said.
Findings showed that of the first nine homicides of 2020, seven victims were Black men, she said.
“In 2019, Black people represented 6.3% of Buncombe County’s population, yet comprised 25% of the jail population and 69% of gun violence victims.”
Asheville Police block Fayetteville Street in West Asheville as a homicide is investigated on Jan. 13, 2020.
Pandemic jail reduction efforts released 40% of those in the county detention facility, or 158 people. That actually increased the racial disparity, with 33% of the remaining population being Black.
Shepherd said the county is now seeking proposals from community organizations for two $225,000 grants to help with the problems. One $50,000 grant would pay for the development of a comprehensive plan that addresses community safety and reduces gun violence.
A second $175,000 grant would be for a program working with communities most affected by gun violence. That work would include creating “intergenerational spaces that empower safety, trust and healing.”
Republican District 3 Commissioner Joe Belcher of Candler said he supported the efforts and felt some of the “root causes” came down to “lack of jobs and other resources,” particularly for those with criminal records.
Democratic Board Chair Brownie Newman of Asheville said that most places people lived in the county were safe. “But you know we have neighborhoods in our community that are not safe. And I think part of the struggle is you know we don’t want to come at this with the approach of, let’s just throw the most law enforcement resources to this as we can,” Newman said.
Police are part of the solution, he said, but a hard enforcement strategy could also increase the jail population, which goes against one of the goals. “We’ve got to think in other ways about this so I’m really glad we’re doing this process, I’m excited about what ideas might emerge from this.”
In Asheville, police have responded to 522 calls for service regarding a gun discharge or an individual who has been shot, from from Jan. 1 to Nov. 5. During that same time, 38 people have been shot in Asheville.
In a separate action, commissioners voted unanimously to accept a $439,883 grant from the Dogwood Health Trust to reduce recidivism and increase access to medical and mental health and substance use care for prisoners leaving the Buncombe Detention Facility and Swannanoa and Craggy Correctional Centers.
Dogwood was formed during the sale of the nonprofit Mission Hospital to the for-profit company HCA. Dogwood received the profits from the hospital sale and is tasked with distributing them to organizations that help increase the region’s health.
This is all wrong and very dangerous to our freedoms!
Government watchdog organizations are reporting that multiple government agencies employed high-tech surveillance aircraft over cities with demonstrations over the police killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.
On June 2, thousands of protestors took to the streets in major cities across the U.S. to call for an end to police brutality. In response, cities such as Washington, D.C., Portland, Oregon, and Las Vegas, Nevada, sent police out for crowd control. And, after an armed protestor was shot in Las Vegas, the police were joined by the National Guard.
A review of unfiltered flight data examined by Motherboard on ADS-B Exchange showed police in Washington, D.C., employed several RC-26Bs carrying infrared and electro-optical cameras used in counter-narcotic and military combat missions. A letter from Congress to the House Armed Services Committee about these craft reads: “The aircraft is uniquely qualified as the only fixed-winged aircraft to have Title 32 authority to conduct domestic surveillance while maintaining the ability to conduct Title 10 missions abroad.”
Security researcher John Scott-Railton discovered the same craft over Las Vegas as well as aircraft flown by the Texas Department of Public Safety over Houston and California Highway Patrol aircraft being flown over Oakland. In addition, Chris Stelmarski of the political strategy and media consultant firm MVAR Media tweeted several photos of other aircraft over D.C.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection flew unarmed Predator drones over Minneapolis, the FBI had Cessna 560s over D.C., Portland Police Bureau used its own Cessna 172N, New York Police Department deployed helicopters, and other local departments had their craft airborne over protestors in their cities.
Civil rights activists are concerned about invasion of privacy issues these aircraft present. Many of them are outfitted with “Dirtbox” technology, which are devices that mimic cellphone towers to collect phone numbers, conversations, e-mails, texts, and even GPS locations.
Activists say this is a large amount of information gathered from citizens who are not involved in illegal activity. “It’s concerning because we see an unprecedented amount of aerial surveillance of U.S. citizens in multiple cities at once in a clear attempt to chill speech and silence Americans exercising their First Amendment rights,” Electronic Frontier Foundation senior technologist Cooper Quinn stated, adding, “We have no way of telling what kind of signals intelligence or other surveillance those planes are carrying but that kind of wartime surveillance on our own citizens should enrage everyone who values freedom.”
See my earlier related articles. I have called for Body cams on all cops since they came out; they can eliminate/solve sooooooo many problems.
Excerpts from the Article:
Wilmington officials have received a federal grant to pay for the Police Department to wear body cameras, the city announced Thursday.
The $630,000 awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice will cover the cost of cameras for the department’s 315 officers and four additional officers that will be hired to oversee the program.
The City Council this month approved adding $400,000 to this year’s city budget to hire those officers. The council on Thursday night will vote on a $2 million contract over the next five years between the city and Axon Enterprises Inc. for the equipment, maintenance and video storage.
“We would have started this program with or without a federal grant because it’s that important,” Mayor Mike Purzycki said in a news release. “But it sure is good at a time of COVID-related dwindling revenue to receive this critical support.” It will still likely be months before police actually start wearing the cameras, but the grant and this month’s budget amendment are the most concrete steps so far toward the program starting.
A copy of the grant application obtained by Delaware Online/The News Journal last month outlines some of the department’s goals for a body camera program. They include reducing misconduct complaints by 25% by the end of the first year of the program and cutting complaints in half by the end of the second year.
The department also aims to reduce civilian complaints, of which Wilmington police received about 300 between 2015 and 2019, by 30% by the end of the first year.
Police also intend to use body camera footage as evidence in both internal complaints and criminal trials and noted in their application they believe footage would clear officers accused of wrongdoing, as well as reduce lawsuits and protests.
An anti-police protest resulted in two people being arrested after an altercation with police, apparently sparked when an officer tried to take a bullhorn that a protester was using in close proximity to a line of police Saturday at Market and Fourth Streets in Wilmington. The department next will purchase the cameras, finalize policies governing their use with the police union and train officers.
Adopting body cameras for police in Delaware’s largest city has been subject to years of delays. A pilot program of the cameras – which ran for most of 2016 and early 2017 on 22 officers who volunteered – ended around the time Robert Tracy became police chief.
He told the City Council in early 2019 that he was concerned with how costly the program would be. The city applied for a federal grant to pay for cameras but failed to get approved last fall. Wilmington police applied again this year with the help of the state’s Criminal Justice Council. After protests against police brutality erupted this summer, Purzycki promised the city would pay for body cameras if the grant was not awarded.
Search and Seizure with cell phones is usually straightforward. Police cannot inspect the contents of your phone without a warrant, with certain exceptions, like and emergency. Such as: A shoots B. The cops arrive 3 minutes after the shooting and use C’s phone to ID the shooter, who was recorded by C.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle ruled that the FBI conducted an illegal search of a defendant’s phone by powering it on to inspect the lock screen, resulting in suppression of information obtained from the search.
Joseph Sam was arrested pursuant to an indictment on conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, and assault resulting in serious bodily injury. When Sam was arrested, Tulalip Police seized his phone. He was booked into police custody, and his phone was inventoried, including determining whether the phone was locked and attempting to place the phone in airplane mode to prevent remote wiping.
On February 13, 2020, the FBI temporarily obtained Sam’s phone from police inventory, powered it on, and took a photo of the lock screen, which displayed the user’s name as “<<<Streezy.” Sam’s lawyer filed a motion to suppress this evidence as the result of an illegal search.
The Court briefly discussed the governing law, starting with the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Court explained that the “default rule is that a search is unreasonable unless conducted pursuant to a warrant.” Veronica School District 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646 (1995). The Supreme Court has defined “search” in one of two ways: (1) if it physically intrudes on a constitutionally protected area to obtain information (Florida v. Jardines, 569 U.S. 1 (2013)), or (2) if it intrudes on a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy (Carpenter v. United States, 138 S. Ct. 2206 (2018)).
The Court explained that the FBI physically intruded onto Sam’s personal property by powering on the phone to examine the lock screen, and by doing so, the FBI violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches. The Government claimed this did not constitute a search because Sam had no reasonable expectation of privacy in preventing the examination of his lock screen — indeed, that is what is meant to be seen by anyone who isn’t you when trying to access your phone.
The Court flatly rejected this argument by pointing out the Supreme Court has consistently instructed that “a person’s Fourth Amendment rights do not rise or fall with the Katz [Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 437 (1967).] formulation….” Rather, “the Katz reasonable-expectations test” is in addition to, not instead of, the traditional property-based test under the Fourth Amendment. Jardines. The Court explained that when the government physically intrudes on constitutionally protected areas, as it did in this case, it’s unnecessary to perform a reasonable expectation of privacy analysis.
Accordingly, the Court ordered suppression of the contents of the lock screen obtained by the FBI. However, the Court also ordered the parties to brief it on the circumstances under which the Tulalip Police Department may have inspected Sam’s phone pursuant to search exceptions established as constitutionally valid without a warrant if conducted incident to an arrest or proper procedures for inventorying a defendant’s property. See: United States v. Sam, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87143 (W.D. Wash. 2020).
It’s about time. I have been pushing for body cams for all law enforcement agencies ever since their inception! They are so beneficial in many ways. In these days of increased tensions between police and the community, I say the more transparency, the better!
Excerpts from the Article:
The Wilmington City Council approved spending $400,000 on a Police Department-wide body camera program after years of activists’ calls for city officers to wear the equipment.
Now, the department hopes to use that footage to reduce lawsuits and complaints against officers and further repair relationships with the community.
The money, approved at Thursday night’s meeting, will be used to hire a police sergeant and three patrol officers to oversee the program.
For the program to start, city officials are still waiting for the approval of a federal grant, which would provide $542,388 to purchase cameras for a total of 319 sworn officers. A response from the U.S. Department of Justice is expected in the next two or three weeks, according to a Delaware criminal justice official who helped the city apply.
If rejected for the grant like the city was last year, Councilman Bud Freel said he will introduce another budget amendment to pay for the cameras with city funds. The council’s approval of the funds is the first budgetary commitment the city has made toward body cameras since the Police Department began testing the equipment nearly five years ago. Community activists, the NAACP and former Mayor Dennis Williams had called for the cameras to increase trust between police and civilians.
A five-year, nearly $2 million contract between the city and Axon Enterprises Inc. for the cameras, maintenance and video storage is pending before the council. Freel said he hopes it’s approved in November.
Wilmington police have released little information about how a body camera program would be administered, but the city’s application for federal funding outlines some of the department’s intentions. In the application obtained by Delaware Online/The News Journal, Wilmington police list promoting transparency and accountability, decreasing complaints and lawsuits against the city, recording incidents for police training and increasing video evidence for criminal trials as goals for the body camera program.
Wilmington officials refused to release a copy of the grant application when requested in June through the Freedom of Information Act.
The application states the 315-person department – in which 255 officers regularly interact with the public –investigated 2,000 complaints against officers internally from 2015 to 2019. Three hundred of those came from civilians.
With body cameras, the department aims to reduce misconduct complaints by 25% by the end of the first year of the program and cut complaints in half by the end of the second year. The goals also include reducing civilian complaints by 30% by the end of the first year.
Nationwide studies are mixed on the effect of body cameras on officer complaints and on uses of force.
“In addition to the evidential value, [body cameras] expedite the investigatory process and allow investigators to come to a conclusion and share information before protests and distrust begin to escalate,” the application states.
Wilmington police intend to use body camera footage as evidence in both internal complaints and criminal trials, according to the application.
“Our agency is working on developing a policy that would guide the administration of a Body-Worn Camera program, and which will stipulate when cameras should be activated, with privacy concerns taken into consideration,” Karas wrote in an email.
“The AG supports body cameras as an assurance that quality evidence will be available from police officers’ interactions with the public,” Marshall wrote.
We can see good solutions and substantial savings when law enforcement officials keep their thinking caps on.
Excerpts from the Article:
Since the May 25, 2020, killing of George Floyd by police, a movement to defund police departments across the U.S. has been gaining momentum. Defunding is not always the answer to law enforcement agencies that have traditionally been tasked in jack-of-all-trades roles of mediator, mental health crisis responder, and traffic accident responder, among dozens of other roles they are either ill-equipped or not equipped at all to handle. Some cities have discovered that augmentation is a safer, more successful and cost-effective method to handle many situations rather than depending solely on response by armed police — and they have been successfully utilizing it for decades.
Barry Friedman runs New York University’s Policing Project. He points out that police officers are molded from a “one-size-fits-all-model. Police just aren’t trained to do a lot of the things they end up doing. They are trained for force and law. So you get force-and-law results.” The old saying “when you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail” is particularly apt with respect to cops, so some forward-thinking municipalities around the country have stopped sending hammers to every type of emergency service call with unsurprisingly positive results.
Currently, activists across the country have been clashing with cops, sometimes violently. In Eugene, Oregon, a group of activists there have been, literally and actively, in CAHOOTS with cops and have been for 30 years. Citizens in Eugene and neighboring Springfield who report or are suffering from a mental health crisis are responded to by a medic and mental health crisis responder rather than a cop, as members of the Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (“CAHOOTS”). CAHOOTS teams handle a full 20 percent of the two cities’ 911 calls at an annual $2.1 million cost. The annual police budget is $9 million.
Colorado is implementing a similar program by having trained mental health professionals accompanying cops responding to mental health crisis calls. These co-responders’ salaries are paid for by money collected by the state for marijuana taxes.
The initials OSS remind many people of the CIA’s forerunner agency but not in New Orleans, Louisiana. A company called On Scene Services now responds to work traffic accident scenes in the Big Easy. Response times by OSS agents is only 90 minutes as compared to over two hours by city cops. This leaves armed police free to handle more serious problems.
In Seattle, Washington, cops are required to divert minor drug offenders and sex workers to addiction counselors and social workers. Six-month recidivism rates are down by 60 percent for those diverted from arrest and jail with annual costs to taxpayers per client averaging only $9,507 versus average annual incarceration costs of $42,000.
Miami-Dade County, Florida, has successfully ideated a way to reduce homelessness and address domestic violence. In 1993, the area imposed an additional one-percent tax on restaurant bills for food and beverages. All revenue would be used toward housing solutions for the county’s homeless population. At present, that population is down by 85 percent from the program’s beginning. Fifteen percent of the tax revenue is allocated to Miami-Dade County for domestic violence centers, which aid victims.
Cooperating with cops instead of confronting them has gone a long way toward reducing negative encounters in these cities; no defunding required or needless animosity generated.
A chronic problem, and there are few things worse than cops misleading us about the TRUTH! ANY police officer telling lies should be severely disciplined.
Excerpts from the Article:
Traditionally, police have been the ones to call when a common citizen has been assaulted, robbed, had his home burgled, or a car stolen. They were called noble, even honorable names like Blue Knights or New Centurions with the motto “To Protect and Serve” on their four-wheeled chariots. However, something has gone terribly wrong.
Many police officers have become the opposite of what they were meant to be. Even when caught on video committing atrocities against the citizens they swore to protect, they downplay and even get away with the evil they have done by lying and spinning the facts.
Take for example Buffalo, New York, on June 4, 2020. In clear daylight, the city’s Emergency Response Team (“ERT”) marched toward peaceful protesters. Two ERT cops shoved an elderly man down with such force that when the victim’s head hit the ground an audible “thunk” is heard as blood runs from one ear. The ERT leaves him. The cops tell the press he “tripped and fell.” The Lie. Then a video of what happened appears on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Uh oh: The Truth.
In Minneapolis, when journalists, medical staff, and others returned to their cars after demonstrations, they found their tires had been slashed. Cops attributed the destruction to rioters. The Lie. Bystander video shows the cops slashing those tires with knives. The Truth. Press Release: Police only “deflated” those tires to prevent “vehicles [from] driving dangerously and at high speeds in and around protesters and around law enforcement.” The Spin.
If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one around to hear it, did it make a sound?
If cops kill a citizen on a Minneapolis street and there are no bystanders to video-record it, did the cops really kill him?
Here we see the all too common ignorant arrogance and abuse of females by law enforcement officials. This is some real BULLSHIT! I hope this woman is awarded many millions of dollars, to bankrupt the abuser.
See the unusually lenient plea deal the dirtbag got.
WOMEN, If you are in Delaware and are being sexually harassed by a Corporation, a private executive, a government official, a cop, or an entire government agency, CALL me and I shall refer you to an excellent attorney, a friend of mine, who SPECIALIZES in suits to get you justice and hold the assholes accountable! 302-423-4067. You need not put up with such shit!
Excerpts from the Article:
A former Buncombe County jail deputy was so rattled by the sexual abuse and harassment she faced at work that she vomited in the shower every morning before work, her lawsuit filed earlier this week said.
She showed up to work at the Buncombe County Detention Center to do her job and support her family, all the while trying to avoid the notice of her boss, Capt. Charles “Josh” Wilhelm, her complaint said.
She tried to have a female colleague sit in her office when she expected Wilhelm to be nearby. But her precautions, her attempts to defuse or ignore his behavior didn’t work, the lawsuit said — the unsolicited photos, his requests for her nudes and his lewd comments toward her continued unabated.
He called her to his office multiple times under the pretense of a work-related issue and then tried to grope her — sometimes he succeeded, the lawsuit said.
The plaintiff’s tearful appeals for help to a superior who could stop the harassment went unanswered, the complaint said. Her entreaties to other co-workers who could help her fell on deaf ears or were met with sexist comments, the lawsuit said. Had any one of them done anything about Wilhelm’s behavior, the lawsuit said, he would not have felt entitled to continue an escalating campaign of sexual harassment and assault against multiple women.
Named in her lawsuit, in addition to Wilhelm, are several former Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office employees: former Sheriff Jack Van Duncan, former Chief Scott Allen, former Sgt. Calvin Elliott and former Lt. Larry Woods. The lawsuit also names Buncombe County and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office.
The incidents described in the lawsuit occurred before current Sheriff Quentin Miller took the oath of office on Dec. 3, 2018. All of the employees named in the lawsuit either were fired, retired or resigned before Miller took office.
Because of what the lawsuit calls “negligence” to ensure that employees could work in an environment free from sexual harassment and assault, the former employee is suing for damages in excess of $175,000, with punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.
In a related criminal probe last year, Wilhelm pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges of assault on a female relating to his conduct toward two women.
The lawsuit seeks $175,000 for several negligent actions that the plaintiff said allowed Wilhelm to continue more than a decade of unwanted advances, harassment, multiple assaults and other actions forbidden by office policy against the plaintiff, including him sending her unsolicited pictures of his genitals. The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.
The suit said Wilhelm boasted that other women he supervised at the jail sent him sexually suggestive pictures at work and that nobody would find out, and he sent pictures of his exposed genitals to several of his subordinates.
In November 2016, the lawsuit said, Wilhelm was promoted to run the jail and was in charge of reviewing policies. “Ironically, Sheriff Duncan put Capt. Wilhelm in charge of ensuring that none of the employees at the jail suffered sexual abuse. (The plaintiff) worked directly for him as the administrative sergeant,” the lawsuit said.
Wilhelm continued to harass his colleague through 2017, the lawsuit said. At one point, he told the woman that she needed to choose between her personal life and her professional life.
“He asked (the plaintiff) to send him pictures and sent her pictures of him in his underwear with an obvious erection,” the lawsuit said. “She did not ask for any of this and never reciprocated or appreciated it.”
As 2017 continued, so did the abuse, the lawsuit said. Wilhelm at times called her to his office for work-related tasks. In one of a series of similar attacks, he put his hand on her knee and fondled her breast, the lawsuit said. She “pushed his hand away, but he kept grabbing her and said, ‘Just let me feel, I want to feel.’” Before she left Wilhelm’s office, he told her: “’I know you like it, I know you want it.’” the lawsuit said. “She neither enjoyed nor wanted her boss to sexually assault her in his office, then or ever.” Immediately after she left his office, he texted a request for a nude picture, the lawsuit said.
On another occasion, the lawsuit details an incident where he grabbed her hand and pressed it against the crotch of his pants while grabbing her breast with his other hand. In another instance, he put his hand down her shirt and into her bra to grope her naked breast, and ground his crotch against her, the lawsuit said.
“On every single occasion that Capt. Wilhelm attacked (the plaintiff) physically in his office, she was terrified of him,” the lawsuit said. “She never agreed to any of these attacks or willingly participated in what transpired.”
The plaintiff was not the only woman whom Wilhelm harassed, the lawsuit said. In one instance, an employee told then-Capt. Woods what Wilhelm was doing to her. The lawsuit was not specific about what he allegedly did but said Woods had the power to stop Wilhelm and did nothing.
In May 2017, the lawsuit said, the plaintiff asked her boss for time off to attend doctor appointments for two of her children. Wilhelm told her she could leave early if she did “a few things.”
“Capt. Wilhelm grabbed her hand and forced her to touch him over his clothes on his groin,” the lawsuit said. “Capt. Wilhelm then rubbed (the plaintiff’s) chest and tried to force her to crawl under his desk and perform oral sex on him.” She refused and “was able to escape Capt. Wilhelm’s office,” the lawsuit said. Her actions “visibly angered Capt. Wilhelm.”
She returned later that day to confront him over the attack but realized he had left the office. Instead, the lawsuit said she talked to then-Chief Allen and said Wilhelm should stop mistreating her. “She became emotional when discussing Capt. Wilhelm,” the lawsuit said. “After (the plaintiff) tearfully asked for his help, Chief Allen brushed off her concerns,” the lawsuit said. He did make one suggestion: “If you make Wilhelm some dinner, it will make everything better,” Allen said, according to the lawsuit. “While he offered no help to (the plaintiff), apparently Chief Allen told Capt. Wilhelm that she had raised an alarm about this behavior. Capt. Wilhelm was angry at (her) for reporting him and retaliated against her.” The lawsuit also said Allen and Wilhelm had “a close personal and professional relationship.”
Then in October 2017, Wilhelm called her to his office over the message system, the lawsuit said. When she arrived, he asked if he could touch her, the lawsuit said. “I don’t want you to,” she said. “So you aren’t saying no,” he said, according to the lawsuit, before fondling her breast. He then exposed himself to her and forced her to touch him. “She froze from the trauma,” the lawsuit said. “Her brain would not work, so she just sat there and tried to look out the window and focus on something else and try to mentally escape the sexual assault that unfolded in her boss’s office. “When he ejaculated, she tried to leave his office, but he blocked the door. He said: ‘Don’t leave yet,’” the lawsuit said. “Despite her terror, she managed to push him away, open the door, and escape from his office.”
In November 2017, she took leave for mental health reasons. The following month, Duncan promoted Wilhelm to captain, the lawsuit said.
In Jan. 9, 2018, the woman approached the county human resources director “about the abuse and sexual assault she suffered at Capt. Wilhelm’s hands,” the lawsuit said. “Only then, after someone outside of the sheriff’s chain of command became aware of the abusive, criminal activity Capt. Wilhelm had taken against the women who worked for him at the BCSO, did Sheriff Duncan and his senior management finally start to take action to investigate how he abused all of these victims,” the lawsuit said.
That same day Sheriff Duncan put Wilhelm on paid leave, county employment records show. Also on the same day, according to the lawsuit, “one or more higher-ranking officials within the BCSO” told others not to talk with anyone from the county human resources department or help with the criminal investigation into Wilhelm’s actions.
Once the county human resources department and the State Bureau of Investigations started looking into the plaintiff’s claims, the lawsuit said, then-Sheriff Duncan told her, “It would be a good idea for you to resign or transfer.”
“She had enjoyed working in her career at the jail, but she had to leave it,” her complaint said. The woman left the department in March 2018, her attorney told CPP. The SBI started looking into Wilhelm’s conduct, and the sheriff fired Wilhelm on Jan. 22, 2018, for violating the office’s general conduct standards, county records show.
In late 2019, Wilhelm pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of assault on a female for harassing and assaulting women who worked with him after initially being charged with six counts of sexual battery. Wilhelm served a 30-day sentence in the Madison County Jail.
Through her attorney Ellis Boyle, the plaintiff said an assistant district attorney spoke with both victims before Wilhelm pleaded to the smaller number of charges. Unlike sexual battery, the charges to which he pleaded did not require his placement on the sex offender registry. She was not pleased with the sentence. “I was upset because it felt like he was getting away with his crimes with just a slap on the wrist,” she said in the lawsuit. “From what I understand, he was even allowed to choose which jail he would serve his sentence.”
Certainly a major development, and a move which every state should make, as should the Feds!
Excerpts from the Article:
Colorado became the first state to pass a law prohibiting law enforcement officers from invoking qualified immunity as a defense when they’re accused in a lawsuit of violating a citizen’s civil rights. Hopefully, the law passed in June will start a trend in other states and lend support to a bill introduced in Congress on June 4, 2020, to do the same for federal civil rights lawsuits.
As part of a police reform bill introduced by Colorado Governor Jared Polis, called “Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act,” the new law says “qualified immunity is not a defense to liability pursuant to this section.” It also bans chokeholds, limits when police can shoot at fleeing suspects, and requires police to use body cameras and make the footage available to the public.
Qualified immunity, a hot topic lately, is a commonly used affirmative defense protecting law enforcement from lawsuits arising from alleged civil rights violations by officers committed in the line of duty. It was created by the U.S. Supreme Court in Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967), where a group of men filed a federal civil rights lawsuit after they were arrested and convicted in Mississippi for violating a state segregation law by mixing races in a bus terminal. When the Supreme Court later declared the law unconstitutional, they filed their lawsuit. The Supreme Court ruled that the police weren’t expected to “predict” that the law was unconstitutional and therefore they weren’t liable for the illegal arrests. Qualified immunity stems from the idea that unless “clearly established” law exists prohibiting an officer’s conduct, he’s immune from liability, no matter how egregious his actions may be.
Colorado’s law disqualifying qualified immunity, however, only applies to state lawsuits. “What Colorado did in this bill, which I think is really creative,” says Benjamin Levin, an associate professor at Colorado Law, “it creates a state cause of action in Colorado State courts, for people whose rights have been violated under the Colorado State Constitution.”
University of Denver law professor Alan Chen adds, “the importance of this is that it gives Colorado citizens a credible vehicle for enforcing their state constitutional rights against law enforcement officers.”
Critics of limiting or abolishing qualified immunity for law enforcement officers say it’s needed to ensure protection for officers’ split-second decisions in life-threatening situations. But “that doesn’t mean that the police are going to lose every [lawsuit] just because they don’t have qualified immunity,” says Chen. “There are other reasons why the plaintiffs might not necessarily prevail.” And the new law’s supporters have said as much, noting the change in law in Colorado only creates a lane for relief and doesn’t guarantee the outcome.