California Supreme Court Turns Away Attempt to Keep Police Misconduct Records SealedA law that forced open decades of secret information about law enforcement behavior is slowly being implemented.
“One small step for man…” You know the rest. Police unions, prison guard unions, private prisons, scores of organizations and companies who are among the 29 people who profit when 1 person is arrested, spend BILLIONS of $$$$ fighting changes to improve the system, like this one now finally taking shape in California!
DEMAND THE CHANGES NEEDED! READ Practical Tip – Get Empowered! How YOU Can Create a Powerful, Effective Force for Reform of our Criminal Justice System
Excerpts from the Article:
It’s happening, Californians! We are finally, truly, actually—after decades of state-enforced, police-union-manipulated secrecy—going to start getting access to some records related to misconduct by law enforcement officers.
On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to a new law implemented at the start of the year unsealing and allowing public and media access to certain types of records related to police conduct. The law is intended to end years of secrecy that have made it impossible for the public to find out when a police officer had been found to engage in misconduct on the job. The secrecy was so strong that even prosecutors and defense attorneys struggled to find out about any past behavior by an officer that might compromise a criminal case.
But when the law was implemented, police unions across the state went to court to block the release of old records, claiming that the law only covers new records produced starting in 2019. This was clearly not what lawmakers intended when they wrote the law (and publicly said so). Several courts put temporary injunctions in place stopping the release of these records while they grappled with whether the law was retroactive.
Ultimately, judges began to determine that, yes, SB 1421 was retroactive. After a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled against unions for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, one union asked the state Supreme Court to weigh in. On Wednesday, the high court declined, leaving in place the lower court’s decision.
In Los Angeles, at least, this means that law enforcement officers are now responding to these records requests. Reason received an email this week informing us that a request that had previously been temporarily denied due to an injunction—the discipline records of new Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva—was now being processed (for his part, Villanueva has recently declared support for the transparency law).
Other police unions are responding by trying to get old personnel records destroyed. In Downey, California, the police union is trying to get a judge to force the city to destroy old files, claiming that it’s the city’s policy to only store them for five years. The city attorney has responded that the policy is that the files are stored for a minimum of five years. It doesn’t set an expiration date.
Meanwhile, in Sacramento, Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra, is apparently still threatening a pair of journalists who were “erroneously” sent a database of police officers in the state who had been convicted of crimes over the past decade. The journalists have been ordered to destroy the records and threatened with legal action, potentially misdemeanor charges, if they do not.
Experts have noted that this confidentiality law specifically exempts journalists. Becerra apparently isn’t even really aware of the contours of the law he’s invoking to try to stop the publication of the names of officers who have been convicted—convicted in some cases, it’s worth noting, of serious crimes. He’s getting blasted for his ignorance by editorial boards and First Amendment experts.
So while the arc of this fight is trending towards greater transparency about police misconduct in the state, there’s still some arguing over the limits of what the public is and is not allowed to see.
Another wrong decision regarding police shooting an unarmed black. I can see why this one may be a difficult one for prosecutors to win, but a JURY should be making the decision (as to whether they were in fear for their lives), not the prosecutor!
At least Mr. Clark’s death did prompt new law, a statute further defining when deadly force is justified. “Clark’s shooting helped prompt pending state legislation that would allow police to use deadly force only if there is no reasonable alternative, including non-lethal force or efforts to calm the situation.”
I dare say that the city will settle the civil suit, or will lose if it goes to trial. The family will win.
Excerpts from the Article:
The two Sacramento police officers whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black man last year prompted nationwide protests will not face criminal charges, prosecutors announced Saturday. Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said Officers Terrance Mercadal and Jared Robinet used lethal force lawfully. The officers have said they thought Stephon Clark, a vandalism suspect, had a gun but investigators found only a cellphone.
“We must recognize that they are often forced to make split-second decisions and we must recognize that they are under tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving circumstances,” Schubert said.
The city has been bracing for protests ahead of the decision, with business owners warned by a business association and state government workers told by legislative officials in recent days to stay away from downtown at least through the weekend.
Schubert said the decision not to file charges against the officers “does not diminish in any way the tragedy, the anger and the frustration that we heard since the time of his death.” She added: “We cannot ignore that there is rage within our community.”
Protests after the shooting were largely peaceful but disrupted downtown professional basketball games and freeway traffic.
Clark’s family, including his two sons, his parents and his grandparents, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in January seeking more than $20 million from the city, Mercadal and Robinet, alleging that the officers used excessive force and that he was a victim of racial profiling.
One of the officers who shot Clark is black and the other is white, police said.
Passions were more inflamed by conflicting autopsy results. Police said Clark was facing officers when he was killed, moving forward with his arms extended and an object in his hands. Police video of the shooting does not clearly capture all that happened after Clark ran into his grandmother’s backyard. It shows him initially moving toward the officers, who are peeking out from behind a corner of the house, but it’s not clear whether he was facing them or that he knew the officers were there when they opened fire after shouting “gun, gun, gun.” The video shows Clark staggering sideways and falling on his stomach as the officers continue shooting.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist whose study of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in football players prompted the NFL to adopt new safety rules designed to prevent concussions, said the autopsy he conducted for the family showed police shot Clark seven times from behind.
The official autopsy made public later said Clark was most likely shot as he approached police, consistent with the officers’ story. The pathologist retained by the Sacramento County coroner said Omalu mistook an exit wound for an entry wound, leaving the impression that police first shot Clark from the back, though Omalu defended his conclusion.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is conducting his own investigation at the request of local officials.
Use-of-force experts have said there was little chance the officers would face criminal charges under court decisions that let officers use deadly force when they have a reasonable fear of being harmed. The standard makes it rare for officers to be charged after a shooting and rarer still for them to be convicted.
Clark’s shooting helped prompt pending state legislation that would allow police to use deadly force only if there is no reasonable alternative, including non-lethal force or efforts to calm the situation.
The Whole Story
This movement could and should gain traction. Contact them, tell them you saw this article here, and join if you live in DE, or ask about opening a chapter in YOUR state. Start a coalition of activists who understand the need for police accountability .
My friend, now Delaware’s Attorney General, Kathleen Jennings, is inclined to do the right thing, but their office is terribly lax in investigating valid complaints about prison guards, who also are law enforcement officers.
Excerpts from the Article
Following two recent videotaped arrests in Sussex and New Castle counties, a newly formed organization aims to spotlight allegations of improper abuse by police statewide. Delaware for Police Oversight released a statement Wednesday accusing officers of “using excessive and unwarranted levels of force at a time when their lives were not in danger.”
A DPO Facebook page had 114 followers as of 12:30 p.m. Thursday. Other contacts were a DEL4PO@gmail.com email address. DEL4PO on Twitter and @DEL4PO on Instagram.
DPO’s summed up its emphasis and concerns in the statement: “Too many people throughout our great state have been victimized at the hand of police officers, and we must take this opportunity to set a strong precedent going forward.
“It should be stated in no uncertain terms that law enforcement officials who choose to abuse their authority will face swift and definitive punishment.”
DPO first detailed a Delaware State Police trooper’s Thursday, Feb. 14 gunpoint arrest of a reportedly speeding motorist in the Lincoln area at approximately 9:10 a.m. The next day, according to DPO, two New Castle County police officers allegedly pinned a 16-year-old male to the ground and punched him the face multiple times, resulting in a concussion. The teen was then held in jail for the entire weekend, the group claimed.
After chatroom discussion among state activists shortly after the incidents, member Megan Hart said the DPO was formed and social media accounts created. She said the group had approximately active 20 members and rising.
“The recent local incidents kind of mirrored what was happening nationally,” she said. “This was a group advocacy groups that wasn’t part of a specific coalition currently addressing any issue. “We had some time to put more effort into the efforts that recently came about and that’s why the organization was formed.”
Members attended a previously scheduled community forum with Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings Wednesday night at Seaford City Hall and Ms. Hart said there were positive back and forth conversations. Ms. Hart said a handful of police officers attended, with some speaking before the audience, along with elected state officials.
“We want to make it clear that we’re not anti-police but it’s about safety of community members and police through better practices and an emphasis on de-escalation during situations where a citizen is unarmed, ” Ms. Hart said.
According to DSP spokesman Sgt. Richard Bratz, authorities are aware motorist/Lincoln resident Mack Buckley, 40, recorded his arrest “that was posted to social media of a traffic stop involving a motorist and a state trooper …” Sgt. Bratz said DSP “initiated an internal investigation as soon as we became aware of the incident as per divisional policy. “This review is part of an internal process to ensure that we are in compliance with divisional policy and that we are also performing our duties at the level of professionalism that is expected by the citizens that we serve.”
The involved trooper was on regular duty as of Thursday.
DPO described itself as “a coalition of activists who understand the need for police accountability …”
The group called on the Delaware Attorney General’s office to:
•Condemn the trooper’s actions “and acknowledge the officer’s role in escalating the situation.”
•Drop resisting arrest charges against the defendants and two offensive touching of law enforcement officers counts by the teen.
•Fire the trooper and officers “for irresponsible handling of a service weapon and excessive use of force on a teenager, respectively.”
•Investigate, prosecute and punish the NCC officers for the alleged assault.
•Establish an independent Civilian Review Board to investigate police misconduct complaints statewide.
•Publish police practices and manuals online “like other cities and states do.”
Through a spokesman Thursday, AG Jennings released a statement:
“While it is inappropriate to comment on the specifics of any individual pending investigation, I am confident in the work that the Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust has done since it was created in 2015 to focus on cases involving law enforcement officers and agencies.
“I also have great respect for any advocates and activists who work to create change in our community and to ensure that a wide range of views and experiences are represented in public debate.”
Following the NCC incident, the ACLU of Delaware and Delaware Campaign for Justice lauded the AG for investigating the incident with the teen. The ACLU lobbied for an officer to be suspended pending completion of an investigation. “ … it is difficult to imagine circumstances that justify multiple officers pinning down a 16-year-old boy and punching him repeatedly in the face,” according to the ACLU.
The ACLU also saluted the teen’s friend for recording the incident “despite attempts by officers to get him to leave the scene. Recording the police is a First Amendment right.” DSP said a trooper patrolling the area of Fleatown and Cubbage Pond roads in a fully marked vehicle in Lincoln first saw a silver Mazda vehicle “pass in the opposite direction eastbound on Fleatown Road at a high rate of speed.”
A stop was made and a trooper was seen in video upholstering his firearm and pointing it at Mr. Buckley with orders to exit the car. The driver was arrested on charges of resisting arrest, speeding, no insurance and no registration. Following apprehension, police said, the motorist was taken to Troop 7 without further incident. An arraignment before Justice of the Peace Court followed and the driver was released on unsecured bond.
Death of South Carolina DUI suspect raises questions, prompts investigation A form refusing medical treatment was signed by an officer — not the man himself — raising questions about why he wasn’t taken to the hospital.
Someone should be prosecuted here, and I say the police chief! This situation speaks to terrible training, policies and procedures in his police department. What the hell gave the officer the idea that HE could waive the patient’s right to medical care?! Given the severity of the accident – open the whole story to see photos – it should have been plain to anyone with any sense that Mr. Rhodes may have internal injuries, and should have immediately gone to a hospital.
This will give rise to yet another lawsuit which will cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Excerpts from the Article:
State investigators are reviewing a case where a DUI suspect died after an officer — not the suspect — signed a form refusing medical treatment. The man, Nathaniel Rhodes, 58, had eight broken ribs and a ruptured liver when he died, according to medical records.
Rhodes crashed his van last August and, according to a police report, the father of three was already on a stretcher in an ambulance when an officer decided to conduct a field sobriety test after finding an open bottle of wine in his van. According to the report, Rhodes told the officer that “he had no injuries that would stop him from completing the tests” and then after being taken out of the ambulance, “failed to maintain his balance” during the tests.
Instead of being taken to the hospital, Rhodes sent to the police station to be booked for DUI.
A form refusing medical treatment lists a signature to be provided by the patient, in this case Rhodes, or a guardian. But instead, an officer on the scene signed the form — raising questions about why Rhodes wasn’t taken to the hospital. “That is the big question,” said Justin Bamberg, the attorney representing Rhodes’ widow. “And that is the question that both Charleston EMS and the City of Charleston Police Department have to answer.”
According to the police report, the cruiser’s dashboard camera was malfunctioning.
In surveillance video Bamberg provided to NBC News, EMTs at the police station don’t seem to realize Rhodes has broken ribs or any other internal injuries. Medical records show that Rhodes’ blood alcohol level was .11 at the time, exceeding South Carolina’s legal limit for drivers of .08.
His family believes, however, that the decision not to take him to the hospital delayed adequate medical treatment and ultimately proved fatal. Rhodes eventually slipped into a coma and died four days later at a hospital.
His wife of 35 years, Annette Rhodes, is devastated. “It hurts,” she said. “It really does.”
After NBC News inquired about the case, Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to conduct an independent investigation.
In a written statement, the department said that “while gathering information in response to a news request involving this case, the CPD was provided with a document that raised questions about whether CPD officers followed proper procedure when the driver was not transported to the hospital from the scene of the accident.”
Reynolds said, in part: “The loss of a life is always tragic and must be taken very seriously.” The officer has been placed on administrative leave.
Bamberg said the Rhodes family was considering legal action against the department. “He should have gone immediately to the hospital,” Annette Rhodes said. “I wish they would have given him a chance to still be here with us.”
The Whole Story
The Supreme Court Just Struck a Huge, Unanimous Blow Against Policing for Profit – Good Decison – kra
This case is monumental in that it clobbers the outrageous Civil Forfeiture laws, which I have written so much about. In 2014, police stole more than was stolen in ALL reported burglaries! This case will change that situation, though there will be mountains of litigation to determine which seizures are appropriate. So much that I expect that the Supreme Court will lay doen a rule … something like “no more in value than the highest fine allowed by law”.
Excerpts from the Article:
The Supreme Court struck an extraordinary blow for criminal justice reform on Wednesday, placing real limitations on policing for profit across the country. Its unanimous decision for the first time prohibits all 50 states from imposing excessive fines, including the seizure of property, on people accused or convicted of a crime. Rarely does the court hand down a ruling of such constitutional magnitude—and seldom do all nine justices agree to restrict the power that police and prosecutors exert over individuals. The landmark decision represents a broad agreement on the Supreme Court that law enforcement’s legalized theft has gone too far.
Wednesday’s ruling in Timbs v. Indiana, authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is sharp and concise. It revolves around a single question of extraordinary importance. The Eighth Amendment guarantees that no “excessive fines” may be “imposed,” an ancient right enshrined in the Magna Carta and enthusiastically adopted by the Framers. But the Bill of Rights originally applied only to the federal government, not the states. After the Civil War, the 14th Amendment was ratified to apply these rights to the states, which had engaged in grotesque civil rights violations to perpetuate slavery. The Supreme Court, however, slowly applied (or “incorporated”) these rights against the states one by one, not all at once. And before Timbs, it had never incorporated the Excessive Fines Clause—allowing states to exploit their residents for huge sums of cash and property.
They did so through civil asset forfeiture, a process that we would call theft in any other context. Here’s how it works: Prosecutors accuse an individual of a crime, then seize assets that have some tenuous connection to the alleged offense. The individual need not be convicted or even charged with an actual crime, and her assets are seized through a civil proceeding, which lacks the due process safeguards of a criminal trial. Law enforcement can seize money or property, including one’s home, business, or vehicle. It gets to keep the profits, creating a perverse incentive that encourages police abuses. Because the standards are so loose, people with little to no involvement in criminal activity often get caught up in civil asset forfeiture. For instance, South Carolina police tried to seize an elderly woman’s home because drug deals occurred on the property—even though she had no connection to the crimes and tried to stop them.
Tyson Timbs is not quite so sympathetic, but his story illustrates the injustice of limitless forfeiture. In 2015, Timbs was charged with selling heroin to undercover officers in Indiana. He pleaded guilty. A trial court sentenced him to a year of house arrest, five years’ probation, and an addiction-treatment program, which helped him overcome his opioid addiction. The court also ordered Timbs to pay $1,203 in fines and fees. So far, so fair.
But then Indiana hired a private law firm to seize Timbs’ Land Rover, which he used to transport heroin. The firm filed a civil suit to obtain the car, valued at $42,000—more than four times the maximum fine for his drug conviction. (Under Indiana law, the state and its chosen firm would get to split the profits.) Timbs fought back, alleging that the forfeiture constituted an “excessive fine” under the Eighth Amendment, applied to the states through the 14th Amendment. The Indiana Supreme Court disagreed, holding that SCOTUS had never incorporated that particular clause against the states.
In one sense, Ginsburg’s opinion is sweeping—it finally opens the federal courthouse door to victims of civil asset forfeiture, like Timbs, who believe they’ve been wronged. But Wednesday’s decision leaves some questions unanswered. The court has already ruled that when the federal government seizes money or property, the fine must not be “grossly disproportional to the gravity of [the] offense.” Presumably, this same standard now applies to the states. But when is a forfeiture grossly disproportionate? Does Indiana’s seizure of Timbs’ Land Rover meet this standard? Ginsburg didn’t say, instead directing the Indiana Supreme Court to evaluate the question. Prepare for a flood of litigation urging federal courts to determine when civil asset forfeiture crosses this constitutional line.
There is, regardless, a great deal to celebrate in Timbs v. Indiana. At long last, SCOTUS has put a federal check on states’ multimillion-dollar civil asset forfeiture schemes. People like Tyson Timbs will have a fighting chance of getting their stuff back when the states seize it for profit. The Supreme Court is unlikely to end policing for profit in one fell swoop. But on Wednesday, it sent a clear message to states like Indiana that the days of largely unregulated abusive forfeiture are over.
Unfortunately, this happens every day in America. See the article: What you can DO About Out of Control Police. Here. they “messed with the wrong Marine”!
Excerpts from the Article:
A former Marine has sued the LaSalle County Sheriff’s office, saying deputies “humiliated, degraded and dehumanized” her when they dragged her into a cell and forcibly stripped her naked after she was arrested on suspicion of DUI two years ago.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court, Zandrea Askew’s attorneys said she was sitting in her parked car when two LaSalle County sheriff’s deputies questioned her, and ordered her to undergo field sobriety tests, even though she had not committed any traffic violations, or been involved in an accident.
Askew’s lawsuit accuses LaSalle County Sheriff Thomas Templeton and several deputies of false arrest, unlawful detention, excessive force, malicious prosecution, and violation of due process.
The lawsuit claims Askew, 28, passed all of the field sobriety tests, and showed no signs of being drunk, or under the influence of drugs, but was still arrested for DUI.
Deputies reported finding Askew “very disoriented and confused” in her car. However, attorney Terry Ekl said Askew had pulled her car over because she was ill, and was on prescription medications.
According to the lawsuit, after her arrest, three female deputies dragged the former Marine sergeant, and forcibly removed all of her clothing. Askew’s attorneys said she cooperated with police the entire time, and was “thoroughly searched” on the side of the road, so there was no legitimate reason to strip her.
“Throughout her detention at the Jail, Plaintiff was not acting aggressively or engaging in any conduct that would cause an officer to be in reasonable apprehension of receiving bodily harm, or that justified the use of force against her,” they wrote. “The only objective of the officers was to punish, harass, humiliate, degrade, and inflict physical and psychological pain.”
Surveillance video from inside the cell shows deputies wrestling Askew to the ground during the strip search. Her attorney said video from moments earlier, during her interrogation, shows her calmly answering questions.
Five years ago, LaSalle County paid out $355,000 to settle lawsuits filed by five other women who were strip searched. The department also promised better training.
Ekl said he has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the sheriff’s office regarding strip-searches. “Why do you need to take someone’s clothes off if they’re not cooperating with you?” Ekl said. “This was not a strip-search where they were looking for contraband. This was a form of punishment.”
Practical Tip – Updated – Send out a PRESS RELEASE! – Call ATTENTION TO YOUR ISSUE OR CAUSE OR BUSINESS – FREE ADVERTISING
Updated 1/4/19 These are so effective that I remind you again. I am about to prepare a Press Release for the homeless shelter I work with, as they are in need of equipment and furnishings for their two new properties.
If your organization needs donations or help, tickle your calendar to send out a Press Release at least once every 5 or 6 months, to stay in the public’s eye!
The BEST way to get the word out about issues is a Letter to the Editor* – Click on Articles and then scroll to “Go in Depth” and click on “Letters to the Editor” for hundreds of examples and easy instructions.
*READ Practical Tip – Get Empowered! How YOU Can Create a Powerful, Effective Force for Reform of our Criminal Justice System -http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/practical-tip-how-you-can-create-a-powerful-effective-force-for-reform-of-our-criminal-justice-system/
But ANOTHER GREAT WAY to also attract eyeballs and the press, is a PRESS RELEASE. When I had my fast-growing businesses I sent one out every 3 months and got millions of dollars of “free advertising” … that’s what it amounts to! “We just hired so and so” or “We are now the exclusive Printer for X company” or “RecycleSaurous campaign Takes Off!”.
You get the email address for media outlets in your area … Newspapers, Radio, TV, and you email the PRESS RELEASE to yourself with bcc to all of the outlets!
YOU might do one like:
Joni Jumison has set up an organization to help free her wrongly convicted son. It is crystal clear he was wrongly convicted. To help or for further information, contact Joni Jumison at The Free Johnny Jumison Group at .. phone, email and mailing address.
YOUR signature block.
They may or may not use it, and they might contact you to do an article or report about it!
Here are two I sent out recently:
PRESS RELEASE – RALLY for JUSTICE – on 10/7/17
Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE (CCJ) is hosting a peaceful, quiet Rally for JUSTICE on The Green, Dover, DE on Saturday, 10/7/17, from 10 AM to 1 PM. All are welcomed. The Green is where our forefathers assembled to create this nation, a nation with a great criminal justice system. But that system has been severely damaged during the past 40 years. Join us, to improve your country and restore justice and fairness to the system. This is a NOT a political event. It is about justice and fairness. Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen will “kick it off” with his remarks at 9 AM. We have several other featured speakers, and you can make YOUR voice heard! Bring a hand held sign to promote your organization or cause!
Want to talk about kneeling, the flag, the anthem , protest? Come here to talk about it. After all, it is the failure of our criminal justice system which sparked the first such protest. Want to talk about DACA? Want to talk about Mandatory Minimum Sentences? Come Join us! We expect hundreds of people.
To learn more about this rally, contact Ken Abraham at email@example.com ; 302-423-4067
Come join us on The Green In Dover, from 9 A M to 1 P M to show your concern for the need for meaningful, positive, common sense criminal justice reform! https://www.facebook.com/images/emoji.php/v9/f4c/1/16/1f642.png:)
Any ????, give me a call.
PRESS RELEASE 10/7/17 – Executive Director of NARSOL To Speak in Delaware!
Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE has just received confirmation that the Executive Director of NARSOL To Speak in Delaware! Ms. Brenda Jones, the Executive Director of a relatively new national organization, NARSOL – National Advocates for Rational Sex Offender Laws- will be one of the Featured Speakers at our Rally for JUSTICE on Saturday, the 7th. She is travelling from Washington D C to be here and will speak at 10:30.
https://narsol.org/ See their website.
She is most welcomed indeed! I have long seen that many of our sex offender laws and restrictions make NO sense whatsoever!
Come join us on The Green In Dover, from 9 A M to 1 P M to show your concern for the need for meaningful, positive, common sense criminal justice reform!
For further information contact Ken Abraham at firstname.lastname@example.org or 302-423-4067.
It is not just Chicago, and it is not just 17 Million! The train wreck which we call our criminal justice system is costing YOU hundreds of millions of dollars annually, for wrongful convictions! THAT is how bad it is: depending what study you read, there are from 10,000 to 100,000 innocent people behind bars in America. Nobody knows the real number.
Excerpts from the Article:
On June 29, 2018, a federal jury awarded over $17 million to a Chicago man who spent 21 years in a maximum-security prison for a murder he did not commit.
Jacques Rivera, now 52, was convicted of the 1988 gangland killing of 16-year-old Felix Valentin. The only evidence tying him to the crime was an eyewitness – 12-year-old Oscar Lopez, who repeatedly failed to identify Rivera as the shooter. According to Rivera’s lawsuit, not only did Lopez fail to identify him, the boy identified the actual shooter. But Chicago cop Reynaldo Guevara manipulated Lopez’s memory and elicited the testimony that resulted in Rivera’s conviction.
Years later, Northwestern University’s Center for Wrongful Convictions took up Rivera’s case. Investigators interviewed Lopez, who admitted that he knew Rivera was not the shooter. Rivera moved for post-conviction relief, and based on Lopez’s testimony a court overturned his conviction. Cook County prosecutors dismissed all the charges and Rivera was released from prison in October 2011.
From my LEAP colleagues – I am a member of their Speakers Bureau :
Leading up to Election Day, LEAP speakers played a major role in criminal justice and drug policy reform efforts across the country, and yesterday, our hard work paid off!
Keep law enforcement speaking out for reform
Five key state campaigns successfully spoke out for more rational and effective policies with LEAP’s help:
• Florida: Amendment 4 passed, meaning more than one million people who have served their time for felony convictions will have their right to vote restored.
• Louisiana: Amendment 2 passed, ending non-unanimous juries in felony trials, a practice established under Jim Crow to maintain white supremacy in the state.
• Michigan: Prop 1 passed, legalizing and regulating adult use of marijuana.
• Oregon: Measure 105 was successfully defeated, blocking a repeal of laws protecting local police from being compelled to enforce federal immigration policies.
• Washington: Initiative 940 passed, requiring law enforcement to receive de-escalation, mental-health, and first-aid training; and to change standards for use of deadly force, adding “good faith” and independent investigation standards similar to those other states have successfully implemented.
Our speakers made more than 30 appearances in key states leading up to Election Day, giving interviews and live presentations, writing op-eds and letters to the editor, appearing in campaign ads, and serving as the law enforcement voice for reform. LEAP was instrumental in getting these measures across the finish line. We are so proud of our speakers’ tireless efforts and outstanding impact.
There’s still work to be done. Ohio’s Issue 1, which aimed to downgrade many nonviolent drug felonies to misdemeanors and bring a focus to rehabilitation and treatment, was defeated, as was North Dakota’s Prop 3, which aimed to legalize marijuana for adult use and expunge marijuana convictions. Though we’re disappointed in the outcomes in those states, we know that we’ve made significant progress. Our fight will continue, stronger than ever, and we will see real change, even in the places where we’ve struggled hardest. Especially in those places, because that’s where change is most needed. That’s where LEAP is most needed.
Thank you for being a part of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Ken. Supporters like you help get our speakers where they need to be, get our message to the masses, and – most importantly – drive our speakers and staff to keep working toward real, tangible change to our criminal justice and drug policies. Our collective public safety depends on it, so you can count on LEAP to keep things moving in the right direction.
Major Neill Franklin (Ret.)
This is pretty wild. In one case, it took 11 years for an officer to be disciplined! Thank God the system is getting tightened up, but we can only wonder what it is like in other cities. And guess who paid for the $642 million in police misconduct and brutality cases paid by Chicago from 2004 to 2015 … the taxpayers!
Excerpts from the Article:
The Chicago Police Department (“CPD”) has endured criticism for officer misconduct. An investigation by ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Tribune found that the city’s archaic system for disciplining officers allows it to avoid or long delay discipline, allowing officers who should be off the streets to be on patrol.
In one case, it took 11 years for an officer to be disciplined. That case involved CPD officer William Levigne. He told investigators that on an October 2006 evening, as he was driving home, that Walter Whitehead, who was driving his 16-year-old son Brandon home from work, cut him off. The Whiteheads said Levigne overtook them in his Monte Carlo as he pointed his gun at them, then ordered them out of their car at a stop light, forced them out of the car, and handcuffed Walter. Levigne called 911, asking for help from “a brother in blue,” as he blocked traffic. “I’ve get two offenders in custody—tried to kill me here!” As Levigne was not in uniform, Brandon was terrified and called 911, too. “Can you hear him?” Brandon asked the operator. She could. “Off the (expletive) phone!” Levigne yelled.
The Whiteheads filed a complaint with CPD, doubting Levigne would face discipline. “I never expected him to,” said Walter Whitehead. “We know how the system works.” While CPD’s disciplinary system is faulty, a civil suit netted a $78,700 settlement for the Whiteheads from the City of Chicago.
Initially, the Independent Police Review Authority (“IPRA”) found that Levigne was wrong, and it recommended a 60-day suspension. Levigne filed a grievance through the police union, and eight years later, the city, in 2014, reduced the suspension to five days and removed the finding that Levigne lied about the incident. That same year, Levigne was promoted to detective, but his discipline for the 2006 incident was not placed in his record nor did he serve the suspension until 2017.
How could such an important matter languish for so long? CPD still uses a paper system for officer-discipline cases, so when paperwork gets moved on to another stage, such as an appeal, nothing occurs until the paperwork returns to officials responsible for closing the matter. Without a computer system to track disciplinary cases, they can languish for years.
After video of a police officer shooting teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times went public in 2015, Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and pushed for a new ordinance that revamped the IPRA. Actually, the IPRA was shuttered and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (“COPA”) replaced it on September 15, 2017. Yet, the COPA is just as hamstrung as the IPRA. “Even if COPA gets everything right, there is this process that happens after where things can go off the rails, and that is what people should focus on and be concerned about fixing,” said Sharon Fairley, COPA’s former chief administrator who resigned to run for Illinois attorney general.
Records are still kept on paper and shuffled between COPA and CPD. To assure cases are not lost in the shuffle, new rules are in place. “Since the beginning of this year, the department has started a review into older cases that have a final disciplinary determination to ensure that they have been processed, that officers have properly served their discipline if applicable, and that the cases are ultimately closed,” said CPD spokesman Frank Giancamilli.
The COPA was intended to create transparency, but it cannot release its report on any case until it is final. “The longer the delays, that diminishes trust and it diminishes transparency by not providing a prompt window into how the agency charged with investigating police misconduct is conducting its investigations,” said University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman.
In early 2017, the U.S. Justice Department found that significant delays contributed to an ineffective disciplinary system. Without the fear of consequences for improper actions, some police officers feel they can act with impunity. That is costing the City of Chicago millions in settlements. According to an estimate from the Better Government Association, from 2004 to 2015, Chicago paid $642 million in police misconduct and brutality cases.