These police disciplinary records should be made public information! As you can see, the unions are a problem. Police and prison guard unions spend millions of dollars lobbying against needed reforms.
Excerpts from the Article:
Lawmakers in more than 20 states have considered bills this year to make the disciplinary records of police officers public or to share them with other agencies, a push that comes amid high-profile deaths at the hands of law enforcement. About 20 states still largely prohibit their release, however.
Supporters of greater transparency say it could help improve police accountability, build trust with the community and prevent officers with disciplinary problems who leave one department from being hired by another.
Opponents say the release of such records could harm the reputations of officers with only minor infractions or even put them in danger. They also argue that disciplinary actions are part of personnel records, which are exempt from state open records laws.
But amid growing nationwide protests against alleged excessive force by police officers, at least 16 states have contemplated measures to release such records, or summaries of them, publicly. Another eight have discussed making the records accessible to other law enforcement agencies.
In Utah, Republican Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill in March providing legal immunity to law enforcement agencies that share background information about former employees with other agencies looking to hire. State Sen. Jani Iwamoto, a Democrat in the GOP-dominated Legislature, introduced the legislation in response to the case of a University of Utah officer who resigned while being investigated for allegedly sharing explicit photographs of a victim in an alleged extortion case who was later killed. The officer was later hired by police in Logan, Utah, who did not know about the probe.
“We want people to feel that they can report a bad cop,” said Iwamoto, who also successfully sponsored another bill to ensure that police disciplinary investigations are completed even if an officer resigns while one is in progress. Without legislation in place, lawyers advised police departments not to share disciplinary records lest they be sued, Iwamoto said.
In North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature, lawmakers want to create a confidential database from which law enforcement agencies in the state can track all disciplinary actions to prevent officers from hiding past problems when looking for a new job.
“We enable agencies to better screen individuals … so that we can weed out who the bad apples are,” said Republican state Sen. Danny Britt.
Under an expansive police reform bill Britt is sponsoring, authorities also would track all use of force by officers resulting in serious injury or death. And the legislation would create an “early warning system” to collect data on citizens’ complaints and any transgressions with the aim of correcting an officer’s behavior before it leads to a deadly outcome.
Maryland has gone further, approving the release of records related to formal misconduct complaints. The Democrat-controlled Legislature overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who objected to the public release of complaints that haven’t been substantiated. Supporters contend the public has a right to see how police departments investigate complaints against officers.
The proposals come amid a national reckoning over the killings of Black people at the hands of police. Efforts to get access to police disciplinary records have increased along with public awareness of the issue, which has grown since the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, said Rachel Moran, an associate professor and founder of the Criminal and Juvenile Defense Clinic at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis.
In Maryland, the move is part of a sweeping police reform package that was prompted by the 2018 death of Anton Black, a 19-year-old African American who died in a rural Maryland town after officers pinned him to the ground for more than five minutes as they handcuffed him and shackled his legs.
One of the officers, Thomas Webster, had nearly 30 use-of-force complaints lodged against him while previously working in neighboring Delaware. Webster also had been charged with second-degree assault in that state for allegedly kicking a Black man in the head, but was acquitted in 2015.
Anton Black’s sister, LaToya Holley, said she hopes the new law translates into quicker answers for the families of anyone who dies at the hands of police.
“They need to work on trust,” she said of law enforcement. “There isn’t that much trust in the community.”
In 2018, California lawmakers voted to allow public access to records of officer shootings and other major uses of force. New York lawmakers last year repealed a law that had blocked public disclosure of disciplinary records for police officers, firefighters and correctional officers. Hawaii took similar action, allowing the public to learn the details of more than 80 cases of unwarranted assault and more than 100 cases of officers filing false reports or covering up infractions.
In New Jersey last year, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, without waiting for legislation, ordered local and state police to release the names and summaries of disciplinary records of officers who had been fired, demoted or suspended for more than five days. Grewal said the information was needed to promote community trust and police accountability amid protests against the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
For their part, members of New Jersey’s Democrat-controlled legislature considered but have failed to pass a bill this year to make police records public, though an early warning system of the kind being considered by North Carolina is already in place.
Meanwhile, nothing has come of Grewal’s order yet because of a legal challenge by law enforcement unions. They argue that personnel records are exempt under state open records laws, and that officers and their families could be put at risk if they are made public. They also object to releasing information about past confidential disciplinary agreements for problems such as drinking and domestic violence.
Pat Colligan, president of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, said many officers who have dealt with problems like that have gone on to have good careers. Colligan said he would support the release of records only for major infractions, such as excessive force and civil rights violations, from now on.
He also would like to see the state’s early warning system be given a chance to provide officers with help or weed out those not meant to wear a badge.
“People have to stop assuming every officer is a problem officer,” he said.
The Whole Story:
Group advocates for those arrested in wake of law enforcement killing of Andrew Brown Jr.; protests continue for day 11
Tonight (5/3/21) police are arresting protesters earlier than ever in the evening.
These protests must continue until we learn the TRUTH of why cops shot Andrew Brown. DEMAND TRANSPARENCY!
All of the hiding of their body cam film is BULLSHIT!
Excerpts from the Article:
A social justice group held a press conference on Saturday in Elizabeth City to advocate for protesters arrested in the wake of the law enforcement killing of Andrew Brown Jr. and to make several demands.
Rev. Curtis Gatewood, founder of “Stop Killing Us Solutions Campaign,” was among the speakers. He was one of several protesters arrested and wanted to clear up misconceptions.
He said he sat down on the streets of Elizabeth City at 8 p.m. earlier this week because he says it was his way to protest an “unjust law,” meaning the curfew. The curfew originally started Monday at 8 p.m. and was later extended from midnight to 6 a.m.
He said the curfew put in place was unnecessary because all protests have been peaceful, and that it infringes on the First Amendment.
Gatewood, who was also joined by former Elizabeth City State student and local business owner Addonis Jones and others, also called for the elimination of no-knock warrants and a national registry of law enforcement officers who’ve been fired for previous offenses at other precincts.
“I’m doing this for all those children out there who look like me or will look like me one day. I did that for them because if don’t nobody do it, our same kids will keep dying,” Jones said.
Jones also is calling for psychological evaluations for police officers.
The group is pushing for the release of bodycam footage in the case and the suspension of all seven deputies involved in the raid in which Brown was killed. 3 who fired their weapons are still on administrative leave but four who did not have been reinstated.
The bodycam footage in the case was delayed from public release this week for at least 30 days. The district attorney in the case, Andrew Womble, claims video shows Brown’s car making contact with deputies before they fired. The family believes that wasn’t the case and have called Brown’s death an execution.
The group also demanded that law enforcement officers staying at Elizabeth City State University housing leave, calling the decision to house the officers an escalation. ECSU said Friday that 13 officers that were being housed there were moving off-campus.
The press conference came a day the North Carolina ACLU and other civil rights groups sent a letter to Elizabeth City officials, saying a new requirement that permits need to be filed to hold protests violates the First Amendment. The group also demanded for Elizabeth City to lift its midnight curfew.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation, and the FBI has also opened its own probe.
Protests started in Elizabeth City around 5:30 p.m Saturday. Protesters began outside the Pasquotank County Public Safety Office.
At least 100 people were involved in the march.
Protester Denita Latta drove all the way down to Elizabeth City from Philadelphia to participate in the protests. She’s an Elizabeth City State University alum and brought a sign reading “Genocide by status quo.” She said she made the sign 10 years ago after Trayvon Martin was killed. It’s the same old song. It’s the same old song. We’re still doing this. And I just can’t stop. I have three Black sons, so every day that I wake up, it could be one of them,” she said.
Latta — who now lives in Delaware — echoed what Jones and others said during the press conference Saturday afternoon. She wants to see federal changes in policing requirements.
Protesters, escorted by Elizabeth City police, chanted “release the tapes” as they marched to the Waterfront area Saturday night.
By 9:30 p.m., there was a police presence by the bridge connecting Pasquotank and Camden counties. Elizabeth City police had blocked Water Street and Colonial Avenue after some protesters tried to block the bridge.
A different group of protesters then returned by 10:20 p.m. and were standing off against police at the start of the bridge. NC state troopers were waiting across the bridge.
Some protesters has dispersed by 11 p.m.
BELOW: Video from day 10 of protests in Elizabeth City.
As it should be. We need more judges like this, rather than tRumpster idiot governors who want to make it legal to kill peaceful protesters!
District Judge Algenon L. Marbley wrote that “some of the members of the Columbus Police Department had no regard for the rights secured by (the First Amendment of the Constitution) this bedrock principle of American democracy. This case is the sad tale of police officers, clothed with the awesome power of the state, run amok.”
Excerpts from the Article:
A federal judge in Columbus granted a preliminary injunction Friday against the Columbus Division of Police, barring officers’ use of tear gas, pepper spray, wooden bullets and other so-called “non-lethal force” against nonviolent protesters.
In a decision favoring 26 protesters who said they were brutalized by officers during demonstrations last year, Chief U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley wrote that “some of the members of the Columbus Police Department had no regard for the rights secured by (the First Amendment of the Constitution) this bedrock principle of American democracy. This case is the sad tale of police officers, clothed with the awesome power of the state, run amok.”
Marbley, who opened his 88-page decision Friday with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., also barred police from inflicting “pain or punishment to deter nonviolent protesters” — those who “are chanting, verbally confronting police, sitting, holding their hands up when approaching police, occupying streets or sidewalks, and/or passively resisting police orders.”
The ruling requires Columbus police to ensure that body and vehicle cameras “are in good working order and used during every interaction” with nonviolent protesters, and that officers’ badge numbers and/or identity cards are clearly displayed “even when riot gear is worn.”
John Marshall, lead attorney for plaintiffs in the case, said the decision “will have a significant impact on the ability of the Columbus police to inflict violence against lawful protesters.”
“We captured through eye-witness testimony and by combing through thousands of hours of video, including body cams, what really happened on the streets of Columbus during the Black Lives Matter protests,” Marshall said. “And what really happened was that the police vindictively attacked lawful and peaceful protesters, we believe, because they were protesting against the very violence that the police have long inflicted on communities of color.”
A request for comment from Columbus police made through the Department of Public Safety was met with a prepared statement from Mayor Andrew J. Ginther, who said that the city last summer “was faced with extraordinary circumstances not seen in more than two decades. Today’s ruling tells us we fell short in our response.
“We have already implemented changes that address most, if not all, of the orders in the court’s decision so that residents can feel safe in expressing their First Amendment rights in a nonviolent way,” Ginther said, referring to rules the city imposed that had limited use of non-lethal force to situations where officers were directly threatened with physical violence.
“The changes we made last summer have been evident in many protest events that followed, without confrontation or incident. We are committed to continuing to reform policing in Columbus to not only meet, but exceed, the community’s expectations.”
City Attorney Zach Klein said in a prepared statement that the city respected the judge’s decision.
“We have always believed that nonviolent, peaceful protesters must be respected, and unnecessary and excessive force must not be used against them,” Klein said. “This is reflected in our efforts to change police policies regarding the use of chemical agents and further underscores the need to welcome the Department of Justice to help change the way Columbus polices.”
The protesters sued the city in U.S. District Court in Columbus, saying that they were brutalized by Columbus police during protests following the May 25, death of George Floyd last year at the hands of Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, who was recently convicted of murder in the case.
Racial injustice protests over Floyd’s death began in Columbus on May 28 and continued into June and July. Plaintiffs said in court filings that they were “dedicated to nonviolent protest, including civil disobedience of traffic, parade and mass-gathering regulations to generate urgent widespread public attention to the historic and continuing police violence directed overwhelmingly at communities and people of color condoned by mostly white police supervisors and administrators,” according to documents.
Much of the118-page complaint, filed in September, described in detail incidents of what the plaintiffs say was police brutality against nonviolent protesters. The filing included photos of bloody gashes, broken bones and large bruises caused by wooden bullets or from protesters being thrown to the ground by officers, plaintiffs alleged.
Attorneys for the officers and other defendants countered that the city supports peaceful and lawful protest and already “prohibits unjust or prejudicial treatment based on race or color as well as the use of excessive or punitive force.”
They reiterated in court filings the policies and procedures in place to protect and prioritize citizens’ right to “peacefully and lawfully protest” and “prohibit police from retaliating against protesters based on their speech and from using excessive and punitive force.”
They also noted that the city has revised policies, including changes to the city code and charter, to address issues raised in the lawsuit and that “sizable protests pertaining to allegations of police brutality” have taken place in Columbus “with no uses of force at all.”
Plaintiffs asked the court to issue an injunction barring Columbus police from using pepper spray, wooden bullets and other non-lethal weapons against nonviolent protesters, plus compensation for how they were treated by officers.
Similar lawsuits were filed elsewhere. A federal judge restricted Los Angeles police from using projectile launchers against protesters. A similar decision was issued by a federal judge in Oregon.
More than 800 complaints related to police actions during the Columbus protests were submitted to the city. A subsequent investigation by BakerHostetler, the local law firm hired by the city, resulted in 49 reports, though only eight involved sustained allegations and one resulted in discipline. That officer was given documented counseling for not filing the proper paperwork.
The city also hired a retired FBI agent to investigate any potential criminal misconduct by officers during last year’s protests. To date, no charges have been filed.
Additionally, the city commissioned a $250,000 review of police response during last year’s protests by former U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University and offer recommendations for improvement.
Judge Marbley’s decision Friday included a “History of Policing,” tracing the development and racial underpinnings of law enforcement agencies and practices in the United States from colonial times onward.
The list included formal “slave patrols” in the South during the 1800s; post-Civil War Black Codes and Jim Crow laws and other policies that targeted people of color and immigrants.
The judge described police handling of civil rights protests, writing, “… peaceful protests for civil rights were met with police violence and arrests, fire hoses, and dog attacks. Riots that erupted after instances of police brutality or discrimination occurred with regularity in American cities during the 1960s.”
In addition, Marbley wrote about more-recent incidents, including the “brutal police beating of Rodney King in 1991” and Floyd’s murder last year.
He recounted Columbus police crowd control policies and practices for the use of tear gas, pepper spray, wooden bullets and other munitions, as well as plaintiffs’ descriptions of how they were treated during protests in May and June.
“It is understandable why an officer might take personally profane and provocative chants,” Marbley wrote. “But what is not comprehensible is why she would then let that dictate her treatment of individuals exercising their First Amendment right, no matter how unkind their chants and signs might be. What separates our nation from some others is the ability to criticize our leaders and those bearing the imprimatur of state authority without fear of retribution. Typically, police are the ones who protect and ensure that this cherished right remains unencumbered. That is not what occurred last summer.”
He added later: “Plaintiffs allege that throughout last summer’s protests, they were peacefully observing, providing medical aid, or protesting when Defendants, often clad in riot gear, exercised an indiscriminate use of chemical irritants, physical force, and other weapons.”
The ruling does not completely ban the use of force by police, when warranted.
“The relief that plaintiffs request leaves open all lawful options for police to use reasonable force when necessary to defend against a threat and to make arrests when supported by probable cause,” Marbley wrote. “And any possible benefit police officers could gain from deploying chemical agents, projectiles, or striking weapons against demonstrators who pose no threat and are not resisting lawful commands is outweighed by the irreparable harm peaceful protestors could face.”
Marbley also wrote that protests against police brutality continue: “Protests are inherently ongoing, and it is often difficult to tell where one protest ends and the next begins. There is nothing in the record that indicates that upon another protest, plaintiffs will not experience further constitutional deprivations and physical harm at the hands of the police. Indeed, plaintiffs and witnesses have attended multiple protests and were twice subject to problematic police treatment.”
Ohio officials release more body cam video of fatal police shooting of Black teen and urge community to await the facts
I have read the reports and seen all the videos available, and it certainly seems to me that this shooting was justified!
Excerpts from the Article:
Columbus, Ohio, officials released additional body camera video on Wednesday of a police officer fatally shooting a Black teen who charged two females with a knife.
“We don’t yet have all of the facts but we do know that a 16-year-old girl, a child of this community, tragically died last night,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther told reporters.
“Bottom line: Did Ma’Khia Bryant need to die yesterday?” he added. “How did we get here? This is a failure on the part of our community. Some are guilty but all of us are responsible.”
Police body cam video shows Ma’Khia Bryant charging a young woman with a knife Tuesday before she was shot by officer in Columbus, Ohio.
Police identified the officer who fired the shots as Nicholas Reardon, who was hired in December 2019. The officer is off street duty pending an investigation. Calls seeking comment from the police union have not been returned.
Hundreds gathered in different sections of Columbus throughout the day as they headed toward police headquarters.
In a series of clips from police body camera video, the girl is seen holding a knife during a tussle with another young woman. An officer arrived at the scene and opened fire when the girl appeared to attempt to stab a second woman.
In the video, one officer is heard asking, “Where is she hit?” The officer starts lifesaving measures. “Stay with us,” he tells the girl, asking bystanders her name. “Stay with us, Ma’Khia,” he implored.
Officials asked the community to wait for all the facts to come out.
In Tuesday’s shooting, police received a call at 4:32 p.m. indicating “females were there trying to stab them and put their hands on them,” Columbus Interim Police Chief Michael Woods said.
The video shows a teen quickly move toward another girl with what appears to be a knife, and the girl falls to the ground. The officer yells, “Hey, hey, hey, hey. Get down!” before she appears to lunge at a second girl with the knife, according to the video. The officer tells her to “Get Down! Get down! Get down! Get down!” and then fires four shots in the direction of the teenager.
The Whole Story
Folks celebrated nationwide, because this was not about one case, it was not about one decision, it was not about one cop. It was about far too many cops killing people unjustifiably, for decades, with no accountability.
Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
New Yorkers breathed easily after jurors hundreds of miles away rendered that verdict against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis cop who murdered George Floyd.
Moments after Chauvin was found guilty on all counts, celebrations unfolded in a spring day in New York City.
At Barclays Center — where raucous, thousands-strong protests occurred nightly last spring — a relatively subdued demonstration began Tuesday. When it began there were almost as many reporters as demonstrators, but the group gathered enough strength to march and close down a lane of Flatbush Avenue.
“Whose streets? Our streets,” they chanted.
Other demonstrations peacefully unfolded in Times Square, across the Manhattan Bridge and elsewhere in New York City.
No Knock warrants almost never are needed and should be banned. Here is another reminder of why!
Excerpts From the Article:
You would think Breonna Taylor’s death would have seen no-knock warrants quickly banned nationwide and cops being more proactive about making sure they’re actually targeting the right places when using one. Yeah, nah. A retired corrections officer had her home raided last month by narcotics officers in the New York Police Department.
According to the New York Daily News, Debra Cottingham, 58, was home alone in the early morning hours of March 19 when she heard her screen door open and a battering ram begin to bang on her door. Before she could even get downstairs, the cops were at her bedroom door. They handcuffed her and made her wait downstairs while they searched the house.
“I said, ‘You’re dealing with me like it’s a crackhouse,’ and the officer said, ‘It is a crackhouse,’” Cottingham told the Daily News. ’’I never shook so much in my life. I was the only woman here. To watch all them men, officers, run through here, I was terrified.”
Cottingham legally owns two guns and told the Daily News she would’ve been within her rights to grab a gun to protect herself from an intruder. “What would have happened? I asked them that — nobody said anything. It could have been another Breonna Taylor situation,” Cottingham told the Daily News.
The cops were there to find her boyfriend’s 26-year-old son, who Cottingham said she hasn’t seen in nearly three years. She explained to the news outlet that she kicked him out of their home because he stole from her and he was involved with drugs and gang activity.
Before executing these no-knock warrants, cops are expected to do their due diligence in casing out the residence. They’re supposed to gather intel about who lives in the home, what firearms training they have, and there also needs to be credible evidence that criminal activity is occuring in the home.
Clearly, these cops didn’t do any of that because if they had they would’ve realized that ol’ boy hadn’t been in Cottingham’s home for years, and that Cottingham herself is a retired city corrections officer who briefly worked with the NYPD.
The Daily News tried to contact Novonil Chowdhury, the officer who obtained the warrant, and Detective Sekou Bourne about the raid but received no response. The NYPD has also not spoken on the warrant.
From the New York Daily News:
Bourne has been the subject of 21 complaints to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, with the watchdog agency substantiating nine of the 42 total allegations of wrongdoing in those complaints. He lost 15 days in one excessive force case and 15 more in a case for which he was found guilty of an improper stop-and-frisk and house search, as well as abuse of authority.
Bourne is also named in 10 lawsuits from civilians against the city and NYPD, one pending plus nine that have settled for a total of $440,000.
Cottingham has filed a complaint with the Internal Affairs Bureau and the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
A bill was introduced in the New York state legislature last year that would severely limit no-knock warrants to only being used for violent criminals and terrorists; banning them from use in drug cases. Clearly, they need to get on passing that sooner rather than later because this situation is disturbingly similar to what happened with Taylor. Cottingham told the news outlet that she has been jumpy since the raid and has continually had flashbacks.
It is cleat from this trial that we have a looooooong way to go in training police.
Excerpts from the Article:
Onlookers grew increasingly angry as they begged Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin to take his knee off George Floyd’s neck, but Chauvin would not let up, and another officer forced back members of the crowd who tried to intervene, witnesses testified Tuesday at Chauvin’s murder trial.
WARNING: Video in this story may contain graphic content.
Witness after witness described how Chauvin was unmoved by their pleas, with the teenager who shot the harrowing video of the arrest that set off nationwide protests testifying that the police officer gave the crowd a “cold” and “heartless” stare.
“He didn’t care. It seemed as if he didn’t care what we were saying,” said 18-year-old Darnella Frazier, one of several witnesses who testified through tears.
Chauvin continued to kneel on Floyd while fellow Officer Tou Thao held the crowd of about 15 back, even when one of the onlookers identified herself as a firefighter and pleaded repeatedly to check Floyd’s pulse, according to witnesses and bystander video.
“They definitely put their hands on the Mace, and we all pulled back,” Frazier told the jury.
The firefighter, Genevieve Hansen, wept on the witness stand as she recalled how she was not allowed to give any medical assistance or tell the police what to do, such as administering chest compressions.
“There was a man being killed,” said Hansen, who testified in her dress uniform and said she had emergency medical technician training. “I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities. And this human was denied that right.”
Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter, accused of killing Floyd last May by pinning the 46-year-old handcuffed Black man to the pavement for what prosecutors said was 9 minutes and 29 seconds. Floyd was arrested after being accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at the convenience store.
Floyd’s death, along with the bystander video of him pleading that he couldn’t breathe, triggered sometimes-violent protests around the world and a reckoning over racism and police brutality across the U.S.
The most serious charge against the now-fired white officer carries up to 40 years in prison.
The defense has argued that Chauvin did what his training told him to do and that Floyd’s death was not caused by the officer but by a combination of illegal drug use, heart disease, high blood pressure and the adrenaline flowing through his body.
On Tuesday, the prosecution asked multiple witnesses to describe their horror at what they saw, buttressing the testimony with multiple videos, some of which had never been seen before. Many testified about feelings of helplessness and guilt as Floyd gasped for air, pleaded for his life and finally fell limp and silent, his eyes rolling back in his head.
The testimony was apparently aimed at showing that Chauvin had multiple opportunities to think about what he doing and change course.
But Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson also sought to portray the onlookers as angry and agitated, in an apparent attempt to show that the crowd posed a potential threat to police that might have distracted them during their encounter with Floyd.
Hansen testified that the crowd was getting more upset and that the paramedics did a “load and go”— placing Floyd on a stretcher and quickly getting him away from the crowd so he could be treated elsewhere.
Donald Williams, one of the onlookers, testified that he called 911 after paramedics took Floyd away, “because I believed I witnessed a murder.” In a recording of the emergency call, Williams could be overheard yelling at the officers: “Y’all is murderers, bro!”
During cross-examination, Chauvin’s lawyer pointed out that Williams seemed to grow increasingly angry at the police, taunting Chauvin with “tough guy,” “bum” and other names, then calling Chauvin expletives, which the defense lawyer repeated in court.
Williams, a professional mixed martial arts fighter, initially admitted he was getting angrier, but then backtracked and said he was controlled and professional and was pleading for Floyd’s life but wasn’t being heard.
Williams said he was stepping on and off the curb, and at one point, Thao, who was controlling the crowd, put his hand on Williams’ chest. Williams admitted under questioning that he told Thao he would beat the officers if Thao touched him again.
But witnesses also testified that no bystanders actually interfered with police.
When Frazier was asked by a prosecutor whether she saw violence anywhere on the scene, she replied: “Yes, from the cops. From Chauvin, and from officer Thao.”
Also Tuesday, prosecutors played cellphone video recorded by yet another bystander, 18-year-old Alyssa Funari, that showed onlookers shouting and screaming at Chauvin after Floyd stopped moving. The footage also showed the Minneapolis firefighter calmly walk up to Thao and offer to help, before he ordered her to get back on the sidewalk.
“I felt like there wasn’t really anything I could do as a bystander,” a tearful Funari said, adding that she felt she was failing Floyd. “Technically I could’ve did something, but I couldn’t really do anything physically … because the highest power was there at the time,” she said, referring to the police.
Frazier testified that she looks at her father and other Black men in her life and thinks of “how that could have been one of them.”
“It’s been nights I stayed up, apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting and not saving his life,” she said, adding of Chauvin: “But it’s like, it’s not what I should’ve done, it’s what he should’ve done.”
My friend, Kathy Jennings, our AG, continues to do a great job. As she says here: “Police have a difficult job, but at a bare minimum we expect honesty,” said Attorney General Jennings. “Police who break the law commit two injustices: the crime itself, and damage to the public trust that lingers long after a trial. These cases deserve the highest level of scrutiny and independence, and are precisely why we established and expanded the Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust. We cannot, do not, and will not tolerate this kind of conduct from anyone – let alone those we trust to enforce the law.”
Excerpts from the Article:
Attorney General Kathy Jennings and the DOJ’s Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust announced Tuesday that a grand jury has indicted James MacColl, formerly a corporal of the Wilmington Police Department, on two felonies and one misdemeanor.
MacColl, 39, is charged with Providing a False Statement to Law Enforcement, Tampering with Physical Evidence, and Official Misconduct for his actions in the aftermath of a police-involved shooting on February 2, 2019.
“Police have a difficult job, but at a bare minimum we expect honesty,” said Attorney General Jennings. “Police who break the law commit two injustices: the crime itself, and damage to the public trust that lingers long after a trial. These cases deserve the highest level of scrutiny and independence, and are precisely why we established and expanded the Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust. We cannot, do not, and will not tolerate this kind of conduct from anyone – let alone those we trust to enforce the law.”
In February 2019, MacColl responded to a 911 call reporting an armed carjacking, pursuing and ultimately shooting Yahim Harris, of Wilmington. During an ensuing use of force investigation by the Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust1, DOJ investigators became aware of a ballistics analysis that revealed discrepancies between the bullets fired from MacColl’s service weapon and the barrel of his gun. At the time, MacColl – who had previously been the subject of a use of force investigation following the 2015 shooting of Jeremy McDole – denied changing the barrel on his weapon.
The ballistics discrepancy did not affect DCRPT’s conclusion as to the legality of MacColl’s use of force, since it was undisputed that MacColl had fired his weapon at Harris. However, DCRPT disclosed the discrepancy in a public report issued in November 2019.
DOJ later learned of an interview in which MacColl admitted that he had switched the standard issue five-twist barrel on his service weapon with an aftermarket six-twist barrel in 2017. MacColl claimed that he had not changed his barrel when he shot Yahim Harris, but did not explain how the barrel of his weapon would have changed prior to its analysis. It was the first time that the DOJ became aware of any such admission.
MacColl’s total lack of candor during DOJ’s investigation forced prosecutors to drop then-pending charges against Harris for the alleged carjacking, as the State detailed in a memo filed in Superior Court on March 3, 2020.
As DCRPT describes in a Rule 9 Warrant, the State alleges that MacColl – who would have known from his prior involvement in the McDole use of force investigation that his firearm would be seized and would be produced in an official proceeding – knowingly and unlawfully attempted to conceal the use of an aftermarket barrel by swapping out his weapon’s barrel. MacColl’s alleged conduct not only misled investigators in the DOJ and in Wilmington Police Department, but derailed and terminated the prosecution of an alleged violent crime.
If convicted, MacColl will face a maximum of five years in prison. The DOJ reminds the press and public that an indictment is a formal accusation and that MacColl is presumed innocent until his is convicted at a trial, at which the State will bear the burden of proof.
1 At the time of the use of force investigation, the Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust was still organized as the Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust.
PA should enact a law to compensate the victims of such injustice! Nothing is worse than prosecutor/police misconduct as seen here.
Excerpts from the Article:
Donald Outlaw had already spent 15 years in prison for murder when he found out the man he was convicted of killing had told police with his dying breath that someone else named “Shank” had shot him.
Outlaw filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Philadelphia and the two detectives who investigated the killing of Jamal Kelly in 2000. The lawsuit is just the latest example of justice now being sought over faulty or crooked police investigations and prosecutions in the city from decades before.
Outlaw’s attorneys allege the city and its police department turned a blind eye to unconstitutional practices by homicide detectives — withholding evidence that indicated someone else’s guilt and intimidating and paying witnesses to provide false statements — that hampered Outlaw’s ability to get a fair trial and violated his civil and constitutional rights.
“Mr. Outlaw’s wrongful incarceration was the direct result of egregious misconduct by Defendants,” his attorneys wrote in the lawsuit filed in the U.S. Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
“Defendants improperly used their power and position to coerce witnesses into making false statements and identifications, and to offer sworn testimony that they knew to be false,” the attorneys wrote. “Defendants also withheld exculpatory evidence that would have demonstrated Mr. Outlaw’s innocence and deliberately disregarded information and evidence that would have demonstrated flaws in the case against him.”
At Outlaw’s trial in 2004 — four years after Kelly was killed — the victim’s dying declaration that “Shank” did it was never disclosed. Statements from four witnesses who had recanted or said they signed but never read the officers’ written statement were still read to jurors, with prosecutors claiming Outlaw had intimidated them out of testifying, Outlaw’s attorneys said.
In addition to the city, the lawsuit names the two detectives, Jeffrey Piree and Howard Peterman. Outlaw’s attorneys say Piree investigated the cases of three other men exonerated in recent years by the conviction integrity unit of the Philadelphia prosecutor’s office.
A city spokesperson said city officials had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment, but confirmed that both detectives were “not current city employees.” A phone call to a listing for Piree went unanswered, and a message left at a listing for Peterman was not immediately returned Wednesday.
Twenty-one people have been exonerated in Philadelphia since the end of 2016, 18 of whom were released after investigations by the conviction integrity unit since 2018, when District Attorney Larry Krasner took office.
Several other exonerated men have filed claims of withheld exculpatory evidence, coercion of witnesses and intimidation that led to false statements.
After years of appeals, Outlaw’s attorneys with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project persuaded the court to open a file that included the dying declaration and a letter from a witness saying he had hoped to be released from incarceration in exchange for his testimony.
Outlaw’s wife, Monique Solomon-Outlaw, also posted fliers asking anyone with information to come forward. That was more than 15 years after the shooting, but a witness did come forward saying she saw someone else fire the fatal shots.
That new witness testified in 2019 with another witness from the first trial, who recanted his testimony and described how detectives had helped him concoct the story against Outlaw. A judge freed him on bail.
At first, prosecutors planned to retry Outlaw. But other prosecutors in the integrity unit decided there was not enough evidence, and the case was dropped.
Outlaw, who declined to be interviewed about the lawsuit, has been working with the Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network, said his attorney Josh Van Naarden, a founding partner at VSCP Law.
The lawsuit seeks compensation for the time spent in jail — the missed chance at educational, personal and life experiences. Pennsylvania is one of about 15 states that don’t have formalized compensation programs for people exonerated and freed from prison.
Philadelphia has also seen more civil lawsuits over wrongful incarceration. At the end of last year, the city had paid out more than $35 million over three years, including a $9.8 million settlement with a man freed after spending more than three decades behind bars for a murder he did not commit.
Excerpts from the Article:
How is it possible that a mayor can’t fire a bad cop in Wisconsin? No, this time it isn’t about the police union, which can’t actually stop a cop from being fired per se, but can take the case to binding arbitration where the cop can be reinstated with back pay for not being significantly worse than the cops who haven’t been fired for being as bad.
This time, it’s because a very progressive idea came to fruition. It was meant to deal with one problem, which it did very well. It created another problem, but our concern now wasn’t the same as their concern then. Something had to be done and it was.
A state law passed in 1885 gives volunteer citizen boards authority to hire and fire police and fire chiefs. These police and fire commissions are also tasked with disciplining members of police and fire departments when issues arise.
That means when people call for the removal of a police officer or chief, the mayor or city council can’t step in.
The reason for this law was sound, as far as it went. “It wasn’t that unusual for a new political party to come into city hall and literally fire everyone on the police department and bring in new people,” Kennedy said. “Obviously this made for disastrous favors, laws were enforced badly, or they weren’t enforced at all, and over decades, many measures were put in place to try to stop this.”
Kennedy said over the last 120 years, the setup has insulated police from oversight if there is corruption within their own department.
“This is a singular, structural, legal creation that essentially assures that lack of accountability,” Kennedy said.
The problem at hand was that police were seen as the muscle for whoever was in office. When the old regime was voted out, the police went with them. New leadership, loyal to the new regime, was installed, and cop jobs with guns and shields were handed out to loyal soldiers as payback. That’s a very serious problem, and the solution was to take the power to fire cops out of the hands of the machine and put it into the hands of citizens.
The flip side of the problem is that it removes authority from the elected civilian officials, not to mention the police chief, to deal with problems. And that includes the hiring and firing of police chiefs as well, so when issues arose with the handling of protests and riots, mayors were blamed by outraged activists even though they have no power to do anything about it.
Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride has come up against the law firsthand. Members of the community called on McBride to make bold changes after an officer killed three people of color in five years. But McBride said his hands were tied. “People insisted over and over again that I fire Joseph Mensah, and that I fire the police chief, and I would insist over and over again that I don’t have the authority under Wisconsin law,” McBride said. Because of McBride’s “failure” to fire Mensah, McBride came under fire for his perceived failure to deal with this bad cop. The problem is that he has no more power to deal with it than any other citizen. McBride said he was assured by Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber that an internal investigation would be done and the officers responsible will be disciplined. But as mayor, he can’t call for disciplinary action. Instead, he can file charges with the police and fire commission.
“Any member of the community who feels that he or she has been mistreated by any police department can file charges,” McBride said.
Of course, that’s not a sufficient answer from a mayor, who is expected to be in charge of such things, even though the law precludes him and the police chief from firing a cop. The question of what, and whether, to further tweak the system in light of the moment’s passions is a fair one. After all, what use is civilian control over the police if it can’t address serious problems that demand action.
But then, every “fix” has its unintended consequences, a lesson that few seem capable or willing to learn. The problem being “fixed” today might not reflect the problem as perceived years later, and it’s often hard to foresee the consequences reform that made sense at the time will have when circumstances change.