God Bless lawyers like Mr. Igwe. Come on, Delaware State Police, you can do much better than this bullshit!
When cops act like the rude idiots in this case, they just further undermine respect for police. This is another good reason to eliminate the Delaware police Bill of Rights law!
Excerpts from the Article:
Delaware State Police are facing a lawsuit after four plainclothes officers in unmarked vehicles blockaded a woman in her car and held her at gunpoint, before realizing she was not the suspect they were searching for.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday night in U.S. District Court, seeks damages for “extreme emotional pain and suffering,” citing claims of excessive force, false arrest, assault and battery, and negligence.
Martiayna Watson, 20, was leaving the BP Gas station at 201 S. Heald St. in Wilmington’s Southbridge neighborhood at 5:25 p.m. on June 24 when, according to the suit, she noticed a car driving slowly behind her. The car followed her to the 1000 block of Church St. when the car suddenly swerved in front of Watson to cut her off, stopped and reversed into her car. At the same time, a second car hit Watson from behind.
A third and fourth car then pulled up on either side of her car, blocking her in. All four cars were unmarked Delaware State Police vehicles driven by plainclothes officers.
“I thought I was about to be kidnapped,” Watson said Thursday during a press conference outside the gas station.
The four plainclothes officers got out of their cars with guns drawn and pointed at Watson through her rolled-down windows, according to the suit.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
“Stop talking and shut the —- up,” an officer said, the suit says.
One of the officers broke the driver’s side rear window of Watson’s car, according to the suit, and another officer opened the door of her car and forcefully pulled out Watson.
When Watson started to cry and ask what was going on, according to the lawsuit, an officer put a stun gun to her neck and said, “I’m going to —- you up.”
“I think we have the wrong person,” an officer eventually said, according to the suit.
The officers had been searching for a Black man and woman driving a dark gray Nissan Maxima, suspects of a pawn shop robbery earlier that day, said Emeka Igwe, one of the lawyers representing Watson. Watson, a Black woman, was driving a light gray Nissan Altima.
When they realized they had the wrong person, the officers drove away, leaving Watson in the street with her damaged car, the lawsuit said.
Richard Smith, president of the Delaware NAACP, happened to be driving by when he saw the officers pull Watson out of her car. He intervened when he heard her crying out for help.
“What do we do as Black people in the city of Wilmington? Just lay down and die?” Smith said at the press conference. “When is enough enough?”
Watson, standing at 4 feet, 10 inches, said the 10-minute incident left her traumatized. “I can’t even drive without thinking something is going to happen to me,” Watson said. “I’m so scared, and I did nothing wrong.”
Watson said she was not offered victim support like counseling in the aftermath. Instead, a state police sergeant and lieutenant apologized and offered money to help fix her car, Igwe said.
Delaware State Police did not respond to questions about any support Watson received.
Igwe also said none of the four officers was wearing a body camera.
Delaware State Police did not respond to questions asking if unmarked police cars have dash cameras.
Watson and her lawyers have not been able to learn the names of the four officers involved. Her requests for badge numbers that day went ignored. The Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights has made it difficult for her to learn any information about the officers involved and whether they are being disciplined.
The Officer’s Bill of Rights bars the public from accessing police disciplinary and personnel records. Delaware is one of only 15 states to have these kinds of laws, which keep citizens largely uninformed about police shootings and instances of misconduct.
Under the law, internal investigations into complaints against police are kept secret.
State police did not respond to questions asking if an internal investigation was underway. Watson’s attorneys have also not been able to confirm if the incident is being investigated by state police. The only way records can be disclosed is through civil proceedings, like Watson’s lawsuit.
In the past year, Delaware activists and lawmakers have pushed to reform the law. Attempts at change stalled this year in the Legislature after police raised concerns about what it would mean for law enforcement.
“They can get away with anything they want to get away with,” Smith said.
“Qualified immunity” is a horrible doctrine, causing much injustice. The current Supreme Court is not likely to fix it, but this is another good reason to “pack the Court”!
Excerpts from the Article:
After police followed an unarmed robbery suspect into Amy Corbitt’s Georgia yard, they ordered four young children – at gunpoint – to lie face down on the ground. When a deputy sheriff spotted a pet dog, which Corbitt said “posed no threat,” he shot at the dog twice and missed. The second shot hit Corbitt’s 10-year-old son lying less than 2 feet from the deputy, causing a serious leg injury.
Corbitt sued to hold the deputy liable for excessive force that violated her son’s constitutional rights, but she ran into a hurdle so high that it has stopped thousands of people from holding police accountable for unconstitutional acts.
A federal appeals panel threw out Corbitt’s case, with a majority granting the deputy “qualified immunity.” Why? Because Corbitt failed to find a prior case with the same facts where a court ruled an officer violated the law by accidentally shooting a bystander. Thus, there was no “clearly established” law against the deputy’s actions.
A dissenting judge had a more sensible take on the events of July 10, 2014: “Facing no apparent threat (the officer) chose to fire his lethal weapon in the direction of these children. No reasonable officer would engage in such recklessness” or “think such recklessness was lawful.”
The Supreme Court declined to review the case last year, shutting Corbitt out of court. And no officer will be deterred from such reckless conduct in the future.
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder last year and protests over police brutality, this once-obscure legal doctrine has turned into a rallying cry in the drive against excessive force.
Created by the Supreme Court in a series of rulings starting in 1967, qualified immunity means if a victim wants to sue police – or any government official – she must find a case from the Supreme Court or in her federal circuit (the United States is divided into 12 circuits) where a court ruled that the exact same situation violated constitutional rights. If she can’t, those rights are not considered clearly established and the courtroom door is barred.
Knowing many probation officers, I sure believe the allegations of misconduct in the lawsuit!
Excerpts from the Article:
In August 2017, a judge weighed sending Kisha Reilly to prison for years, but opted for mercy and a probation sentence that would be one more chance for Reilly to put longtime substance abuse problems behind her.
A year later to that day, Reilly died from a drug overdose.
In that year, her family claims she was coerced into a sexual relationship by one of her probation officers as he turned a blind eye to failed drug tests and helped fund both her drug use and court-ordered rehabilitation, according to a lawsuit filed by her son and widower.
The lawsuit was filed without the representation of an attorney in August 2020. It makes claims of wrongful death and negligence against the probation officer, Dave Turko, as well as the Department of Correction and its probation section. The defendants were only recently served, and, earlier this week, an attorney was appointed to represent Turko, so they have not responded to the allegations of the lawsuit in court.
Because Kisha Reilly is dead and irrefutable text-message evidence is not available, we can’t know the exact nature of Reilly’s relationship with Turko.
But their undeniably unprofessional connection — evidenced by things like hundreds of phone calls back and forth between the two each month — raises questions about the Delaware Department of Correction’s willingness to police its own employees. It also exposes a gap in state law that fails to clearly place consequences on officers who abuse their authority over those getting out of prison or on court-ordered probation.
Armed with phone records, receipts and other evidence pulled from Kisha Reilly’s bedroom months after she died, her family demanded an investigation from the Department of Correction, the state entity that runs probation.
Department policy forbids relationships between probation officers and probationers. Most other states criminally prosecute probation officers for sexual relationships with probationers, regardless of consent. The common thinking is that consent is impossible when a probation officer can instantly strip a person of their freedom.
And while it is a felony in Delaware for a police or correctional officer to have sex with a person in their custody, regardless of consent, neither state prosecutors nor state correction officials say the law applies to such contact between a probationer and their supervising officer.
And so, demands for investigation only led to Turko resigning his job before he could be interviewed by correction’s internal affairs unit, and his oversight of Reilly was never considered by prosecutors.
Turko now works for the Red Clay Consolidated School District at John Dickinson High School in Milltown, according to a school district spokeswoman who would not disclose Turko’s job title. Turko did not return numerous phone calls and attempts to reach him through his ex-wife and the school district. The attorney representing him in the lawsuit filed by Reilly’s family declined to comment on his behalf.
The situation appears to be a failure in accountability.
“It is an interesting question about Delaware law: whether they are reading it right or choosing not to read it to not draw attention,” said Martin Horn, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation and a retired professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The situation leaves her family, particularly her 19-year-old son and her husband, who remains imprisoned for his part in the pawn shop racket that saw Reilly sentenced to probation, grasping for answers and what they see as accountability.
Reilly pleaded guilty to criminal solicitation, theft and drug charges tied to a shoplifting racket run out of the Gold Fever pawn shop she operated with her husband in Middletown. She also pleaded to a DUI she had while out on bail for charges tied to the racket. At her sentencing, prosecutors pointed out her previous 27 arrests in three different states and 14 subsequent violations of probations as reason to lock her up. Her defense attorney pointed out recent efforts and improvement fighting longstanding substance abuse problems.
Evidence seized as part of the investigation into the Gold Fever pawn shop run by Shaun and Kisha Reilly. In court, prosecutors accused the Reillys of participating in a scheme to recruit individuals suffering from drug addiction to shoplift items that would later be sold at the pawn shop. At her sentencing hearing, the judge decided that she was not going to “incarcerate” the “very poor judgement” out of Reilly, “this time, anyway.” She made clear that anything other than “strict compliance” by Reilly with her probation terms would land her in prison.
Her house arrest terms included “zero tolerance” for nonprescribed drugs and alcohol and gave her probation officer the power to arrest her without a warrant, according to the court document.
“You are going to be the best probationer your probation officer has ever met,” said Judge Andrea Rocanelli at the sentencing.
Turko was assigned to oversee her house arrest during her first six months of probation. His job title was senior probation officer with the ability to approve or disapprove progress or violation reports and give “informal guidance” to junior officers, according to corrections officials.
The lawsuit filed by Shaun Reilly, Kisha Reilly’s husband of 16 years, claims that Turko “coerced” an “ongoing, continuous” sexual relationship with Kisha Reilly, enlisting “his authority” to overlook failed drug screens in return.
The lawsuit said this coercion started when he had direct supervision over her probation and continued after she was taken off house arrest and was under the direct supervision of a female officer until Reilly died. That officer did not return phone calls seeking comment.
To back up these claims, Shaun Reilly and his family lean on Kisha Reilly’s conversations with them before she died — conversations echo allegations in the lawsuit. But they also have hard evidence connecting the two: including phone records, receipts and canisters of “law enforcement unit” pepper spray, which they found in her room after she died.
Phone records retrieved by Kisha Reilly’s family after her death show the two began frequent communication in early November 2017, two months after she had been assigned to his authority. Through the end of that month, there were more than 130 calls or voice messages either from or to Turko’s personal phone in addition to a dozen or so involving his work number.
In most months until June, the last month for which the family has phone records, there are either close to or more than 200 phone calls or voicemails involving his work or personal line in addition to a smattering of calls from the Cherry Lane probation officers to Kisha Reilly’s phones.
Kisha Reilly’s family said they have not been able to access text message records.
Her son and her mother-in-law, who shared a home with Reilly, said Turko’s presence was noticed either in phone communication or Turko picking Reilly up to go to work or other places.
She was employed at a local gym as well as Hak’s Sports Bar, a strip club on Wilmington’s south side. The manager of the club – who was also in regular communication with Kisha Reilly, records indicate – declined to comment for this story.
Mason Reilly, Kisha Reilly’s son, said Turko befriended him; would bring food to their home; attended one of his wrestling matches; and communicated with him via text messages, which Delaware Online/The News Journal has reviewed. One time, he and his mother went to a massage and she called Turko to pay for it over the phone, her son said.
After Kisha Reilly died, her family found evidence of other purchases the lawsuit said he made on her behalf. Those included a receipt for a monthly recurring payment of about $80 for Reilly’s court-ordered Breathalyzer with payment information that includes a card bearing his name. They also found Turko’s name on a receipt for court-ordered counseling, a spa receipt and a receipt for a gift card for a clothing store in Bear.
In a series of conversations from Howard R. Young Correctional Institution where he is serving a nine-year sentence for the pawn shop racket and weapons charges, Shaun Reilly described details from his lawsuit, saying he confronted his wife about how much time she spent and communication she had with Turko.
He said she told him Turko was a “friend” giving her “safe passage” through her probationary period. He said she later told him that Turko covered for her “dirty urines.”
“As an addict, if you know there is no consequences to your actions, you just continue down your self-destructive path,” Shaun Reilly said. “With that knowledge, there was nothing more in place to stop her from using drugs.”
Denise Toy, Shaun Reilly’s mother who lived in the same home as Kisha Reilly, said she argued with her daughter-in-law over her closeness with Turko. One time, Kisha Reilly asked Toy if she would allow Turko to move into the home with them, she said.
Another time, Mason Reilly said, toward the end of her life, his mother told him she had to end her relationship with Turko. There was another time Toy received a text message, reviewed by Delaware Online/The News Journal, from Kisha Reilly that was apparently meant for Turko from two months before she died. It addresses him as Dave in the message and discusses sexual contact and what appears to be a fading, romantic relationship.
A separate fight with Toy prompted Kisha Reilly to explain to her that Turko cared about them and had covered for her dirty urines, Toy stated. Another family friend said Kisha Reilly told him the same thing.
Available court records indicate that Turko and the other officer that took over her supervision never reported any failed drug tests to the court. Correction officials said she had never failed a drug test administered by the Department of Correction, but declined to provide relevant records citing the pending litigation.
In Kisha Reilly’s room after her death, her family found personal notes reminding her to urinate a lot and drink lots of water on certain dates.
Her family also found records of four separate drug tests that indicate the presence of nonprescribed medications including Xanax, morphine and other prescription narcotics. The urinalysis screenings were ordered by Wilmington Doctor Pasquale Fucci of Brandywine Medical Associates. It appears they were not part of her court-ordered programming. Erica Mutter, an official for Brandywine, declined to comment on the specific documents.
Mason Reilly said Turko began texting him, asking if he had heard from her and later suggested someone kick down the door to her room. When a family member did later that afternoon, they found her dead. A medical examiner would conclude she died of an overdose involving cocaine, heroin and fentanyl. She was 37 years old.
After Delaware State Police combed the room, Denise Toy showed the text message she believes Kisha Reilly inadvertently sent to her instead of Turko. She told a detective that she believed they were in an inappropriate relationship.
She gave them a memory card from the camera facing their front door, hoping to substantiate their suspicion that Turko was there the night she died. State police also eventually took possession of one of Kisha Reilly’s cellphones, Toy said. The family believes state police still have that and the camera memory card.
State police Senior Cpl. Heather Pepper, a spokeswoman for the department, declined to say whether police took any action over Toy’s concern or the data they received. State police also declined a Freedom of Information Act request seeking records as to the existence of any investigation.
Delaware law gives police cover to hide all records detailing their investigatory work when someone is not arrested.
Toy said they never heard anything from state police about it and eventually she turned to the Department of Correction.
She has a cardboard box she carries to meetings with journalists, attorneys and private investigators. It contains items from Kisha Reilly’s room, phone records, receipts, drug screens, pepper spray and other letters she says are evidence of an inappropriate relationship.
She brought that box to meet with officials in the Department of Correction’s Internal Affairs unit in April 2019 following Kisha Reilly’s death. After laying out her concerns, she was told to give the investigators 30 days and then contact them.
Mason Reilly said before those 30 days were up, he got a message from a family friend that said Turko had resigned. Toy then called one of the investigators, who told her “we were calling him in for questioning, but he resigned,” she recalled.
She said she remembered thinking, “That’s it?”
“It’s not right,” she said. “A woman is dead.”
Correction officials defended their response to Toy’s complaint. They said they have no power to compel a former employee to conduct an interview. They said they investigated the report, even after he resigned, but found “no actionable criminal offense to report to an outside criminal agency.”
They declined to detail what investigative steps they took.
Corrections has a thorough policy for how sexual contact, regardless of consent, within its prisons and work-release facilities is to be investigated. That policy, based on provisions of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, states that if “an allegation indicates criminal behavior,” DOC will refer it to state police. And when the “quality of evidence appears to support criminal prosecution,” it states that DOC investigators shall force interviews after consulting with prosecutors to make sure such interviews won’t hinder a future criminal case. It also states that allegations of sex abuse will be investigated “thoroughly” until it is determined to be substantiated, unsubstantiated or unfounded and that determination will rest on whether there is a greater than 50% chance the allegation is true.
The policy states that it applies to all DOC “employees” and all offenders under the “custody or supervision” of DOC, but, in a written statement, Jason Miller, Correction Department spokesman, said it applies only to sexual contact involving people actually locked up in one of the state’s prisons or work release facilities.
So it’s unclear what steps they took or evidence they sought beyond Toy’s box.
Other Department of Correction written policies state that they may request investigatory backup from state police “when necessary.” Policy also states that for employees determined to have committed a crime, “resignation in lieu of prosecution shall not be permitted,” unless approved by the commissioner.
Based on the lawsuit, interviews with the family and emails exchanged with the Department of Correction, it appears corrections never enlisted investigatory help from state police despite the police already having potential cellphone evidence turned over by Kisha Reilly’s family when she died.
The Delaware Department of Justice, the state’s criminal prosecutors, said they’d never received a report of this situation from corrections.
Even if investigators put in the work to substantiate that there was, as the lawsuit claims, sexual contact between Kisha Reilly and Turko, corrections officials said they do not see it as a violation of Delaware’s criminal law.
Delaware law lists two separate crimes dealing with law enforcement officers having sex or sexual contact with those under their authority. That includes correctional officers working in local prisons.
While there is no question that probation officers are legally considered law enforcement officers, DOC officials don’t believe the law applies to probation officers. The law states that it is a felony for a “law enforcement officer” to engage in any sexual contact, regardless of consent, with any person in “custody.” The law defines “custody” as “restraint by a public servant pursuant to an arrest, detention or an order of a court.”
Effectively, aspects of a probationer’s life are restrained by the court order placing them on house arrest and probation, but Miller argued that the more appropriate way to legally describe the power a probation officer has over a probationer is “supervision,” not “custody” and thus the law does not apply.
The Delaware Department of Justice, which employs attorneys that interpret criminal law to prosecute crimes, neither agreed nor disagreed with that interpretation.
“Honestly, we can’t say one way or the other — we haven’t been able to find case law or precedent that addresses the question,” wrote Mat Marshall, spokesperson for the DOJ.
Horn, the New York probation official, said most states have criminal laws covering such conduct and questioned whether corrections officials’ interpretation of the law is self-serving. He added that there might have been scope to investigate potential official misconduct — the law that bars public officials from using their government power for personal gain.
“The question is why the state of Delaware does not want to take action,” Horn said.
Beyond potential criminal ramifications, if Turko were to apply to another probation-officer position elsewhere and asked Delaware corrections officials for a recommendation or job history, officials said they could not divulge any information regarding the allegations made by Reilly’s family.
Brian Lovins, incoming president of the American Probation and Parole Association, said there needs to be a more broad, national set of standards for probation officer conduct, something his organization is working on. Lovins noted laws criminalizing inappropriate relationships do not always work as a deterrent, but there needs to be some mechanism to ensure the officer engaged in such conduct can’t assume the same job in another jurisdiction.
“There should be laws, they should be applicable and they should set consequences,” Lovins said.
Toy’s last conversation with corrections internal affairs in April 2019 was the last time her family heard from any law enforcement source on the issue. They wrote letters to state government officials and U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. “If this isn’t enough evidence for someone to take a look at this thing, I don’t know what will do,” Shaun Reilly said.
They went to attorneys, who all wanted money to get involved, Toy said. “We don’t have money,” said Toy, whose family was also assessed a civil judgment for the pawn shop racket.
So as the two-year anniversary of Kisha Reilly’s death approached — along with the two-year statute of limitations for seeking civil court damages — Shaun Reilly filed his lawsuit.
“This was the only last and final effort and push I could make,” Shaun Reilly said. “I’m still her husband to this day. In death, it does not change. The love I have for her will not go away.” Through the litigation, the family hopes to compel other evidence proving the exact nature of the relationship.
Beyond the hard evidence they have showing an unprofessional connection, the lawsuit makes more broad allegations, specifically that he funded her drug habit. Shaun Reilly said that is based off hearsay in prison as well as speculation.
They hope to at some point be able to subpoena text messages and other evidence that may show more.
He dismissed the idea of him bringing the litigation as a jealous husband. He said he is “angry” and the idea that Kisha Reilly might have in some ways welcomed the relationship “does not make it right.” “If you take advantage of people, you need to be held to account,” Shaun Reilly said. “No matter if you are a public servant or a civilian.”
And while they don’t have hard records drawing a direct line between her death and Turko right now, Shaun Reilly said he believes if Turko had done his job honestly, his wife would still be alive.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, but Shaun Reilly said that is secondary. He wants what he sees as justice and said Turko deserves to be “in cuffs.” “If the line is not drawn, it will continue to happen.”
He got what he deserves. He will be lucky if an inmate does not kill him.
Excerpts from the Article:
A Minnesota judge on Friday sentenced Derek Chauvin to 22 1/2 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd, a Black man whose desperate gasps for air beneath the knee of the White officer captured on a viral video forever changed the American conversation on race and justice.
Chauvin, who was fired after the killing and convicted by a jury in April on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, had faced up to 40 years in prison.
In rendering his sentence, Hennepin County District Judge Peter A. Cahill, who oversaw Chauvin’s trial, offered brief remarks, saying it was not the time to be “profound or clever” from the bench. He said he had based the sentence on the facts of the case and not “public opinion.”
“The sentence is not based on his emotion or sympathy. But at the same time, I want to acknowledge the deep and tremendous pain that all the families are feeling, especially the Floyd family, Cahill said. “You have our sympathies and I acknowledge and hear the pain that you’re feeling.”
The killing on May 25, 2020, captured on a gruesome Facebook video, shook the nation and forced a painful reckoning on issues of race and police brutality that continues to play out across a divided America. Chauvin’s conviction, a rarity in a country roiled by multiple high-profile cases of Black people being killed by police, was praised by Floyd’s family and activists as a historic moment of justice and a potential sign of change.
Before the sentencing, the court heard victim impact statements from four members of Floyd’s family, including the man’s 7-year-old daughter, Gianna, who in a small, singsong voice spoke of how her daddy used to help her brush her teeth and play with her. “I miss him,” she said.
In the courtroom, Chauvin, who sported a freshly shaved head and wore a light gray suit, appeared to watch the video, occasionally blinking but otherwise unemotional. As three other Floyd family members approached a podium inside the socially distanced courtroom, the former officer turned his head to listen to them speak but otherwise had no reaction.
“I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” Chauvin said, briefly glancing back toward Floyd’s siblings and nephew. “There’s going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest. And I hope things will give you some some peace of mind.”
Meanwhile, Chauvin and his ex-wife, Kellie, are scheduled to appear before a state judge Wednesday on felony tax evasion charges. The couple are accused of failing to report nearly $500,000 in income — including payments Chauvin allegedly received while doing off-duty police security. The couple have not entered in a plea in that case, which was delayed because of Chauvin’s murder trial.
Sentences for police officers convicted of killing people while on duty vary widely, according to data tracked by Philip M. Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University. Police are rarely charged for killing people on duty, and convictions are even less common. According to Stinson’s data, 11 officers — including Chauvin — have been convicted of murdering someone while on duty since 2005, with sentences ranging from more than six years in prison to a life sentence.
Md. public defenders: OC police need body cameras – HOW TO DEMAND THEM – BODY CAMERAS – FOR YOUR AREA
ALL police departments should have body cameras! If your local or state police do not have them, call for them with a rally. Here is exactly how to do it: READ Practical Tip – Instructions for how to cause “Good Trouble” – kra 6/8/21
Excerpts from the Article:
The Maryland Office of the Public Defender is calling on Ocean City to equip its police officers with body cameras after bystander videos of several violent arrests on the boardwalk went viral last week.
In a letter to Ocean City leaders, District Public Defender Chastity Simpson said the town should adopt body worn-cameras well ahead of the 2025 deadline state lawmakers set for Maryland police departments during the 2021 legislative session. ‘A swift effort to utilize (body-worn cameras) would promote Ocean City police-community relations and show the tourism industry that we prioritize the safety and dignity of our visitors, and will take meaningful action when it appears threatened,’ Simpson wrote.
‘There is no need for Ocean City to wait until 2025 to implement this urgently needed measure,’ the letter continues.
The letter follows widespread outcry over a series of viral videos that showed Ocean City police violently arresting several young Black men.
Leaders from across Maryland decried the videos and called for an investigation. The incidents came only months after lawmakers passed sweeping police reform laws that would change police disciplinary procedures and rules for the use of force.
Those laws, including one that will mandate body cameras in all Maryland police departments by 2025, have yet to go into effect.
The uproar over the videos happened only because bystanders took videos of the police interactions, Simpson wrote in the letter.
The boardwalk videos have ‘brought Ocean City into the center of the national debate about policing and race relations, and is bringing rightful scrutiny to how our law enforcement officers treat tourists and residents,’ Simpson wrote.
The videos show two separate incidents that took place a week apart.
In one video, an officer repeatedly kneed a 19-year-old man who was crouched on the ground on the boardwalk. Ocean City police later said officers had seen a large group of people vaping, in violation of the town’s smoking ordinance, and that the 19-year-old continued to vape and refused to provide identification when police approached him.
A crowd gathered around the officers as they tried to arrest the man and officers confronted several people, ultimately shocking one person with Taser and arresting four men, all from Harrisburg.
Another video shows the June 6 arrest of an 18-year-old Cecil County, Maryland, man who was also accused of vaping on the boardwalk. Police in the video are shown surrounding the man, who has his hands raised in the air.
When the man reached slightly toward his backpack strap, an officer immediately used a Taser him.
‘The sight of a young Black man being repeatedly kneed by the police officer for being uncooperative is an unacceptable excessive use of force,’ Smith said. ‘I am looking forward to the time that we won’t have to worry about our kids and family coming to Ocean City to have a good time.’
Ocean City could also face legal action related to the arrests.
Billy Murphy, a Maryland lawyer who represented Freddie Gray’s family when Gray died after suffering an injury in Baltimore police custody, said he had already been contacted by one of the young men involved in the Ocean City incident.
The ACLU is a tremendous asset for some who are abused by authorities and cannot afford counsel; I have been a member since law school, decades ago. The problem is they are understaffed and underfunded! SUPPORT THE ACLU; there is a branch near you!
The American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware announced Monday it has selected Susan L. Burke, an award-winning attorney and experienced litigator, to be its next legal director.
Ms. Burke has worked in the legal field for 34 years, primarily in federal class and complex litigation, and has won numerous awards.
As lead counsel for Iraqi victims, she achieved an historic win and a legal first by negotiating multi-million dollar settlements with defense contractors involved in government-sactioned torture at Abu Ghraib and with Blackwater, a private mercenary company responsible for the Nissor Square massacre. Prior to that victory, she helped persuade Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court to uphold Philadelphia’s campaign finance reform legislation. She also successfully represented the Dominican Republic in a lawsuit seeking redress for an American corporation’s destruction of pristine beaches.
Her work as lead counsel in a series of lawsuits seeking to reform the military’s deficiencies in prosecuting rape and sexual assault was profiled in the documentary “The Invisible War.”
Vote OUT of office any idiots giving police more power!
After a year of protests over police brutality, some Republican-controlled states have ignored or blocked police-reform proposals, moving instead in the other direction by granting greater powers to officers, making it harder to discipline them and expanding their authority to crack down on demonstrations.
The sponsors of the GOP measures acted in the wake of the nationwide protests that followed George Floyd’s death, and they cited the disturbances and destruction that spread last summer through major U.S. cities, including Portland, New York and Minneapolis, where Floyd died at the hands of officers.
Florida is one of the few states this year to both expand police authority and pass reforms: A separate bill awaiting action by the governor would require additional use-of-force training and ensure officers intervene if another uses excessive force.
States where lawmakers pushed back against the police-reform movement included Arizona, Iowa, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wyoming, according to an Associated Press review of legislation.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill Thursday to expand qualified immunity for police officers and enhance penalties for protesters, including elevating rioting to a felony….
Instead, Republican lawmakers left out those proposals and pushed through the new bill.
Instead, the Republican-dominated Statehouse passed legislation to grant immunity to drivers whose vehicles strike and injure protesters on public streets and to prevent the “doxxing,” or releasing of personal identifying information, of law enforcement officers if the intent is to stalk, harass or threaten the officer.
In Wyoming, Democratic state Rep. Karlee Provenza introduced a bill that would have prevented officers who are dismissed for misconduct from being hired by another law enforcement agency. Her bill passed the House but failed in the Senate, which are both controlled by Republicans.
“If the conversation is, ‘This is an anti-policing bill,’ rather than, ‘This is an accountability bill,’ it has a steeper hill to climb,” Provenza said.
While cities across the U.S. were creating or expanding civilian police oversight boards, Republican governors in Tennessee and Arizona signed into law measures that could reduce the independence of those boards. The GOP laws require board members to complete hours of police training or mandate that a majority of board positions be filled with sworn officers. Critics say such steps defeat the purpose of civilian oversight.
The review boards were intended to address concerns, especially in Black communities, that police departments have little oversight outside their own internal review systems, which often clear officers of wrongdoing in fatal shootings.
“It has all the trappings of making it look like the fox is watching the henhouse here,” Arizona state Sen. Kirsten Engel, a Democrat, said of that state’s measure.
Some states continue to introduce bills to protect police, including recent proposals in Ohio and Kentucky that would make taunting or filming a police officer a crime. But about half of states have embraced at least some reform measures.
Since May 2020, at least 67 police reforms have been signed into law in 25 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Those laws addressed neck restraints and chokeholds, body cameras, disciplinary and personnel records, and independent investigations, among other reforms.
At least 13 states enacted restrictions on the use of force, and at least eight have implemented laws beefing up officer reviews and investigations, according to the NCSL data.
Minnesota banned chokeholds. Colorado became the first state in the country to strip police of qualified immunity. Washington enacted a dozen police-reform laws, including restricting the use of no-knock warrants and designating an independent investigator for fatal police shootings. Even GOP-dominated Texas, where Floyd’s body was laid to rest, implemented more uniform disciplinary actions for officer misconduct.
Some Democrats in Republican-controlled states have become discouraged in their quest to change the justice system.
“We just hit so many roadblocks,” said South Dakota Rep. Linda Duba, a Democrat who was part of a coalition to pass reforms.
In the reckoning over Floyd’s death, there seemed to be momentum to reevaluate the role of policing in minority communities, Duba said, but the issue steadily calcified along political lines.
“It’s happening slowly because we live in a state where people are either not exposed to it, don’t believe it happens or believe it’s unpatriotic to criticize law enforcement,” she said.
The Whole Story:
This should be done in every department in every state!
Excerpts from the Article:
Delaware could soon require police to record interrogations of suspects in custody.
Democratic lawmakers are pushing a bill to create the requirement, which would apply to criminal allegations against adults and children. The recording could be audio or video with audio.
House Bill 215 by Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown, D-New Castle South, is the latest proposed law change to policing in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests that seeped through Delaware in 2020 following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. The bill has the backing of the police.
The bill would allow some exceptions, including pressing circumstances, if someone refuses to be recorded, if the interrogation is done in another state or if the recording would reveal a confidential person’s identity or jeopardize someone’s safety.
The recordings would not be accessible to the public. Investigatory and criminal files are already exempt from state public records laws.
It’s unclear how much the state would have to spend on the proposal, should it become law. As of Tuesday, state financial analysts have yet to release a cost estimate.
In a statement, Minor-Brown likened the proposal to body cameras — which Democratic lawmakers also want to require — because they increase transparency and accountability while also adding protection for the officer and the person being questioned.
“Interrogations are a critical component of the law enforcement process, but too often, there are questions about what actually was said or what happened in that room,” Minor-Brown said. “It will reduce false accusations and help restore trust in the process.”
The Delaware Police Chiefs Council, which represents all police departments in the state, supports the bill, according to the head of the council Patrick Ogden. He said that electronic recordings may increase the likelihood of successful prosecution.
“When I began my law enforcement career, there was a general understanding that if information was not documented appropriately in the report, the information would be of little use in the courtroom,” Ogden said in a statement. “I think the same expectation extends to video recordings at this point.”
Nearly one year ago following the initial wave of peaceful racial justice protests that turned violent in Wilmington and Dover, Democrats in Delaware promised to make the interrogation process more transparent.
At the time, they promised to require all police in the state to video-record all interrogations of juvenile suspects and defendants, except under certain circumstances.
It is critical for cops to maintain community contacts, and to offer more than crime fighting services, like police help for social services, mental health or substance abuse support.
Excerpts from the Article:
As law enforcement agencies negotiate calls for change to traditional policing methods, the Dover Police Department is moving forward with Chief Thomas Johnson’s “community policing” approach with a mobile command unit. “As part of the community policing model, we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to brick and mortar,” Mayor Robin Christiansen said. “I believe the model that will make our community policing efforts successful is ‘feet on the street’ interaction with the citizens and community that we serve.”
Chief Johnson said in a Tuesday Dover city council meeting he would like to implement mental health clinicians alongside officers come the fall. In the meantime, he announced a pilot program for the mobile command unit to aid the police department in making community connections.
This new style of policing is meant to help bring the department “into the 21st century,” as Mayor Christiansen put it, and allow officers to have a more “fluid” response to a variety of situations.
“We’ve been trying to envision the best way to deliver services, because the services that we deliver won’t be the same thing every day,” Chief Johnson said. “Sometimes it might be an athletic event where we go somewhere and work with the kids. It might be something where we engage with seniors, other times at-risk populations.”
Chief Johnson said he will be utilizing one of the department’s existing vehicles, a 2001 Ford Chassis-based vehicle, that will be refitted as a mobile command unit.
“In an attempt to be as fiscally responsible as we can, we think we can use this vehicle and we’re going to reassign it to community policing to fulfill various missions,” Chief Johnson said. Chief Johnson said the mobile command unit will be manned by officers who have been selected for the community policing assignment.
Noting who delivers services often matters, Chief Johnson said the vehicle will be marked as a police car, though he hopes that does not discourage people from seeking police help for social services, mental health or substance abuse support.
“If we don’t make the connections we’re trying to make during this summer season, I would come back and say, ‘hey we need to rethink this,’” Chief Johnson said. “We want to be involved, but if folks don’t want to approach this vehicle marked as it is, looking as it is and we need a different way of doing this — maybe an unmarked type vehicle — something where we break down some barriers to that engagement.”
Still, Chief Johnson said he would like to gather data that shows the mobile command unit is working “before I come to you and say ‘I need dollars for a shiny new’” vehicle. He said this vehicle also could be used by mental health clinicians to do “proactive work” and engage with the community.
Councilman Fred Neil said the vehicle doesn’t necessarily need a “big police” sign, but rather a smaller one with community services listed as well. “Simply because that may be more welcoming to the folks that are going to be there,” Councilman Neil said.
He also suggested the vehicle be used in other ways like at the Firefly Music Festival.
“It is portable and it can move,” Councilman Neil said. “I see a lot of things that can be done and police are only one part of it, even though we know it is a police vehicle. We don’t necessarily need the bells and whistles saying that it’s a police vehicle. So that it’s more warm and welcoming.”
Chief Johnson agreed with Councilman Neil’s assessment of the various uses the vehicle lends itself, saying it will be the “Swiss Army knife” of his fleet.
Noting it is a responsible and cost-effective plan to modify an existing vehicle, Councilman Matthew Lindell asked if the unit will be moved to other parts of the city rather than just the downtown area.
Mayor Christiansen answered by saying the pilot program will allow fluidity and allow the police department to gather data in support or against the city funding more vehicles like this one — or ending the program entirely if that is what the data suggests.
Councilman Lindell also suggested the council outline long-term funding for this program.
“I have no problem discussing the viability of if it’s going to work or not,” he said. “I think it’s disingenuous if we don’t bring forth the idea of where to fund it. You know, put our money where our mouth is. If we think it’s going to work, then we need to invest. If not, then we need to shut up.”
Council President Roy Sudler also spoke in favor of the program, but said the community “has been very clear” they would like the mobile command unit to help reduce crime, as well as provide other services. He suggested surveying the community to see what services they would like.
Councilman At-large Andre Boggerty spoke in support of Chief Johnson’s focus on providing services over overt law enforcement from the start, saying there needs to be an “atmosphere of trust” before citizens will want to participate in a survey.
“The plan is to go out to build that trust and then ask those questions,” Councilman Boggerty said. “In conventional wisdom, you would make those assessments first. … In this endeavor, it’s more of building that trust so individuals will participate and then we know exactly what direction we should go.”
DOJ Report: Use of Deadly Force Justified in Rehoboth Shooting That Left Fugitive Dead, Officer Injured
Because our AG, my friend Kathleen Jennings, has the brains to hire good (fair) investigators and prosecutors, and is a person of unquestionable integrity, we can rely on such conclusions.
Excerpts from the Article:
The Delaware Department of Justice on Friday said an investigation into a December shooting that left a wanted man dead and an officer seriously injured concluded that the use of deadly force by police was justified.
The incident happened Thursday night, Dec. 10 in the parking lot of the EconoLodge, located at 19540 Coastal Highway in Rehoboth Beach.
According to the DOJ’s final report, 37-year-old Evelio Rivera, of Reading, Pa., was wanted for an attempted murder charge involving his use of a handgun toward his brother after a disagreement at a party in Reading. Rivera reportedly had a significant criminal history, including convictions for weapons offenses, aggravated assault, drugs, and domestic violence. He was on parole at the time of the attempted murder and was listed as fugitive by the Pennsylvania Parole Board. The DOJ said that to avoid capture, Rivera fled to the Rehoboth Beach area with his girlfriend and her three children. They were staying at a room in the Econo Lodge Inn on Coastal Highway.
According to the DOJ’s report, on or about the afternoon of Thursday, Dec. 10, United States Marshals Service Task Force members were notified of a lead on Rivera’s possible location. Senior Cpl. Timothy D. Webb, a Milford police officer and a member of the USMS Task Force, volunteered to drive past the Econo Lodge and attempt to locate the vehicle of Rivera’s girlfriend. Webb conducted a check of the parking lot and observed Rivera in the company of a woman and two of her children in the vehicle The vehicle then left the parking lot.
The DOJ said that initially, Webb and the USMS Task Force intended to develop a plan to take Rivera into custody the following morning. Upon further discussion, the Task Force decided they would respond to the area and attempt to apprehend Rivera that evening. Webb, along two other USMS Task Force members, namely Delaware State Police Cpl. Josh DiGiacomo and Probation and Parole Officer George Ramsburg, established surveillance positions and developed a plan on how they would take Rivera into custody. There was a concern that the apprehension would be more dangerous if they allowed Rivera to get out the vehicle or get into his hotel room, according to the DOJ’s report.
At approximately 7:45 p.m. that same day, the vehicle Rivera was operating returned to the parking lot of the hotel. It did a lap around the building before pulling, head-in, to a parking space at the front of the building.
The DOJ said that after Webb and his partners took their places in the parking lot, Webb got out of his vehicle, identified himself as a U.S. marshal, and ordered Rivera to show his hands while moving toward Rivera’s driver side door. Investigators said Rivera got out of the driver’s side door and immediately began firing his Taurus handgun at Webb, striking him at least six times. Webb returned fire, striking Rivera. The DOJ said Webb fell to the ground, severely wounded, as Rivera ran through the parking lot.
Investigators said that it appears, due to two shell casings in that area, that Rivera fired two additional rounds as he was running between Webb’s vehicle and DiGiacomo’s vehicle. As Rivera ran through the parking lot, DiGiacomo and Ramsburg fired additional shots at Rivera. Rivera fell near a tree located within a landscaped area of the parking lot. When officers approached Rivera, he appeared deceased, according to investigators, who said Rivera had expended all of the ammunition in the weapon. However, investigators said a loaded spare magazine was located on the ground near Rivera, suggesting he may have been in the process of reloading.
As the exchange of gunfire between Rivera and officers was taking place, Rivera’s girlfriend removed her children from the vehicle and entered her hotel room. Rivera’s girlfriend and her children were not injured.
DiGiacomo rendered aid to Cpl. Webb at the scene. Webb was then assisted into DiGiacomo’s vehicle and driven to Beebe Hospital for treatment. He was later transported via helicopter to Christiana Care for advanced care.
Webb sustained the following injuries: a fractured femur; a left shoulder gunshot wound; a right upper arm gunshot wound requiring the removal of skin and muscle; an armpit and right arm gunshot wound with a lodged, inoperable bullet; a gunshot wound to his chin; and injuries to both of his hands from falling to the ground.
The DOJ investigation into the Dec. 10 incident found that Rivera was bipolar and would carry his gun “everywhere.” His girlfriend told investigators that she was afraid of him. The investigation also found that Rivera had told his girlfriend that “he wasn’t going back to jail.”
Following an examination of all of the evidence and interviews with all parties involved, including Rivera’s girlfriend and other witnesses, the DOJ concluded the use of deadly force by the USMS Task Force officers was justified.
The report stated:
“Rivera’s danger to the public and the police was well known. He was a fugitive with a substantial history of violence and he was wanted for attempted murder. The USMS Task Force took on the responsibility of securing Rivera’s arrest. During their attempt to lawfully take Rivera into custody, Rivera shot at the officers. He fired the same handgun, multiple times, that he had used in his earlier attempted murder, and he caused serious, life-threatening injuries to Cpl. Webb. Under the circumstances, the Task Force officers’ use of deadly force in response to Rivera’s shooting was justified and necessary to protect themselves and others.
“Furthermore, the Task Force officers were not reckless or negligent in forming the belief that force was immediately necessary. Rivera had a history of violence, was a parole absconder and a fugitive from an attempted murder case – and he fired repeatedly at the police who were trying to bring him to justice. The Task Force officers were not reckless or negligent in forming the belief that return fire was immediately necessary.
“Lastly, given that the police were justified to use force towards Rivera pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 464, we further determine that they were not negligent or reckless in injuring or creating a risk of injury to third persons under 11 Del. C. § 470(b). No third persons were injured in this case, despite the volatile and dynamic situation Rivera created.
“Upon careful consideration of the available evidence and the application of expert opinion to that evidence, Cpl. Timothy Webb, Corporal Josh DiGiacomo, and Probation Officer George Ramsburg reasonably believed that the use of deadly force upon Rivera was immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting themselves and others. For these reasons, the Department of Justice concludes the use of deadly force in this case does not constitute a criminal offense under the laws of the State of Delaware.”