Six Atlanta cops charged after pulling two young black people from a car and electrocuting them

“I feel a little safer now that these monsters are off of the street and no longer able to terrorize anyone else,” said 22-year-old Messiah Young, who was dragged out of his car by police and shot multiple times with a taser gun. His girlfriend, 20-year-old Taniyah Pilgrim, was also pulled out of the car and tased.

The video above is horrific.

From AP News:

Young’s arm was fractured and he suffered a gash requiring 24 stitches when he was pulled from the car, Howard said. Young told Howard’s investigators that an officer who escorted him from the scene after his arrest punched him in the back more than 10 times as they walked.

“I’m so happy that they’re being held accountable for their actions,” Pilgrim said at the news conference.

Both Young and Pilgrim are rising seniors at historically black colleges near downtown Atlanta. Young, from Chicago, is studying business management at Morehouse College. Pilgrim, who’s from San Antonio, Texas, is studying psychology at Spelman College.

The two officers whose firings were announced Sunday — Investigator Ivory Streeter and Investigator Mark Gardner — were charged along with four other officers.

Read the rest

How the Supreme Court uses an obscure legal doctrine to let cops kill with impunity

This Reuters Investigates piece looks at how the US Supreme Court uses a "little-known legal doctrine called qualified immunity" to protect cops who use excessive force to maim and kill people.

The Supreme Court’s role is evident in how the federal appeals courts, which take their cue from the high court, treat qualified immunity. In an unprecedented analysis of appellate court records, Reuters found that since 2005, the courts have shown an increasing tendency to grant immunity in excessive force cases – rulings that the district courts below them must follow. The trend has accelerated in recent years. It is even more pronounced in cases like Leija’s – when civilians were unarmed in their encounters with police, and when courts concluded that the facts could convince a jury that police actually did use excessive force.

Reuters found among the cases it analyzed more than three dozen in which qualified immunity protected officers whose actions had been deemed unlawful. Outside of Dallas, Texas, five officers fired 17 shots at a bicyclist who was 100 yards away, killing him, in a case of mistaken identity. In Heber City, Utah, an officer threw to the ground an unarmed man he had pulled over for a cracked windshield, leaving the man with brain damage. In Prince George's County, Maryland, an officer shot a man in a mental health crisis who was stabbing himself and trying to slit his own throat.

Image: Reuters Read the rest

The cop who killed George Floyd has a long record of police brutality

A 46-year old black man named George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis on Monday, May 25, 2020. A police officer named Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck, after vaguely accusing him of forgery and/or public intoxication. He pressed his knee down so hard — and kept it there — that it cut off the air to Floyd's lungs, suffocating him. Three police officers stood around and watched as Floyd used his last breaths to cry for help; several bystanders filmed the scene, and tried to get the cops to stop, but to no avail.

Those 4 police officers were fired shortly after the video was released (by their official account, Floyd had been "resisting arrest," something which is a physically impossible to do while also dying under restraint). That sounds like good news on the surface — but thanks to Police Union rules, bad cops who get fired for misconduct usually just get re-hired in a nearby precinct. Their past behavior — even repeated, established patterns of violent misconduct — are left off their permanent record, or otherwise ignored.

And that's exactly how the police officer who killed George Floyd was in the position to do so in the first place. As Insider reports, Derek Chauvin had a long and ugly history of police brutality, long before he killed George Floyd:

[Chauvin] was involved in violent incidents before, including three police shootings. And he has been the subject of 10 complaints filed to the city's Civilian Review Authority and the Office of Police Conduct.

Read the rest

Teen Vogue: How to safely and ethically film police misconduct

Teen Vogue posted a useful guide for what to do and what not to do when videotaping police. 5. Try to provide evidence that your footage is real In an era of fake news and rampant misinformation online, you want to make sure that your footage is as verifiable as possible. To do this:

Film street signs, landmarks, or exteriors of buildings to help determine the location. Film a clock, phone home screen, newspaper, or something that helps verify the time and date. It could be helpful to also state the time, date, and location out loud on camera, or write it down on a piece of paper and hold it up to the screen. You can turn on GPS location services to help verify your location. Film continuously instead of stopping and starting your camera; this will help fight against claims that footage was edited or manipulated.

Image: Jumpstory / CC0 Read the rest

A bunch of rookie cops have recently been fired for doing bad things. Let's think about that for a moment.

Tales of piss-headed police officers dominated the news in the week before New Years (at least, in my social circles, if we discount everything related to Star Wars). In West Virginia, the governor has finally recommended the firing of the full Hitler Heil-ing cadet class. In Kansas, another cop was (allegedly) terminated after writing "Fucking Pig" on his own McDonald's coffee cup and trying to blame it on the hard-working, underpaid workers whom he should be theoretically serving and protecting. (Some cops in Alabama also made a mocking "homeless quilt" that the department later apologized for, though the officers weren't actually reprimanded as far as I can tell.)

On the surface, this is largely a good thing. Although these are somewhat-minor acts in the grand scheme of police behaviors, the fact that there are actually repercussions for police misconduct already represents a sea change from the way things have been. Police departments across the country have kept secret lists of criminal crops who remain in their employ; typically, when cops are caught lying about things (even as dumb and small as a McDonald's coffee cup), the rest of their testimony is still given weight. Hell, the National Center for Women and Policing found that at least 40% of police officers self-reported domestic violence in the home … and still keep their jobs.

But these guys in West Virginia and Kansas? They might actually lose their jobs over a couple of pictures.

The public outrage towards unfair and overly aggressive policing has noticeably swelled alongside the raise of the Black Lives Matter movement, and particularly in the aftermath of that obscene military occupation in Ferguson. Read the rest

House of cop who killed Botham Shem Jean has not been searched

Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who shot and killed Botham Shem Jean when she entered his apartment, using the excuse that she thought it was her apartment, is getting all the privileges that cops give fellow cops accused of committing crimes. She probably wouldn't have even been arrested had it not been for the public outcry. Two days later, Guyger was charged with mere manslaughter. She spent just a few hours in custody, which is highly unusual for a suspected killer. Then, her fellow cops got a warrant on the victim's apartment in a desperate attempt to find something to smear him with. They found a tiny bit of pot, and Fox News reported on it like it was the crime of the century. And now the news is out that Guyger's apartment has never been searched, which means she's had plenty of time to get rid of any incriminating evidence.

From Newsone:

ABC 8 in Dallas obtained copies of the five search warrants for the case. Two of them “allowed investigators to remove the front door of Guyger and Jean’s apartment, their door locks and to download data for their door locks.”

The third warrant allowed investigators to enter Jean’s apartment. The fourth showed they obtained video from the surveillance camera in the apartment management’s office. The final warrant, according to ABC, “gave investigators the authority to obtain all communications related to the incident in the possession of property management, as well as all surveillance video and all entry and access logs from 9 p.m.

Read the rest

Cop punches young woman in the head for underage drinking on the beach

Emily Weinman, a smidge under drinking age at 20 years old, went to the beach in Southern New Jersey to enjoy Memorial Day with her daughter, her daughter's father, and a friend. A police officer suspected her of underage drinking, and he didn't take kindly to her screaming when he tried to arrest her, so he punched her a couple of times.

From ABC13:

"Two cops approach me on their four-wheelers and ask me and my friend how old we are. We gave them our ages. Then, we got breathalized, and it came back negative. I told them I wasn't drinking and the alcohol was clearly closed/sealed, which the cops seen."

Weinman then writes that she walked away from the officer, attempting to make a phone call.

"I asked them don't they have something better to do as cops than to stop people for underage drinking on the beach, saying to that there's so much more serious stuff going on. The cop said, 'I was gonna let you go but now I'll write you up' and he asked my name. I did not do anything wrong and anything could've been written down on that paper so I wouldn't give it to him. At that point I was told if I don't give it to him he's going to arrest me."

Within the first few seconds of the cell phone video, you can see a Wildwood police officer punch Weinman in the head and then put her in a headlock.

Weinman "was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, minor in possession of alcohol, two counts of aggravated assault on police and obstruction." Read the rest

Miami cop Mario Figueroa suspended after kicking handcuffed man in the head

Miami Police officer Mario Figueroa looks like he enjoyed kicking a defenseless, handcuffed man in the head. Unfortunately for Officer Figueroa, his violent assault was caught on camera. A non-officer would have been immediately arrested for attacking someone this way, but since Figueroa is a police officer, he gets a paid vacation pending the results of an internal investigation.

From Miami New Times:

The victim — reportedly identified as 31-year-old David V. Suazo — of the officer's kick is clearly not resisting during the video clip. It shows cops placing handcuffs on his limp arms as he lies face-down in a field of grass. Then, out of nowhere, a Miami cop sprints and kicks the man squarely in the head.

MPD released a police report to the media late Thursday afternoon — police say they tried to apprehend Suazo after he was allegedly caught driving a blue Jeep Cherokee that had been stolen in Broward County. The cops say Suazo fled, crashed into a wall, and then fled on foot and tried to resist arrest before being tased, but the clip shows Suazo clearly complying with officers' demands. County records show that Suazo was booked into the Turner Guilford-Knight Correctional Center on charges of grand theft, fleeing a police officer, resisting an officer without violence, and driving with a suspended license, but the police account reportedly makes zero mention of the fact that officers kicked Suazo right in the head on camera.

Read the rest

Cop charged with assault for hitting 13-year-old girl while handcuffing her

Police officer John Flinn of Gloucester Township, NJ has been charged with simple assault for hitting a 13-year-old girl twice in the head while handcuffing her.

From NJ.com:

John Flinn, 27, and other officers were dispatched to investigate a disturbance on March 8 and encountered the girl. Flinn can be seen hitting the girl twice on the side of her face in footage from a responding officer's body-worn camera. The prosecutor's office said the girl was struck while complying with police instructions.

Criminal charges were never filed with the girl. Read the rest

Police shoot and kill unarmed black man holding a cell phone in his backyard

Two Sacramento police officers were placed on administrative leave after shooting an unarmed black man to death in his backyard on March 18, 2018. The officers were responding to a call about car windows being broken nearby. They entered Stephen Clark's backyard. Clark was holding a cell phone but they are saying they thought they phone was a weapon and they opened fire. Read the rest

NYPD Commissioner "troubled" by news of cop arrested for running an international heroin ring

New York Police Department Officer Yessenia Jimenez was arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration agents on weapons and drug trafficking charges following a month long investigation. According to AP, Jimenez "helped her boyfriend run a heroin trafficking ring that spanned from Mexico to New York."

NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill is so troubled by the arrest that he suspended Jimenez without pay. "Cops are charged with enforcing the law, not breaking it," he said in a statement. "Today’s arrest — for serious allegations of trafficking heroin — are troubling.”

Did it really take this long for O’Neill to become troubled about crimes committed by his officers? Here are are a few recent stories about serious misdeeds conducted on his watch:

Lawyer says nine NYPD officers bullied teen girl who accused two detectives of cuffing and raping her Secret NYPD files show hundreds of cops committed serious crimes and kept jobs and pensions NYPD cops charged with felonies after beating up mailman Read the rest

Secret NYPD files show hundreds of cops committed serious crimes and kept jobs and pensions

Lying to grand juries. Beating innocent people. Stealing money. Lying on reports. Dealing drugs. Drunk driving. Threatening people with death. Sexually assaulting people. These are some of the serious offenses committed by 319 New York Police Department employees between 2011 and 2015, according to a BuzzFeed News investigation. The cops weren't imprisoned. They weren't even fired. In fact, they were allowed to keep their jobs and pensions, and many of them are on the streets on New York right now.

At least two dozen of these employees worked in schools. Andrew Bailey was found guilty of touching a female student on the thigh and kissing her on the cheek while she was sitting in his car. In a school parking lot, while he was supposed to be on duty, Lester Robinson kissed a woman, removed his shirt, and began to remove his pants. And Juan Garcia, while off duty, illegally sold prescription medication to an undercover officer.

In every instance, the police commissioner, who has final authority in disciplinary decisions, assigned these officers to “dismissal probation,” a penalty with few practical consequences. The officer continues to do their job at their usual salary. They may get less overtime and won’t be promoted during that period, which usually lasts a year. When the year is over, so is the probation.

Today many continue to patrol the streets, arrest people, put them in jail, and testify in criminal prosecutions. But the people they arrest have little way to find out about the officer's record.

Read the rest

Listen to a Georgia cop reassure a white motorist that “we only kill black people.”

Cobb County Lt. Greg Abbot pulled over a car in July 2016, on suspicion of DUI. The white driver tells him she's afraid of being shot. He tells her:

“But you’re not black,” he interrupted. “Remember, we only kill black people. Yeah, we only kill black people, right? All the videos you’ve seen, have you seen black people get killed? You have.”

A cynic might be tempted to remark that he's not wrong, but U.S. police kill white people — they just kill black people in disproportionate numbers, because they are racist as well as violent. Read the rest

ACLU releases video of brutal beating of motorist by enraged cop

In dashcam video posted by the ACLU, police officer Joe Joswiak pulls over Anthony Promvongsa, driving a dark SUV. Joswiak immediately approaches the vehicle screaming "get out of the car motherfucker!", with his gun drawn and posed sideways. Then he starts pounding and kicking at Promvongsa through the open car door — before Promvongsa seems to have a chance to do anything. Read the rest

Dashcam video shows killing of Philando Castile

Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted Friday after killing Philando Castile last July. Castile, unarmed, had disclosed to Yanez that he was a legal owner of a concealed-carry firearm as he reached for his driver's license, as Yanez had requested. Yanez shot him seven times in front of his wife and child, later claiming that the smell of marijuana, and his inability to see what Castile was reaching for, justified the killing. Viewers watched the aftermath on Facebook Live, broadcast by Castile's distraught wife. The Star-Tribune synchronized and superimposed the two videos — only the dashcam footage is embedded above.

Tyrone Terrill, president of the African-American Leadership Council, said the video could further widen the gap in community-police relations.

"No, no, no," Terrill said minutes after viewing the video. "You don't have to remain calm on this one. You have a right to be outraged. You have a right to be angry. And I would be disappointed if you weren't outraged, if you weren't angry. It raises the question — how will you ever get a guilty verdict?"

He said he tried to point the gun away from the little girl in the back seat. He heard her screaming. "I acknowledged the little girl first because I wanted her to be safe."

Yanez attended a training course that teaches cops to think like "bulletproof warriors", to shoot without a second thought, and that the rush of killing people leads to "the best sex of their lives"

In the class recorded for “Do Not Resist,” Grossman at one point tells his students that the sex they have after they kill another human being will be the best sex of their lives.

Read the rest

Police lawyer threatens reporter: don't report smirking cop's corpse selfie

A St. Louis-area police officer was photographed posing with a murder victim's corpse, and a police lawyer threatened the newsroom to whom the image was leaked. KMOV, far from being impressed by the attempt to intimidate it, posted Lauren Trager's article wondering what on Earth a cops was doing giving the thumbs up while fooling around with Omar Rahman's dead body — and also Lynette M. Petruska's threatening letter.

“In your mind, is there any reasonable explanation for what that officer was doing?” asked Investigative Reporter Lauren Trager. “No,” said Staton. “Because when they come to a call, they're supposed to be there to help and protect, not doing what he was doing with thumbs up and a smirk on his face.”

Staton's attorney, Antonio Romanucci, agrees.

“It's hideous. The implications of this photograph are just astronomical,” said Romanucci.

He believes something isn't right.

“I have seen thousands and thousands of forensic photographs, I have never seen a staged photograph of an officer next to a deceased body,” Romanucci said.

The North County Policing Cooperative covers Vinita Park and Wellston, just outside of St. Louis city limits in Missouri. The legal letters are a good read; KMOV's counsel's reply may be compared to that given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram. Read the rest

Chicago cop who sexually assaulted a man with a screwdriver keeps his job

In October, a civil court jury ruled that Chicago police officer Scott Korhonen sexually assaulted a 20-year-old black man with a screwdriver.

The taxpayers will pay $4 million to the victim. They will also continue to pay Officer Korhonen's salary, because he gets to keep his job.

From The Guardian

District Court Judge James Holderman, who presided over the hearing, said in court documents there was a “preponderance of evidence” in Mr Coffie's favour.

“This was a clear case,“ he said, ruling that: "Korhonen unreasonably inserted a screwdriver in Coffie's rectum in violation of Coffie's constitutional rights and that [Korhonen's partner, Officer Gerald] Lodwich knowingly failed to stop Korhonen's unconstitutional conduct."

“In addition, the evidence clearly showed that Korhonen and Lodwich each knowingly testified falsely at the trial.”

Officer Korhonen's mother must be so proud of her son. Read the rest

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