Tag Archives: Police Brutality

Milwaukee Mayor Calls Video of Police Tasing NBA Player “Disturbing”

Milwaukee police and city officials appear to be conducting public relations damage control as police prepare to release body cam video reportedly showing officers tasing NBA player Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks as he was being ticketed for parking illegally.

“It was a disturbing video when I saw it, and I know that the police chief feels the same way. And I don’t know exactly what actions his department is going to take, but it is disconcerting to see some of the actions in that video,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Tuesday.

“I have the same concerns I think that are being raised in the police department. I have the same concerns that I have heard the chief mention about the actions of some of the [officers] involved in that, and I’m gonna let the release of [the body cam video] speak for itself, but yes I definitely have concerns after watching that video,” Barrett added.

Mark Thomsen, Sterling Brown’s attorney, claims that police deployed a taser on the 22-year-old 6-foot-6 pro basketball player without justification. Brown plans to file a civil rights lawsuit in response to the incident.

[Related: Video: Houston Police Officer Shouts “Pretend Like We’re Going to Shoot You” In Traffic Stop]

The incident took place at around 2 a.m. on January 26, when police ticketed Brown for allegedly parking illegally across two handicapped parking spaces at a local Walgreens. Police on the scene described Brown as combative in an incident report and indicated that they had used an “electronic control device” on him. The officers arrested Brown on charges of resisting or obstructing an officer, but the charges were dropped after police officials viewed the body cam video of the incident.

An anonymous source who claims to have seen the video but was not authorized to comment on it reportedly described it in comments to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, saying, “This could be bad. The player doesn’t appear to be provocative at all.”

“There’s going to be a video that is going to come out soon, in the next couple of weeks, involving the department. I’m going to be honest with you. We’re going to need your support during the challenges,” Assistant Police Chief Michael Brunson Sr. said during a Sunday speech at a local church, referencing the Sterling Brown incident, according to Fox 6 Now.

The Milwaukee Police Department has launched an internal affairs investigation into the conduct of the officers and their supervisors. Officials have not yet indicated whether any of the officers or officials will be disciplined for their actions in the incident.

Thomsen says that the police body cam video is expected to be released on Wednesday.

Beyonce’s Dancers Emphasize Black Panthers, Mario Woods, Black Lives Matter at Super Bowl 50

Beyonce’s politically-charged performance on Sunday, which heavily referenced the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panthers at Super Bowl 50, assisted in showcasing the growing activist movements among the black community.

Her “Formation” performance, voicing racial inequality and police brutality towards the black community while also embracing black femininity, put black America center stage in front of 114.4 million viewers at the Super Bowl. During the performance, dancers made an “X” formation in reference to Malcom X while raising their fists in a black pride salute.

After the performance, some of the dancers— dressed in Black Panther-style berets and in black leather— were pictured raising their fists again, yet this time holding a piece of paper that read “Justice 4 Mario Woods.”

This move followed about 200 protesters who had demonstrated in San Francisco on Jan. 30 for Woods. Protesters were out demanding justice and for San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr to be fired.

Mario Woods was a black man shot dead by by five San Francisco police officers during a confrontation in San Francisco last December.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Woods was shot about fifteen times by five officers. Cell phone footage shows him walking away from the police refusing to drop a knife. Activists have argued that he was mentally ill and that the force used by the officers was unnecessary.

Woods supporters have said the cell phone footage showed that Woods was not an imminent danger and was executed by police in a “firing-squad” style. The SFC reported that “Woods’ mother, Gwendolyn Woods, said he was working on getting his life on track after his stint in prison. He had just gotten his uniform for his new UPS job, she said.”

Last Friday, prominent artist and activist Alicia Keys spoke out in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters ahead of the Super Bowl while performing at San Francisco’s free Super Bowl City concert.

“I want you to know that I salute everyone who has the courage and conviction to stand for what’s right. I want to thank you for your commitment to making sure justice is done for Mario Woods. As the mother of two black sons it breaks my heart to see what we’ve been seeing, the trouble’s we’ve been seeing on camera, and all the people that we’ll never see.”

This isn’t the first time Alicia Keys or Beyonce have spoken out in solidarity with the black community and Black Lives Matter. Last year, Beyonce and her husband Jay Z reportedly wired “tens of thousands” of dollars to bail protesters out in Baltimore and Ferguson. Jay Z, along with Roc Nation, also recently donated $1.5 million from Tidal Black Lives Matter and other social justice organizations. This donation was made on February 5th in honor of Trayvon Martin’s birthday, who would have turned 21 had he not been shot by George Zimmerman.

[RELATED: Civil Unrest Breaks out in MO After Cop Kills Unarmed Teen]

Beyonce went on to end her performance with announcing her world tour and a new fund to help the children of Flint, Michigan, during the city’s current water crisis.

Death Toll Reaches 140 as Ethiopia Halts City’s Master Plan Following Oromo Protests

The Ethiopian government has reportedly ceased its plan to expand its capital, Addis Ababa, after protesters from Oromia demonstrated against the expansion plans over concerns that they would lose their homes.

According to BBC, “Oromia is Ethiopia’s largest region, surrounding the capital, Addis Ababa.” The Oromos are an ethnic group that make up over 40% of the population of Ethiopia. Human Rights Watch reported that the Master Plan’s objective is to expand the city of Addis Ababa. Oromo students and farmers have been demonstrating for months against the government’s Addis Ababa Master Plan.

Human Rights Watch also reported that since November, at least 140 activists have been killed by police and military forces in Ethiopia’s Oromia region and hundreds more have been injured or arrested.

Feliz Horne of Human Rights Watch wrote that “The generally peaceful protests were sparked by fears the expansion will displace ethnic Oromo farmers from their land, the latest in a long list of Oromo grievances against the government.”

Al-Jazeera reported that, to date, 150,000 Oromo farmers have already been exiled by military forces from their homes, with no rearrangements or reparations, to make room for Addis Ababa, “one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.”

This isn’t the first time activists have accused the Ethiopian government of ethnic cleansing in pursuit of its development agenda. OPride.com reported in 2013 on forest fires occurring in a region of Oromia, with many believing they were deforestation schemes to make way for development projects:

“Several diaspora-based activists have accused the government for setting the forest ablaze to make a way for its development projects. The state-run media ignored the fire, and instead reported on a new fertilizer factory being built near the area. Citing several ‘journalists working for the government TV and radio stations,’ New York-based political analyst Jawar Mohammed said, Ethiopian authorities have once again imposed a media blackout warning local reporters, including those working for state-run media houses, not to cover the story.

EPRDF, Ethiopia’s ruling party, now in power for 22 years, has been accused of setting forest reserves on fire in the past. For example, in 1999 and early 2000, a similar forest fire in Bale and Borana, also in the Oromia region, led to Oromia-wide student protests and the government’s slow response caused a strong public outcry. At the time, instead of putting out the fire, the government resorted to cracking down on students.”

The government reportedly took no action in stopping the fire in 2013 and barred journalists from reporting on it.

The surge of individuals joining the protest throughout the region led to arrests and reports of people being tortured for speaking out. Radio France Internationale reported that the government has repeated a push for a media blackout by seizing satellite dishes. RFI also reported that pictures have been spread on social media showing activists dead in ditches, hung from trees and brutally beaten.

The White House posted a statement from United States National Security Council Spokesperson Ned Price regarding the arrest of journalists in Ethiopia, calling for “the Ethiopian Government to release journalists and all others imprisoned for exercising their right to free expression, to refrain from using its Anti-Terrorism Proclamation as a mechanism to silence dissent, and to protect the rights of journalists, bloggers, and dissidents to write and speak freely as voices of a diverse nation.”

This statement comes after government officials justified the arrests by calling the protesters terrorists. Al-Jazeera reported that “over the last decade, the government in Addis Ababa used the ‘war on terrorism’ and the rhetoric of development to silence independent voices and curtail democratic debate.”

Many activists believe that there are even deeper political issues that no one is addressing. Kulani Jalata, a vocal activist for Oromo and a third year law student at Harvard Law School, believes that mainstream coverage of the protests is missing two key points. She stated those points in an interview with Truth In Media:

“The first point regards the Ethiopian government’s illegitimacy. The Ethiopian government is entirely controlled by Tigrayan elites. The Tigrayan population is 4 million—Ethiopia’s population is 94 million. The Tigrayan-led government and its party won 100% of the parliamentary seats this year— if that doesn’t scream illegitimacy, I don’t know what does. Furthermore, the Tigrayan-led government is very much in the business of holding on to state power by terrorizing and killing the political opposition members and supporters, students, farmers, artists, etc. and enriching Tigrayan state elites and their domestic and international supporters by extracting resources and land from the Oromo and other groups. The Oromo, the largest ethno-national group, has been particularly targeted because of their rich economic resources, particularly their land, the size of their population and their determination to resist land grabbing policies–for example, the recent #OromoProtests movement. The Oromo Protests are against this government’s new “Master Plan.” The “Master Plan” is touted as a development plan, but as we know it essentially will evict millions of poor Oromo farmers and deprive them of their livelihoods. This plan is a simply a continuation of the Tigrayan-led Ethiopia government’s legacy of land grabbing, and thus, the grievances that the protesters are expressing have deep roots.

The second point regards the implications of the Tigrayan-led regime’s practices on national and regional stability and security. It is key to point out that the state apparatus is very much focused on terrorizing the largest ethnonational group in all of the Horn of Africa, the Oromo. This focus on oppressing such a large proportion of the population makes the state very unstable, illegitimate, and bound for self-destruction. Although Ethiopia is seen as an ally on the ‘War on Terror’, it is perpetuating a form of state-terrorism on the Oromo as well as other ethnic groups such as the Amhara, Gambella, Sidama, etc. The Tigrayan-led Ethiopian government’s mask of legitimacy has entirely worn out.”

So were these cases of corruption as the activists say, or an economic strategy? The U.S. State Department released a statement from United States State Deputy Spokesperson Mark C. Toner’s about the situation which said, “We urge the government of Ethiopia to permit peaceful protest and commit to a constructive dialogue to address legitimate grievances. We also urge those protesting to refrain from violence and to be open to dialogue. The government of Ethiopia has stated publicly that the disputed development plans will not be implemented without further public consultation. We support the government of Ethiopia’s stated commitment to those consultations and urge it to convene stakeholders to engage in dialogue as soon as possible.”

ABOUR: Why Didn’t Open Carry Apply To Tamir Rice?

Ohio is one of the 30 states that allows open carry without a permit throughout the state. When a state has an open carry policy, it allows its citizens to carry guns in public without fear of being arrested, let alone killed.

So why did the open carry rule not apply to Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old who was in possession of a toy gun at a park? Within two seconds at the scene, Cleveland Police officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed Rice. Many through social media have argued that because Rice was a minor, the open carry rule does not apply to children because they shouldn’t be in possession of guns. However, Loehmann told the dispatcher that Rice looked “maybe 20.” With that presumption, why didn’t Loehmann respect the open carry law in Ohio? Was it because Rice was a black male? Rice was never even given an opportunity to show the officers that it was a toy gun. He was executed before given a chance to explain.

Whereas earlier this week, a 66-year-old white woman in Connecticut stood outside a police station pointing a BB gun at officers shouting “Boom boom boom” and “Shoot me!” is alive and unharmed.

The woman, Elaine Rothenberg, pointed the gun at civilians asking if they were police. She also blocked an employee-only doorway where police enter and exit to get to their police cruisers and stood with the gun raised in a shooting stance attempting instigate the officers. Rothenberg eventually threw the gun and was arrested. Why was she given due process and Rice was not? Connecticut is also an open carry state, but has even stricter gun laws than Ohio. Why was Loehmann able to shoot and kill a 12 year old right on the spot while Rothenberg was given her due process?

Never mind that Loehmann resigned from a previous police department just as he was about to be fired for incompetence with firearms and repeatedly displaying emotional disturbances.

As Truth in Media previously reported:

A memorandum, written by Independence Deputy Chief Jim Polak, expressed concern over Loehmann’s emotional issues during his poor performance at a state range qualification course for handgun training. Polak wrote that he was notified of Loehmann’s emotional issues by Independence Police Sgt. Greg Tinnirello:

“I was notified by FTO Sgt. Tinnirello of the following circumstances related to our recruit, Ptl. Loehmann. A written statement was included. On this date, during a state range qualification course Ptl. Loehmann was distracted and weepy. He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal. Sgt. Tinnirello tried to work through this with Ptl. Loehmann by giving him some time. But, after some talking it was clear to Sgt. Tinnirello that the recruit was just not mentally prepared to be doing firearm training.”

Polak concluded that “due to this dangerous loss of composure during live range training and his inability to manage this personal stress, I do not believe Ptl. Loehmann shows the maturity needed to work in our employment. Unfortunately in law enforcement there are times when instructions need be followed to the letter, and I am under the impression Ptl. Loehmann, under certain circumstances, will not react in the way instructed. Ptl. Loehmann’s lack of commitment for his future here at Independence is disconcerting.” Polak recommended that Loehmann be released from the department and wrote that neither “time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies.”

In that case, why on Earth did the Cleveland Police Department hire him?  Lt. Gail Bindel and Sgt. Edwin Santiago, the two officers in charge of hiring Loehmann, failed to perform a thorough background check on him. They were later suspended and reprimanded for it. Not only are the militarization tactics of police a major issue, but now we also have to worry about improperly evaluated cops and the open carry laws that are supposed to protect us. So who does open carry really serve to protect?

Report: At Least 1,000 Police Officers Fired for ‘Sexual Misconduct’

About 1,000 police officers in the United States were fired from 2009 to 2014 for “sexual misconduct,” which includes charges of rape, sodomy, possession of child pornography, and propositioning citizens or having on-duty intercourse.

A yearlong investigation conducted by the Associated Press, which looked at the decertification records in 41 states, revealed that “flaws in law enforcement policies and a protective culture of policing can allow sexual predators in police ranks to go unnoticed or unpunished until it’s too late.”

The AP noted that no federal officers were included in the investigation and some states, such as California and New York, “had no records because they have no statewide system for revoking the licenses of officers who commit misconduct.”

[RELATED: Ex-Police Chief, Accused of Sexual Assault on the Job, Sentenced to Probation]

In several of the states that provided records, “some reported no officers removed for sexual misdeeds even though cases were discovered in news stories or court records.”

Chief Bernadette DiPino of the Sarasota Police Department in Florida has been investigating the issue for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and she told the AP that she believes it is “happening probably in every law enforcement agency across the country.”

[RELATED: Former CHP Officer Pleads No Contest, Sentenced To Probation For Stealing Explicit Photos]

“It’s so underreported, and people are scared that if they call and complain about a police officer, they think every other police officer is going to be then out to get them,” DiPino said.

The investigation found that 550 of the officers who were fired lost their licenses for sexual assault offenses “including rape, pat-downs that amounted to groping, and shakedowns in which citizens were extorted into performing favors to avoid arrest.” The review revealed that 440 of the officers were decertified for misconduct such as possession of child pornography, “voyeurism in the guise of police work and consensual but prohibited on-duty intercourse.”

The AP described the case of former officer Sergio Alvarez, who spent six years working a night shift and was sued by six women who claimed that he sexually assaulted them between 2011 and 2012.

Alvarez was convicted of sexually assaulting the women while on the job, four of whom he abducted and raped. The women have been paid a total of $4.1 million in settlements, with $2.8 million coming from the city. Alvarez is now serving 205 years to life in prison.

Tom McDonald, a former captain for the Los Angeles Police Department who took over in West Sacramento after Alvarez’s arrest, told the AP that while it is hard to see the victims, it is even harder to think that he might be contributing to the problem.

“It hurts the heart to see victims,” McDonald said. “But it makes it even worse when you are, in one way, shape or form, a contributing factor to them being hurt.”

The report noted that “about one-third of the decertified officers were accused in incidents involving juveniles,” and the victims were “overwhelmingly women” who were often “the poor, the addicted, the young,” with many officers using the victims’ criminal record or search for help as a means for exploitation.

The AP stated that the issue was part of a problem stemming from policies and procedures which includes poor supervision and training, neglected “warning signs,” and a “good old boy culture in which inappropriate behavior was ignored or even condoned.”

Baltimore Officials: Taxpayers to Pay $6.4m Settlement to Family of Freddie Gray

Officials with the City of Baltimore say that they have negotiated a wrongful death settlement with the family of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American man whose death last April in police custody set off riots across the city.

According to CBS DC, under the agreement, Baltimore taxpayers would pay $6.4 million to Gray’s family. However, the proposed settlement must still seek the approval of the city’s Board of Estimates, which is set to consider the arrangement on Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Six Baltimore police officers are currently facing criminal charges related to Gray’s death, which has been ruled a homicide caused by a high energy neck and spine injury resulting from officers’ failure to follow safety procedures during a rough van ride in which Gray’s hands and feet were bound and in which he was not wearing a safety belt. Truth in Media’s Rachel Blevins noted that “the medical examiner compared Gray’s injury to a person diving headfirst into shallow water.

All six officers have pleaded not guilty to the charges and face a hearing on Thursday at which a judge will choose a venue for the criminal proceedings.

[RELATED: Officer Who Pursued Freddie Gray Has History of Violence, Mental Health Issues]

The proposed settlement agreement going before the Board of Estimates should not be interpreted as a judgment on the guilt or innocence of the officers facing trial,” read a statement by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “This settlement is being proposed solely because it is in the best interest of the city, and avoids costly and protracted litigation that would only make it more difficult for our city to heal and potentially cost taxpayers many millions more in damages.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the agreement calls for the $6.4 million settlement to be paid over two years, with $2.8 million set to be issued to Gray’s family in the first year and $3.6 million in the following year.

Retired Baltimore Cop Exposes Police Corruption on Joe Rogan’s Podcast

On Wednesday, former Baltimore Police Sergeant and US Marine Corps veteran Michael Wood appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast to discuss police misconduct and institutional racism in the modern criminal justice system. Last month, Wood gained national media attention when he began to tweet examples of police corruption that he reportedly witnessed firsthand while on the job at the Baltimore Police Department.

When asked why police officers are often caught on video shooting unarmed suspects, Wood said, “I’m convinced that the shootings come from fear” and blamed poorly-trained officers who lack the skills to maintain control in tense situations. Wood claimed that he “could have pulled the trigger justifiably a few times” during his eleven years of service at the Baltimore Police Department but did not need to do so.

Fear is not enough justification to shoot somebody, but that’s what the law says. The law says that, if you’re in fear for your life as an officer, you can pull that trigger. That’s preposterous. You have to at least be in some semblance of containing your situation… But they feel like everybody is a threat, and you’re ingrained into this threat, so [officers] run around with fear and they shoot in a heartbeat because they’re so afraid, and then [officials] just come behind and cover it all up like nothing happened,” said Wood.

Wood also said that he believes that Bob McCulloch, prosecutor in the controversial officer-involved Michael Brown homicide, “criminally covered up” an indictment against former Ferguson cop Darren Wilson, noting that unreliable witnesses were invited to testify before a grand jury in the case, which Wood believes was done to discourage the grand jury from handing down an indictment. However, Wood said that he believes that the evidence in the case would have ultimately exonerated Wilson, but that moving forward with an indictment would have allowed the process to play out in court and prevented a civil uprising.

Wood pointed to City of Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby’s indictment of the Baltimore Six in the officer-involved death of Freddie Gray as good policy that prevented further civil strife, “Was there uprisings after she came out and said, ‘OK, we’re going to charge the officers’? No, because, it’s not that anybody’s rushing to judgment, it’s not that it’s a lynch mob, it’s let this play out in court. I think the two lower officers are going to get off. I don’t think that they did anything particularly wrong — they were following their lieutenant… but you want to hear the case and you want to know what happened.

Just because a guy has a gun, and we give him a badge, and he has a GED, and he went to eight months of training doesn’t make him above the world — it doesn’t make him a separate set of rules,” concluded Wood, commenting on the humanity of police officers.

Wood’s appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast can be seen in its entirety in the above-embedded video.

Video: Colorado Officer Caught On Multiple Cameras Assaulting Suspect

Federal Heights, CO- Federal Heights Police Department Cpl. Mark Magness pleaded guilty to attempted assault in June after he was terminated by the department last December as a result of excessive force used by Magness on a suspect in custody.

The encounter between Magness and suspect Kent Lasnik occurred on December 6, and the footage was recently made available to the media. Lasnik, who had been arrested for allegedly attacking a liquor store employee, was taken by Magness and his partner into booking, where the encounter turned violent and Magness appeared to lose his temper. The Denver Post obtained and published raw footage of the incident, seen below.

The video shows, from the body camera of an officer identified as David Romero, Lasnik being removed from a police vehicle. While being pulled out of the car and into the station by Magness, Lasnik is thrown into a refrigerator, leaving a large cut on his chin that later required stitches.

Magness can later be heard shouting and swearing at Lasnik inside a cell, who shouted back at Magness. Lasnik is seen raising a hand to Magness, and Magness then struck Lasnik several times in the cell. Prosecutors said that Magness punched Lasnik at least seven times while Lasnik was seated on the bench, and hit another five times while on the ground.

Magness’s own body camera shows him grabbing a restraint chair and shoving it across a room while swearing, and it appears that his partner was encouraging him to calm down. Magness’s partner then strapped Lasnik down in the restraint chair as Magness squeezed the man’s temples to keep him still.

Later in the footage, Magness acknowledged that he’d “busted him up” and would “take full responsibility.” Lasnik was charged misdemeanor assault and has since considered taking legal action.

Magness was fired following an internal investigation and was charged earlier this year with assault. After pleading guilty, Magness was sentenced to one year of probation and court costs. The Denver Post reported that a second officer had been disciplined in the case.

The December incident led to the second time that Magness has pleaded guilty to assault. He was criminally charged in 2009 for using excessive force on a man named Dennis Discua by throwing him to the ground and breaking his arm. According to Fox 31, Discua called 911, dispatchers sent the closest officer who happened to be Magness. When Magness returned to the scene he allegedly pretended to be unaware of Discua’s situation.

“Officer Magness has had a history of being very aggressive with suspects,” Romero told prosecutors. “He’s been told he’s had anger issues before and like I say, it’s taken a SGT or another officer to do it and there’s been time where he’s able himself to calm down.”

Federal Heights Police Chief Karl Wilmes, who was not the department’s Chief in 2009, said he did not know the facts of that case and said that he has “no idea why” Magness was still employed by the department after that 2009 incident.

NJ Police Sergeant Charged With First-Degree Murder of Ex-Wife


Asbury Park, NJ- Sergeant Philip Seidle, a 22-year veteran of the Neptune Township Police Department, faces charges of first-degree murder and child endangerment after he allegedly chased down his ex-wife in his car before fatally shooting her in front of their daughter, with several witnesses and police officers in the vicinity.

According to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Tamara Seidle, Philip Seidle’s ex-wife, was driving her black Volkswagen sedan in Asbury Park, New Jersey at about 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, followed by Phillip close behind her driving a silver Honda Pilot. The Seidle’s 7-year-old daughter was with Phillip in the passenger seat of the Pilot.

Witnesses reported that Tamara was speeding and “looked scared.” First Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Marc LeMieux described Tamara as “fleeing” from Phillip. Police said that Tamara’s car bumped into a police vehicle involved in an unrelated accident investigation before crashing into a parked vehicle on another street. The Asbury Park Press created a diagram showing the sequence of events that can be seen here.

Phillip Seidle then allegedly rammed his Pilot into Tamara’s car, exited the vehicle, and approached the driver’s side window of Tamara’s vehicle before firing multiple shots at close range using his service weapon.

LeMieux said that Phillip Seidle proceeded to put the weapon, a .40-caliber Glock, to his head while walking around Tamara’s car.

Police officers, who were nearby looking into a separate car accident, recognized Seidle and convinced him to allow them to remove his daughter from his vehicle; once the child was removed from the car, Seidle approached the front of Tamara’s vehicle and fired several more shots at her through the windshield. Police said there was a standoff between officers and Seidle before he surrendered at 11:52 a.m. Tamara died a short time later at a hospital.

Officers at the scene declined use of force during the incident. Some experts, including a former police captain, have speculated that officers should have taken more serious action before Phillip Seidle fired a second round of shots at the victim. Tom Aveni, executive director of the Police Policy Studies Council, said “Should they [police] have allowed him to shoot his wife again? No.”

LeMieux was asked why police chose not to use force on Phillip Seidle when he fired at his ex-wife a second time, and he answered that the issue is “under investigation at this point in time.”

Phillip and Tamara Seidle divorced on May 27. During the standoff, witnesses and police said that Phillip Seidle had expressed frustration about going to court, paying alimony, and not being able to see their nine children often enough. Tamara had custody of the children following the divorce.

The Asbury Park Press reported that Tamara had accused Phillip of violence and physical and emotional abuse. According to court documents, she claimed that Phillip had kicked her in the stomach and pointed a loaded gun at her head during pregnancy.

Seidle pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and is currently being held on $2 million bail.


SC GOP Governor Nikki Haley Signs Bill Requiring Police to Wear Body Cameras

The above-embedded Associated Press video captured the moment last Wednesday when South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley signed S 47 into law, a bill requiring all police in the state to wear body cameras.

Governor Haley signed the bill alongside family members of Walter Scott, an unarmed African-American man who was fatally gunned down by North Charleston, SC Police Officer Michael Slager during an April 4 traffic stop over a malfunctioning taillight. Slager has since been fired and charged with murder over his role in the tragedy.

[RELATED AUDIO: Recording of Officer After Walter Scott Shooting Doesn’t Sound Remorseful]

According to The Post and Courier, the bill grants state law enforcement agencies a nine month grace period to obtain state funding and implement the body cameras. WYFF-TV notes that it also provides funding for the cameras and prohibits the footage taken by them from being obtained by the public through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Cato Institute’s Matthew Feeney wrote, “Among those permitted to access police body camera footage [under the South Carolina law] are: the subjects of a body camera footage, criminal defendants, civil litigants, and attorneys representing any of these people.”

The bill was introduced in December of 2014, but failed to gain traction until Walter Scott’s highly-publicized officer-involved death in April of 2015.

Said Governor Haley at the bill’s signing ceremony, “What did happen was we saw a sad tragedy, we saw a good man die when he didn’t have to, and we saw a few amazing things happen — we saw everybody step up and say, rather than being victims to this, we’re going to lift everyone up and make the state better, and that’s why this is a proud day. That’s why this is a good day, because this was about saying we don’t ever want a day like that to happen again… This is going to strengthen the people of South Carolina, this is going to strengthen law enforcement, and this is going to make sure that Walter Scott did not die without us realizing we had a problem.

I’m sure my brother is looking down and saying: ‘Good job. Good job, South Carolina,’” said Walter Scott’s brother Anthony Scott, according to The Aiken Standard.

Said Democratic State Senator Gerald Malloy of the law, “It is a great day in South Carolina, because we become the first state in the country that has a requirement for all law enforcement to end up wearing these body cameras.

Teen Who Filmed Viral Pool Party Video Describes Officer’s Controversial Use of Force

In McKinney, Texas last Friday, a pool party at Craig Ranch North Community Pool descended into chaos when local police responded to complaints of a fight and that unauthorized guests were attending the party. The McKinney Police Department response to the incident, particularly as it pertains to the behavior of Corporal Eric Casebolt, has been described as excessive and racially-motivated by local community leaders, according to CBS 46. The majority of the party-goers were African American teens, and Corporal Casebolt was filmed detaining bystanders seemingly at random, wrestling a bikini-clad 14-year-old girl to the ground, and pulling his pistol on another teen who clenched his fist near the officer.

Fifteen-year-old white teenager Brandon Brooks, who also attended the pool party, filmed the incident and said in an above-embedded interview with journalist Andrew Demeter that he believes that Casebolt acted inappropriately and that racial bias appeared to be a motivating factor.

Brooks told NewsFix CW33, “I was one of the only white people in the area when that was happening. You can see in part of the video where he tells us to sit down, and he kinda’ like skips over me and tells all my African-American friends to go sit down.” Brooks’ full video of the incident can be seen in the YouTube player below.

In the video, Corporal Casebolt can be seen swearing and accusing the teens of running their mouths just before he grabs 14-year-old girl Dajerria Becton and forcefully wrestles her to the ground. As bystanders begin to crowd around him, a teen can be seen clenching his fist in anger, to which Casebolt responds by drawing his pistol on the teen. Casebolt then keeps his pistol out while wrestling with the 14-year-old girl as she calls for her mother.

I think she was quote unquote running her mouth, and she has freedom of speech and that was very uncalled for him to throw her to the ground… When he pulled his gun my heart dropped. As soon as he pulled out his gun, I thought he was going to shoot that kid. That was very scary,” said eyewitness Brooks to NewsFix CW33.

It is our hope and prayer that the Chief of Police and the mayor of this city handle this situation by not only firing this officer but taking his license, because this was simply based on race,” said local pastor Reverend Ronald Wright.

Brooks said in his above-embedded interview with Andrew Demeter that police were originally called in response to a fight between a mother and a teen girl, and that the other bystanders, many of whom were detained, had nothing to do with the incident. Said Brooks to NewsFix CW33, “The cops showed up and the parents immediately started yelling, ‘you need more cops, there’s too many of them.’ And most of the kids weren’t even involved. It was a fight between a mom and girl, which had nothing to do with all the other kids that she apparently needed more cops for.

The McKinney FOP assures that this was not a racially motivated incident and can say without a shadow of doubt that all members of the McKinney FOP and McKinney PD do not conduct racially biased policing,” said McKinney Fraternal Order of Police president Daniel Malenfant, according to ABC News.

Jahi Adisa Bakari, a parent of a 13-year-old who attended the pool party, said that Casebolt’s behavior was “out of control” but that she “saw some [officers] doing the right thing.” She continued, “I saw some actually trying to keep the matter right.

USA Today notes that party organizer Tatyana Rhodes said “[Corporal Casebolt] was just aggressive for no reason at all.

43-year-old African-American resident Benet Embry said, according to CNN, “Let me reiterate, the neighbors or the neighborhood did not call the police because this was an African-American party or whatever the situation is. This was not a racially motivated event — at all. This whole thing is being blown completely out of proportion.” Many of the party’s attendees felt that the police were called primarily because residents of the predominately-white neighborhood were bothered by the number of African-American teens at the pool.

Fifteen-year-old white eyewitness Brandon Brooks said that he felt he was “invisible” to the cops, who he believed were only focused on detaining the African-American party-goers.

Several concerns about the conduct of one of the officers at the scene have been raised. The McKinney Police Department is committed to treating all persons fairly under the law. We are committed to preserving the peace and safety of our community for all our citizens,” said McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley at a press conference.

An adult male was arrested at the scene on charges of evading arrest and interfering with the duties of a police officer.

Our initial reaction was to place [Officer Casebolt] on administrative leave until we can conduct a complete and thorough investigation of the incident,” McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley said.

UPDATE: Caselbolt resigned on Tuesday, according to his attorney. Read more here.

Cleveland Police Union Head Rebukes New Reform Measures: “It’s Going To Get Someone Killed”

Cleveland, OH- Earlier this week, the city of Cleveland and the Justice Department established an agreement to make changes to the Cleveland Police Department, which will mandate several reforms to the department. The CPD has agreed to establish various committees, revise use-of-force policies, and improve training.

Within the agreement are reform measures that focus specifically on identifying levels of force used by police and requiring increased oversight of police use-of-force incidents via paper documentation and outside analysis.

Three levels of force used by police have been established:

  • Level 1 use of force is identified as actions expected to cause “transient pain and/or disorientation” such as bending a suspect’s fingers, according to Cleveland.com. It also includes unholstering and pointing a firearm, but not firing it. Level 1 use of force incidents require the officer to file a police report explaining the incident and why the officer felt the use of force was necessary.
  • Level 2 use of force is identified as actions that cause “an injury, could reasonably be expected to cause an injury, or results in a complaint of an injury, but does not rise to the level of a Level 3 use of force,” such as use of an ECW (also referred to as a Taser); use of pepper spray; kicking, striking and punching; and using a police canine to accost a suspect. Any use of Level 2 force on a handcuffed suspect becomes a level 3 use of force. Level 2 use of force incidents require the immediate arrival of a supervisor to the scene of the incident, who are then tasked with interviewing the injured individual, seeing that proper medical care is administered, and writing a report to be reviewed by the district commander, Internal Affairs Unit and the police chief to decide if the use of force is justified.
  • Level 3 use of force is identified as actions including “uses of lethal force; uses of force resulting in death or serious physical injury; uses of force resulting in
    hospital admission; all neck holds; uses of force resulting in a loss of
    consciousness; canine bites; more than three applications of an ECW
    on an individual during a single interaction, regardless of the mode or duration
    of the application, and regardless of whether the applications are by the same
    or different officers; or an ECW application for longer than 15 seconds,
    whether continuous or consecutive.” All cases of Level 3 use of force are subject to the invesigation of a new branch of the Internal Affairs Unit called the Force Investigation Team(FIT), which is tasked with arriving to the scene to complete a criminal investigation. The FIT will be “comprised of personnel from various units and will not be a new unit.”

Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association, takes issue with the documentation aspect of the reform agreement, claiming that the requirement is “going to get somebody killed.”

“I’m afraid that officers are going to be hesitant to pull their gun in an appropriate situation because they don’t want to do the paperwork that’s going to be associated with having to pull your gun,” he said.

According to Cleveland.com, Loomis believes the reforms are not necessarily tailored to Cleveland officers, but are a response to increased coverage of police use of force incidents that have occurred nationwide. “This is a political agenda,” Loomis said. “This has nothing to do with the actions of the men and women of the Cleveland police department.”

Sarah Childress, a reporter for PBS’s Frontline, notes that this is Cleveland’s second attempt at reforming their police department. “Over the last two decades, Cleveland’s police department is one of only five law enforcement agencies that has been subject to two separate federal investigations, underscoring how entrenched the city’s problems have become,” she wrote.

The Justice Department investigated the CPD in 1999 and had identified problems regarding properly addressing use of force incidents and examining its own officers. In 2014, the Justice Department published another investigation of the department and concluded that the CPD was engaging in a “pattern or practice of the use of excessive force” in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Albuquerque Cop Accused Of Beating Suspect While Body Camera Was Turned Off

Albuquerque, NM- The Albuquerque Police Department is under scrutiny once again due to another one of its officers being accused of not using a body camera while on duty.

Earlier this month, APD Chief Gorden Eden revealed in a YouTube video that an internal affairs investigation had been launched regarding “possible misconduct” and “excessive use of force” involving two APD officers. Additional information has identified the suspect and the APD employees involved in the incident.

Albuquerque Officer Cedric Greer, 24, has been charged with aggravated battery for allegedly punching a suspect repeatedly during an arrest. The incident was reported to APD’s training staff by a cadet, identified by the Albuquerque Journal as Andrew Henry, who was present at the scene.

Henry, Greer and another officer, Jerry Rauch, were called to a motel on March 20th to assist a “down and out” male. The “down and out” male, Adrian Marthell, was found on the second floor of the motel highly intoxicated.

Marthell was escorted downstairs. A patdown was conducted, and Marthell was found with a small amount of marijuana. While Rauch went to his vehicle, Greer and Henry stayed with Marthell. The arrest warrant affidavit claims that Greer caught Marthell looking at Henry and ordered him to “stop looking at” the cadet and to “look at the f**king ground.”

The affidavit goes on to claim that Greer grabbed Marthell and shoved him down to the ground and into a prone position with Marthell’s left shoulder and left side of his head on the pavement. Greer then allegedly grabbed Marthell by his jacket and struck him twice in on the right side of his head “causing the left side of his head to bounce off of the pavement.” 

According to the affidavit, Greer continued to assault Marthell. The officer allegedly held the Marthell by his left arm and struck him twice in his rib cage before wrenching his arm upward and repeatedly asking Marthell “who’s the man?” until Marthell “responded in obvious pain, ‘you are the man’.”

Rauch returned to the scene and helped Greer place Marthell in restraints; the affidavit claims that Greer and Rauch proceeded to turn their lapel cameras on and were “courteous” to Marthell once the cameras were activated. APD’s policy requires the use of body cameras for most public interactions.

The lapel camera allegedly showed “large red blotches which appeared to be abrasions” on the left side of Marthell’s face. The affidavit reported that the officers did not report to supervisors that force had been used.

An eyewitness was reportedly interviewed who said he was 20 feet away from the officers and Marthell and had clearly seen Greer striking a man laying on the ground. According to the affidavit, interviews with officers and the witness indicated that Marthell was cooperative and not threatening to any of the officers during the encounter.

KOB News4 reports that the APD is investigating the glaring differences between the arrest warrant affidavit and the criminal complaint against Marthell. The complaint, written by Rauch, provides very few details and does not mention use of force, Rauch walking to his vehicle, or lapel cameras being turned on in the middle of the encounter.

Rauch has not yet faced any charges; Greer is charged with misdemeanor aggravated battery. According to the Albuquerque Journal, there was a clerical error that cause Greer to first be charged with a felony; a Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office clarified that Greer is charged with a misdemeanor. A felony charge would allow the APD to immediately fire Greer.

Both Greer and Rauch are on administrative leave.

The allegations against Greer are similar to those made against another APD officer, Jeremy Dear. Dear had been allegedly involved in three use-of-force incidents in which Dear did not have his body camera turned on. One of those incidents involved a fatality: Dear shot and killed Mary Hawkes during a foot chase in April 2014 and admitted in an interview that he knew his camera was not on during the chase. Dear, who was fired by Eden last December, has appealed his termination and wants his job back.

Taxpayers to Pay $650,000 to Suspected Horse Thief Who Was Beaten By Police

Earlier this month, BenSwann.com reported on an April 9 incident, depicted in CNN‘s above-embedded video coverage, in which a group of San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies were caught on camera by NBC Los Angeles‘ news helicopter as they appeared to savagely beat a surrendering horse theft suspect who had evaded police. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that, less than two weeks after the incident, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has agreed to pay the victim of the beating, 30-year-old Francis Pusok, a $650,000 settlement.

San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert told The Los Angeles Times, “Clearly this was something that both sides had an interest in resolving as soon as possible.” In accepting the settlement, Pusok will waive his right to sue the county and its Sheriff’s Department. However, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon, who called the video “disturbing,” is going forward with investigations into whether the ten deputies involved should be fired or face criminal charges. The deputies implicated in the incident have been placed on leave and are under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for allegedly violating Pusok’s civil rights.

San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos stated, “The sole purpose of this agreement for both parties is to avoid the costs involved in litigation. This agreement is a fair outcome for everyone involved, including taxpayers.” Ramos recommended that Sheriff McMahon implement a new body camera program in response to the incident.

A statement released by Pusok’s attorneys James Terrell and Sharon Brunner said, “This settlement is remarkable as there was essentially no investigation nor any indictments. Rather it is based on a video which depicts a violent and brutal attack by San Bernardino County deputies on a private citizen.” The statement noted that Pusok hopes that his ordeal will result in use-of-force policy changes by law enforcement. “Change is obviously needed,” it read.

The April 9 incident began when Pusok, who had a criminal record and was on probation, fled police as they investigated an identity theft case at a house at which he happened to be located but did not live. Pusok claims that he fled because he had a fear of law enforcement officers, but Sheriff John McMahon says that he believes that Pusok fled because he is on probation. Pusok initially evaded police in a vehicle and eventually left it behind as he stole a horse in an effort to escape into the desert, where he was later thrown from the horse and subsequently beaten by police.

Video Emerges of Federal Cop in Military Gear Apparently Smashing Woman’s Camera

A video posted Sunday on YouTube appears to show an armor-clad law enforcement officer with a long rifle confronting a woman as she films officers on the scene. In the above-embedded video, which includes adult language and was provided by the investigative journalism site Photography Is Not a Crime, the officer can be seen approaching the woman and grabbing what appears to be either a smartphone or a digital camera from her hands, then smashing it on the ground and kicking it out of range. The incident took place in South Gate, CA and was caught on video by another bystander, who was filming from across the street and out of view of the officer.

NBC Los Angeles is reporting that federal officials and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are investigating the incident. South Gate Police Chief Randy Davis told the NBC affiliate that the officer seen in the video works for the US Marshals Service. Chief Davis also specifically pointed out the fact that that the South Gate Police Department was not involved in the apparent camera-smashing incident, which he said took place on Sunday.

The woman was reportedly filming as police from a multi-agency task force responded to an incident involving a biker gang, during which there was an altercation between a biker and a police officer and six people were arrested. It is not yet known whether the woman in the video was just a bystander or associated with the individuals being arrested by officers on the scene.

A spokesperson for the US Marshals Service’s Central District of California told The Huffington Post, “The US Marshals Service is aware of video footage of an incident that took place Sunday in Los Angeles County involving a Deputy US Marshal. The agency is currently reviewing the incident.”

Video Emerges of Officer Slager Apparently Deploying Taser on Restrained Suspect

North Charleston, SC police officer Michael Slager was recently charged with murder after bystander video emerged showing Slager shooting unarmed suspect Walter Scott in the back eight times as he attempted to flee on foot in an effort to avoid being jailed for failure to pay child support. Shortly after Officer Slager was arrested for the shooting, 33-year-old Mario Givens came forward and pointed out the fact that he had filed an excessive force complaint against Slager in 2013 when the officer deployed a Taser on him after mistaking him for his brother, who was wanted by police. Slager shocked Givens with his stun gun despite the fact that the alleged victim who raised allegations against Givens’ brother was on the scene and told Slager that he had the wrong man.

Meanwhile, The Post and Courier is reporting that another man has come forward with a complaint alleging that Officer Slager used excessive force on him during a routine traffic stop over a broken taillight. The August 25, 2014 incident, seen in the above-embedded raw dashcam video provided by WSCS-TV, started when 35-year-old Julius Garnett Wilson was asked to step out of the car as officers on the scene claimed that his South Carolina driver’s license was suspended. Wilson argued that he had obtained a valid Georgia driver’s license and initially struggled with police as they pulled him from his car.

An officer on the scene pulled a gun on Wilson, and he surrendered to police with two officers restraining him. At that point, around 20 seconds into the above video, Officer Slager deployed his Taser on the apparently pinned suspect, forcing his fellow officers to relinquish their grip and step back. Slager reported that he used the Taser on Wilson because the suspect would not place his hands behind his back.

The Post and Courier notes that the policeman that pulled his gun on Wilson, Officer Woods, said, “He almost got shot; I’m not lying, but he advised I was being recorded. I said, ‘Cool; you are, too.’”

Wilson, a felon, said he initially opted against filing a complaint but changed his mind after seeing Officer Slager gun down Walter Scott on video. “In my lifetime, I have witnessed violent acts by police officers… Without proof of such acts, the word of police officers is always taken over the word of the victims forced to endure their violent acts,” said Wilson.

Wilson’s attorneys John Gentry III and Nicholas Clekis have filed a civil rights lawsuit in the Charleston County Court of Common Pleas against the North Charleston Police Department, Officer Michael Slager, Officer Brad Woods, Officer Jerome Clemens, and North Charleston Chief of Police Eddie Driggers, alleging police brutality. John Gentry III told The Post and Courier, “With all the media coverage in Mr. Scott’s shooting, the practices and procedures of use of force by police across the country is being brought into question.”

Nicholas Clekis told The Guardian, “We now have the fact that there’s a pattern of abuse of this officer; it gives more credence to the lawsuit.”

AUDIO: Recording of Officer After Walter Scott Shooting Doesn’t Sound Remorseful

Update April 13, 8:20 PM: The title of this article has been changed to more accurately reflect the content of the audio recording.

BenSwann.com previously reported on the controversial, caught-on-video shooting of Walter Scott by South Carolina Police Officer Michael Slager. The incident began when Officer Slager pulled over Walter Scott in North Charleston over a broken taillight on Scott’s vehicle. When Scott fled the scene on foot, fearing that he might end up in jail as he had fallen behind on child support payments, Slager unsuccessfully attempted to catch him and then opened fire on Scott from behind with 8 shots, killing him.

Though Officer Slager claimed that Scott had attempted to steal his stun gun during a struggle, causing him to feel threatened, bystander video appeared to contradict the claim that Scott was a threat, and Slager was charged with murder. Meanwhile, The Guardian recently released an audio clip, embedded below and taken from Officer Slager’s dashcam, in which he can be heard laughing about being fired up on adrenaline after killing Walter Scott during a debriefing with a senior officer.

The above-embedded audio begins with Officer Slager asking a senior officer what to expect after shooting Scott. The unidentified officer said, “We’ll get you up to headquarters… Probably once they get you there, we’ll take you home. Take your crap off, take your vest off, kind of relax for two or three. They’re going to want to interview you. Once they get here, it will be real quick. They’re gonna’ tell you you’re gonna’ be out for a couple of days and you’ll come back and they’ll interview you then. They’re not going to ask you any kind of questions right now. They’ll take your weapon, and we’ll go from there. That’s pretty much it… The last one we had, they waited a couple of days to interview officially, like, sit down and tell what happened.”

Then, the senior officer told Slager, “By the time you get home, it would probably be a good idea to kind of jot down your thoughts on what happened, you know, once the adrenaline quits pumping.”

Officer Slager then replied while laughing, “It’s pumping!”

The above-embedded clip came from a longer audio recording that also captured the moment when Officer Slager answered a phone call from his wife and gave his side of the story to her. Said Officer Slager on the call, “Hey. Hey, everything’s OK, OK?… He grabbed my taser, yeah. Yeah, he was running from me.”

Video of CA Cops Beating Suspected Horse Thief Called “Far Worse Than Rodney King”

On Thursday, a suspected horse thief, who had attempted to evade police on horseback in San Bernardino County, CA, was captured after he was thrown from the allegedly stolen horse on which he fled. However, as deputies moved in to make the arrest, they first deployed a Taser, and then, after the suspect appeared to surrender, continued beating him for nearly two more minutes, striking him with punches, kicks, knees, and batons. The incident was caught on video by NBC Los Angelesnews helicopter.

The suspect, 30-year-old Apple Valley man Francis Pusok, lay motionless for around 45 minutes after the assault as deputies stood by without attempting to provide medical attention. Officials with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said that Pusok has been hospitalized but is expected to survive. Three deputies suffered injuries during the pursuit, as two became dehydrated and another was kicked by the allegedly stolen horse.

After seeing the video, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon launched an investigation into the deputies’ actions. Said Sheriff McMahon, “I can certainly understand the concerns in the community based on what they saw on the video… I’m disturbed by what I see in the video. But I don’t need to jump to conclusions at this point, until we do a complete and thorough investigation. If our deputy sheriffs did something wrong, they’ll be put off work and they’ll be dealt with appropriately, all in accordance with the law as well as our department policy.”

Deputies on the scene say that the Taser did not work and that a struggle ensued as a result, leading to an escalation of force. In the above video, the suspect appears to collapse helplessly after the Taser is deployed. Sheriff McMahon said, “I’m not sure if there was a struggle with the suspect… It appears there was in the early parts of the video. What happens afterwards, I’m not sure of, but we will investigate it thoroughly.”

Jim Terrell, Pusok’s attorney, told CBS Los Angeles that Pusok is considering filing a civil lawsuit. “What I saw on the television was thugs beating up my client. That’s what I saw… This is far worse than Rodney King,” said Terrell. He says the officers responsible should be fired and arrested. “I want to know what these cops past records are. Did they just start being thugs or have they been thugs for years?… These are bad cops whether it’s Ferguson, Missouri, or right here in Apple Valley. This stuff’s got to stop.”

NBC Los Angeles notes that the incident began with two deputies assaulting the suspect and ended with eleven officers swarming onto the scene. Pusok appeared to sustain at least 17 kicks, 4 baton strikes, and 37 punches.

“How can you be tased and still feel it’s necessary to beat him like that? I don’t understand,” said Jolene Bindner, the suspect’s girlfriend.

The pursuit began when San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies attempted to serve a search warrant at a residence in Apple Valley as a part of an identity theft investigation. When they arrived, Pusok initially fled in a vehicle before abandoning it and allegedly stealing a horse in an effort to continue his evasion of authorities. Pusak’s prior convictions include attempted robbery, resisting arrest, disturbing the peace, animal cruelty, and driving on a sidewalk at an unsafe speed.

Edited Wikipedia Entries About Police Brutality Traced To NYPD; Department Investigating

New York- Last Friday, Capital New York reported that several changes had been made to Wikipedia entries including those regarding the deaths of Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo, and those changes were traced back to computers operating on the NYPD’s network. Garner, Bell, and Diallo were three unarmed men killed by the NYPD in separate incidents.

According to Capital New York, a spokesperson confirmed over the weekend that the Wikipedia edits stemmed from NYPD servers, and police have identified one editor of an Eric Garner entry as an individual working from NYPD computers outside of 1 Police Plaza. The NYPD has not publicly named the individual.

“We are conducting an internal investigation to identify what member of the service may have accessed the Department’s server. These incidents did not originate from computers located at Police Headquarters,” said Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis regarding edits to the “Death of Eric Garner” Wikipedia page made on Dec. 3, 2014, shortly after a grand jury declined to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner.

Capital New York revealed the following edits reportedly made by a user on the 1 Police Plaza network to the “Death of Eric Garner” entry:

  • “Garner raised both his arms in the air” was changed to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke.”
  • “[P]ush Garner’s face into the sidewalk” was changed to “push Garner’s head down into the sidewalk.”
  • “Use of the chokehold has been prohibited” was changed to “Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited.”
  •  The sentence “Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them,” was added to the description of the incident.
  •  Instances of the word “chokehold” were replaced twice, once to “chokehold or headlock,” and once to “respiratory distress.”

The screenshots of those changes can be seen here.

Capital New York reported that on April 12, 2007, a user on 1 Police Plaza’s network tried to delete a “Sean Bell Shooting Incident” Wikipedia entry. “He [Bell] was in the news for about two months, and now no one except Al Sharpton cares anymore. The police shoot people every day, and times with a lot more than 50 bullets. This incident is more news than notable,” the user wrote on Wikipedia’s “Articles for deletion” page.

Capital New York also reported that on On Nov. 23, 2013, a user on the 1 Police Plaza network edited a Wikipedia entry for an unarmed man named Amadou Diallo, who was killed by the NYPD in 1999 after his wallet was identified as a gun. Changes were made to a sentence referring to NYPD Officer Kenneth Boss, an officer who was involved in the shooting. The sentence “Officer Kenneth Boss had been previously involved in an incident where an unarmed man was shot, but remained working as a police officer” had been changed to “Officer Kenneth Boss had been previously involved in an incident where an armed man was shot”.

Changes have also reportedly been made to Wikipedia entries about the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies:

“The stop-and-frisk program of New York City is a practice of the New York City Police Department to stop, question, and search people” was changed to “The stop-and-frisk program of New York City is a practice of the New York City Police Department to stop, question and, if the circumstances of the stop warrant it, conduct a frisk of the person stopped.”

“The stop-and-frisk program of New York City is a practice of the New York City Police Department to stop, question and, if the circumstances of the stop warrant it, conduct a frisk of the person stopped” was changed to “The stop-and-frisk program of New York City is a practice of the New York City Police Department by which a police officer who reasonably suspects a person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a felony or a Penal Law misdemeanorstops and questions that person, and, if the circumstances of the stop warrant it, conducts a frisk of the person stopped.”

“if the circumstances of the stop warrant it, conducts a frisk of the person stopped” was changed to “if the officer reasonably suspects he or she is in danger of physical injury, frisks the person stopped for weapons.”
“The rules for stop and frisk are found in New York State Criminal Procedure Law section 140.50, and are based on the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Terry v. Ohio” was also added to the Wikipedia entry.

Capital New York pointed to a list of anonymous Wikipedia edits tracing back to NYPD IP addresses that can be seen here. Davis said that a thorough investigation will be difficult because the NYPD maintains just one-year logs of computer activity. The NYPD may be able to investigate its records regarding recent changes such as the Eric Garner edits, but the department may not able to trace older activity. Capital New York reportedly discovered Wikipedia edits connected to the NYPD spanning at least ten years.

Disabled Veteran Cleared: Video Proves Cops, Prosecutors Faked Punitive Charges

Washington Parish, LA resident and disabled veteran Douglas Dendinger’s life was flipped upside-down around two years ago when he agreed to serve a court summons to former police officer Chad Cassard, who was accused of brutalizing Dendinger’s nephew. In exchange for $50, Dendinger agreed to deliver the paperwork to the ex-officer as he left a court hearing at the Washington Parish Courthouse. As Dendinger carried out the routine legal procedure, the reaction of a group of police officers and prosecutors standing by alarmed him. He told WWL-TV, “It was like sticking a stick in a bee’s nest… They started cursing me. They threw the summons at me. Right at my face, but it fell short. Vulgarities. I just didn’t know what to think. I was a little shocked.”

Afterward, Dendinger went straight home. Upon his arrival, the situation escalated. “Within about 20 minutes, there were these bright lights shining through my windows. It was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I mean I knew immediately, a police car… And that’s when the nightmare started… I was arrested.” Dendinger, who had a prior conviction, was charged with simple battery, intimidating a witness, and obstruction of justice, a concoction of charges so serious that he faced 80 years behind bars, a virtual life sentence.

Initially, Dendinger thought the charges had been some kind of mix up, as many police officers were there to witness the fact that he did not commit a crime. However, it eventually became clear that those on the scene had fabricated charges against him, accusing him of physically attacking the summons recipient. Two St. Tammany prosecutors, Leigh Anne Wall and Julie Knight, gave statements to police implicating Dendinger. Said Knight in a police report on the incident, “We could hear the slap as he hit Cassard’s chest with an envelope of papers… This was done in a manner to threaten and intimidate everyone involved.” Ex-officer Chad Cassard also said that Dendinger had slapped him in the chest, and Washington Parish court attorney Pamela Legendre likened the paperwork hand-off to a punch. Local Police Chief Joe Culpepper even said that he had witnessed the fabricated attack, though he later backtracked and said that he was not present.

Astonishingly, a routine attempt to serve court paperwork in public was being falsely portrayed as a violent crime by public officials in an attempt to punish Dendinger for serving the ex-cop with a lawsuit. Former St. Tammany District Attorney Walter Reed filed charges against Dendinger. Seven witnesses gave statements characterizing the paperwork hand-off as a violent attack. Philip Kaplan, Dendinger’s lawyer, said, “They had a plan. The plan was to really go after him and put him away. That’s scary.”

However, the conspiracy against Dendinger began to fall apart when his wife produced cell phone video of the hand-off, which Dendinger had her take in an effort to prove he had delivered the paperwork. Kaplan pushed for then-District Attorney Reed to recuse himself of the case, and it was transferred to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, where the charges were dropped after officials reviewed the cell phone video of the incident, seen in the above-embedded video by WWL-TV.

The disabled Dendinger spent over a year fighting the charges and incurred significant legal fees. He is suing Washington Parish Sheriff Randy “Country” Seal, former District Attorney Walter Reed, prosecutors Julie Knight and Leigh Anne Wall, and the police officers on the scene for perjury, abuse of due process, false arrest, false imprisonment, and fabricated evidence. Charges have yet to be filed against the public officials who fabricated charges against Dendinger. Falsifying a police report is a felony.

David Cressy, a former prosecutor, told WWL-TV, “He’d still be in a world of trouble if he didn’t have that film… It was him against all of them. They took advantage of that and said all sorts of fictitious things happened. And it didn’t happen. It would still be going like that had they not had the film.”

Sheriff Randy Seal issued a statement on the lawsuit, saying, “We are confident that all claims against all WPSO deputies will be rejected and dismissed by the court.”