Tag Archives: police power

Video Watchdog Group Keeps 17-year-old From Charges of Assaulting Police

Washington D.C.- A 17-year-old form Brooklyn, New York is no longer facing charges of assaulting a police officer thanks to a group of “Cop Watchers” at a Puerto Rican Day Parade. Video of the incident caught on camera from multiple angles proved it was not the teen who assaulted officers, rather it was the teen who was assaulted.

The incident took place at Brooklyn’s Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 8, 2014. 17 year-old Enrique del Rosario was part of a group recording the actions of police, when his lawyer says, police grabbed Rosario, slamming him against the gate of a closed store and began beating him with batons.

After viewing video from multiple angles, recorded by members of the neighborhood watchdog group El Grito de Sunset Park, a grand jury decided not to prosecute Rosario for assaulting police.

In the video above, Ben Swann interviews Dennis Flores with El Grito de Sunset Park about his group and what they are doing to make police more responsive to their community.

EXCLUSIVE: Sheriff Stands Up to IRS, Cancels Land Sale

WASHINGTON, February 7, 2015—New Mexico’s Eddy County Sheriff Scott London notified the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) via letter that the sale of county resident Kent Carter’s property is canceled until Carter receives due process of law and his appeal is heard. The certified letter dated February 4 received an immediate response from the Undersecretary of the Treasury’s office. According to the Treasury’s website, however, the public auction is still slated for February 19.

“Many officers have stood up over the years for the rights of citizens being victimized by the federal government,” said Sheriff Mack, founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, “But Sheriff London is the first one to stand up to the IRS since the early 1990s.” Mack said, “His actions show courage and humility. London is setting a good example for the rest of our sheriffs.”

Approximately ten days before Christmas, U.S. Marshals broke in the door of Carter’s rental property with their guns drawn. The tenant was a young mother with a new baby—home alone while her husband was at work. Sheriff London was called to the property to intervene. He advised the Marshals that Carter’s case was in appeal and he deserved due process. They threatened to arrest London, but he stood his ground and they backed off.

Carter has battled the IRS for decades over taxes on the earnings of his modest construction business. One court document listed his debt at $145,000, a figure Carter says an assessing agent “pulled out of thin air.” Every time he challenged them, his bill would shoot up a few hundred thousand dollars. His legal complaints state that the IRS failed to adhere to its own tax code, did not use proper accounting methods, and that the collection activity was unlawful because no notices of deficiency were given. Carter says his private and confidential information, including his social security number, was filed in public records and given to third parties. The IRS countered that it can publish and disperse the private information of Americans if it is trying to collect their money or property. A judge agreed.

Carter says the IRS is currently claiming he owes $890,000, a figure that “doubled with the stroke of a pen.”

The Taxation & Revenue Department ordered Carter to cease “engaging in business in New Mexico” until his arbitrary tax debt was paid. Carter appealed this injunction on the grounds that it was both unconstitutional and vague, as it deprived him of his right to make a living and also prohibited him from, “carrying on or causing to be carried on any activity with the purpose of direct or indirect benefit.”

“The IRS fabricates evidence against citizens by pulling numbers out of a hat and adding fees,” said Mack, “They wear people down emotionally and financially until they can’t take it anymore. No citizen should ever have to fight the IRS for decades in order to keep his land.”

“The IRS is a lie. The income tax is a lie,” said Carter. “Why should they be able to take anything? They’re worse than the mafia.”

The Carter properties have liens placed against them. A locksmith was instructed to change the locks. The IRS authorized the United States Marshal Service to arrest/evict anyone found on the premises. London, however, physically stood in front of Carter’s gate until the Marshals backed down. A public auction on the front steps of the Eddy County Courthouse is scheduled, but the local county sheriff—trained in the Constitution—resisted.

Carter voluntarily vacated his property and relocated his mobile home to an undisclosed location. “I chose to leave to keep it from escalating to something ugly—like Ruby Ridge, Idaho,” he said. Carter said he advised the Marshals and IRS Agents who publicly claimed he had armed friends on his land, “If there is going to be any violence, it is going to be you who starts it.”

Carter says 100% of his Social Security benefits is seized each month by the IRS, in addition to $2,800 the agency drained from his bank account. Legally, the IRS can take no more than 15% of Social Security benefits.

Mack says banking institutions quiver when faced with the IRS’ gestapo tactics and generally hand over customers’ personal banking information, including access to accounts, without requiring a warrant or even any documentation. He encourages county sheriffs to brief every bank in their jurisdiction to refer inquiries from IRS agents to them.

Sheriff Mack is calling for the IRS to start following the law, including no “random” audits without probable cause, as they violate the Fourth Amendment. He asks them to stop committing crimes and rewarding IRS employees with bonuses for cheating on their personal taxes. “I agree with Senator Ted Cruz and others who say the IRS should be abolished,” said Mack. “It’s time they got off the backs of the American people.”

Carter says he prays daily for wisdom, and that he is surviving to be able to look into his grandchildren’s eyes and tell them he fought for their future and for America.

London is the first Republican to ever be elected sheriff in Eddy County. He distributes Bibles on behalf of Gideon International and met his wife in choir practice.

NYPD officer indicted for stomping a citizen’s head

An NYPD officer has been indicted on multiple charges, including assault, after he allegedly kicked a subdued citizen in the head during an arrest over the summer.

A video of the arrest allegedly shows Officer Joel Edouard, 37, and his partner arresting 32-year-old Jahmiel Cuffee, according to CBS New York.

Cuffee was allegedly drinking on a sidewalk in Brooklyn, and the officers claim he was in possession of marijuana at the time. While attempting to arrest Cuffee, a bystander began to videotape the incident with their cellphone. This video shows other officers begin to arrive to help mediate the situation, but near the end of the video, Edouard allegedly is seen stomping on Cuffee’s head after he was already handcuffed and on the ground.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said, according to RTPolice officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us all safe. However, this defendant allegedly stomped on the head of a suspect as he lay on the ground, which is unacceptable for a police officer.” Thompson continued by saying this indictment should not reflect the work the majority of officers who perform their duty honorably are doing in New York City. 

At the trial on Tuesday, Edouard’s attorney, Stephen Worth, pleaded not guilty to the charges he is faced with. Worth also said Edouard was simply trying to place handcuffs on Cuffee and this is no more than a case of an officer doing their job. “The act, so-called kick, was part of the arrest process and to attempt to get his hand in custody so he could be handcuffed… It’s not a kick, we’ll leave that for trial.”

After the incident, Edouard was stripped of his badge and gun according to New York Magazine. If convicted, Edouard could face up to a year in prison.

New Hampshire bill would end military-grade weapons in police hands

Many police departments have received military-grade weapons and hardware from the Pentagon and other government programs, but a New Hampshire bill would ban any police departments within the state from receiving these weapons.

Bill 407 states only the “state guard… with the approval of the governor and council,” has the ability to receive military-grade weapons from the government. The bill continues by saying, “no state agency or political subdivision of this state shall acquire, purchase, or otherwise accept for use any military-equipped vehicle or military grade hardware…”

Any weapons or equipment which are readily available to the public however will still be able to be used by the affected government agencies and departments.

Bill 407 would therefore make the Defense Department’s Program 1033 null within the state. Program 1033 allows the Department of Defense to transfer any excess of hardware in possession by the department to be transferred and distributed to law enforcement agencies across the U.S.

According to the Law Enforcement Support Office, since the inception of the program in 1997, about $5.1 billion worth of hardware has been given to police agencies across the country. In 2013 alone, about $450 million worth of equipment was given out to agencies.

The bill has already received wide-spread support within the state of New Hampshire as state representatives Michael Sylvia, Edmond Gionet, Bart Fromuth, and many more have co-sponsored the bill, according to the Tenth Amendment Center. Support for the bill within New Hampshire stretches across party lines as both Democrats and Republicans have co-sponsored the bill.

Two Albuquerque Officers Charged With Murder Of Homeless Camper

Albuquerque, NM- Albuquerque officers Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy were charged with murder on Monday in the shooting of homeless camper James Boyd.

Boyd, who had been accused by police of illegally camping in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, was ultimately shot and killed by Sandy and Perez, a SWAT team member, on March 16th, 2014 during a standoff lasting several hours. The shooting provoked national criticism of the Albuquerque Police Department after video was released that appeared to show Boyd, who was in possession of two small knives, surrendering just before he was shot by Sandy and Perez. The video is available below (graphic content):

Audio from Sandy’s dash camera had also been released of Sandy’s conversation with State Police Officer Chris Ware regarding Boyd from the scene of the standoff before the shooting:

Sandy: What do they have you guys doing here?

Ware: I don’t know. The guy asked for state police.

Sandy: Who asked?

Ware: I don’t know.

Sandy: For this f***ing lunatic? I’m going to shoot him in the penis with a shotgun here in a second.

Ware: You got uh, less-lethal?

Sandy: I got…

Ware: The Taser shotgun?

Sandy: Yeah. Ware: Oh, I thought you guys got rid of those?

Sandy: ROP’s got one…here’s what we’re thinking, because I don’t know what’s going on, nobody has briefed me…

The APD denied that Sandy said “I’m going to shoot him in the penis with a shotgun here in a second” and claimed he had said “I’m going to shoot him with a Taser shotgun in a second”. However, the APD’s denial conflicted with Sandy’s acknowledgement to investigators that he had made the “shoot him in the penis” remark as a joke. “Just kind of locker room banter,” Sandy had told investigators. “[I] just told him, you know, ‘don’t worry; I’ll shoot him in the pecker with this and call it good.’”

Sandy abruptly recanted that admission after a break during the interview.

Second District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said Monday that Perez and Sandy each face one open murder count. In an open murder charge, prosecutors may push for either first-degree or second-degree murder charges.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the case was not brought before a grand jury and Brandenburg “filed the counts via criminal information, which allows her to charge the officers without presenting evidence to a grand jury.” The FBI is currently investigating the shooting, but it’s unknown if the officers will face federal charges.

Albuquerque has become well known for excessive force used by police. In May of last year, more than 40 residents effectively shut down a city council meeting and attempted to serve Police Chief Gorden Eden with a warrant for a citizen’s arrest while calling for the APD to stop its violent tactics. APD Officer Jeremy Dear was fired last month for repeatedly refusing to use his body camera; in the last instance of Dear either failing to turn on or disabling his camera, he had fatally shot 19-year-old Mary Hawkes.

A Justice Department letter from April 2014 informed the APD- that had killed 23 people and wounded 14 over a four-year period- that its department “engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment” and the Justice Department later demanded reforms to correct the APD’s practices. Last October, the Justice Department and APD reached an agreement to engage in “wide-ranging reforms”.


(Video) Cleveland’s Police Union Leader Defends Officer’s Killing Of Tamir Rice: “When We Tell You To Do Something, Do It”

Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Union President Jeffrey Follmer shared tough words with Ari Melber regarding the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice on MSNBC’s All In Monday night, defending the actions of Officer Tim Loehmann and concluding that unwavering compliance from citizens is necessary to avoid death at the hands of police.

Tamir Rice was shot and killed by Loehmann- an officer who was declared too emotionally unstable to continue working at his former department in Independence- seconds after he and another officer encountered Rice. The video of the incident appears to have contradicted the account given by police, who had said that officers told the boy to put his hands up several times.

The beginning of the discussion between Melber and Follmer was focused on the story of Cleveland Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins, who wore a shirt that read “Justice for Tamir Brown and John Crawford” last Sunday. Follmer had expressed his disgust over Hawkin’s choice of clothing and sent a statement to NewsNet 5 in Cleveland that said “It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law. They should stick to what they know best on the field.” Follmer also demanded an apology from the Browns.

The discussion gradually shifted to the shooting of Rice. “Don’t you think at a certain point that this kind of reaction risks feeding the perception that some of these police unions or some folks here don’t think they’re accountable to public views?” asked Melber.

“You know, there’s a video of this, and everything speaks for itself. The male’s action spoke for itself. The video clearly shows, and by the officers’ statement, that they were justified  in the deadly force,” said Follmer.

“You’re saying that the video clearly shows that the 12-year-old boy was an imminent lethal threat to the officers?” Melber asked.

“Oh, absolutely. I don’t know if you didn’t see it, but yeah absolutely,” Follmer replied.

“What do you think about the concern people have, that folks are being killed in some cases by officers when there’s less than a lethal threat posed?” Melber asked Follmer later on.

“How about this? Listen to police officer’s commands, listen to what we tell us, tell you, and just stop,” Follmer said. “I think that eliminates a lot of problems. I have kids too, they know how to respect the law, they know what to do when a police officer comes up to them. I think the nation needs to realize that when we tell you to do something, do it. And if you’re wrong, you’re wrong. If you’re right, then the courts will figure it out.”

A California police officer has been fired for not using violence

A California State University Monterey Bay police officer has been fired from the force after he chose not to use his Taser on a student threatening suicide in February.

The officer, a 20 year veteran of the force who has not been named, was reportedly the first officer on the scene when a CSUMB student was threatening to kill himself in a dorm room.  The student in question was holding a knife, hammer, and was threatening to light himself on fire, according to the Free Thought Project.

Rather then using his Taser on the student, the officer began to talk to the student which resulted in a deescalation of the situation.  The officer then went to get the student a glass of water when officers from the local Marina Police Department showed up and began to use their Tasers on the suicidal student.

Marina Police Chief Edmundo Rodriguez said, according to the Monetery Herald, when his officers arrived on the scene, they found blood in the student’s dorm, and the student’s sweater appeared to be singed. The knife and hammer were also in the room, but the weapons were not in the student’s hands.

Rodriguez then said, the student “was clearly a danger to himself and he was in crisis… We were trying to keep him from accessing the weapons or leave, to get him medical attention.”

After the incident, Rodriguez’s department issued a “failure to act” complaint against the campus police officer because he did not engage in the situation as the other officers had done.  “He just stood there,” said Rodriguez.

The president of the Statewide University Police Association (SUPA), Jeff Solomon, said according to the Raw Story, “Our officer said and felt that there was no need for the level of force that was applied.”

Solomon then said, “The other officers started yelling and screaming to get down, Tased him multiple times, and from what we understand (told the university officer) to Tase him again.”

Later, the father of the suicidal student told reporters, “It defies logic and is extremely disappointing that, at a time when law enforcement is under fire for using more force than necessary, an officer is being terminated for attempting to use civilized methods to resolve a situation,”

University officials did not comment on the details of the case, but they did say the situation “is much more complex than was conveyed.”

NYPD says fatal shooting was an ‘accident’

A fatal shooting in Brooklyn involving the NYPD and an unarmed man has been deemed an “accident” by the NYPD.

Reports from the AP say Akai Gurley, 28, was exiting his girlfriend’s apartment in the public housing complex known as the Louis Pink Houses around 11 p.m. Thursday night.

Rookie NYPD officers Peter Liang and Shaun Landau were performing a “vertical patrol,” which requires the officers to conduct floor-by-floor sweeps, within the complex at the time.

Liang and Landau reportedly came into contact with Gurley in a dark stairwell of the complex.  Liang had his weapon unholstered and his flashlight out to illuminate the stairwell prior to coming into contact with Gurley.  Once the officers saw Gurley in the stairwell, Gurley was shot in the chest, and he was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Police Commissioner William Bratton said in a press conference, according to the LA Times, the shooting was an “unfortunate accident,” and Gurley was “innocent.”

“It appears to be an accidental discharge, with no intention to strike anybody,” said Bratton in the press conference.  Bratton said Gurley was not taking part in any aggressive or illegal activity, and he was simply “trying to walk down the stairwell,” when he was shot.  

Gurley’s girlfriend Melissa Butler, 27, told DNA Info, the officers “didn’t present themselves or nothing and shot him. They didn’t identify themselves at all. They just shot.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio called the death of Gurley a “tragic accident,” adding, “There’s going to be a full investigation to say the least.”

As of now, Liang has been put on desk duty until the investigation is complete.

CHP Officer Accused Of Stealing Explicit Photos Of Arrestees Called Thefts A “Game”

The investigation of a California Highway Patrol officer accused of stealing nude photos from a female DUI suspect’s cell phone has led to the discovery that officers of the CHP’s Dublin station have been allegedly trading stolen photos of female suspects for “several years”.

Last week, it was reported by the Contra Costa Times that CHP officer Sean Harrington was accused by a 23-year-old unidentified female of stealing and forwarding photos from her iPhone in August while she was being booked into jail following a DUI arrest. The woman allegedly discovered that “explicit” photos from her iPhone had been forwarded to a phone number with a 707 area code. The woman then reportedly traced the phone number back to Harrington, her arresting officer.

On October 16th Harrington was served with a search warrant, which uncovered photos, text messages, and instant messages on Harrington’s iPhone and laptop that had been taken from the woman’s phone.

Harrington told investigators that he and other officers have been swapping stolen cell phone photos of arrested females for years and referred to the acts as a “game” among the Dublin officers, according to Inside Bay Area. Harrington allegedly confessed that he has taken photos from females in police custody “a half dozen times in the last several years,” court documents stated.

A search warrant affidavit from a Contra Costa District Attorney inspector revealed text messages between Harrington and two other CHP officers discussing the photos being stolen and shared between them. “Taken from the phone of my 10-15x while she’s in X-rays. Enjoy buddy!!!” Harrington texted to officers Robert Hazelwood and Dion Simmons on August 7th after forwarding photos of a 19-year-old DUI suspect.

On August 29th, Harrington forwarded an explicit photo of another DUI suspect to Hazelwood. “Nudes are always better with the face,” Hazelwood texted to Harrington. “Maybe she knows she has a jacked up horse face?!?!?” replied Harrington.

CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow released a statement late Friday responding to the allegations. “The allegations anger and disgust me. We expect the highest levels of integrity and moral strength from everyone in the California Highway Patrol, and there is no place in our organization for such behavior,” said Farrow. “We have active and open investigations and are cooperating with the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office. If the allegations are proven true, we will take appropriate action, up to and including dismissal and criminal prosecution.”

Harrington has since been assigned to other duties. The decision of whether or not to charge Harrington and the other officers is expected to be made this week.

APD Reportedly Denied Officer’s “Shotgun” Comments

Albuquerque, NM- The Albuquerque Police Department has reportedly refuted news station KOB’s disclosure of APD Officer Keith Sandy’s recorded remarks about shooting homeless man James Boyd hours before Boyd was ultimately shot by Sandy.

According to KOB’s Eyewitness News, APD believes that Officer Sandy said “I’m going to shoot him with a Taser shotgun in a second”, not “I’m going to shoot him in the penis with a shotgun here in a second.”

The trouble with the agency’s opinion about what was said on the tape involves Sandy’s own admittance to investigators. KOB was able to find audio and documentation of Sandy’s interview with APD investigators in April, in which Sandy had initially said that he’d made the “shoot him in the penis” statement as a joke. “Just kind of locker room banter,” Sandy had said. “[I] just told him, you know, ‘don’t worry; I’ll shoot him in the pecker with this and call it good.’”

Sandy also explained to investigators that officers in APD’s Repeat Offenders Program (ROP) the officers routinely make cruel jokes, crude enough to the point where officers adopted a safe word- China- to indicate a stop to the jokes.

The APD investigator asked “So, in regard to the joking statement, you said that you were – you told him that you were going to shoot him in the pecker with the Taser shotgun?” Sandy replied “Yes.”

However, KOB reports that after a break in questioning Sandy changed his story. “I received a phone call and asked if I talked to Chris or anybody,” said Sandy. “I’ve heard it from other people saying that I did say that, that it is on the tape…but I don’t recall saying that and pecker is not a word that I use.”

Both Chief Eden and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry have been quiet concerning the audio tape and Sandy’s testimony, but Berry remarked to KOB’s Chris Ramirez “I think what strikes me is the fact that, as police officers, we expect our folks to treat people with respect and dignity.”

“What concerned me was the absolute unacceptable language that was used,” said Eden.

Baltimore Detective, Intimidated For Testifying Against Police, Resigns

Baltimore, MD- Baltimore City Detective Joe Crystal has chosen to leave the police force after being intimidated by fellow officers and ignored by the police commissioner.

Crystal had testified against Sgt. Marinos Gialamas and Officer Anthony Williams, who have since been convicted for their involvement of beating a drug suspect and covering up the incident. In 2011, suspect Antoine Green was fleeing from Gialamas and had broken into the home of William’s girlfriend, according to prosecutors. After Green was apprehended and was being transported to booking, Gialamas apparently intervened and brought Green back to the home of Williams’s girlfriend where Williams and other officers then assaulted him.

Williams was accused of ordering his girlfriend to lie about the incident in an internal affairs review, and he was later charged with and convicted of obstructing an investigation and second-degree assault. Williams was sentenced to 45 days in jail. Gialamas was convicted of nonfeasance and sentenced to six months of suspended jail time and one year of probation. Crystal testified against both Williams and Gialamas.

Following Crystal’s testimony, he found that other officers on the force were angry that he’d blown the whistle on Gialamas and Williams. Crystal told news station WJZ that Baltimore police began intimidation tactics like leaving a dead rat on his car windshield, and that other officers refused to assist Crystal during dangerous situations while on duty. “It was like I was a leper. Nobody wanted me,” he said. “I had an officer call me a rat and a snitch.”

“We have many officers who separate from the agency for various reasons; these are personnel matters which we do not comment on,” said Baltimore police spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Connolly about Crystal’s resignation.

Crystal said police commissioner Anthony Batts had praised his courage but then refused to conduct an investigation of the intimidation after promising to do so. The department then offered Crystal a settlement: if Crystal resigned, stopped speaking out about the intimidation and promised not to sue, the department would cease an investigation involving Crystal using a police vehicle to drive his wife home.

“They don’t care about anything but saving their money and saving their hide,” said Crystal’s attorney, Nicholas Panteleakis.

“How do we ask somebody to come out and say ‘I saw this’ when we do this to our own?” Crystal said.

He still faces an investigation into using a department vehicle to drive his wife home.


Florida Police Officers Blow Whistle On Their Chief

Waldo, FL- Four officers in the Waldo Police Department revealed to the city council last Tuesday that the department’s chief was assigning required quotas for writing tickets. The information was brought forth while discussing other complaints about activities in the department.

Quotas are illegal according to Florida state law.

Officer Brandon Roberts explained to city council members that Chief Mike Szabo ordered the officers in the department to write 12 tickets in a 12-hour work shift in order to keep their jobs. Roberts used printed emails from Szabo to validate his claims.

One such email read “Looks like you have some work to do when you come in,” written by Szabo to an officer who had issued four speeding tickets.

“We’re doing this with a heavy heart,” said Roberts. “We would never want to go against our fellow officers but we have no faith in our chain of command.”

“It’s very stressful driving through there. I mean you’re always- they’ll pull you over for anything,” said Cheryl Griffis, a Waldo resident.

In a poll conducted by the National Motorists Association regarding the worst speed traps in the country, the town of Waldo ranks third. Waldo is home to about 1,000 people.

According to Waldo documents, about half of the town’s $1 million budget relies on “police revenue”. The American Automobile Association (AAA) classified Waldo as a “traffic trap” that uses “unfair, unethical or illegal law enforcement tactics or traffic control devices.”

Waldo city manager Kim Worley suspended Szabo on August 12th after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated “an alleged violation of police procedure”. It is unclear if that investigation is related to the allegations from Roberts and the other officers as city officials have been disclosing little information, but a document from Worley stated that an investigation is underway.

NYPD Has Received Over 1,000 Complaints Of Police Choke Hold Use Since 2009

New York- According to a report released Saturday by New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, 1,022 complaints have been made between 2009 and 2013 by city residents accusing NYPD officers of putting them in choke holds.

Choke holds were prohibited by the NYPD in a 1985 order that only allowed its practice if it was the “least dangerous alternative method of restraint”, and the order was later modified in 1993 to allow no exceptions.

Out of 1,022 complaints, 462 of them were investigated. In nine cases of the 462, enough evidence was obtained to have the complaint substantiated by the CCRB. The CCRB had recommended administrative trials for those nine cases of choke hold use by police. Administrative trials can lead to termination of police officers.

However, the police commissioner makes the final decision of carrying out discipline in these cases, and the consequences for those officers were either nonexistent or mild.

Out of the nine substantiated cases, two officers were not disciplined by Raymond Kelly, the NYC Police Commissioner at the time. In three cases Kelly had instructed the officers to be re-trained regarding the rules. One officer retired before a ruling was issued, and one officer was disciplined by losing vacation days. Two cases are still pending.

Current NYC Police Commissioner William Bratton said last Friday that NYPD officers were reminded last year that choke holds were banned.

Choke hold use by NYPD officers has fallen under sharper scrutiny following the death of Eric Garner, who was placed in an apparent choke hold last Thursday by NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Staten Island.

CCRB Chair Richard Emery announced in a statement last Saturday that the agency has begun a “comprehensive study of the chokehold complaints it has received during the past 5 years (2009 to 2013) and in the first six months of 2014.”

“We also hope to be able to shed light on the CCRB methodologies that led to such a large number of cases that are unsubstantiated,” said Emery in the statement.

NYPD Officer Who Allegedly Choked Eric Garner Has Already Cost City $30,000 For Unlawful Strip Search

New York- NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was caught on video putting 43-year-old Eric Garner in an apparent chokehold resulting in death last Thursday over suspicion of selling loose cigarettes, has already been named as defendant in two civil suits that alleged improper police conduct including lying and false arrest.

A civil suit, settled in January, accused Pantaleo and several other officers of unlawfully stopping a vehicle operated by Morris Wilson in New Brighton back in March 2012. The lawsuit also alleged that Pantaleo and another officer had pulled down the pants and underwear of plaintiffs Darren Collins and Tommy Rice in public view in the middle of the day.

After the vehicle was stopped, passengers Collins and Rice were ordered out of the vehicle. Collins and Rice were handcuffed, and shortly afterwards Pantaleo and Officer Ignazio Conca “pulled down the plaintiffs’ pants and underwear, and touched and searched their genital areas, or stood by while this was done in their presence,” according to the lawsuit.

Collins and Rice were then taken by Pantaleo to the 120th Precinct station where they were strip-searched again, ordered “to remove all of their clothing, squat, cough and lift their genitals.” Wilson, the driver in the vehicle stop, took a plea deal after admitting to possessing drugs in his pocket. However, Jason Leventhal, the attorney for Collins and Rice, said that the officers were allowed to arrest everyone in the car because Pantaleo had falsely claimed that drugs were in plain view in the car.

“One of the fundamental, most important things a police officer needs to do is to tell the truth,” said Leventhal. “He has no right to strip-search anyone in the middle of the street.” 

Collins and Rice had been criminally charged after the arrest and search, but the charges were eventually dismissed. Both men received $15,000 from the city in the settlement.

The second lawsuit against Pantaleo remains open. There are few details, but plaintiff Rylawn Walker filed a suit in February accusing Pantaleo of arresting him despite “committing no crime at that time” and “not acting in a suspicious manner.” Walker’s lawsuit alleges that Pantaleo “misrepresented facts in the police reports and other documents that the plaintiff had committed offenses when in fact this was not true.”

Walker had been charged with marijuana-related offenses that were later dismissed.

The latest action from Pantaleo has spurred national outrage, as disturbing video was released that showed Pantaleo in plainclothes placing Eric Garner in an apparent chokehold and not letting go even after Garner, an asthmatic man, repeatedly pleaded with the officers surrounding him “I can’t breathe.” Police claim that Garner was selling “loosies”- single, untaxed cigarettes- and that Garner has been arrested for this in the past.

The man who took the video, 22-year-old Ramsey Orta, tried to intermediate and told police that Garner was not selling cigarettes but had actually just broken up a fight between three men. The officers did not appear to heed Orta’s account of the situation.

Additional video released on Saturday showed police surrounding Garner after he collapsed following the chokehold offering no medical assistance to the man. Garner was not given immediate CPR or oxygen when EMTs arrived, but rather loaded onto a stretcher and taken away. When a witness asked why CPR wasn’t being performed, an officer answered, “Cause he’s breathing.” Pantaleo is seen waving at the person recording the aftermath, while chatting with another officer.

Pantaleo has since been placed on desk duty with his badge and gun taken away while an investigation is underway. A second unnamed officer was placed on desk duty following Garner’s death but did not have his badge and gun removed. Two paramedics and two EMTs who were called to respond to Garner’s collapse were put on “modified duty” and banned from ambulance calls while an investigation into the response call ensues.

Garner’s son, Eric Snipes, expressed anger toward Pantaleo for the death of his father. “I want to ask the man that did it, ‘What made you choke him like that?’ What made him put his hand around his bare neck?” Snipes said.

Albuquerque Police Department purchases 350 assault rifles

The highly controversial Albuquerque Police Department has drawn more criticism over their recent purchase of 350 AR-15’s with $350,000 of taxpayer dollars, amidst fears of the growing trend of police militarization.

Executive Director of the New Mexico chapter of the ACLU, Peter Simonson, said according to the Inquisitir, in relation to the mass purchase, “[They] are asking for trouble, in my opinion.”

The investigative team at KOB found the APD would be purchasing the assault rifles from a local vendor in Albuquerque, and would be receiving the firearms over a period of two years in batches of 50.  During the second year, the APD would have the option to buy more assault rifles if they felt more were needed.

APD Police Chief Gordon Eden said in May, officers could no longer carry personally owned weapons while on duty.  However, the APD Union President Stephanie Lopez said, according to the Republic, the officers should have these weapons since 320 officers are trained in the use of such rifles.

“There is a need to have these weapons on the street and within the department,” said Lopez.

The APD has made headlines in the past for what has been deemed excessive use of force, including the shooting and subsequent death of James Boyd, a homeless man, in the desert.

Boyd was deemed to be camping illegally in the desert when he was killed.

A video shows police firing a flash-bang grenade at Boyd, which was noticeably effective as Boyd seemed confused while police shouted orders at him.  When Boyd did not comply to police orders, officers fired several rounds into Boyd’s back.

The DOJ also wrote a report saying the APD officers have a “pattern and practice” of using excessive and deadly force.

Simonson said, with further concern to the assault rifle purchase, “I think it sends a contradictory message to the public, and I think it should raise concerns about how seriously they’re actually taking the DOJ reforms.”

NYPD crackdown on sleeping subway passenger

A subway passenger in New York City was recently arrested by the NYPD for the crime of taking a nap on his way home from work.

A video recorded by an onlooker shows a black man on a nearly empty subway car being drug to the floor of the car while asking the officers why he was being arrested.  The officers tell him to relax while struggling to the ground, and the man says, “I didn’t do sh**. I’m sleeping.”

Further on in the video, the man tells the other passengers and officers he was on his way home from work and asks others to record his arrest.

According to the NYPD, the man was breaking the Mass Transit Authority’s rules of conduct by “occupying more than one seat,” at a time and cited this as the man’s reason for arrest.  The video is unclear though as to whether or not the man was occupying more than one seat.

This comes as part of the NYPD’s harsher standards for the city.

The NYPD, under Commissioner Bill Bratton, has adopted punishments and penalties for petty crimes which would normally result in fines or go unpunished.  These petty crimes include being homeless and staying in the subways and dancing or creating improvised music for subway goers.

These standards have been derived from the “Broken Windows” theory of criminology, made famous by social scientists and criminologists James Wilson and George Kelling.

The theory connects social disorder with crime, saying no accountability for one broken window in a building sends the message throughout the area that “no one cares,” allowing petty crimes to go unpunished.

SWAT teams claim private company status

Prior to the ACLU report on the increasing militarization of police, Massachusetts police offices replied to requests for information saying the SWAT teams in the state are private corporations, exempting them from open records laws.

These SWAT teams are supervised by what are called Law Enforcement Councils, or LECs.  The LECs are overseen by an executive board of police chiefs from various local police and sheriff’s departments and funded by the various law enforcement offices in the surrounding area.  Sometimes, the offices which fund these LECs are headed by the same chiefs who sit on the board.

Funding for an LEC is collected from the departments which make up the LEC, in the form of an annual membership fee.  This fee grants the department access to information gathered by other member departments, and also allows the departments the use of a regionalized SWAT team as opposed to a localized team.

The Tewksbury Police Department, for example, paid a $4,600 fee in 2012 to be a part of the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, or NEMLEC.  Currently, NEMLEC consists of over 50 police and sheriff’s offices in Middlesex and Essex Counties in Massachusetts.

Because of the pooled funds to support these LECs, some have incorporated 501(c)(3) organization status.  This status, according to the LECs who have claimed such, grants them the privilege to refuse requests to their records.

The problem is, these LECs employ officers who, according to the Washington Post, “carry guns, wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power to detain, arrest, injure and kill.”  The SWAT teams of the LECs also perform raids on private residences.

Given their status as “private corporations,” this would be akin to private security firms who work independent from the sphere of law carrying out raids on residences.

Jessie Rossman, an ACLU staff attorney in Massachusetts, told the Washington Post, “You can’t have it both ways…The same government authority that allows them to carry weapons, make arrests, and break down the doors of Massachusetts residents during dangerous raids also makes them a government agency that is subject to the open records law.”

American police ‘excessively militarized’ says new report

A new report from the ACLU states American police forces across the country have adopted tactics and weaponry commonly used by America’s military forces.

The report focuses on the use of SWAT teams and their subsequent expansion since their inception in the late 1960’s.

These “quasi-militaristic” units, the report says, were created to handle emergency situations such as hostage scenarios, active shooter incidents, and riots.  However, nearly 80% of all SWAT raids now focus on conducting search warrants for drug related offenses, while only 7% of SWAT operations were for dangerous situations.

The War on Drugs seems to be one of the major causes for the increase in militarization, claims the report, as police began stockpiling military-grade weapons to help combat drugs on the streets.

The Department of Defense Excessive Property Program has been the key component allowing police departments to obtain the military-grade weapons- most of which has been previously used in combat- for free.

Of the military-grade weaponry used by police across the nation, a New York Times report says about 500 planes, helicopters, and mine-resistant armored vehicles have been obtained, alongside 94,000 machine guns.

Kara Dansky, the ACLU Senior Counsel and author of the repoAmericrt, told Mashable in an interview, the increased militarization of the police in America might be “terrifying people, destroying communities and actually undermining public safety.”

Reckless and needless violence, as the report calls it, have also risen with the increase in firepower.

In 2011, Jose Guerena, a 26-year-old Marine who served in Iraq, was killed by a SWAT team in his home in Tucson, Arizona.

Guerena’s wife woke at night after hearing a noise and seeing a silhouette of a man outside their house.  Guerena grabbed his personal rifle from his closet to investigate the noise, telling his wife to stay put.

SWAT teams were carrying out raids in the neighborhood in search of drugs, and upon seeing Guerena with his rifle they opened fire, resulting in his death on his own kitchen floor.  No drugs were found in Guerena’s home and very little were found in the surrounding neighborhood.

The report claims the use of such impulsive tactics, such as these, results in not only a potential increase in distrust for officers everywhere, but also, “destroys property, and undermines individual liberty.”

Breaking Exclusive: Radio Host Tony Stiles Arrested And Detained In Texas

El Paso, TX- Tony Stiles, a radio personality and popular figure in the liberty movement, has spoken exclusively with Benswann.com about his encounter with the Department Of Homeland Security in Texas. Stiles and two members of his tour team were arrested and detained for over seven hours on Thursday after he was stopped by DHS. Stiles was able to capture a portion of the incident on video. tony-stiles

Stiles is currently on a national “Truth, Liberty, & Solutions” speaking tour. On Thursday, he was in California preparing for his next speaking arrangement in Tampa, Florida. Stiles and his accompanying team members, Eric Goodrich and Nathan Styles, had checked out of their hotel. Goodrich and Styles headed to Tampa in Stile’s vehicle, a GMC Yukon, while Stiles stayed behind.

Stiles soon learned that Goodrich and Styles had been pulled over by police in El Paso, Texas. According to Goodrich and Styles, the police told them that Stiles’ vehicle had been reported stolen. Stiles had not reported his car stolen, but the vehicle was impounded anyway and Goodrich and Styles were detained. Stiles immediately left California and drove a rental car to meet Goodrich and Styles in El Paso to straighten out the situation. Stiles’ vehicle was eventually released and the three resumed their trip to Florida.

Outside of El Paso, Stiles, Goodrich and Styles were pulled over again, this time by DHS. The men were told by the agents that it was a “routine stop” but their K-9 unit smelled  something, even though Stiles stated the dog was nowhere near his car. Between 6 and 10 agents surrounded the vehicle with their hands on their sidearms and ordered Stiles, Goodrich and Styles to get out. They all refused. Stiles told Benswann.com that the agents informed him that if they did not get out of the vehicle they would be removed. Stiles, Goodrich and Styles got out of the car after the agents opened the doors.

One of the agents attempted to take Stiles’ phone from him. The agent claimed that he was unsure if it was a weapon, but Stiles refused to surrender it. Stiles was able to take video of their forced exit from the vehicle and the following search.

After exiting the vehicle, the three men watched as the DHS agents began searching the vehicle without consent. Stiles said the video shows one of the agents taking his hand out of his pocket suspiciously while a red bag was being searched. After the search, the agents told the men that marijuana had been found in the vehicle. Stiles affirmed to Benswann.com that neither he, Goodrich or Styles had any marijuana in their possession. The three were arrested and brought to the Sierra Blanca holding facility, where they were held in separate cells for over seven hours.

The men were released after Goodrich eventually took the marijuana possession charge. While the men maintain their innocence, Stiles told Benswann.com that if none of them took the charge they would have all been held for days while waiting for a judge. The decision was made after gathering legal advice from multiple sources.

The men were taken aback by Thursday’s events and Stiles is puzzled as to why his team was stopped twice. He is concerned that there’s an underlying motive behind what looks to him to be a concentrated effort to put him in jail. He’s unconvinced that another incident similar to this one will not occur again.

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Update: Officer Charged in Death of Elderly Veteran

A Park Forest, Illinois police officer has been charged in the death of 95-year-old John Wrana, a WWII veteran who was killed in a dispute over medical treatment. Officer Craig Taylor appeared before a judge and faces one charge of reckless conduct, a Class 4 felony. He was freed on his own recognizance.

As reported last August, police were called to the Victory Centre Senior Living Facility because Wrana was refusing medical care and had reportedly become aggressive in his refusal. According to the police, Wrana was “combative” and went so far as to shake his cane at the staff, as well as a knife. Police also claimed he had brandished a shoehorn that was first mistaken for a machete.

There were several police officers at the scene, and they used a riot shield to force entry into Wrana’s room. After an attempt to Taser Wrana had failed, Taylor allegedly fired five bean bag rounds at him while he was sitting in a chair.

Wrana was separated from the staff in his room when he was confronted by the police, and witnesses dispute the police’s claim that Wrana was wielding a knife. Family members say he didn’t own a knife, certainly not a 12-inch butcher knife, and the nursing home staff did not see him holding one. It is notable that Wranas also needed a walker to move around, which casts doubt on the claim by police that Wranas was an immediate threat to the rest of the residents and staff.

Taylor faces probation or up to three years in prison if he is convicted. Wrana’s family is relieved that an investigation has led to somebody being held accountable for the tragedy. “On behalf of the family, we’re pleased that it’s finally been addressed and reviewed. We’re pleased that there’s at least been an outcome with respect with an investigation that’s taken far, far too long,” said Nicholas Grapsas, the attorney representing Wrana’s stepdaughter.



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