Tag Archives: Use of Force

PA State Rep. To Propose Bill Protecting Identities Of Officers During Use Of Force Investigations

Pennsylvania State Rep. Martina White (R-170) unveiled a proposal Wednesday to revoke a recent Philadelphia Police Department policy that releases the names of officers in police-involved incidents of violence.

White announced her plan Wednesday at Philadelphia’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 headquarters and was joined by FOP members including president John McNesby. The legislation announcement “would bar police departments from releasing the names of officers involved in violent confrontations while an investigation is ongoing,” according to White’s press release.

White said that she created the legislation due to cases in which police officers have gone into hiding or resigned despite being cleared of violations. “Our own public officials shouldn’t be the ones handing over officer’s information which can lead criminals to them and their families where they can take vengeful actions. It’s wrong and now is the time to do something about it,” White said.

“Supporting this bill means protecting the identity of an officer while he or she is being investigated for discharging a firearm or using force in the line of duty until criminal charges have been brought against the officer,” White said. “Once the investigation is complete, criminal charges have been filed, and the life of the officer and his or her family members are not in danger, then it is to the discretion of the public official to disclose the officers’ information.”

Before making this announcement, White had written a memorandum in early August outlining her intent to introduce such legislation:

[quote_box_center]In the near future I will be introducing legislation that pending an investigation that involves the discharge of a firearm or use of force by a law enforcement officer during the performance of their official duties, the name and identifying information of the law enforcement officer may not be released to the public. At the conclusion of the investigation, the information may be released to the public only if the law enforcement officer is charged with a criminal offense relating to the discharge of a firearm or use of force. The officer’s information may not be released unless the officer is charged with a criminal offense or if the information released can be expected to cause harm to the officer or their immediate family.[/quote_box_center]

White’s legislation appears to be a direct rebuke to a policy announced by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey in July in which the Philadelphia Police department would release the name of an officer involved in a shooting within 72 hours. An exception was made for officers who had threats made against them. The policy was recommended by the Department of Justice as well as Ramsey’s presidential task force. It was quickly challenged by the FOP. The FOP claimed the policy was made “without negotiating with or securing the approval of the FOP.”

White, a 26-year-old financial adviser, won a vacant House seat during a special election in March, winning 57 percent of the votes. White and Democrat Sarah Del Ricci sought the position previously held by Democrat Brendan Boyle; Boyle left the seat when he was elected to the U.S. House. White defeated Del Ricci by 13 percentage points in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1.

White received support and endorsements from several unions, including the Philadelphia Fire Fighters’ & Paramedics Union, the Laborers District Council, and Philadelphia’s Fraternal Order Of Police. According to Philadelphia Magazine, the Philadelphia FOP donated $5,000 to White one month before the election, and White hosted her post-election victory party at the FOP’s headquarters.

White’s bill is expected to be made public on Sept. 4.

Albuquerque Officers Accused Of Killing James Boyd To Stand Trial

Following a preliminary hearing, Judge Neil Candelaria decided Tuesday that one Albuquerque police officer and one former Albuquerque police detective will stand trial for the killing of James Boyd. An arraignment date for Perez and Boyd has not been set yet.

Albuquerque officer Dominique Perez and former Albuquerque detective Keith Sandy, who retired amidst an investigation of James Boyd’s death, are facing charges of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and aggravated battery.

The decision follows a preliminary hearing in which the state prosecution and the defense presented opposing arguments regarding the events of March 2014 that led to Boyd’s death. The state argued that officers instigated the encounter by bringing over a dozen officers for a man accused of illegal camping. The defense argued that Boyd, who was schizophrenic, had a history of violence and that Sandy and Perez made a critical decision to protect a fellow officer at risk of being harmed by Boyd.

On March 16th, 2014, 41 officers were sent to the Sandia foothills to assist in the detainment of Boyd, who had been reportedly illegally camping there. At the time of the incident, Boyd was carrying two knives. After a standoff lasting over four hours, Boyd appeared to agree to leave his campsite before he was shot and killed by APD officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez.

An Albuquerque SWAT sergeant testified that police officers at the scene of the standoff were aware that Boyd suffered from schizophrenia.

[RELATED: Family Of James Boyd And City Of Albuquerque Reach Settlement In Wrongful Death Suit]

Police dash cam audio recorded a conversation between Sandy and State Police Officer Chris Ware while en route to the scene of the standoff. While KOB News 4 claimed that it sounded as if Sandy, who called Boyd a “f***ing lunatic”, said he was “going to shoot him in the penis with a shotgun here in a second,” the Albuquerque Police Department claimed Sandy said “I’m going to shoot him with a Taser shotgun in a second.” 

[RELATED: Audio Caught APD Officer’s Violent Dialogue Before Shooting]

The charges against Perez and Sandy “appear to be the first against an APD officer for an on-duty fatal shooting in at least 50 years,” according to the Albuquerque Journal. There have been at least 40 officer-involved shootings in Albuquerque since 2010.

The Truth In Media Project has been following multiple reports of police brutality and excessive use of force nationwide, including in Albuquerque. For more information about the James Boyd case, click here. To read more about alleged police abuse in Albuquerque, click here. 

Hearing Scheduled For APD Officers Accused Of Murdering Homeless Camper James Boyd

Albuquerque, NM- A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for August 3rd for Albuquerque police officer Dominique Perez and former APD officer Keith Sandy, who are facing charges for allegedly murdering a homeless camper. A judge will listen to testimony and decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

The hearing had been originally scheduled for May 18th, but lawyers for both of the accused officers filed motions to reschedule. Luis Robles, Perez’s lawyer, filed a motion last month to vacate the May hearing so that Robles could go on a scheduled vacation with his family. Sam Bregman, Sandy’s lawyer, filed a motion to reschedule so that he could have more time to prepare for the hearing.

Perez and Sandy were charged by Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg in January for the March 2014 shooting of James Boyd, a mentally ill man who was fatally struck by bullets fired by Sandy and Perez during an hours-long standoff. Sandy and Perez were among several officers involved in attempting to remove Boyd from the foothills of the Sandia Mountains where he was reported to be illegally camping.

(RELATED: Two Albuquerque Officers Charged With Murder Of Homeless Camper)

According to Boyd’s autopsy report, he was struck three times: one bullet his his upper right arm which required amputation; one bullet, which caused the most damage and was identified as the cause of Boyd’s death, hit his “lower left back that passed through the lower abdomen and exited the left armpit before re-entering the upper left arm”; and one more bullet struck his upper left arm. Video from a helmet camera at the scene, which captured Boyd appearing to surrender just before he was shot, caused the APD to fall under further scrutiny as protests ensued around the city. Lapel video from Sandy was reportedly never found.

The Justice Department informed the APD a month after Boyd’s death that there was probable cause to believe that the police department was repeatedly engaging “in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.” Last May, protesters overtook a city council meeting and attempted to serve Police Chief Gorden Eden with a citizen’s arrest warrant in response to the findings of the report. The Justice Department and APD entered into an agreement to reform the police department’s practices last October.

Police dash cam audio that captured dialogue between Sandy and State Police Officer Chris Ware two hours before Boyd’s shooting sparked more outrage from citizens, as KOB-4 reported that in the audio recording Sandy had called Boyd a “f***ing lunatic” and said he was “going to shoot him in the penis with a shotgun here in a second.”

(RELATED: APD Reportedly Denied Officer’s “Shotgun” Comments)

In a statement, Bregman said Sandy “had not only the right, but the duty to defend a fellow officer from a mentally unstable, violent man wielding two knives. Keith did nothing wrong. To the contrary, he followed his training and probably saved his fellow officer’s life.” Robles said that Perez “has been called upon to make life-altering decisions while protecting Albuquerque citizens and his fellow officers. And having made one of those decisions, Officer Perez now faces an open count of murder. Regardless, I am confident that the facts will vindicate Officer Perez’s actions in this case.”

Both attorneys have showed concern over which officer is responsible for the fatal bullet that killed Boyd. Both officers had used the same department-issued ammunition.

In April, Brandenburg was disqualified from prosecuting the case due to reported conflict of interest related to an investigation of Brandenburg for alleged witness intimidation and bribery, and Randi McGinn was later appointed as a special prosecutor. McGinn said that three of the six shots that were fired by Sandy and Perez hit Boyd, and that the first two shots were fired by Sandy. McGinn has requested independent lab review seeking to determine which officer fired the shot that killed Boyd. McGinn “expects to announce her charging decision after the test results come back in a few weeks.”

Just before internal affairs began questioning him last November, Sandy retired, managing to secure his retirement pension. Perez is still employed by APD on administrative assignment.

The Truth In Media Project has been following multiple reports of alleged police brutality and excessive use of force nationwide, including in Albuquerque. For more information about alleged police abuse in Albuquerque, click here. For more information about the James Boyd case, click here.

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.

First-in-the-Nation CT Law Requires Police to File Use-of-Force Report After Firing Taser

In Connecticut, a new law just took effect which mandates that police fill out a use-of-force report after deploying a Taser on a suspect. According to The Stratford Star, Public Act 14-149, which went into effect on January 1 of this year, requires law enforcement officers to record the race and gender of each individual hit by a stun gun, as well as the number of times it was fired, the setting that was used while firing, and the injuries that it caused. Connecticut is the first state to pass a law requiring such reports each time a Taser is deployed.

Connecticut’s East Haven Police Department has served as a state-wide model on how to log Taser use-of-force reports, as it already implemented its own reforms as a part of a 2012 consent decree settlement with the Department of Justice. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, a December 2011 DOJ report stated that East Haven officers demonstrated “a pattern or practice of systematically discriminating against Latinos,” which prompted federal officials to recommend the new policies, which have been in force there since that time. Public Act 14-149 also stipulates that each Connecticut police department must adopt specific use-of-force policies for Taser deployments.

East Haven Police Chief Brent Larrabee described his department’s Taser rules to WNPR News, “In our case, they had a policy dating back to 2009, which was probably — at the time — just as good as it could be. But because of the circumstances here, we’ve certainly gone much farther and much more in depth, particularly about supervisory review, capturing all of the electronic data, storage of the electronic data, [and] mandating officers to make sure any time they use force, that a supervisor is there to investigate.”

The law requires that police download on-board data from the weapon itself after each use and mandates that all Taser deployments be posted online by the Office of Policy Management’s Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division.

ACLU of Connecticut representative David McGuire described the new Taser reports in comments to WNPR News, “It’s a very thorough report. It goes through the person’s race, their age, their height, their weight; how the Taser was used; what mode it was used in; how many times it was fired; whether the person had an injury; whether medical assistance was provided.”

Though other states, counties, and municipalities are wrestling with the issue of use-of-force by police and may implement their own reforms in the near future, Connecticut is the first US state to enact such a clear policy on Taser use.