Ten years ago, when I started my career as an assistant district attorney in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, I viewed the American criminal justice system as a vital institution that protected society from dangerous people. I once prosecuted a man for brutally attacking his wife with a flashlight, and another for sexually assaulting a waitress at a nightclub. I believed in the system for good reason.
On April 29, 2012, I put on a suit and tie and took the No. 3 subway line to the Junius Avenue stop in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville. At the time, the blocks around this stop were a well-known battleground in the stop-and-frisk wars: Police had stopped 14,000 residents 52,000 times in four years. I figured this frequency would increase my chances of getting to see the system in action, but I faced a significant hurdle: Though I’ve spent years living and working in neighborhoods like Brownsville, as a white professional, the police have never eyed me suspiciously or stopped me for routine questioning. I would have to do something creative to get their attention.
This is a must read.
A 70-year-old woman in handcuffs…
About 2 a.m., Hampton officers were called to the 100 block of Patterson Ave. for a report of a burglary in progress, according to a police news release. When the officers arrived, they spoke with the 76-year-old man who said he had heard loud noises and suspected a burglary attempt.
Officers spotted a broken window at the back of the home and checked the residence for a burglar, but did not find anyone. Officers took the report and left about 2:40 a.m., the news release said. Soon after, the victim found a man in a closet inside a barber shop that is attached to the resident. The resident produced a firearm and shot the man once in the arm.
The wounded man fled on foot, but officers had heard the gunshot and apprehended the man without incident, the news release said. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries that were not considered life threatening.
So even though the police did show up (not guaranteed), the 76-year-old man still had to find a way to defend himself from the intruder the cops left behind.
Sometimes a single story has a way of standing in for everything you need to know. In the case of the up-arming, up-armoring, and militarization of police forces across the country, there is such a story. Not the police, mind you, but the campus cops at Ohio State University now possess an MRAP; that is, a $500,000, 18-ton, mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicle of a sort used in the Afghan War and, as Hunter Stuart of theHuffington Post reported, built to withstand “ballistic arms fire, mine fields, IEDs, and nuclear, biological, and chemical environments.” Sounds like just the thing for bouts of binge drinking and post-football-game shenanigans.
That MRAP came, like so much other equipment police departments are stocking up on — from tactical military vests, assault rifles, and grenade launchers to actual tanks and helicopters — as a freebie via a Pentagon-organized surplus military equipment program. As it happens, police departments across the country are getting MRAPs like OSU’s, including the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota. It’s received one of 18 such decommissioned military vehicles already being distributed around that state. So has Warren County which, like a number of counties in New York state, some quite rural, is now deploying Afghan War-grade vehicles. …
A cornucopia of such Pentagon “bargains” (the Pentagon charged Warren County only $10 for the vehicle) has, in the post-9/11 years, played its part in transforming the way the police imagine their jobs and in militarizing the very idea of policing in this country.
The L.A. City Council approved today a $5.9 million settlement to officers alleging they had been punished by their superiors for not fulfilling ticket quotas.
The City Council settled the lawsuit with 10 LAPD officers of a motorcycle unit who filed it back in 2010, according to the Los Angeles Times. The officers claimed they were forced by Capt. Nancy Lauer to meet ticket quotas—which would break state law. Reportedly, they were required to write at least 18 tickets per shift. They alleged that in retaliation, their supervisors would give them bad performance reviews, reassignment, and [harassment], reported Los Angeles Daily News.
However, the settlement agreement was discussed behind closed doors, and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck denies a ticket-quota system was put in place. “We will continue to have measures of productivity,” Beck told City News Service. “Not quotas. Measures of productivity. They’re different.”
This settlement comes on the heels of a similar 2011 ticket quotas lawsuit where two LAPD officers were awarded $2 million by the L.A. Superior Court.
So these tax-leech bullies are given orders from their tax-leech bosses to reach a minimum amount of harassment against mostly peaceful people - ticket quotas that are against the law (but these tax-leeches are above the law, so why would that matter?). They fail to reach this minimum and are subsequently “punished” (lol). Then, these tax-leech bullies sue the city in response to the treatment by their tax-leech bosses. The tax-leech meddlers in the city council, in turn, settled with the tax-leech bullies to the tune of $5.9 million. And this was paid for, of course, by taxpayers.
So we pay for all these tax-leeches to harass us, we pay them to set minimum amounts of harassment which in turn we pay fees on, and now we pay for the consequences of their wrong-doing.
Aren’t government monopolies delightful?
Officers on Trial in Killing of Kelly Thomas; First Murder Charge for an Officer in Orange County History →
The trial of former Fullerton, California, police officers, Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli began December 2, 2013, in the beating death of Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old drifter with schizophrenia. Thomas died after a July, 2011, altercation with six police officers in which he was tasered, beaten with batons, and hit repeatedly in the face with the end of a Taser. Ramos is charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree murder and Cicinelli is charged with excessive force and involuntary manslaughter.
Opening statements from District Attorney Tony Rackauckas detailed Thomas begging the officers to stop.
"He posed no threat at all, to the police or to anyone else," said Rackauckas to jurors. The District Attorney dramatically demonstrated the events of the encounter using a wooden police baton.
Statements from the defense maintained that Ramos and Cicinelli committed no crimes and were dealing with an uncontrollable and violent person. Michael Schwartz, defense attorney for Cicinelli told jurors in his statements that Thomas’s behavior “was consistent with someone with a methamphetamine background” and that his death was brought on by drug-induced heart disease.
The trial, taking place at the Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, California, is the first time a uniformed police officer has been charged with murder in the history of the county. The trial may never have happened without a slowly built citizen movement sparked by footage of the beating caught by mobile phone and a horrific hospital photo taken by Kelly Thomas’ father, Ron Thomas.
"Nothing was going on, I tried contacting everybody, nobody cared to do anything," said Ron Thomas to Reason TV in 2011. ”So, I released the picture of my son [in his hospital bed] and that got everybody’s attention. When the cell phone video came out, I released that. The audio had their attention again. You put together the picture with the sound of what’s happening [and] it’s very, very compelling.”
The Onion: Bloomberg Defends NYPD’s Controversial Stop And Kiss Program
In this video a young man is sitting in his car when he tells the police officer asking him questions to “shut up.” What happens next is a cookie cutter case of power trip brutality caused by the cop escalating violence to unneeded levels. The man was not resisting in the least, yet this cop proceeds to pummel him with his night stick and then pepper sprays him.
It is unclear what exactly caused the cop to detain this individual but it is not at all unclear as to who escalated the situation to violence.
Imagine changing one single variable in this situation: the man doing the beating is not a cop.
How would those bystanders act differently? Doubtless they would come to the aid of the man being pummeled. The assailant is certainly outnumbered. And in those moments when it seems the brutal and unjustified beating would not end, it would be natural and right for either the victim or a bystander to use defensive violence to end the assault, even lethal force if necessary.
Instead, the assailant continues completely undisturbed. And, if history is any indication, he is likely to face very little repercussions (though he would surely face none, if not for this video recording).
Iceland is top 9% in per capita gun ownership…
From the island that was once the location, a millennium ago, of maybe the closest a society’s come to pure libertarianism comes news that Iceland’s had its first police shootingin history.Via euronews:According to an Icelandic news agency, an armed man in his fifties had been making threats to his neighbours, prompting police to evacuate the apartment building where he lived.
Shortly after 05:00 am local time the man started to fire shots from a window. Police returned fire. According to eyewitnesses, some sort of smoke bomb was thrown into the apartment through a broken window. Armed police entered the apartment of the gunman at around 06:00 am and the man was shot in the process. He was taken out in a stretcher and taken to hospital before being pronounced dead.
Other European countries have similar track records. Police in Germany shot 85 roundsin all of 2011. Iceland, though, is different. Unlike much of Western Europe, the country is “awash with guns.” It also has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the world. But strict gun laws aren’t useful in preventing police shootings anyway—witness Chicago, the number of puppycides that enter the news cycle, and the various police shooting stories that involve no firearm, except the police’s.
This is just mind-blowing. The cop arrests this man because he challenged the idea that he, as a father, had higher claim over his children than the state. And because the father - who was not being aggressive - would not concede to the cop’s ramblings, the cop arrested him. Watch the video, but only if you don’t mind getting upset.
As I noted yesterday with regards to a different issue: if this were a non-state school and private security, this would not happen.
A Tennessee man was arrested yesterday for trying to pick his special needs kids up from school. The school wanted the parents to sign a form to allow their children to walk home “unsupervised.”
Naturally these parents questioned the safety of this new policy. They went to school and called the Sheriff’s department to voice their concern over the new policy, when one of the officers begins his power trip.
At one point the father cites the law that allows for him to pick up his children when school is out. The officer then has the audacity to tell the father, “Yes, school is out you can pick up your child, but it doesn’t say when, now, does it?” I’ll be damned if some bureaucrat on a power trip is going to tell me when I can and cannot have access to my children.
Soon after the cop is made to look like the tyrant fool that he is, he does what all cops do when backed into a legal corner, arrests someone.
As much as I hate that this happened, and I recognize police brutality is a huge problem, the fact remains that all the facts are not know AND America has something y’all seem to remember for people like the Boston Bomber but forget when it comes to policemen: innocent until PROVEN guilty. He has not been proven guilty and the investigation by the police department has not finished. You cannot abandon this principle.
- "all the facts are not know (sic)"
Cop tasered boy with his hands up and walking away, causing boy to hit his head on the ground when he fell which lead to brain damage and a coma. What more need be known?
- "innocent until PROVEN guilty."
Such a principle is an important element in a properly functioning criminal justice system, but the point is that one need not be proven guilty in a court of law to be fired. If this were private security in a private school, the security guard would have been - at the very least - suspended immediately and the school would have dealt with the private security firm swiftly so as to please the parents and students. After all, unlike cops and public schools, private security and private schools are dependent on the voluntary patronage of willing customers. Parents concerned that their children might be killed by over-zealous security would no doubt find a new place to send their kids.
- "the investigation by the police department has not finished."
Considering the overwhelming majority of such investigations tends to absolve officers of wrong-doing, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a just outcome.
Texas High School Student Tased by School Resource Officer/Sheriff’s Deputy, Now in Medically-Induced Coma →
Tasers are meant to be a non-lethal way for police officers to force targets into compliance, but more than 500 deaths have been attributed to Tasers since 2001, largely due to cardiac arrest. At one Texas high school, the use of a Taser by Randy McMillan, a sheriff’s deputy/school resource officer, on 17-year-old Noe Niño de Rivera has resulted in the student being put in a medically induced coma. The family has filed a lawsuit against McMillan, the school district, and the county, and alleges Rivera was tased after trying to break up a fight. Via YNN Austin:The court document says the teenager began to walk backwards with his hands up when McMillan shocked him with the Taser.
Rivera fell to the ground and hit his head on the floor, causing permanent injury to his brain. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital where it was determined he had suffered a severe a brain hemorrhage and was put into a medically-induced coma.
Last week officials with the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office said Rivera was acting aggressive before the Taser was used. They say the two officers ordered the teen to back off, but he ignored their commands, according to a county spokesman, prompting McMillan to use the Taser.
Still, the lawsuit says Rivera “posed no imminent threat of death or serious injury” to McMillan and the deputy was unlawful in his use of force.
The court document also says McMillan used a Taser on another student one year ago, and says the school district and the county sheriff’s office failed to discipline him correctly.
The family is seeking a jury trial. About a hundred students walked out of class last week to protest Rivera’s tasing. KVUE reports the family’s attorney claims to have cellphone video corroborating the family’s story, but did not share it with the TV station. The KVUE story also includes one parent voicing support for McMillan. “I find it hard to believe that an officer of that standing would ever do anything that he didn’t have to actually do. If you’re not there you really can’t judge,” she said.
McMillan has been moved from the school to patrol duty for the time being.
Of course the cop is still on the job…
Cops in New Mexico repeatedly sprayed a woman’s vagina with mace after she was arrested for drugs. They allegedly did this to “punish” her.
God damn the state of New Mexico. It has really gone to hell after Governor Johnson left office.
This is the same New Mexico police recently in the news for anally probing men and women against their will.
When an organization claims a monopoly on force, grants itself the “authority” to harass innocents for even the most minor victimless offenses, and - through the unholy partnership of unions and government - mostly inoculate the members of that organization from retribution for their misdeeds, then it follows that said organization would be attractive to the kind of sick bullies who would enjoy such power.
In the wee hours of the morning on September 13th, Air Force Sgt. Matt Pinkerton and his wife were entertaining guests at their home when an acquaintance of Mrs. Pinkerton’s came knocking.
It was 2 AM. After being told to leave by Matt Pinkerton, who closed the door, Kendall Green decided that he’d kick it in and force his way into the home.
Matt Pinkerton, having armed himself with his Glock 17 9mm prior to approaching the door, then proceeded to discharge two rounds into Green.
Green was subsequently killed in an obvious act of self defense.
But the story didn’t end there, as it should have.
The district attorney’s office has now filed second degree murder charges against Sgt. Pinkerton.
You may be asking yourself under what pretext?
According to the DA, Pinkerton exhibited “bizarre behavior” by grabbing his weapon when an unexpected knock came to his door at 2AM that morning. And, because he failed to call 9-1-1 between the time Green kicked in his door and rushed him, he has now been charged with murder by the state.
Mike Pinkerton, one of the guests and brother of Matt, recalls the incident via Bullets First:
“He (Green) kept coming forward so Matt fired. He rocked backwards and took another step forward at which time Matt took his second shot. He stumbled backwards and fell out the door onto the porch.”
“When the shots were fired Jessica called 911. Matt spoke to the operator; he removed the clip from his gun and the bullet in the chamber. Police arrived within five minutes.”
So what did Matt do wrong when a crazed man broke in his front door at 2am and was after his wife? To me, nothing.
Yet according to the state of Maryland, Matt should have called 911 first and waited for the police.
That isn’t some glib, pro gun caricature of the how when seconds count cops are minutes away. This is the reason he is being charged with murder. It doesn’t help that on top of the lack of a Castle Doctrine Statute the Assistant State’s Attorney, Glen Neubauer, is an rabid anti gunner himself.
Besides maintaining the ridiculous notion that calling 911 while a crazed intruder just smashed his way into your house is the only legal option, Neubauer also claims that even the act of grabbing the gun in the first place is “bizarre behavior in itself.”
Read the full report at Bullets First
As an important note, Mrs. Pinkerton was in no way involved with Kendall Green and a long list of evidence suggests they were merely friends, until Green decided he wanted more out of the relationship, at which point Mrs. Pinkerton ended their interactions.
Thus, it should be obvious that Kendall Green was likely demonstrating irrational emotional and mental behavior the morning he kicked down her door and entered her home.
The Pinkertons have set up a Facebook page in an effort to bring awareness to Matt’s plight against an overzealous District Attorney, who himself is a staunch supporter of anti-gun laws.
Through no fault of his own, Matt Pinkerton is now facing the real possibility of being imprisoned for doing what any self respecting, individually responsible person would do – defending himself, his wife, his guests and his home.
His legal expenses have already exceeded $25,000, plus an additional $25,000 so that Sgt. Pinkerton could be released on bond while awaiting his trial. The family was forced to take out loans in order to make these payments.
So, not only is the State now threatening the freedom of a man who defended those he loved, they are impoverishing him and his family for no other reason than to make a political statement.
Report: Thousands of Nonviolent Americans Sentenced to Life in Prison Due to War on Drugs and Mandatory Minimums →
The ACLU released a new report this week examining the growing trend of judges sentencing nonviolent offenders to life in prison without parole. The ACLU found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the War on Drugs, mandatory minimums, and “tough-on-crime” policies are to blame.
The report, A Living Death: A Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenders, profiles 110 of the 3,278 inmates currently serving their life sentences for nonviolent crimes. Most of the offenders were charged with crimes like possession of small amounts of drugs or petty theft. …
In addition to the inmate profiles—which are a horribly depressing, but worthwhile read—the report discovered several interesting facts about life without parole (LWOP) in the US.
The Number of LWOP Sentences Has Been Growing For Decades
Offenders serving life without parole, whether violent or not, has been one of the most rapidly growing populations in the prison system. According to the report: “The number of people sentenced to LWOP quadrupled nationwide between 1992 and 2012, from 12,453 to 49,081.”
LWOP Is Due to the War on Drugs, Mandatory Minimums, and Other “Tough on Crime” Policies
Nearly 80 percent of non-violent LWOP offenses are for drug crimes. Among the cases the ACLU surveyed, 83 percent of offenders were placed there because of mandatory minimums or three-strike laws—in other words, the judges had no choice. As the ACLU said:
The prevalence of LWOP sentences for nonviolent offenses is a symptom of the relentless onslaught of more than four decades of the War on Drugs and “tough-on crime” policies, which drove the passage of unnecessarily harsh sentencing laws, including three-strikes provisions…and mandatory minimum sentences.
There Are Racial Disparities
Like most aspects of the criminal justice system, there are stark racial disparities in life without parole sentences. Sixty-five percent of LWOP inmates are black, while in some states the disparity is even higher. In Louisiana, 91 percent are black. In the federal system, blacks are 20 times more likely to be sentenced to LWOP than whites.
This Is A Uniquely American Problem
The US is part of the mere 20 percent of countries that even offer LWOP sentences. And of those countries, the vast majority “place stringent restrictions on where they can be issued and limit their use to crimes of murder.” As a result, the US’s LWOP prison population dwarfs that of other countries’. According to the University of San Francisco’s report on U.S. Sentencing Practices in a Global Context, the US’s LWOP population is 51 times greater than Australia’s and 173 times greater than England’s.