Tag Archives: Police Brutality / Abuse

Kelly Thomas calls for his father while 6 cops beat him to death

open quoteThe city surveillance video that shows a group of Fullerton police officers beating a homeless mentally ill man to death last year was finally released today, laying to rest any argument that Kelly Thomas was a threat to officers.

The shocking video, which was combined with an audio recorder worn by one of the police officers on the night of July 5, 2011, was shown in court today, then later released to the media.

“Now you see my fists?” Fullerton police officer Manny Ramos asked Thomas while slipping on a pair of latex gloves.

“Yeah, what about them?” Thomas responded.

“They are getting ready to fuck you up,” said Ramos, a burly cop who appears to outweigh Thomas by 100 pounds.

“Well, start punching,” Thomas responds, never once displaying any physical aggression towards Ramos.

Moments later, as Thomas is standing while Ramos is ordering him to get on his “fucking knees,” Fullerton cop Joseph Wolfe, who is not charged in the case, walks up and starts beating his legs with a baton.

. . . .

At one point he yells out, “Dad, they are killing me.”

Even after seven minutes into the video, when six cops are on top of him and all Thomas is doing is crying for his father, they keep telling him to “relax.”

Last year, Ron Thomas, a retired Orange County Sheriff’s deputy, said the City of Fullerton offered him $900,000 to just go away, which would have allowed the two cops to remain on the force unpunished for killing his son.

Thomas was pronounced dead on July 10, five days after the beating that left him in a coma.close quote (Read more)

Drones to soar over US and Canada sooner than thought?

open quoteNon-military agencies have been gearing up to get unmanned drones in the sky across America, and now it looks like those controversial aircraft will soon be heading north, as well.

http://rt.com/news/iran-usa-drone-decode-755/Not only are surveillance drones expected to soar in droves across American airspace in the not-so-distant future, but now it has been confirmed that authorities in Canada have successfully followed through with test flights of the unmanned aircraft for their own use.

A spokesperson for CAE, Inc., which is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, has confirmed that a series of test flights have occurred in recent weeks as the country looks towards purchasing drones for domestic use. According to CAE’s vice president, Pietro D’Ulisse, the capabilities of the craft will be a great asset for law enforcement across Canada.close quote (Read more)

10 Disgusting Examples of Very Young School Children Being Arrested, Handcuffed and Brutalized By Police

open quote#1 At an elementary school in Baltimore recently, three nine-year-old girls and an eight-year-old boy were arrested for fighting and marched out of their elementary school in handcuffs. The police department is defending handcuffing these kids….

“It’s our policy, regardless of the age, when a suspect is arrested by police, they’re handcuffed. And the reason is just not for the suspect’s safety but also for officers’ safety,” Det. Jeremy Silbert of the Baltimore City Police Department said.

#2 In New Haven, Connecticut a 10-year-old boy was actually arrested by police for giving another student “a wedgie” on a school bus.

#3 Just last year, a 5-year-old boy at a public school in Stockton, California was arrested by police and handcuffed with zip ties because he was committing “battery on a police officer”.

Really?

How much damage can a 5-year-old kid really do to a police officer?

The boy was ultimately sent to a hospital and forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

#4 A 6-year-old girl down in Florida was “throwing objects, hitting administration personnel and screaming uncontrollably” so police handcuffed the 40 pound little girl and shipped her off to a mental institution for evaluation.

#5 In San Mateo, California a few months ago a 7-year-old special education student was blasted in the face with pepper spray because he would not quit climbing on the furniture. Police were then able to subdue the boy and he was “committed for a psychiatric evaluation”.

#6 Down in Florida, an 11-year-old student was arrested by police, thrown in jail and charged with a third-degree felony for bringing a plastic butter knife to school.

#7 In Texas, a 12-year-old girl was recently arrested by police for spraying two bursts of perfume on her neck. She was formally charged with a misdemeanor.

#8 A 13-year-old boy at a public school in Albuquerque, New Mexico was recently arrested by police for burping in class. The police marched him out of school and hauled him over to a juvenile detention center.

#9 Back in 2010, a 12-year-old girl at a school in Forest Hills, New York wrote “I love my friends Abby and Faith” on her desk. The police were called out and she was marched out of her school in handcuffs in front of all her friends.

#10 A teenage couple down in Houston, Texas poured milk on each other during a squabble while they were breaking up a while back. Instead of being sent to see the principal, they were arrested by police and sent to court.close quote (Read more)

Cops Take School Kids’ DNA in Murder Case

open quoteSamples of DNA were collected without parental consent from students at a Sacramento, Calif., middle school in connection with the murder of an 8 th grade student who was found stabbed, strangled and beaten to death near the dugout of a local park.

The Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, which has been spearheading the investigation into the murder of Jessica Funk-Haslam, 13, said parental consent was not required in the DNA collection and interview of minors, several of whom were taken out of class during the day last week at Albert Einstein Middle School.

“These are interviews, not interrogations,” Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Ramos told ABCNews.com. “They are all consensual. Once it’s done, there is a mechanism in place for school administrators to notify parents.”

Ramos said the DNA collection was done at the time of the interview so efforts didn’t have to be “duplicated.” Ramos cautioned that the collection did not necessarily mean authorities had a DNA profile of the suspect.close quote (Read more)

Cop’s ‘ear’ in your pocket: Cell phone tracking routine with US police

open quoteKeys, driver’s license, cell phone…off we go! While an officer can only get your personal details by prompting you to take out the ID, your phone could give you away at the police’s first request – a request neither you nor a court may ever learn of.

Cell phone tracking, previously associated with federal agents, now seems to have become routine for many police departments. A recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) shows that police have not only grown into the practice, but also drop the court warrant stage from the procedure.

Over 200 police departments nationwide responded to the ACLU’s pubic requests virtually acknowledging that they track cell phones. But only very few of the interviewed departments says they obtain a court warrant to tune in on a phone. close quote (Read more)

FAQ: When Can You Capture Cops on Camera?

open quoteThough by no means a comprehensive overview, here some basic rules of the road for catching police activity in your viewfinder.

Do you have the right to photograph police officers in public?

Yes. Taking pictures (still images, not video) of things that are visible in public spaces is a constitutional right guaranteed by the First Amendment. This includes photographing police officers and other law enforcement officials in public.

Can you take pictures while police officers are making an arrest or during civil unrest, such as a protest or riot?

It is completely within your rights to photograph police officers conducting their duties at an incident scene, including while making arrests. Police officers may legally ask you to stop only if your activities are impeding law enforcement activities.

Though the law is clear and courts have consistently upheld these rights, in numerous cases individuals have been illegally harassed, detained, or arrested for taking pictures of police officers (as well as other legally permissible subjects, such as transportation facilities and outside of federal buildings). Multimedia journalist Carlos Miller has documented many of these cases on his blog, Photography is Not a Crime.

Are there any public places where you can be arrested for taking photos of police? What about the airport?

Though officers may cite security or terrorist threats when confronted by a camera, only a few general exceptions to the rule really exist. For example, if you take images of specific areas at military installations, those images could pose a threat to national security and can legally be prohibited, according to Bert P. Krages II, an attorney and author of Legal Handbook for Photographers.

“Most attempts at restricting photography are done by lower-level security and law enforcement officials acting way beyond their authority. Note that neither the Patriot Act nor the Homeland Security Act have any provisions that restrict photography,” says Krages.

Photography is indeed legal at the airport, including at screening locations, despite reports of travelers being questioned or harassed for taking photos or video.

The Transportation Security Administration allows you to take pictures at checkpoints “as long as you’re not interfering with the screening process or slowing things down.” They also ask not to take pictures or video of the monitors, though the ACLU writes that “it is not clear whether they have any legal basis for such a restriction when the monitors are plainly viewable by the traveling public.”

Do rules for video differ from those for photography?

In general, yes. The visual portion of a video is fully protected under the First Amendment, and the same laws regarding photography apply. Things get murkier when it comes to the audio; the issue is currently being played out in hotly contested cases around the country. In several states people have been charged under wiretapping statutes for recording police officers without their consent.

Wiretapping or eavesdropping laws are designed to protect private conversations from being secretly recorded. In the majority of states, only one person must consent to the recording for it to be legal. In the twelve states where both parties must provide consent, some prosecutors have argued that filming a police officer without permission violates his or her rights, even if it occurs in a public place where there is no “reasonable expectation of privacy.”

The number of such cases has jumped in recent years, but in August the ACLU scored a major victory, in the First Circuit Court of Appeals, that will likely have significant implications for such suits around the country. On October 1, 2007, attorney Simon Glik whipped out his cell phone to record police officers making an arrest in Massachusetts. After an officer asked whether his film included audio, he was arrested for violating the state’s wiretap statute. In a unanimous ruling, the court ruled that Glik (backed by the ACLU) had a right to videotape the police carrying out their duties in public, and his arrest was therefore unconstitutional.

While other states have brought similar cases under old wiretapping laws, Illinois amended the law to make it explicitly illegal to record police officers on duty without their consent. The constitutionality of that law is currently being challenged in a federal court, in ACLU v. Alvarez.

Can a police officer confiscate your equipment or demand to see photographs/video that you have taken?

In certain circumstances. In general, unless the camera was used in a crime (such as child pornography or “upskirting”), police officers need a warrant to seize your equipment or to view pictures or video.

However, courts may approve the seizure of a camera in some instances where police have “reasonable, good-faith belief that it contains evidence of a crime by someone other than the police themselves (it is unsettled whether they still need a warrant to view them),” according to the ACLU.

Can police officers delete your photographs or video?

No. Though news reports indicate a disturbing trend of cops illegally deleting evidence, police officers may never erase your photographs or video.

What should you do if an officer stops you from taking pictures or shooting footage?

Just because you are within your rights, it doesn’t mean you won’t be questioned or harassed for shooting pictures or video of police officers.

In the event of a confrontation, stay calm and respectful. Don’t give the officer an opportunity to arrest you on unrelated charges such as obstruction of justice.

The ACLU, in its newly released guide “Know Your Rights: Photographers,” recommends asking the officer if you are free to leave. “If the officer says no, then you are being detained, something that under the law an officer cannot do without reasonable suspicion that you have or are about to commit a crime or are in the process of doing so. “close quote (Read more)

Court OKs Barring High IQs for Cops

This is from way back in 2000, but it remains relevant. It speaks to the larger point that government are crappy providers of security. They inevitably value obedience over the safety of their population.

See my essay on the state monopoly of violence here.

open quoteA man whose bid to become a police officer was rejected after he scored too high on an intelligence test has lost an appeal in his federal lawsuit against the city.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court’s decision that the city did not discriminate against Robert Jordan because the same standards were applied to everyone who took the test. close quote (Read more)

“I don’t have time to play this Constitutional bullshit!”

open quoteA depressed Army reservist who made a phone call for help says dozens of police responded by surrounding his home and arresting him, vandalizing and searching his place without a warrant, seizing his dog and killing his tropical fish.
Matthew Corrigan, who lives alone with his dog, sued the District of Columbia in D.C. Federal Court.
Confronted with a massive police presence after his plea for help, Corrigan says, he denied officers permission to enter his house, but they entered and trashed it anyway, saying, “I don’t have time to play this constitutional bullshit!”close quote (Read more)

Photo shows pepper-sprayed prisoner

open quoteNo doubt you’ve heard the adage: a picture is worth a thousand words. A picture of 62-year-old Nick Christie could be worth thousands of dollars when a jury sees it.

The photo shows the Ohio man restrained inside the Lee County Jail with his body covered in pepper spray.

“This photo is a picture of a man who is strapped to a chair naked inside a jail for hours with a hood over his face. That evokes thoughts of being tortured,” says Cleveland-based lawyer Nick DiCello who represents the Christie family.

The photo, which was obtained by FOX 13’s investigative unit, was taken in the final hours of Christie’s life.

The District 21 Medical Examiner ruled his death was a homicide because he had been restrained and sprayed with pepper sprayed by law enforcement officers. But to this day, nobody has ever been charged with a crime, and the Lee County State Attorney cleared the sheriff’s office of any wrong doing.

It’s been more than two and a half years and his wife still can’t accept what happened.close quote (Read more)

Off-Duty Cop Executes Man Following Squabble Over Darts

open quotePatch.com reports:

Chris Hull, a 39-year-old Temecula resident, said he was inside the bar and saw the shooting happen.

Hull said he witnessed a man walking up while Hull and a group of friends were playing darts. The man reportedly identified himself as an off-duty cop and started a discussion with the group about darts.

“We were playing darts, and he says ‘I’m better at darts than you are,”’ Hull said.

“My buddy says, ‘Aw, you suck at darts.’ (The man) says, ‘That’s why I’m a cop, I can do whatever I want to do.’”

Hull said his friend, identified only as Danny, asked the man, “Really, you can do anything?” The man then pulled out his gun, Hull said, and after the group repeatedly asked him to put it away he “pops three rounds into my friend Sam.”

Hull identified his friend as Sam Venettes. He didn’t answer a request for Vanette’s age or hometown, but said he was a “hardworking guy” who “works three jobs.”

Police have not released any information on the name of the victim.

“I just watched the most horrific scene I’ve seen in my entire life,” Hull told Patch.

“This is the worst day of my life.”

It should be noted, the cop was a 10-year veteran of the force.close quote (Read more)

We Killed Your Daughter; You’re Under Arrest

open quoteThe pair was crossing a street at a widely-recognized intersection when they were fatally blindsided by a vehicle traveling at a speed well in excess of the posted speed limit. Despite the fact that darkness had descended, the driver hadn’t turned on his headlights. The victims were killed instantly.

Within minutes, police swarmed the scene, and arrests were made — none of which involved the driver, Deputy John Swearengin of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. The four people arrested were relatives of the victims, who got into what the Sheriff’s Office described as an “altercation” with California Highway Patrol officers when they attempted to identify the victims.

“I was at home on Friday night working on my car when someone came running over and told me that a deputy ran over my daughter in the street,” recalls Jimmy Clevenger, Jolley’s father. “I ran down here, I was very upset…. The next thing I know, they had me by the neck and threw me to the ground and said I resisted arrest. My daughter was dead in the street and it was their fault.”

The outraged relatives were taken to jail, and face criminal charges. Swearengin, the killer, was taken to the hospital and wasn’t compelled to undergo drug or alcohol screeningclose quote (Read more)