Archive for June, 2008

Law and Orders #8: Memphis cop Bridges McRae “exceeds expectations” by punching Duanna Johnson repeatedly in the face with handcuffs over his knuckles for failing to stand up on command in the booking area at 201 Poplar

Monday, June 30th, 2008

(Via Thus Spoke Belinsky 2008-06-20.)

Trigger warning. The following videos of local news stories include graphic footage of extreme physical violence by a male police officer against a woman in his custody.

Cops are here to protect us by arresting a black trans woman on charges of possibly being willing to engage in consensual sex acts that violated nobody’s rights, then throwing her in a booking area as a lead-up to locking her in a cage, then using transphobic and homophobic slurs when ordering her to get up in order to be fingerprinted for having allegedly committed this non-crime, and then, should she refuse to get up in response to that kind of language, and instead go on sitting in her chair, threatening nobody, cops are here to protect the hell of of her by getting up in her face, wrapping a pair of handcuffs around their knuckles and bashing her head in with them over and over again, while sheriff’s deputies stand around and do nothing, and while a fellow cop runs up to hold her down in her chair — stopping eventually to pepper spray her, handcuff her behind her back, and then leave her lying helpless on the floor.

Please note that, according to Memphis Police Officer Bridges McRae, refusing to immediately follow a police officer’s bellowed command over a minor matter of paperwork is a crime which can rightfully be punished by a vicious gang beat-down. And according to the rest of the Gangsters in Blue on the scene, it’s a situation which calls for standing aside, or actively rushing to the aid of, their gang brother — and to hell with the suspect woman being assaulted.

WMC-TV (2008-06-18): Video shows police beating at 201 Poplar

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) — Video obtained by Action News 5 shows a Memphis police officer beating a suspect at 201 Poplar in an apparent case of police brutality.

The video, recorded February 12th, shows Duanna Johnson in the booking area at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center after an arrest for prostitution. The tape clearly shows a Memphis police officer walk over to Johnson — a transsexual — and hit her in the face several times.

Actually he was trying to get me to come over to where he was, and I responded by telling him that wasn’t my name — that my mother didn’t name me a faggot or a he-she, so he got upset and approached me. And that’s when it started, Johnson said.

Johnson said the officer was attempting to call her over to be fingerprinted. She said she chose not respond to the derogatory name the officer called her.

He said, I’m telling you, I’m giving you one more chance to get up. So I’m looking at him, and he started putting his gloves on, and seen him take out a pair of handcuffs, Johnson said.

The officer hit Johnson several times with the handcuffs wrapped around his knuckles. In the video, you can see the flash of the metal. The tape shows another officer holding Johnson’s shoulders as she tries to protect herself.

After taking several blows, Johnson stands up and swings back.

I was afraid. I had had enough. Like I said, I thought the other officers that were witnessing this would at least try to stop him, Johnson said. I mean, he hit me so hard. Like the third time he hit me, it split my skull and I had blood coming out. So I jumped up, Johnson said.

But then she sat back down, and the officer her in the face again. Then he maced her. On the tape, other people in the room are seen turning away and fanning their hands because of the smell.

[…] On the tape, Duanna is eventually handcuffed and left on the floor. A nurse comes in, and goes directly to the officer.

I couldn’t breathe, and they just made me lay there, Johnson said. Nobody checked to see if I was okay. My eyes were burning. My skin was burning. I was scared to death. Even the nurse came in and she just ignored me, and I begged her to help me.

WMC-TV (2008-06-18): Video shows police beating at 201 Poplar

Officer Bridges McRae, Gangster in Blue

James Swain, Gangster in Blue

After this brutal gang assault committed in full view of a security camera and several witnesses, McRae had the audacity to file a charge of assault against Duanna Johnson. And then to file an internal affairs complaint against the detective in the booking area for standing by and doing nothing, instead of joining in on the beating.

This happened back on February 12th. At the time that it happened, the D.A. dropped all charges against Johnson. The rookie cop who held Johnson back in her chair during the beating, James Swain, lost his job. On the other hand, Bridges McRae, the thug who was actually bashing the poor woman’s head in, was given a paid vacation from street duty (at a $49,000 / year salary) for four months, pending an administrative disciplinary hearing, which he repeatedly delayed using sick leave and other excuses, after which he finally lost his own job. Neither of these brutal and dangerous thugs has yet faced any criminal charges for this videotaped assault.

Meanwhile, the Fraternal Order of Pigs has provided McRae with a lawyer, who is helping him appeal the decision to fire him from the police force. The lawyer wants you to realize that the mere evidence of your senses is no reason not to give a violent cop the benefit of the doubt:

McRae is the officer seen in the video repeatedly hitting Duanna Johnson in the booking area at 201 Poplar. McRea had arrested her for prostitution, but the charges were later dropped.

In the video, you can see McRae hitting Johnson with what appears to be handcuffs. Memphis Police Association attorney Ted Hansom, representing McRea, said Thursday that handcuffs were not used as a weapon by the officer.

Once it starts, the handcuffs were out to handcuff that person, Hansom said. You don’t have time to say let me put these down and then we will resume this.

Hansom said the video shows a different story when it is slowed down. […] Hansom said the video is not the whole story, and it will be his job to explain it all.

[…] The video shows McRae hitting Johnson in the face. She was also pepper sprayed. But it also shows Johnson hitting McRae at least once.

Hansom points out that there is no audio on the video so you do not know what is being said.

He also said McRae had reason to believe the 6 Feet 5 inch Johnson was a threat. Hansom said he has studied the video.

I saw some actions on the complaining party. So if they are coupled with statements or prior conduct or dealing with this person and knowing the size of that person might put you in apprehension of what’s going to happen, Hansom said.

WMC-TV (2008-06-19): McRae’s attorney says video is not the whole story

Along the way this class act demonstrates his sensitive awareness of issues surrounding police brutality in some communities:

The way he is being depicted with just this video tape. It doesn’t tell the story. It’s the Rodney King approach [sic!]. Lets look at a few minutes of video and make our decisions. It’s not that simple, Hansom said.

WMC-TV (2008-06-19): McRae’s attorney says video is not the whole story

And informs us that merely refusing to refuse an order to stand up, while you are in a secure area, is apparently enough to count as a threat to the safety of a heavily armed cop surrounded by other cops:

Hansom said the video shows a different story when it is slowed down. He said it is clear Duanna Johnson could easily have been considered a threat, because she was in a secure area and was refusing orders from Bridges.

WMC-TV (2008-06-19): McRae’s attorney says video is not the whole story

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, which runs in the jail in which McRae beat the hell out of Duanna Johnson, is mainly concerned to deny any responsibility (because their flunkies stood by and did nothing but watch in the course of this brutal beating), and to launch a criminal investigation into who finally made this tape, which should have been public knowledge four months ago, available to the newsmedia.

I know, I know. In any big police department there are A Few More Bad Apples, and every now and again there is just going to be Yet Another Isolated Incident. Sometimes life is like that. Terrible things like this just happen. Sometimes there are no red flags, no real warning signs.

McRae was fired after an administrative hearing for beating a transgendered woman he arrested Feb. 12 for prostitution. The video, which didn’t record sound, showed the officer repeatedly hitting Duanna Johnson in the intake area of the Shelby County Jail at 201 Poplar. Johnson said McRae made derogatory remarks. McRae is shown hitting Johnson and then using pepper spray.

McRae’s personnel file showed only three reprimands for minor offenses during his nearly four years on the force. His latest evaluation said he exceeds expectations.

Memphis Commercial Appeal (2008-06-27): Officer fired over beating had accusers

Here are some of the ways he exceeded expectations.

WMC-TV: Cop Who Beat Black Transexual Had Many Complaints

Who would have ever thought that Bridges McRae might do something like this to a black trans woman in prostitution?

Meanwhile, here’s an interesting tidbit about Memphis police department procedure:

Police Director Larry Godwin said if an officer receives multiple complaints, the department may move the officer to another precinct to see if the complaints continue.

Memphis Commercial Appeal (2008-06-27): Officer fired over beating had accusers

When Catholic bishops engage in this kind of practice with priests accused of child sexual assault, it’s called a conspiracy and a massive cover-up. When the boss cops do it, it is treated as if it were a perfectly mundane bit of bureaucratic detail, as just so much business as usual.

The comments on the local Memphis newspaper stories are actually more encouraging to me than I expected them to be. I’m heartened to see as many people as I do with the empathy and the courage necessary to speak out about this kind of outrage in public, and to call out the Mephis Police Department as an institution. But there is also the usual sado-fascist howling that you would expect, and the usual efforts to use absolutely any prejudice available against the victim of violence in order to smear her, ridicule her, and exonerate the cops for absolutely anything they might do to her. If you needed any more convincing on this point, take this as evidence that, even if it is on tape, even if it is in a public place in front of a crowd of witnesses, if you fall under one or more demographically suspect categories, there is absolutely nothing a cop could do to you that would be so low, so vile, so obviously over-the-top, or so brutal that cop couldn’t still count on hordes of Law-‘n’-Order creeps to befoul every public forum with victim-smearing and fabricated excuses on his behalf. He can fully expect that no matter what he might do, in full view of other police officers and a camera, still other officers will either stand by and do nothing, or come running to his aid, and that unless the tape reaches the media, he will almost certainly never face any personal consequences whatsoever for doing it. If he had walked up and shot her in the face I wouldn’t expect anything more to happen to him than what has happened to him so far. The Gangsters in Blue get each other’s backs, and it’s likely that nothing would ever have happened to him at all, beyond yet another unfounded complaint being recorded in his closed IA file, except for the fact that somebody bravely defied the law to get this tape out to the newsmedia.

The truth is, when every fucking week brings another story of a Few More Bad Apples causing Yet Another Isolated Incident, and the police themselves almost invariably doing everything in its power to ignore, cover up, excuse, or minimize the violence, even in defiance of the evidence of the senses and no matter how obviously harmless or helpless the victim may be, it beggars belief to keep on claiming that there is no systemic problem here, that cops ought to be given every benefit of the doubt, or blanket condemnations of policing in major American cities are somehow a sign of hastiness or unfair prejudice against good cops. The plain fact is that what we have here is one of two things: either a professionalized system of violent control which tacitly permits and encourages cops to exercise this kind of rampant, repeated, intense, and unrepentant abuse against powerless people—or else a system which has clearly demonstrated that it can do nothing effectual to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

See also:

Coupla’ Raid Updates

Thursday, June 26th, 2008
  • Ryan Frederick’s trial has been set for January 20, 2009.
  • Strong editorial from the Fairfield Minuteman in the Connecticut raid where police shot and killed unarmed Gonzalo Guizan. It now appears that the only drugs found in the home were cocaine “resin.” The paper writes:

    Guizan died for nothing more than some resin and a scale, and the hope that a den of iniquity would be destroyed.

    Should Terebesi accept admittance into a six-month rehab program, the actions of the special task force involved in the raid are given credence. The accused’s not-guilty plea keeps the focus on the actions of the police, which resulted in a death. Terebesi’s crimes, should he be found guilty by a jury of his peers, pale in comparison; at no point was he accused of taking a life.

    Yes, crimes are crimes and should be treated as such, whichever direction on the moral compass they point. But actions must be viewed in context, and the possession of a scale, some paraphernalia and some resin in no way justifies the force needed to take an unarmed man’s life.

    If the law does not take such things into consideration when prosecuting what by comparison are minor crimes, it has failed to be balanced and blind. And if law enforcement personnel are not trained to use judgment and discretion when using deadly force, they have failed to bring professionalism, respect and dignity to the law enforcement profession.

    We wait with bated breath for the real charges - those of unnecessary force - to be brought.

    Keep waiting.

  • U.S. out of Las Vegas!

    Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

    One of the things that I said in my speech about ALL to the Libertarian Party of Clark County, which was deliberately provocative and carefully worded, was I am here today to bring you two messages. So let me cut to the chase and deliver both of them right now. They are the point of this entire talk, and I can put them both in ten words or fewer. Here’s the first: Las Vegas will be free soil in our own lifetimes. And the second is: We are all going to make it happen. That may seem ridiculously optimistic, given the immensity, the scope, the pervasiveness, and the ruthlessness of the many-headed monster we call the modern State. I try to discuss a bit in my speech why it is not overly optimistic, focusing on the second claim — that we all, meaning not ALL or the Libertarian Party, but just about everybody in Las Vegas — can and will take part, if those of us who care about these things play our cards right, through the use of populist organizing, coalition building, direct action, and counter-economics.

    But another thing that I didn’t focus on much, which I’d like to mention, is the importance of the first thing I said, when I said Las Vegas will be free soil. I said that, and not something else (the U.S. will be free soil; the word will be free soil) because I think that’s an achievable goal. It’s not that I don’t want the whole U.S., or indeed the entire earth to be free soil; it’s not even that I think either couldn’t be free soil in the forseeable future. They could; I hope they will; if I can help, I will. But Las Vegas is where I live, and where Southern Nevada ALL intends to act, and I think it’s immensely important to begin there, and not to sell yourself on the idea that action has to be directed against the largest possible targets, or, more importantly at trying to strike some decisive blow at those targets that will somehow defeat Power everywhere and forever. Real empires almost never fall that way, unless they are conquered by some outside force, usually another rising empire, and for anarchists that’s not an acceptable option. So we need to think about getting the empire to crumble, not to implode, and to help it along by chiseling wherever and as hard as we can. If we win, it will crumble in some places faster than it will crumble in others. The basic problem is that a central aim of the imperial State has always been to get people to forget, effectively, about their neighborhood, their friends, their family, and everything else actually around them, and to understand their homeland in strictly political terms, in terms of a flag and a set of lines on the map and a capital hundreds or thousands of miles away. If anarchists ever want to get anywhere, we’re going to need to break that link, to pry people’s notion of home from out the talons of the State and its notion of political citizenship. Which strategic point brings me to a really excellent recent post by Jeremy at Social Memory Complex (2008-06-13), which is working towards some of the analysis that goes along with:

    Or does our whole approach to this dissonant national endeavor need retooling?

    I think it does. Is the lobbyist-driven agenda of corporations, special interests, and political culture really any less distant than U.S. foreign policy? Do we have any authentic control over the decisions in our society that affect us? Or are we just treated as fungible units of polity that have only to be deftly mobilized by public relations wizards in pursuit of an agenda fundamentally alien to us? What, in other words, is the difference between our powerlessness within the borders of the U.S. and the powerlessness endured by the residents of Iraq and Afghanistan?

    Instead of contrasting our experience under our government with that of its foreign victims, we might do well to compare the experiences. We’ve been taught from a very young age to distinguish American citizenship from that enjoyed by citizens of other countries, chiefly by virtue of our unique institutions of governance. But it is these same institutions that are being built in Iraq: a democratic, constitutional government with corporate control and obedience to international capital, with an established U.S. military presence to ensure stability in the region. These features are proving just as confounding to their freedom as their American counterparts are for us.

    Through overwhelming military force, claims of moral privilege, and alleged threats - not unlike the P.R. which allowed the U.S. to conquer the west and the south in the 19th century and frame it as liberation - the U.S. government is imposing a democratic government and a market economy on an unwilling people. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is also continuing to ratchet up the police state at home even as it practices martial law in Iraq. Just as there were Tories and other people loyal to the crown during the American Revolution, the federal government finds plenty of lackeys in the fifty states, Iraq, Afghanistan, and indeed throughout the world to do their dirty military or paramilitary (law enforcement) work. Legislative creep and sheer audacity constantly expand the scope of lawful authority, defining down the degree of liberty an individual can expect to enjoy. Participation in the decisions that affect us is framed as a set of predetermined choices provided by the establishment rather than a direct say at the local level. And all of these features bring more and more of the world under direct control of Washington - both the world within U.S. borders and the world outside them.

    For it is into Washington, in the District of Columbia, that all the spoils of these policies flow. The D.C. metro area is among the fastest growing in the nation, despite having no productive civilian industry to speak of (except perhaps I.T., but no more than any other city if you discount government contracting). Not only is it the seat of governance for the country, it is the clearing house for the international policy of most nations. By enticing Americans to “work within the system” to influence policy, citizens legitimate the process by which power and authority are steadily concentrated. An entire lobbying industry has sprung up from the need to have some say in this process; doing business in the empire has a high cost of entry, and once you get a seat at the table it’s plunder or be plundered. As more people see D.C. as the place where decisions are made, rather than local governments or foreign capitals, the amount of money and people pouring into the city will continue to grow, while localities and other countries become bureaucratic appendages of D.C. policy.


    But it’s not just that Washingtonians rule over an overseas empire; it’s that domestic U.S. territory is increasingly treated as part of the conquered territory, rather than as the source of state legitimacy. Sure, we have elected representatives we send to D.C. from all over the country, but experience shows that only in the rarest of occasions do they not adopt the Beltway outlook of going along to get along with the system. Instead, they play the game to bring home as much of the spoils of empire (taxation and government contracts for further imperialism) as possible. In the process, they cease to represent their constituents in D.C., preferring to represent the Washingtonian agenda in their respective localities. They become little Paul Brehmers, advocating policies that promote the more effective rule of the domestic and foreign empire. They measure success in terms of how they can coax or coerce the locals into compliance with necessarily foreign interests.

    If it is policies in Washington, D.C. that are changing this country into an empire, it is inaccurate to label the empire American. Clearly, the vast majority of Americans are not participating in it, but are merely preferred subjects in territory as occupied as that in Iraq and Afghanistan. […] If the decision-making bureaucracy, military might, and economic clout are all based in Washington, doesn’t it make sense to call this system the Washingtonian empire, rather than conflating it with the disenfranchised subjects in the fifty states? It’s no more an American empire than it is an Iraqi or Afghan one.

    The Washingtonian Empire is the largest, richest, most powerful, most hierarchically distributed, and most subtly maintained in history. It is so successful that it has even managed to proceed with its agenda without much notice as to its true nature. We should stop trying to get people to take responsibility for the decisions of a foreign city-state, because this only encourages the conflation of their American identity with an alien one.

    By drawing on our revolutionary, anti-colonial legacy, we can frame the American political experience as one of historically consistent subjugation. We can then find common ground with other victims of American imperialism while articulating an authentically decentralist agenda.

    Social Memory Complex (2008-06-13): The empire is not American, but Washingtonian

    Make sure you read the whole thing, especially Jeremy’s very salient discussion of the impact of this kind of analysis on strategy.

    Let me just add that one of the most important dimensions in which to emphasize the nature of America as occupied territories is the connection with the daily lives of the most thoroughly oppressed and exploited people under the bootheels of the United States government and its praetors and proconsuls: especially black people, brown people, poor people, immigrants, people labeled crazy, women (especially the women most marginalized and criminalized by the government and civil society), etc. etc. etc. During the 1960s, the Black Panthers, the Young Lords, and many other New Left liberation groups explicitly linked the conditions and struggles of people in the brutally police-occupied, white-controlled ghettoes of the U.S. — which were founded in slavery, lynch law, apartheid, and immiserating land grabs, which were treated politically as presumptively criminal, unruly elements of the body politic, to be reformed, contained, or eradicated; which were regimented and patrolled on every street corner by the occupying paramilitary forces of the white government — with the conditions and struggles of colonized peoples throughout the so-called Third World, recognizing that just because the lines on the map separated Harlem and Watts from Johannesburg and Nairobi, the people in each had far more in common with each other than any of them had with the handful of white men sitting in the halls of power in D.C., in London, and elsewhere. The false dignity of a morally and practically meaningless imperial citizenship was dismissed; in its place was offered self-understanding for people facing the violence of colonization and solidarity with people rising up against Power in their own homelands throughout the world. In the 1970s, Detroit feminists elaborated the thought by pointing out that, in an important sense, women throughout the world constituted a Fourth World, which faced subjugation and colonization at the hands of petty patriarchs and male States, whether those sites of colonization were located in the capitals of First, Second or Third World regimes. Anarchists can and should learn these lessons well, and take the thoughts to their logical completion, by showing how the State, just as such, always and everywhere, operates as a colonizing force, against all its subjects, and for the profit of the handful of beneficiaries who constitute the ruling class. (Of course, the fact that it operates like this against us all does not mean that it operates this way against all of us to an equal degree. The point here is not cheap sympathy; it’s solidarity, especially with those who are the most trodden upon by this monster State.)

    While the legacy of 1776 is worth understanding and learning from, and an important weapon to turn against the power in Washington; but so are many other things, and I think it is vital for the Libertarian Left to take up and learn from this tradition in articulating our anti-imperial theory and practice.

    See also:

    Emptying My Inbox

    Monday, June 23rd, 2008

    Links I don’t have time to comment on:

  • Police walk into a man’s house, up his stairs, into his bedroom, and wake him at 3am to let him know he left his door unlocked.
  • City of Los Angeles hands over $15 million to a private developer to help complete construction of a mall.
  • Looks like the next installment of Cato University should be pretty sweet: The featured speakers are three international freedom fighters from Venezuela, Russia, and Zimbabwe, respectively.
  • Judge in Canada overrules a father’s decision to ground his daughter from a school trip.
  • Police in Connecticut raid the wrong house, find some marijuana plants anyway, arrest the occupant.
  • TSA reverses itself–you now cannot fly in the U.S. without a government-issued ID.
  • A proposed bill in Ohio would force parents to volunteer 13 hours per years at their kids’ schools or face a $100 fine.

  • We need government cops and government courts because private protection forces and private arbitrators would be accountable to the powerful and well-connected instead of being accountable to the people. (#2)

    Monday, June 23rd, 2008

    Trigger warning. The following video of a local news story may be triggering for experiences of sexual assault.

    WKYC 3 News: Strip Searched (Part 1 of 2)

    Tom Meyer, WKYC (2008-06-18): Grand Jury clears Sheriff Deputies of criminal misconduct in explosive strip search case:

    STARK COUNTY — A Stark county grand jury has found no probable cause that county deputies committed any criminal wrongdoing while arresting Hope Steffey.

    As many as 7 male and female deputies forcibly removed Steffey’s clothes inside a Stark County jail cell and left her completely naked for 6 hours. Steffey had someone call for help when a cousin injured her during a fight.

    The video of Steffey being stripped searched triggered reaction nationwide, forcing Sheriff Tim Swanson to ask the Ohio Attorney General to step in and investigate the arrest and incarceration of Steffey. Link to The Investigator, Tom Meyer’s previous strip search stories

    The results of the investigation were turned over to the Stark County prosecutor who appointed the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Section to present the case to the grand jury.

    The grand jury decided to not indict any of the deputies. On the day of the grand jury’s findings, Steffey was undergoing questioning in a deposition for her lawsuit against the Sheriff. Steffey is seeking justice in a civil case filed in federal court and which is set to go to trial this December. Steffey is accusing deputies of using excessive and outrageous force.

    It’s unclear if the jailhouse video was shown to the grand jury. Those proceedings are secret. But the video is certain to be shown in federal court during her civil trial. The Sheriff has maintained that his office has done nothing wrong and was always in compliance with Ohio jail standards. Steffey’s attorneys are now under federal court order to not discuss the case. But they have argued that that the force used by deputies was brutal and unnecessary.

    Phone calls to Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson seeking comment were not returned.

    Attorney General Marc Dann launched the state investigation into the Steffey case in February. Dann resigned May 14 after only 17 months in office. Dann was forced to step down following a highly-publicized sex scandal in his office which included his affair with a female staff member.

    Tom Meyer, WKYC (2008-06-18): Grand Jury clears Sheriff Deputies of criminal misconduct in explosive strip search case

    Susan Vinella, WKYC (2008-06-19): Investigator Exclusive: Special prosecutors deny Steffey case was a strip search:

    The special prosecutors in the Hope Steffey case said Thursday that there was no strip search and no criminal wrongdoing by the Stark County sheriff’s deputies.

    Paul Scarsella and Bridget Carty said the incident, in which male and female deputies forcibly removed Steffey’s clothes at the Stark County jail, was a suicide precaution.

    They said the deputies were only following a medical order given by a doctor on duty to remove her clothes.

    The special prosecutors presented the results of their investigation to a grand jury on Wednesday. The grand jury declined to indict the deputies involved.

    Though the jail has suicide suits for inmates to wear, Scarscella said Steffey was not immediately given one because even the suit was deemed too dangerous for her to have.

    Steffey and her lawyers have denied that she was suicidal or was given the opportunity to remove her clothes herself, as the prosecutors say she was.

    There is no policy that prevents men from removing a female inmate’s clothes during a suicide precaution situation. During a strip search, jail policy prevents men from being involved.

    In a phone interview, Scarsella and Carty said they attempted to interview Steffey before the grand jury hearing Wednesday. They never did speak to her because they would not allow her attorneys by her side, as she requested.

    Steffey did appear before the grand jury.

    Scarsella said he could not say whether attorneys were allowed to sit in on the questioning of the sheriff’s deputies because ethical guidelines prevent him from discussing an investigation of uncharged defendants.

    Susan Vinella, WKYC (2008-06-19): Investigator Exclusive: Special prosecutors deny Steffey case was a strip search

    See also:

    Yer’ Monday Morning Roundup of Raid Stories

    Monday, June 23rd, 2008
  • Another case of puppycide.
  • Judge in California reinstates a $75,000 punitive damages award to a victim of a wrong-door raid.
  • Law enforcement groups in Ohio rally against a proposed Castle Doctrine law. Presumably, such a law would not include the right to shoot a police officer who enters your home lawfully. So why would they oppose allowing people to defend their homes from criminals?
  • Here’s a police recruitment video for a department in Georgia. One former police chief I interviewed for my Overkill paper told me when he reluctantly agreed to assemble a SWAT team, he brought his entire department together and asked for volunteers, then immediately disqualified everyone who raised his hand. He explain that the guys dying to be on the SWAT team are the last the guys you want serving on the the SWAT. Contrast that line of thought with the video above, which uses the SWAT team as a recruiting tool for the entire department. Think about the type of people that’s going to draw into your applicant pool.
  • The Fairfield Minuteman newspaper criticizes the Easton, Connecticut police department for its typical silence following the drug raid shooting death of unarmed Gonzalo Guizan.
  • Now: Wrong door immigration raids, too. Serves ‘em right for looking like people who might be illegal.
  • You got served and protected #3: preemptive “reasonable force” in Blackburn, Lancashire

    Saturday, June 21st, 2008

    (Via Manuel Lora @ Blog 2008-06-12: Laughing Too Hard Can Cause You Police Problems, via Roderick Long @ Austro-Athenian Empire 2008-06-12: Reasonable Force.)

    Cops in England are heavily armed and trained to be bullies. They routinely shove their way into situations where they aren’t wanted, weren’t invited, and have no business being. They deliberately escalate confrontations in order to stay in control through superior belligerence. They use violence first and ask questions later; they commonly use force to end an argument and then blame it on their victim. They rewrite events using pliable terms like aggressive, combative, and belligerent to conflate unkind words, purely verbal confrontations, or weak attempts to escape a grip or ward off blow with actual threats or violence against the cops, to excuse the use of extreme violence as retaliation for mouthing off or not just laying down and taking it like an upstanding citizen. They invariably pass off even the most egregious forms of violence against harmless people as self-defense or as the necessary means to accomplish a completely unnecessary goal.

    Consider, for example, what happened in Blackburn, Lancashire, when Christopher Cocker fell off the couch (from laughing at a comedy program), and a neighbor, not knowing what caused the thud, called the cops to check in on him. The cops showed up; he came to the door, thus demonstrating that the cops, happily, didn’t have an emergency to deal with after all; rather than leaving, they demanded his name and started asking personal questions. He said some unkind words and tried to shut the door; so they sprayed him with parva spray, forced their way in, beat him up, restrained him, stripped him naked, threw him in a cage, and then, to crown all, called his behavior aggressive and charged him with resisting a bullying cop who had no reason to arrest him to begin with.

    Officers arrived and said Cocker was initially co-operative but became aggressive when they asked his name and tried to shut his front door.

    He was eventually disabled with parva spray through the gap and arrested.

    Jonathan Taylor, defending, said: The officer accepts in his statement that he struck my client and then sprayed him again.

    He was handcuffed and unceremoniously thrown into the back of a police van. When he ended up in a police cell he was asking himself how all this had happened.

    Mr Taylor told Blackburn Magistrates’ Court, Lancs., said that having informed the police he was the only one in the flat and he was fine, his client could not understand why they wanted his details.

    […] Cocker, of Blackburn, Lancs., pleaded guilty to resisting a police officer and was given a conditional discharge for six months following the incident on May 20.

    A charge of assaulting PC Michael Davies was withdrawn.

    Speaking after the hearing, Cocker said he had been in his flat minding his own business.

    He said: I can’t believe it - I was thrown in the back of a police van before being stripped naked and put in a cell.

    I was handcuffed behind my back and my ankles bound with plastic ties before six of them carried me to the van.

    […] Prosecutor Alex Mann said the police went to ensure everything was all right and spoke to Cocker who was co-operative and relaxed and he assured the officers everything was fine.

    He only became worked up when the police asked for his details, said Mrs Mann.

    The police tried to explain they just needed the name for the report but he became aggressive and started swearing at the officer.

    After the hearing Joan Codling, 57, who lives in the flat below and made the call to police, said she contacted officers after being concerned that he may have fallen ill.

    She said: I was worried in case he was having an epileptic fit. There was a lot of noise and I didn’t know what to do so I called the police.

    A police spokesman said Cocker became aggressive towards the officers who feared for their own safety.

    The spokesman said: Parva spray was used to stop any confrontation and was necessary to protect the officers and any members of the public who were around at the time.

    Within the circumstances, we feel we used reasonable force.

    Daily Mail (2008-06-11): The man who fell off a sofa while laughing at Have I Got News For You - and ended up in court

    Your idea of reasonable force may be different from theirs. But what do they care? They have the spray and the cuffs. You don’t. So please note the following, if you happen to be in England:

    1. If government cops show up to see whether you are O.K., and it turns out that you really are O.K. and they don’t need to be there, they will still feel free to use violence in order to force you to give them all the details they need for their stupid government paperwork.

    2. Swearing at a government cop is considered an act of aggression that merits massive force, including torture with toxic chemicals, beating, and physical restraint as a defense.

    3. Trying to back out of the confrontation and shut the door on a government cop, who is putatively there to check on whether you’re O.K. and help you out, is also considered an act of aggression that merits torture, beating, restraint, &c. as a defense.

    4. If you become verbally aggressive towards government cops, they will consider it a reasonable use of force to torture, beat, restrain, &c. you as a preemptive strike against the possibility of any confrontation, even if you have given no evidence at all of wanting anything other than to be left in peace.

    5. No matter how obviously harmless you may be, no matter how obviously needless the government cops’ presence may be, and no matter how outrageously over-the-top the violence used against you may be, when a gang of cops serves and protects the hell out of you, they can count on newspaper stories to repeated absolutely any excuse their government cronies offer, with a straight face and as the last word of the article, and to report their thuggery as little more than a isn’t-that-funny sort of human interest story — rather than as what it is, i.e. a gang of thugs flipping out, in a fit of pique, and torturing and terrorizing an innocent and completely harmless man, who they were supposedly there to check in on and help out.

    If you’re baffled that cops could get away with these kind of outrages, it may help to remember that in cities throughout Europe and America, there is no such thing as a civil police force anymore. What we have would be better described as thuggish paramilitary units occupying what they regard as hostile territory. Here as elsewhere, they are going to serve and protect us, whether we want them to or not, and if we don’t like it then they’ve got a small arsenal of guns and truncheons and cuffs and chemical weapons in order to make sure we get good and protected anyway.

    See also:

    No Death Penalty for Ryan Frederick

    Friday, June 20th, 2008

    Special Prosecutor Paul Ebert announced yesterday that he won’t seek the death penalty against Ryan Frederick, the Chesapeake, Virginia man who killed a police detective during a botched drug raid last January.

    Ebert said Frederick’s lack of any prior criminal record and the fact that he shot just once would make it difficult to prove the aggravated battery necessary to get a death sentence.

    Of course, both of those facts are also pretty good indicators that Frederick didn’t intend to kill Det. Jarrod Shivers in the first place.

    Stangely, Ebert cited Frederick’s age as another reason he has decided not to seek the death penalty. Frederick is 28.

    Prior coverage of the Frederick case here.

    Instant justice, Chicago-style

    Thursday, June 19th, 2008
    Protecting and serving in the Windy City… From CBS 2, Chicago: Police Brutality In Beating Case Incident Reportedly Escalated Over Number Of Recent Police-Involved Shootings Twenty-four-year-old Patrick Richmond claims he was beaten by Chicago police and says he has the scars to prove it. The incident started at 57th Street and Prairie Avenue when he was arrested at a [...]

    The further education of Willow Kinloch

    Thursday, June 19th, 2008
    From the Edmonton Sun: Police appeal $60,000 court award to Victoria teen tied to jail cell door VICTORIA — Victoria police are appealing a court decision awarding $60,000 to a Victoria teen who spent four hours tied up in a padded cell and tethered to the cell door. My previous post on the topic, with video: Victoria, BC [...]