Archive for November, 2008

The still further education of Willow Kinloch

Friday, November 28th, 2008

From the Vancouver Sun:

Victoria must pay tethered teen $30,000

Friday, November 28, 2008

VICTORIA – Willow Kinloch has been granted half of the $60,000 she won in a lawsuit after being tethered in Victoria police cells, with the payment of the rest hinging on an appeal of her case by the City of Victoria.

The city had applied for a stay, or suspension, of payment until the appeal is heard, perhaps sometime next spring. But Justice Mary Saunders of the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled Thursday that Kinloch is entitled to $30,000 now.

Kinloch’s case dates to 2005 when she was 15. A B.C. Supreme Court jury came up with the award earlier this year following a decision that officers had violated Kinloch’s charter rights.

Kinloch had been picked up by police in the downtown area for being drunk and was taken to police cells.

She spent about an hour screaming and banging on the walls before two officers tried to take her home to the apartment she shared with her mother.

The apartment intercom was broken and officers wouldn’t let Kinloch yell up to a window, so she was brought back to the police station. She did not want to return to a cell, and police described her as uncooperative. She ended up being bound at the ankles, tethered and left in the cell for four hours.

Kinloch is now in Thailand.

Here’s to hoping Ms. Kinloch is safe, given the unrest in Thailand at the moment.

See also:
The further education of Willow Kinloch
Victoria, BC citizenry to pay $60,000 to brutalized teen (includes video)


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Taser Death: Attorney discusses the first successful Verdict Against Taser International

Friday, November 28th, 2008
Hat Tip: lawyers and settlements.com

Woodland Hills, CA: On June 7, 2008 Attorney Peter Williamson and Co-counsel John Burton were successful in obtaining the first products liability verdict against TASER International in the history of the company as a result of the wrongful Taser death of Robert Heston.

They successfully convinced a jury that the weapon manufacturer knew or should have known about the potential risks of its M26 model due to multiple and prolonged discharges but failed to warn about such risks--such as being tasered to death."I originally got involved with the litigation against TASER, International when John Burton, a friend and colleague (we had worked together on civil rights cases) asked me to assist him in representing Mrs. Evelyn Rosa, whose son had been shocked with a TASER during an encounter with the Seaside California Police Department resulting in his death," says Williamson. Shortly after being retained in the Rosa case, the Heston family was contacted by Mrs. Rosa--she had read about Robert Heston’s death after being shocked multiple times with a TASER-- and the two families connected. Williamson and Burton decided to take equal roles in both the Rosa and Heston cases.

After approximately three years of litigation, the Heston case against the Salinas California Police Department and TASER International proceeded to trial first. (Williamson and Burton continue to litigate the Rosa case which is set for trial in July 2009.)Building the Case against TASER International Williamson explains that the Heston case presented daunting challenges because it combined complex civil rights issues with those of a more typical products liability case against TASER, the largest stun-gun maker in the world. TASER also let it be known that it would use all of its resources to aggressively fight every product liability lawsuit filed against it. Over the course of 3 years of very intensive litigation, Williamson and Burton spent considerable time and money learning everything they could about the TASER including how it works, its electrical output and the training involved in its use. Most importantly, all of the peer-reviewed research conducted on the physiological effects of the TASER was gathered, reviewed and analyzed.

They also learned how to interpret data obtained from the TASER Dataport, a computer chip included with each TASER that is designed to record every discharge of the device, (Unlike countless police officers, Williamson and Burton didn't feel the need to Taser themselves.) For example, by looking at the Dataport in the Heston case, Williamson and Burton were able to determine and ultimately prove at trial that the officers involved in attempting to restrain Heston discharged there TASERS almost continuously for 64-seconds. "

At the same time, we began to obtain and study very carefully all the peer-reviewed research that was available regarding the physiological effects of TASER discharges. Initially we focused on the claim that TASERS directly stimulate the heart causing an electrical disruption of the heart rhythm resulting in cardiac arrest. But, the more we studied the research available, the more we began to suspect a different cause to explain Robert Heston's death. Our theory was simple. TASERS cause severe muscle contractions which produce lactic acid in the blood. As the acid level rises in the blood, ph drops. It is well known that ph plays a principal role in controlling the electrical conductivity of the heart. Rapid drops in ph that fall below .70 are considered lethal and can trigger cardiac arrest.

In Mr. Heston’s case, his ph was measured at .67 shortly after being tased by the police officers. Robert Heston and Events Leading to his DeathRobert Heston was a single 40-year-old who had, for approximately 20 years, a serious addiction to various drugs, most notably methamphetamine. He had been in and out of rehab but was unable to successfully kick his addiction. Heston had spent some time in local county jails after getting into several altercations with police while 'under the influence'. And he was the stereotypical drug addict—well liked and hard-working with strong family ties during periods of sobriety. About one and one-half years before his death, Mr. Heston was sentenced to prison for the first time after violating his probation.

He was released on parole 3 weeks before his death. Heston seemed to be doing fine for a few weeks but then reverted back to his pattern of abusing drugs. His parents observed erratic behavior (he was living with parents) the night before the incident. The next morning, Heston's father noticed bizarre and delusional behavior. He called the police and asked them to remove his son from the house so that he could obtain help for his addiction. After they arrived at the Heston home, the police tried to engage Heston in conversation but felt they couldn't do anything—he wasn't committing a crime (they decided not to take him into custody) so they left. Minutes later, Robert began to throw some furniture and other items outside the house; he smashed a window and started to turn his parent’s home upside down.The police returned and by this time a few other witnesses had arrived.

Two officers fired TASERS at Heston; one missed but the other officer hit him but admitted that it was fired at nearly maximum range (just over 20 feet); Heston fell backwards but the Taser didn't seem to affect him possibly due to the wires being pulled out of his body. He started to throw more items around. A second wave of officers arrived and fired their TASERS; he staggered and fell to the ground on his chest with his arms underneath his body—a common position for recipients of TASER hits. The officers continued to discharge their TASERS into Heston approximately 20-22 more times. The officers claimed Heston continued to resist their attempts to handcuff him by refusing to release his arms from underneath him. However, they also admitted that it was nearly impossible to handcuff an individual while he or she is being tased. Within seconds of the final TASER discharge, it was observed that Heston’s bald head “was turning blue.”

This condition is referred to as “cyanosis” meaning that Heston was experiencing a lack of oxygen flow in his blood. This condition suggested that Heston had already suffered a cardiac arrest – his heart had stopped supplying oxygen to his blood. Heston remained down for 13 minutes before paramedics arrived and were able to re-start his heart. However, because of the length of time his brain was deprived of oxygen, Heston essentially suffered brain death and never regained consciousness. His parents removed him from life support the following day and he died minutes later. More HERE

Is The Congressional Black Caucus Helping With Real Issues?

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008
While we have black folks dying in the streets of America, getting Electrocuted While Black, we have clowns at the Congressional Black Caucus not getting along with the new president.

AAPP says: I have been trying to understand why the Congressional Black Caucus and Barack Obama seem not to get along. Candidly, this appears to be a case of "old USA negro self-hatred vs new black political thinking and doing."


Outgoing Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, D-Mich.,

The Congressional Black Caucus announced new leaders without mentioning President-elect Barack Obama until asked. Members disputed the notion that his historic presidency would affect their profile or their role. Read more at African American Political Pundit.com

Professional courtesy, part 2: thugs on patrol

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Here’s what I said back in April about what professional courtesy means when it comes to law enforcers:

The term professional courtesy comes from the traditions of medicine: many doctors will not charge money when they treat another doctor’s immediate family. When doctors talk about professional courtesy they are talking about a very old system of mutual aid in which one doctor agrees to do a favor for another, at her own expense, for the sake of collegiality, out of concern for professional ethics (to offer doctors an alternative to having their own family as patients), and because she can count on getting similar services in return should she ever need them.

But when the Gangsters in Blue start talking about professional courtesy, they’re talking about something quite different: a favor done for a fellow gang member at no personal expense, with the bill sent to unwilling taxpayers who must pick up the tab for the roads and parking; and a favor done in order insulate the gangsters and their immediate family from any kind of ethical accountability to the unwilling victims that they sanctimoniously insist on serving and protecting. Professional courtesy in medicine means reciprocity in co-operative mutual aid in healing sick people; professional courtesy in government policing means reciprocity in a conspiracy to make sure that any cop can do just about anything she wants by way of free-riding, disruptive, dangerous or criminal treatment of innocent third parties, with complete impunity, and the rest of us will get the bill for it and a fuck you, civilian if we don’t like it.

It turns out that the Virginia State Patrol is stretched thin right now: money is tight because of the state’s economic and budgetary troubles, and — as a result — they’ve delayed a lot of new hiring and they’re having trouble getting up enough active cops for adding special agents to the Joint Terrorism Task forces, creating a Homeland Security Division and dedicating more troopers to investigate illegal firearms purchases at gun shows. (Well, good. Three cheers for the state’s budgetary troubles, if they make for a financial roadblock against ridiculous gun grabs and Stasi statism.) But now check out what the coppers at Officer.com have to say about the Virginia State Patrol in the comments:

Posted by JJS (09/24/08 - 10:41 AM)

VSP has a bad reputation for writing tickets to other officers.

How dare they? Cops deserve to be treated more considerately than everybody else when they are stopped by other cops.

Posted by People Are Sheep [sic!] in Maryland (09/24/08 - 11:19 AM)

VSP Anti-Courtesy

For years, I have heard rumors about VSP stopping and citing police officers both on and off duty. Whatever the circumstance, it is not in the professional interest (and sometimes legal interest) for ANY police officer/trooper to stop (or attempt to stop) any on duty marked police vehicle. In some states, it’s unlawful to do so … and in some states, an arrest warrant or state’s attorney consultation is required BEFORE a stop is made and charges are cited. Off duty officers/troopers should use common sense when driving. Period. On the same token, on duty officers/troopers should use common sense and professional courtesy when it appropriate. […]

In nearly two decades as a police officer, I have stopped many, many off duty police officers for traffic violations. During those times, I have issued no tickets and made no arrests. There are alternatives to citing and arresting off duty cops: verbal warning, calling their supervisor or just assisting the officer reach their destination safely. All options are, of course, dependent upon the violation at hand.

Remember, we are all that we have out there on the street … each other. The legendary conversation between an overzealous on duty officer and the off duty officer during a traffic stop bears truth: After signing the ticket, the off duty officer says, Just remember, I could be your closest backup out here.

In other words, this sanctimonious server and protector has spent the past two decades completely abdicating his supposed professional responsibilities when they involved holding a fellow cop accountable for endangering the safety of the people he and they are supposedly hired to protect. Because he thinks it’s important never to forget that some day he may need his gang brothers to get his back.

Posted by Harry in District of Columbia (09/24/08 - 04:09 PM)

VSP Anti-Courtesy an understatement

I can in contact with a vehicle that struck a fix object at 21st and Washington Circle NW Washington, D.C. The vehicle was an unmarked VSP vehicle occuppied by 4 VSP officer. All of them had been drinking. knowing what there fate would be if I’d taken a report I had them make a call and two other off duty VSP officer responded to my location, sober, and I allow all to leave. I figured it was up to them to explain to there supervisor the damage to the unmarked cruiser. Now if they had struck another vehicle civilian driver or pedestrian there would have been a different outcome.

Shortly after that I was driving southbound on Rt.29 in Nelson County, VA at 0300hrs and was stopped by a VSP for doing 67 in a 55. I never identified myself as a police officer, probably because I had FOP licence plate, and he never inquiried, and wrote me a speeding ticket. He never spoke a word.

A month later I stoped a civilain vehicle driven by a off duty VSP trooper for a traffic violation, he immediately produced ID and I told him to that a nice day.

VSP is really short on professional courtesy.

A Texas Highway Patrol enforcer defends the honor of his crew from the allegations of a Houston cop:

Posted by TXTroop in TEXAS (09/25/08 - 11:36 AM)

VA & TX

Let me first start off by saying that RICK G in Houston is an idiot. We DO NOT get uniformed officers out of their vehicles to stand on the side of the road. If this happens in Houston it is because Houston PD officers have a habit of holding their badges out the window when they are being stopped. Very UNPROFESSIONAL. As far as our stupid cowboy hats go, even the hood is affraid of the HATS. Now that the idiots comments have been addressed, if VA Troopers are writing other officers, on or off duty shame on them! The only reason any state has a shortage of Troops is PAY. Troopers all over the Nation are reveered as the best officers in their state, they should be paid as such. Sounds like VA needs to up their pay and implement the DONT PUT COPS ON PAPER - TICKETS OR WARNING plan!!!

TXCOP in the DFW area scratches their backs and expects them to scratch his:

Posted by TXCOP in DFW AREA, Texas (09/25/08 - 11:16 PM)

Wow sounds like Rick G. got really upset. Before I moved to Texas I was a LEO in Baltimore City, Md. The only contact I had with VSP was being stopped for speeding something like 80 in 60 or something its been a few years now. But the trooper (an older older officer) made me for a cop and after showing my ID he asked me to slow down and to cut him and his friends a break next time they visit the city for a Ravens or orioles game. Now on that same trip (enroute to visit family in Texas) I was stopped about 40 miles into Texas from arkansas on I 30 by a Texas State Trooper he pulled up next to me hit the alley light and motioned to me so of course I waved at him and continued driving after a minute he motioned again so i figured he wanted me stopped so I shook my head and slowed down he then proceeded to hit the red lights and stop me and the guy in front of me. So here I am the officer stopped between both of us he came to me first and I told him I’m a Leo and have a gun so that he would not be surprised. He asked me to stay with him while he finished the other stop and then he would let me be on my way. He wrote the other guy a citation came back wrote me a warning to get his stat and then I gave him a Uniform patch and was gone.

From a Virginia sheriff’s deputy:

Posted by VA Deputy (09/26/08 - 04:58 AM)

As for professional courtesey… I have worked for a PD and a S.O. and for all you out of town guys, not everyone in VA is into writing LEO’s… professional courtesey ia alive and well in the local jurisdictions… Too many people on the outside are trying to hang us on a daily basis for no reason, we shouldn’t be hanging ourselves. As long as you don’t come out of your vehicle swinging at me, you got a pass here… Stay Safe.

That’s As long as you don’t come out of your vehicle swinging at me and you wear he same gang colors I do, of course. Those passes are not for mere civilians.

I should say that when I refer to cops as a street gang or Gangsters in Blue or what have you, I’m not indulging in metaphor. I don’t mean that cops act kinda like gangsters (as if this were just a matter of personal vices or institutional failures); I mean that they are gangsters — that is the policing system operating according successfully to its normal function — that they are the organized hired muscle of the State, and that the outfit operates just like any other street gang in terms of their commitments, their attitudes, their practices, and their idea of professional ethics. And if you wonder why, it may help to ask yourself what kind of person, and what kind of outfit, you’d need to have for this kind of talk, and this notion of professional courtesy, to make any kind of sense.

More on Calvo

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Missed this when it came out a few weeks ago, but here’s a Baltimore news station’s report on the botched drug raid on Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo that quotes your humble Agitator.

Couple of interesting items in the article. First, I think I may have overlooked it at the time, but the quote from outgoing Prince Geroge’s County Police Chief Melvin High is really astounding. He says, “Our investigators went in and showed both restraint and compassion.

Jesus. They slaughtered Calvo’s dogs, stormed his house like they were in Fallujah, and bound he and his mother-in-law at gunpoint for more than two hours. And they were innocent. Makes you wonder what excessive force must look like.

The other item of note in the article is that the Prince George’s County police did the same thing a year ago. They raided the wrong house, shot and killed the family dog, and were completely unrepentant and unapologetic to the innocent couple they terrorized.

That’s two incidents from the same department within a year. That we know of.

Morning Links

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008
  • NFL to broadcast a Chargers-Raider game in 3-D?  Sounds interesting, but please, keep the 3-d cameras Al Davis. Someone could get hurt.
  • Post-reductio Canada.  What an incredibly stupid conception of civil rights.
  • British police protest plan to arm officers with Tasers, arguing, “There is no doubt that in some circumstances Tasers are a very effective alternative to firearms or asps [metal batons] but their use must be tightly controlled and we have seen no case made out to extend their availability.”
  • Practical, nonconventional uses for a portable digital camera.
  • Texas officials are digging in with their plan to require some tech support experts to obtain a private investigator’s license.  When this story first came out, some of these same officials pooh-poohed the scare stories as an overreaction.  But then why refuse to clarify the ambiguous language that have critics concerned?
  • Australian researcher finds that the parts of the country where prostitution is decriminalized and least regulated have the healthiest sex workers.
  • Obama nominee for DHS chief has a history of embarrassing alliances with Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

  • It Isn’t About No-Knocks. It’s About Home Invasions.

    Monday, November 24th, 2008

    Chris Roach notes last week’s drug raid death of FBI agent Sam Hicks, and writes…

    …”libertarians’ silence on the Hicks’ case as the facts have come out is noteworthy.  The pro-drug-dealer libertarians of the CATO [sic] Institute make a big show of every mistaken drug raid, while ignoring the many cases of brutal drug dealer violence against police and one another.”

    Well first, my “silence” on the issue is due mainly to the fact that the case is only a few days old, and I’ve had other things to work on.  But I’ll bite.  Let’s look at this case.  Unsubtly referring to me, Roach writes:

    FBI agent, Samuel Hicks, was killed this week in Pittsburgh while serving an arrest warrant in a botched drug raid.  He was 33.  After the agent knocked on the suspect’s door and announced his intention, the suspect apparently proceeded to flush his stash of cocaine down the toilet.  After the suspect didn’t answer, they were shot by the suspect’s wife when they came through the threshold.  The arrest went down using the “knock and announce” tactics and non-SWAT gear that libertarians have long asked for.

    Problem is, I haven’t “long asked for” police to knock and announce before blowing open doors and raiding private homes to enforce nonviolent, consensual crimes.  I’ve explained on several occasions (including the last paragraph of the post he links to) that my problem with paramilitary raids for nonviolent offenses is not that the police don’t knock first, it’s with the forcible entry into a private home in the first place.   These tactics create violence and confrontation where none existed before.  An announcement is better than no announcement.  But that’s beside the point.  For the people inside (this case being the exception), the difference is usually negligible.

    It’s the paramilitary tactics that are the problem.  These tactics carry a very low margin for error, on the part of both the police and the suspects they’re raiding.  You’re waking people up, and while they’re groggy and fearful, you’re forcing them to process and evaluate an armed confrontation.  I don’t care how much force you bring, that’s a needlessly dangerous situation, not just for suspects and innocent bystanders, but for police officers.  And even if all of these raids went down exactly as planned, there’s the broader question of whether the image of armed men dressed as soldiers battering down American citizens’ doors some 40-50,000 per year, mostly for consensual crimes, is one that’s consistent with a free society.  I’d argue it isn’t.

    Moreover, not only does the Korbe-Hicks raid not refute my position, it reinforces it.  The police themselves have conceded that they didn’t consider Robert Korbe to be dangerous, or at least heavily armed.  And in fact, he was neither.   Korbe didn’t respond to the police knock at his door by shooting at them.  He responded by fleeing to his basement to dispose of his supply of cocaine.  That’s when they broke down his door.

    It was Korbe’s wife who shot and killed Agent Hicks.  Christina Korbe had no prior criminal record.  She had a legal permit for the gun she used.  She was upstairs with her two children, ages 10 and 4, when the police tore down the door at 6 am.  She plausibly says she had no idea they were police.

    For most people, Christina Korbe won’t be a particularly sympathetic person.  She knew or should have known of her husband’s criminal history, and early indications suggest she benefited from the lifestyle his drug dealing afforded her.

    That said, from what I know of the case, I don’t believe she knowingly shot and killed Agent Hicks.  She says she didn’t hear the announcement, and thought her home was being robbed—not an unreasonable assumption.  She says she fired at the men invading her home because she feared they might hurt her kids. More to the point, she was on the phone with a 911 operator during the raid.  Now I’ll admit that I can’t easily assume the mindset of a cold-blooded cop killer, but it’s hard to imagine one who would knowingly kill a raiding police officer, then call the police to come investigate.  The more logical explanation is precisely the one Christina Korbe has given—she was scared, and thought her home was being invaded.  When I’ve talked to innocent people who’ve been targeted in these raids, every one of them has said the same thing—that their first thought was that their home was being invaded.

    So yes, you could argue that Christina Korbe was foolish for continuing to live with a career criminal.  You could argue that she was selfish for not getting her kids out of that environment.  But I’m not arguing that she’s sympathetic.  Only that she isn’t a cop killer.  She reacted instinctively to defend her home and her family.  Just like Cory Maye did.  Just like Kathryn Johnston did.  Just like Ryan Frederick did.  Just as just about any of us would do if someone we couldn’t identify had just violently broken into our home.

    Robert Korbe was wanted for a nonviolent crime.  The police, once again, decided to employ violent, invasive tactics to arrest hi for it.   Now an FBI agent is dead.   And instead of taking a second look at whether or not these tactics were appropriate, they’ll just put the brunt of the blame on Christina Korbe, throw her in prison, and carry on with the raids, until the next time someone dies.

    The cops knew all about Korbe.  The knew he had a full-time job.  They knew (or at least should have known) that his wife had a legally-registered gun.  Why couldn’t they approach him and arrest him at work?  Why not nab him as he’s coming or going from his house?  Why was it necessary to tear down the man’s door and rush his house early in the morning, while his wife and kids were at home?

    Roach thinks the cops should have used more overwhelming force—that if they hadn’t observed the knock-and-announce requirement, Agent Hicks would still be alive.  Maybe.  Or maybe that would have merely allowed them to advance further up the stairs before Christina Korbe fired her gun.  At which point they may have fired back.  At which point you’d not only have the cops and Christina Korbe shooting at one another, you’d also have two kids caught in the crossfire.

    Even if Christina Korbe is a cold-blooded cop killer, if you don’t bring the violence into her home, she never gets the chance to shoot at Agent Hicks.

    Want an alternate scenario were Agent Hicks unquestionably comes out unharmed?  Here it is:  The cops never raid the Korbe home in the first place.  They approach Robert Korbe at work, or as he’s about to enter or exit his house.  They don’t put Korbe’s family, the raiding officers, and Korbe himself at risk with the violence of a paramilitary-style drug raid.  Christina Korbe isn’t put in the impossible position of having to determine in an instant if the armed men who’ve just broken into her home are cops or criminals.  Robert Korbe is arrested without incident, and becomes another drug war statistic.  Agent Hicks goes home to his wife and kids.  The Korbe kids don’t have to grow up without their mother, and the Hicks kids without their father.

    That’s a hell of a lot better scenario than what we ended up with, isn’t it?

    MORE:  Per a few comments below, when I say it would be better to apprehend nonviolent suspects at their place of work, or as they’re leaving coming home, I mean getting 3-4 plain clothes cops to show up to make a quick and low-key arrest.  I don’t mean sending a SWAT team into the local McDonalds or neighborhood office park.  This domestic application of the Powell doctrine (use overwhelming force, all the time) is what’s so troubling.

    Also, Roach responds in addendum to the post linked above.  I’ve had this debate with him before, and his addendum is filled with the same arguments I’ve rebutted dozens of times, on this site, in <em>Overkill</em>, and elsewhere.  I have no interest in exchanging 3,000-word posts with him.  But his response is there if you’re interested in reading it.

    Morning Links

    Monday, November 24th, 2008
  • Super extreme crane parachuting.
  • Beautiful video of the moon transiting the earth, taken from 31 million miles away.
  • A Missouri man wrongly convicted of rape who served 23 years in prison is suing the county that convicted him. The case is also yet another indictment of eyewitness testimony.
  • Chicago cop who staged fake drug raids to rob drug dealers also says he paid off a judge to get a search warrant.
  • The feds’ case against Mark Cuban is looking increasingly week.  And growing increasingly weird.
  • Thirteen-year-old arrested for passing gas in school.
  • Sunday Links

    Sunday, November 23rd, 2008
  • Turbaconducken!
  • Seems to be something wrong with my iPhone.
  • Pretty cool map of every street in America.
  • Off-duty cop in Buffalo charged with waving his gun after being denied entrance to a nightclub.
  • Fear the panda.
  • Cute, weird, and quite sad, all at once.
  • It’s too bad he was able to take the easy way out. There’s a great movie waiting to be made about the thousands of “disappeared” Argentines during the 1970s.

  • Cop’s Kid May Get Sweet Christmas Gift

    Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

    Apparently in the asset forfeiture world, video game consoles are the new “large amount of unexplained cash.”