Archive for April, 2012

“Necessary Force”

Monday, April 30th, 2012

“I always thought police were nothing but good and were there to protect people,” testifies Elizabeth Polak, a registered nurse from Phoenix. Her view of the State’s enforcement caste changed dramatically as a result of what she witnessed in Denver on the evening of March 25, 2008.

Polak, returning to her apartment following her daily jog, saw a man and a woman having an unremarkable conversation near the entrance to the building. Two police officers appeared – a development always pregnant with trouble – and approached the couple. From a distance of about 100 feet, Polak saw the officers stride purposefully toward the man, who was later identified as James Moore.

“The officers did not stop and have a conversation with Mr. Moore,” she later recounted in a sworn affidavit. “The officers walked up to him and instantaneously punched Mr. Moore. Prior to being punched, there was no resistance or non-cooperation on his part. Mr. Moore was not given the chance to comply with any orders, if any were given. It appeared that the police were on a mission to walk up to Mr. Moore and punch him.”

Shocked and terrified by the assault on Moore, the woman – his girlfriend, Julie Gomez – repeatedly exclaimed: “You have the wrong people!” Moore, who had been knocked to the ground, did what he could to avoid or deflect the blows directed at him by the assailants.

The attack on Moore “appeared to be completely unprovoked and at no time was Mr. Moore fighting back,” Polak – who has never spoken with the victim – related in her affidavit. “At no time did Mr. Moore try to attack an officer. At no time did Mr. Moore try to reach for an officer’s weapon. Mr. Moore was surprisingly calm.”

“I did try to stay calm,” Moore, a Special Forces combat veteran, recalled to Pro Libertate. “I just tried to assure myself that the beating would eventually stop, and I just had to endure it patiently. But it didn’t stop.”

The assailants, Officers Shawn Miller and John Robledo of the Denver Police Department, had been summoned to the apartment building by a noise complaint from a neighbor after Moore – who has been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – had a somewhat tumultuous breakdown upon learning of a friend’s death in Afghanistan. (Moore, who was a Ron Paul delegate in 2008, has become an unabashed opponent of the Empire.) After deciding a change of scenery was in order, Moore and his girlfriend called a cab and went outside to wait. An hour later, the cops arrived.

“We were waiting outside the building, when I suddenly hear pounding and rushing footsteps — then next thing you know Miller is in my face shouting, `Get your hands out of your pockets! Show me some ID!’” Moore told Pro Libertate. “I said, `Why. what’s going on’ — and I was almost simultaneously knocked to the ground before I could finish.” Once the beating began, Moore tried to identify himself and point out he was a disabled Vet — but this availed him nothing.

Moore hit the ground hard – and went very still. Moore recalled that there was a sudden, brief pause in the assault after blood gushed from his face onto the sidewalk.

“It seems to me that they knew at that point they’d screwed up,” he said. “It was as if, after a second or two, they decided to make it look as if I had been resisting arrest – which meant that they had to use a great deal of `necessary force’ to subdue me.” Robledo immediately hog-tied Moore, binding his wrists and ankles in a restraint device — while Miller continued the assault. When Miller’s hands grew weary and his knuckles became sore, he extracted a small club and began hitting the victim in the neck and head.

“I stood in terror watching the beating for about 7-10 minutes,” Polak attested. The attack lasted long enough for the young woman to enter her apartment and get to a window.

During that time, the assailants — seeking to sustain the fiction that they were subduing a dangerous, resisting criminal — called for “backup.” A thugscrum of about ten officers quickly congealed at the scene. As many as a half-dozen of them helping to restrain the unresisting Moore, who was already hog-tied and remained conscious for roughly half of the amount of time described by Polak.

“Every time I tried to say something, they raised my leg higher into the air behind my back, causing my diaphragm to push into my lungs to shut off my air supply,” Moore pointed out. “I could not breathe out, much less breathe in.” Even though he was helpless, hog-tied, face-down on the concrete, and suffocating, the police continued to beat him unstintingly while chanting the preferred refrain of the rapist: “Stop resisting! Stop resisting!”

“From the windows inside the complex, I saw Mr. Moore lying lifeless in his own blood,” Polak narrates. “Officers were still on top of him striking him with their fists. He was not moving and did not look like he was breathing. His face looked caved in.”

Eventually one of the officers – obviously the brightest of a very dim lot – noticed that

Moore appeared to be dead, and began to administer CPR. An ambulance pulled up shortly thereafter and Moore’s apparently lifeless body was taken to the hospital.

At one point, that body was literally lifeless, in a clinical sense: Moore “flatlined” on the sidewalk and had to be medically revived by the EMTs. Polak, looking at Moore from a distance with the eyes of an RN, couldn’t tell if the victim had survived: “I called my mom and asked if she would call the police to inquire whether Mr. Moore was alive or dead.”

It’s doubtful that Denver’s, ahem, Finest would have cared much about the fate of a mere Mundane like James Moore. The officer who led the unprovoked assault certainly wasn’t troubled by what he had just done.

“After the ambulance left, a fireman used a fire hose to wash the blood off the sidewalk,” Polak notes. I also noticed that the same officer that was beating him with the club was wiping Mr. Moore’s blood off of his club.”

Swaggering coward Shawn Miller bullies a small, disabled woman.

That officer’s name, once again, is Shawn Miller. Two days before he committed what was very nearly an act of aggravated homicide against James Moore,he and his partner severely beat a pedestrian named Jason Graber, leaving him with a broken knee and a permanent disability.

Concerned that Miller’s reckless driving was putting pedestrians at risk, Graber gestured for the officer to slow down. This constituted the unforgivable offense called “contempt of cop” – and Graber was brutalized as an act of “street justice.”

In a November 2010 incident in a secure apartment building, Miller cursed at, browbeat, threatened, battered, and abducted a disabled woman named Doreen Salazar because of her perceived tardiness in buzzing him and his partner into the residential area. Salazar, who had been advised by the apartment managers never to grant access to anyone she didn’t know, and who had difficulty identifying the officers as police, paused for perhaps a second or two before letting them in. It’s a tragedy that she didn’t understand that police are the most dangerous variety of strangers she’s likely to confront.

Security camera video shows Miller snarling at the small, middle-aged woman, pushing her, and cornering her near an elevator. He then slammed her face-first into the elevator door, handcuffed her, and held her in his patrol car for about ten minutes – a sadistic act that served no purpose other than to terrorize an uppity Mundane who had failed to respect Miller’s supposed authority.
“Did you learn your lesson?” a smirking Miller sneered at Salazar after releasing her from the handcuffs.

“Yes, I learned my lesson,” Salazar – who is more of a man than little Shawn will ever be — replied. “I learned not to open a door for a cop ever again.”

While that is a sound and commendable policy, it’s inadequate to deal with the threat posed by police officers to those citizens – like James Moore – who actually venture outside their homes on occasion.

Moore underwent a lengthy and expensive hospitalization that included back surgery. While recuperating from the nearly fatal beating, Moore had to deal with the expense, frustration, and stress resulting from the spurious charges filed against him by the thugs who had beaten him. In keeping with standard procedure in such matters, the victim of this unprovoked, and nearly fatal, attack was charged with Felony Assault on a Police Officer and Felony Disarming of a Police Officer. It took two years for the charges to be dismissed.

Moore in rehab following back surgery.

In March 2010, Moore filed a federal lawsuit against Miller, Robledo, and Denver’s municipal government. During depositions last December, Miller and his boyfriends continued to peddle the fiction that they had subdued a violent, dangerous suspect.

“They’re trying to make me look like Rambo – an unhinged Special Forces veteran who is a danger to the public,” comments Moore. “Yes, I did serve in a Special Forces unit that saw combat in Afghanistan, but I was a computer nerd. I was never part of an assault team.”

After returning to the United States in 2004, Moore suffered from combat-related psychological problems — including post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2006, he sought help from the VA, and was turned down. Shortly thereafter, he attempted suicide.

By 2008, however, “I was healthy again, and looking forward to live. Julie and I planned to make a life together, but that ended the night that the cops attacked me.” Julie, whose only involvement in the March 25, 2008 incident was to be a witness to the Denver PD’s gang assault on her boyfriend, was abducted by the police and slapped with several entirely contrived charges, including assault on an officer, resisting arrest, and “obstruction.” While in jail following her arrest, Julie was told that the police would have the couple evicted from their apartment — and they made good on the threat.

Julie spent the next two years fighting the fraudulent and vindictive charges against her. Although James and Julie are still on cordial terms, the accumulated trauma of the evening and her subsequent incarceration ended the relationship.

“In his testimony, Miller said that `This was the worst fight I’ve ever been in. This guy must have been trained in martial arts,’” Moore reflects. “He also said that I was a threat because he couldn’t see my hands and I was wearing a hoodie. Neither of those statements is true. I never had my hands in my pockets, and I was actually wearing a North Face jacket, not the notorious hoodie.”

Between his medical bills and his legal expenses, Moore – who pulled in a salary north of $100,000 working in Silicon Valley before going to war – is destitute, living with his father in Oklahoma. He was able to gather sufficient funding to travel to southeast Asia in search of alternative therapies for his back injuries – treatment that cost a great deal less than conventional methods in the U.S. While the prospect of relocating to Asia was attractive, Moore points out, “I had to come back here and take care of business in court.”

Last September, the Denver City Council approved a $225,000 taxpayer settlement with Jason Graber. U.S. District Judge John Kane, who had dismissed Graber’s lawsuit last March, reversed his decision a few months later after it was demonstrated that the Denver PD and the municipal government had refused to turn over documents dealing with excessive force complaints – many of them filed against Shawn Miller, who remains on duty and has never faced disciplinary action of any kind.

Denver’s police department is among the most notoriously abusive agencies of its kind in the Mountain West. Two years ago, in the context of growing public outrage over accumulating episodes of criminal assault by police, Chief Gerald Whitman told the local NBC affiliate that “the police department is under control” and that it actually receives fewer use-of-force complaints than departments in most other major cities.

Apparently the public is expected to confide in the Chief’s uncorroborated assurances, because he is determined to preserve the institutional opacity of his department.

Last fall, Judge Kane issued an order demanding that the police department turn over all documents dealing with excessive force complaints over the previous eight years, including disciplinary records. Despite fines of $5,000 a day, and Kane’s threat to dispatch U.S. Marshals to collect the files, the Denver PD and the ruling clique it serves have refused to comply. [Clarification: The department, while not in full compliance with the order, has turned over a small fraction of the documents it is required to provide.]

“The people behind this are simply trying to wear me down,” Moore observes. “They want to outlast me, and they have taxpayer money at their disposal, while I have next to nothing. They probably assume that I’ll get desperate and they’ll be able to settle for pennies on the dollar. I, on the other hand, am determined to be the guy who doesn’t cash out – the one who holds out for real accountability, which means the exposure of all the corrupt and criminal things this department has done to innocent people.”

“You know, before this happened I trusted the police,” Moore concludes in an ironic echo of the witness who saw him beaten and left for dead on the sidewalk. His experience is just one illustration – albeit an uncommonly infuriating one – of the fact that no informed and rational person should ever make that mistake.

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“Necessary Force” is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Oakland Police to deploy new snatch and grab tactics?

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Article submitted by Privacysos.org
Video produced by Jacob Crawford

I produced this video after hearing that Oakland Chief of Police Howard Jordan was considering tossing their mandated crowd control policy for something a little looser. He has also considered taking his elite Tango and Quick Response Units and deploying them as small teams into crowds for surgical arrests. These officers have been at the heart of many recent Occupy Oakland police actions, as well as many of the Officer involved shootings that take place in Oakland over the last decade.

The following article was written by PrivacySOS.org and I thought went well with my video.

Oakland Police to deploy new snatch and grab tactics?

After waves of protest and condemnation in the wake of extensive abuse of protesters, Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan has announced that he is going to tweak OPD’s crowd control policies and training procedures for officers.

The OPD tear gas cannister hit on Iraq war veteran and Occupy Oakland demonstrator Scott Olsen was the most notorious case of abuse since Occupy hit the streets last September, but the department — which normally receives about 1,000 misconduct reports per year — has thus far received an additional 1,000 complaints related to its handling of the movement alone.

These measures have generated a substantial volume of negative press, so the Police Chief is changing the rules. Sounds good, right?

Wrong.

The devil’s in the details. Instead of putting forth a clear plan and publishing the new guidelines, the department has issued a series of generalities and vague statements. The only thing we know for sure is that the police plan to drop the current guidelines, which had been official crowd control policy for ten years in Oakland.

The ACLU of Northern California and the National Lawyers Guild are concerned that abandonment of the old rules without something tangible to replace them invites yet more abuse. IndyBay reports:

“Even with clear directives in place last fall, OPD dramatically mishandled its response to the Occupy protests,” said ACLU-NC staff attorney Linda Lye. “If OPD eliminates important prohibitions against specific tactics from its Policy and replaces them with vague standards, it will invite a repetition or worse, rather than prevent a recurrence, of what happened last fall.”

“OPD and the Oakland City Attorney have repeatedly acknowledged that OPD is bound by the court approved Crowd Control Policy. It’s unclear why the police seem to think they can abandon it now, unless they are simply trying to deflect attention from the fact that OPD’s response to Occupy has violated nearly every aspect of its own Policy,” said NLG lawyer Rachel Lederman, counsel on the prior and current lawsuits against OPD.
Another IndyBay piece suggests that Chief Jordan may use his newfound freedom to deploy US military style “snatch and grab” tactics in place of heavy deployment of chemical weapons and “less than lethals”, which make for pretty ugly optics when the scenes are broadcast on the local and national news.

Howard Jordan has suggested that he may send specialized units into the crowd for the purpose of making surgical arrests, rather than use lethal force through the deployment of chemical and less then lethal rounds indiscriminately. However, sending teams of Officers that are known for their relationship to violence into large crowds of people is a clear indication that OPD intends to incite panic and chaos rather than develop better methods for interfacing with large groups of people.

Since the OPD claims to have retrained its officers in advance of the May 1st General Strike, it seems likely that we will soon find out exactly what kind of new rules apply.
Jacob Crawford

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Oakland Police to deploy new snatch and grab tactics? is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Morning Links

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Carlos Miller Under Surveillance for His Website, “Photography is Not a Crime”

Monday, April 30th, 2012

By Guest Writer Jacob Crawfird

Miami’s Homeland Security is keeping tabs on Carlos Miller, why? Not because he is any terrorist threat or some subversive radical. Rather because he runs the website, “Photography Is Not A Crime!” which documents police attacks on copwatchers, journalists, and ordinary citizens who catch heat for filming police interactions. He’s been supportive of my police accountability work with copwatch and I’ve appreciated his coverage of police issues over the last few years.

—Jacob Crawford
ladderfilms@gmail.com

Carlos Miller Under Surveillance for His Website, “Photography is Not a Crime” is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Big Scam

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Victoria Baca called the New Mexico state police to report an Internet scam she had fallen victim to. Officials told her they couldn't immediately send an officer, so she asked them to call before coming. Instead, an officer came by without calling while she and her family were gone. The officer jumped a fence with a “Beware of Dog” sign and shot and killed one of the family's dogs. State police officials say the officer was acting in self defense and no action will be taken against him.

Rochester, NY Police Tries To Buy Community’s Respect and Trust with Billboards

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

By DAVY VARA

It’s the Rochester Police department’s latest desperate attempt to gain the trust and respect of Rochester’s African-American and Latino community.

In referring to the billboards, which feature titles such as “We’ve Got Your Back”, and “On The Same Team”, as well as actual R.P.D. officers, Chief Sheppard said, “We’re trying to get the message out to the Rochester community that the R.P.D., one, has their back. We want them to have faith in us. The other message we’re trying to send is to youth. To let them know we’re on the same team. We don’t want them looking at us as the enemy.”

The billboard campaign is expected to last about two months, and Chief Sheppard says he hopes to get feedback from the community.

Well Chief, here is my feedback. It’s going to take alot more than a few cheesy, corny billboards to gain not only the trust, but also the respect of African-Americans and Latinos in Rochester. You can put up billboards at every intersection if you’d like Chief, you can even try to bring back “Officer Friendly”,who many elementary shool children looked up to in the 1980′s when he would visit city schools and talk about safety, but that’s not going to cut it. You can talk the talk the talk, but are you willing to walk the walk Chief?

Until you, the head of the R.P.D., truly take REAL accountability for your rogue officers who are out here abusing their power, and violating the oath they took to “serve and protect”, by abusing innocent minorities ever single day, nothing will change. No matter how many billboards you put up.

Your department has a long history of misconduct and corruption, and billboards are not going to magically erase that. Instead of putting billboards up, if you are truly interested in gaining the community’s respect and trust, then take REAL action Chief. Address the many “problem officers” in your department. Stand up and go on record denouncing abuse by any member of your force. And CLEAN HOUSE!

With these billboards, you are actually doing a disservice to what you claim is your goal, and interest: Gaining the respect and trust of the community. Think about it, what do you think that an innocent youth is going to think, when minutes after they are harassed and/or abused by one of your officers, he or she sees one of your billboards which read: “We’ve Got Your Back” ?

What do you think an innocent family whose home has just been broken into, without a warrant, by your rogue overzealous officers, and then are left with their meager belongings in shambles, detroyed by your boys, what do you think they are going to think when they see a billboard which reads: “On The Same Team” ? Nice try Chief.

Perhaps, I’ll start my own campaign: Let’s see… how should the billboards look? I got it! The billboards would feature photos of unarmed innocent African-Americans shot and killed by Rochester Police officers. Faces like Calvin Greene, Vandy Davis, Craig Heard, and Lawrence Rogers.

Although these killings by Rochester Police officers did not occur under Chief Sheppard’s watch, we will never forget these innocent victims, whose lives were cut short by overzealous, trigger happy, white R.P.D. cops.

Under their faces, the billboard title would read: “What Do They All Have In Common ? … All African-American. All Unarmed. All Killed By The Rochester Police Department!”

When I think of 14 year old Craig Heard, an unarmed African-American teen, scared for his life, cornered in a dead end street, and shot twice in the head and killed by Rochester Police officers Serge Savitcheff and Hector Padgham, I wonder what Craig Heard would say about an R.P.D. billboard that read: “We’ve Got Your Back”?

Respect is earned. To get respect, you have to give respect. And it doesn’t start with billboards Chief. It starts on the streets. It starts with your officers.

Officers like Kevin Mack, who chose to create then escalate a completely unnecessary situation on Dayton Street on a cold January day in 2009. Kevin Mack had a choice. When Mack came in contact with 14 year old Tyquan Rivera, a troubled young man, he could have made it a positive experience. He could have treated that young man with respect. He should have realized that as a police officer, and as an adult, he could have made a positive impression in the life of this young man, but he chose not to.

Instead, Kevin Mack chose to abuse his power, by humiliating and putting his hands on a child, and as a result, Kevin Mack created and escalated a completely unnecessary situation and a chain of events which ultimately led to this troubled young man running in his house and shooting Anthony DiPonzio, an innocent officer.

Chief Sheppard, you just don’t get it do you?

Davy Vara

Rochester, NY Police Tries To Buy Community’s Respect and Trust with Billboards is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

The Tyranny of the Cubicle

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

I’m not really sure why I never noticed CopBlock before.

I mean, honestly, I really should have gotten online and googled “police misconduct”
or at least “injustice.” But I guess I was just too busy thinking I was the only one and
attempting to put out flames with my own wet blankets.

It would have been helpful to know there were others out there… folks who under-
stood where I was coming from. It would have given me fuel to fire the determination
I would desperately need to fight and keep fighting. Even when I lost again and again
and again.

In August 2009, my world was knocked upside down by a police officer at my door
who told me he “didn’t need a warrant.” I apparently “didn’t know who” I was “dealing
with.” He was with Rampart LAPD after all. I mean, really. Who was I, a recently
divorced mother of two young children?

He gave me to the count of 10 to open my door or he threatened to kick it in. He
began his countdown as I cried, still asking him why he didn’t need a warrant.
Meanwhile, one of his brothers in blue slipped around to the back of my home and
slid through the gate. My understanding of my country was forever altered. As
Benjamin Franklin so aptly stated, “Where liberty is, there is my country.” At that
moment, I realized for the first time that my allegiance was not to this man, or to
the power he professed to represent.

But it was too late. He chained me like an animal (I had never before been in
handcuffs) and then asked my roommate if I had a history of mental illness because
I had the audacity to cry about it. Peaceful human beings should never be chained
or put in cages like I was.

I am so happy to find this forum for exposing and holding accountable mere men
who exert violence in the name of a badge. The LAPD cop at my door was not the last
time that I encountered these kinds of threats. He was the introduction to a parade
of individuals with overblown ideas of personal power. DCFS, family court, the
Medical Board of my state, the criminal justice system, the LA County Sheriff’s
Department, the county jail, the probation racket…

If you’re interested in the rest of my story, you can visit here or order the book. I
hope that others never have to endure what I have. I want to put my pencil where
my mouth is and BE INVOLVED. Apathy gets us nowhere. Together we can shine a
light on the injustice.

The Tyranny of the Cubicle is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Sunday Links

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Wrong Guy

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Back to Portland.

The City Council approved a $250,000 settlement Wednesday to a man mistaken by police as a tagger and was hit with a stun gun over and over.

A jury wanted the city to pay for a police officer using excessive force.

Police took down Dan Halsted while he was just innocently walking home. The officer stunned Halsted five times with a Taser in the back because he thought he sprayed some graffiti.

Halsted was tackled by a Portland police officer in the Northeast Portland neighborhood of Sullivan’s Gulch four years ago.

“I was walking home and all of a sudden a flashlight came on in my eyes and I stopped, and I heard a voice say, ‘Get him!’ And I heard footsteps coming at me, so I turned and I ran.”

In the pitch dark, Halsted thought he was being jumped.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “I was screaming to call the police the whole time, and I didn’t realize this was the police because they never identified themselves at all.”

Police had mistaken Halsted for a tagger who hit a nearby building.

“The arresting officer in his police report, he made up a whole other story and said that I had been running down the street with a couple other people.”

That’s the same thing the officer testified to in court when Halsted sued. In reality Halsted had been with friends at the Rose and Thistle Restaurant and was never charged with any crime.

The unsettling implication lurking beneath this story is that if Halsted had been spraying graffiti, this sort of treatment would have been perfectly appropriate. Also, I love this . . .

During the trial, the city’s attorney tried to use Halsted’s classic kung fu film collection against him, saying it proved he was violent.

Of course, taxpayers will pay the award. And as far as I can tell, Officer Benjamin J. Davidson is still on the police force. (The article above doesn’t mention his name.)

I was surprised to learn that under Oregon law, 60 percent of punitive damages awarded in suits like this go not to the brutality vicitim, but to a fund for crime victims. And another 10 percent goes to . . . a fund for Oregon state courts. Really.

But given that Halsted won in federal court, it isn’t clear to me that Oregon state law would apply to this case. Anyone know?

“The SHU [Security Housing Unit] is abosolutely a form of torture…”

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Family members and supports rally outside CA Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) headquarters in Sacramento yesterday to support the CA Hunger Strike and to protest the CDCR’s proposed changes to Security Housing Unit (SHU) regulations.

Listen to coverage of the rally and why prisoners are protesting conditions of their imprisonment, as well as how the CDCR justifies torture here.