Archive for the 'Pennsylvania' Category

Philly Cop Charged After Wrongfully Arresting War Vet

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Ghost shared this article via CopBlock.org’s submit page. The article, re-posted from RT.com, was originally published March 13, 2014.

A Philadelphia, Pennsylvania police officer who has been investigated by internal affairs a dozen times since 2009 has been suspended after being charged this week with false imprisonment and other counts related to a March 2013 incident caught on film.

Officer Kevin Corcoran, 33, was suspended on Wednesday morning this week after being faced with multiple counts stemming from an altercation last spring in downtown Philly in which he handcuffed a local man, hauled him into his SUV and drove him around the city for roughly 16 minutes before releasing him without charge. The first moments of the incident were captured by the cell phones of eyewitnesses and uploaded to the internet last year.

Corcoran turned himself in to the Philadelphia Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit early Wednesday and was promptly stripped of his gun and badge before being processed that evening with unlawful restraint, false imprisonment and official oppression — all misdemeanors — as a result of a nearly year-long probe launched by city officials to investigate the officer’s handling of an incident between an Iraq War veteran and himself that occurred at around 2 a.m. last March 31.

On Wednesday, the Office of the District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia issued a statement to say that the 11-month joint investigation conducted by the DA’s Special Investigations Unit and the Philly PD’s Internal Affairs Department had concluded with charges being filed against Corcoran, a nine-year veteran of the force.

The DA Office’s statement largely corroborates witness accounts and what can be clearly seen in the YouTube video uploaded last year: Corcoran was on duty at the time of the incident when, provoked by comments made by a group of people on a street corner concerning his driving, he exited his vehicle, approached one of the individuals and unlawfully detained them.
According to the official statement, Corcoran first slapped the cellphone out of the hands of one of the witnesses and then approached the victim — Roderick King, formerly of Philadelphia — and barked “Don’t fucking touch me” at the man as he inched closer.

“Corcoran continued to walk toward the young man who was backing up with his hands out in front of him making no contact with the officer,” the statement reads. “Corcoran then pushed the young man, grabbed him by the chest, threw him against the side of his police vehicle, handcuffed him and threw him into the back of his vehicle.”

“Corcoran then sped off with the victim in the back seat,” the statement continues.

Attorneys for King filed a $1 million lawsuit against the city shortly after that altercation occurred, and at the time accused Corcoran of unlawful search and seizure, assault and battery and multiple violations of constitutional rights. Corcoran was placed on desk duty pending the results of the lengthy investigation, but the city elected to press charges against him only this week after completing their probe.

The suspension, handed down by Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, was made with intent to dismiss the officer.

“It’s good to see the city is finally, after 11 months, firing [Corcoran] for something that was clear as day to see,” King attorney Kevin Mincey told the Inquirer.

“It’s a scary thing when the people who are sworn to protect and serve just take liberty with their power and can throw you in the back of a car take you away and no one responds,” Mincey added to a local Fox affiliate. “It just shows the importance of recording your interactions with police officers you have a right to do it. Sometimes it’s the only way to get action to be done.”

But as the local media was quick to point out, last March’s incident is actually but one of many in which Corcoran was accused of unlawful conduct. Philadelphia Inquirer staff writers Mike Newall and Aubrey Whelan dug deep to expose more of the officer’s sordid past this week, and reported that the Internal Affairs Division conducted 12 investigation into Corcoran since he joined the force, including six just in the year 2009.

Sam Wood, a reporter for Philly.com, found yet more details about some of the most extreme of the alleged incidents:

“Previously, Corcoran was sued in US District Court for allegedly entering a home on 1630 S. Taney Street without a warrant in Nov. 2008 and beating up a resident, leaving the man with two broken vertebrae, a broken nose and a broken eye socket,” Wood wrote. One year later, he was again sued in federal court, this time “for the Nov. 2009 beating of a South Philadelphia man who Corcoran and another officer ‘kicked, stomped, beat, punched and otherwise assaulted’ leaving the man with broken bones and requiring stitches.”

Both of those cases were dismissed, Wood wrote, but a 2011 case in which Corcoran allegedly “violently man-handled” an individual after arresting him without probable cause remains open. Two other civil lawsuits against Corcoran have also been filed since 2009, but were settled for an undisclosed amount a year later before trial, Wood wrote.

According to the local Fox station, counsel for King believes the charges brought Wednesday may never have materialized if it wasn’t captured by eyewitnesses. King, a US Air Force veteran, left Pennsylvania following the events of last March, his attorneys said.

Credit: RT.com

Philly Cop Charged After Wrongfully Arresting War Vet is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Julian Heicklen Interviewed by Nathan Larson

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

In February 2014 Nathan Larson interviewed Julian Heicklen via email, the result of which was originally posted to Nathania.org. That interview is posted in full below as the issues covered are relevant and likely to be of interest to readers of CopBlock.org.

Both Larson and Heicklen have not just been vocal to right perceived wrongs but have taken action in an attempt to bring about a positive change.

Larson, a prolific writer, created and maintains the wikis Nathania.org, SuicideWiki.org, and ChildWiki.net. In On the Harms of Blindly Obeying by Nathan Larson, Larson outlined the outlined what occurs when individuals mindlessly follow rituals that serve only to pay homage to the State. The 2011 video Presidential Threat Lands Man in Cage, But Where’s The Victim? documented the caging of Larson.

Heicklen, a retired chemistry professor who in 2012 left the US “when Obama signed the NDAA of 2012, which gave him the authority to arrest and detain indefinitely any person without charges or a trial,” has been especially outspoken around jury nullification and marijuana – it’s not surprising then, that his actions have been detailed here at CopBlock.org.

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Larson: What are the greatest opportunities for, and challenges to, informing the pool of prospective jurors about their jury nullification rights? In other words, if our goal is to make sure that as many jurors as possible know what their rights are, what do we need to do to achieve that, that we’re not already doing?

julian-heicklen-jury-nullification-copblock

Julian Heicklen being hassled for offering jury nullification information to passerbys.

Heicklen: I think that we have done quite well. Distributing literature at court houses would have almost no effect, except that the courts and cops cannot stand it and do foolish things, like harassing and arresting distributors. This, of course, stirs up great publicity and spreads the word. Recently jury nullification billboards have been placed in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. James Babb is coordinating this activity. More billboards will emerge.

Recently several juries in 4 states have nullified. The New Hampshire assembly passed a state law saying that judges could not be punished for notifying juries of their rights. One judge in New Hampshire did this. Like all movements, it takes a generation for it to become complete.

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Larson: Prison systems often claim that freedom of speech much be stifled in order to protect the security and good order of the institution. For example, Program Statement 5266.11 allows the Federal Bureau of Prisons to send back incoming publications containing sexually explicit text pertaining to sadomasochism, bestiality, etc. Presumably, the theory is that other prisoners who see the material might get offended and start a fight over it. How should prison systems balance such concerns with freedom to receive material concerning controversial topics; or should such freedom even be a concern, given that these are people who the government has decided should be deprived of some of their rights because of their criminal behavior?

Heicklen: People in prison lose some civil rights. Whether or not this does any good, I do not know, but I do not think it necessarily is illegal.

__________________________

Nathan-Larson

Nathan Larson

Larson: The 2010 U.S. Sentencing Commission report Federal Offenders Sentenced to Supervised Release notes that in 2008, federal courts revoked the supervised release terms of 33 percent of federal offenders whose supervised release cases were closed that year (i.e., 11,797 out of the 35,724 offenders) as a result of commission of new offenses or other violations of the conditions of supervised release.

a) Does supervision serve a useful purpose that is worth the costs in terms of restriction of liberty and sending people back to prison for non-criminal violations, or for victimless offenses such as drug use that they wouldn’t have been caught doing if they hadn’t been subject to such close monitoring?

b) Do you think supervision could even be counterproductive toward crime prevention, in that people who are only partially free have less incentive to refrain from going back to prison, since their ability to live a useful and enjoyable life, even if they stop their criminal behavior, has been somewhat curtailed by the supervisory restrictions?

c) Are there some conditions of supervised release that you think courts should quit imposing? E.g., the standard conditions against leaving one’s judicial district or associating with felons have sometimes been criticized as unnecessary; and the conditions requiring people to submit to having the government’s spyware installed on their computers, or to wearing a GPS anklet, are a significant infringement of privacy.

d) What do you think of the increasingly common practice of putting sex offenders, including those whose only offense was possession or distribution of child pornography, on lifetime terms of supervised release? (At the federal level, this became the practice recommended by the Sentencing Guidelines after the passage of the PROTECT Act of 2003).

Heicklen: I think supervision should depend on the individual. Sex offenders are notorious repeaters. Lifetime supervision can be justified.

For many others, it interferes with their returning to useful citizens. Asking people on probation not to associate with each other is pointless and fails.

Of course arresting anyone for using drugs is ridiculous in the first place.

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Larson: What do you think of Schneckloth v. Bustamonte 412 U.S. 218 (1973), in which the Supreme Court ruled that police need not inform suspects of their right not to consent to a search? Would it be better if police officers had to give a Miranda-like warning, e.g. “You have a Fourth Amendment right not to consent to a search. Any contraband that I find can be used against you as probable cause for a wider search, or as evidence in a court of law.”

Heicklen: I am not sure about searches. I think the police should and will search if they expect you are carrying a weapon, or if they need identification of the individual. They always searched me after I was placed under arrest. Of course, I never carried any of these items. The lack of identification annoyed them. If I had to sign some document to get released, I signed John Galt.

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Larson: It seems like it’s usually disadvantageous for a defendant to confess before he’s been charged with a crime, or outside of the plea bargaining process. Often they do confess, though, because they are ignorant of the law and misled by innuendo to believe that it will be to their benefit, or the victim’s benefit, to do so. The confession is usually admissible as long as the interrogator didn’t make any inappropriate promises.

Heicklen: Confessing to a crime before or after being charged is stupid.

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Larson: What do you think about confessions in criminal cases; does it serve the interests of justice to allow them as evidence? The “Statement Against Interest” hearsay exception in Federal Rule of Evidence 804(b)(3) allows hearsay of a defendant’s inculpatory statements to be admitted as evidence; what about exculpatory statements (e.g. the defendant’s telling the interrogator “I didn’t do it”); should those be admissable hearsay? (Currently, they’re not, as was pointed out in Professor James Duane’s video.)

Heicklen: I think that none out of court statements should be allowed. If needed they should be given at the trial.

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Larson: a) What are some U.S. Supreme Court decisions that you would most like to see reversed, and why?

b) What are some of the best pro-liberty opinions written by judges that you would recommend people read, and why? (This can include dissents.)

Heicklen: a) The Sparf opinion which allowed judges to not inform jurors of the right to nullify. [Sparf and Hansen v. United States--156 U.S. 51 (1895)]

b) Thurgood Marshall opinion ridiculing the idea that free speech could be illegal on the Supreme Court plaza [United States v. Grace, 461 U.S. 171 (1983)]

“I would hold 40 U.S.C. § 13k unconstitutional on its face. The statute in no way distinguishes the sidewalks from the rest of the premises, and excising the sidewalks from its purview does not bring it into conformity with the First Amendment. Visitors to this Court do not lose their First Amendment rights at the edge of the sidewalks any more than “students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U. S. 503, 506 (1969). Since the continuing existence of the statute will inevitably have a chilling effect on freedom of expression, there is no virtue in deciding its constitutionality on a piecemeal basis.”

Of course the police and judges ignore this decision. I have been arrested more than a dozen times and incarcerated for distributing pamphlets in front of courthouses.

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Larson: What do you think of the practice of giving defendants harsher sentences for failing to express enough remorse? A federal judge writes, “I addressed the defendant: ‘I note in paragraph 45 of the PSR report that you knocked your then live in girlfriend off the front porch and broke her jaw in seven places and her leg in three places. Why would you do that to her?’ He responded: ‘She deserved it.’ I countered: ‘Excuse me, I don’t think I heard your answer.’ His follow up: ‘I said she deserved it.’ I don’t know what you could have said that would have helped you, but this really, really hurt you! He received an extra 10 months per word.”

Thus, if the defendant tells the judge what he wants to hear, then he gets a lighter sentence. As the judge notes, he’s not punishing the guy for every bone broken, but for every word he said that the judge didn’t like. Should there be concern about the implications for freedom of speech in these situations, since the defendant cannot say what he really thinks without being punished for it?

Heicklen: I think that it is inappropriate to punish a person for speech that is not libel.

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Larson: What do you think of the Free State Project? Is the idea of concentrating libertarians in a sparsely populated state a good and realistic idea? What do you think of the implementation of this idea thus far?

Heicklen: I think that it is an excellent idea. Probably the only one that will work. Once the Libertarians take over NH, others will see the advantage and either join them or push their current state in the Libertarian direction. Those people who want to tell others how to behave can stay in their own states and pester each other.

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Larson: What do you think of the Israeli Knesset‘s proportional representation system? Would that be a good model to import to the U.S., and use for choosing legislators in one or both houses of the U.S. Congress?

Heicklen: I like proportional representation. Israel has 13 political parties represented in the Knesset. As a result, less gets done. That is ideal, because the best government is the one that governs least.

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Larson: What do you think of parliamentary systems? Are they superior to presidential systems, all things considered? Do you think that model should be imported to the U.S., so that the chief executive would be appointed by Congress rather than being elected; since then Congress could fire the President for misuse of his powers, without having to find him guilty of an impeachable offense?

Heicklen: I prefer the multiple branches of government, so that they can act as a check on each other, and see that less gets done. The government that governs least governs best. Of course President Obama has destroyed all this. He now arrests and detains anyone he wishes without charges or a trial. If Congress does not pass a law he wants, he issues it by executive decree. Obama is not a president. He is a dictator.

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Larson: I notice that according to some of the accounts I read, or judging by the way they treated you, in some cases, the government seemed to suspect you of mental illness or mental disability given what they regarded as your unusual behavior in falling limp and so on when the police or court officers laid hands on you. This seems to be a common assumption when a lone activist is engaging in behavior they find inexplicable; if it’s a bunch of people, they seem more likely to understand that it’s civil disobedience. Does it seem to you that accusations of mental illness are used by the government to (a) distract from political controversies, (b) stigmatize and marginalize dissident activists, (c) violate dissidents’ dignity through court-ordered mental health diagnosis and treatment, and (d) justify the government’s restricting the dissident’s liberty? If so, what’s the best way to combat this?

Heicklen: The police and courts never thought that I had mental illness. They knew exactly what I was doing, and that it was succeeding. It drove them crazy, and they did stupid things, as I knew they would. Had they ignored me, I would have had no effect whatsoever. However they could not stand to have their chains pulled, gave me enormous publicity, and made themselves look foolish. The price of justice is eternal publicity.

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Larson: Did you ever feel the way that Thoreau did after serving his prison sentence, in which, according to his essay, he “saw to what extent the people among whom I lived could be trusted as good neighbors and friends; that their friendship was for summer weather only; that they did not greatly purpose to do right; that they were a distinct race from me by their prejudices and superstitions, as the Chinamen and Malays are; that, in their sacrifices to humanity, they ran no risks, not even to their property”? Did you ever feel frustrated with your fellow activists or fellow citizens; and if so, what have you learned are the best actions to take in response to such frustration?

Heicklen: There were frustrating moments, but I knew that was inevitable. These movements take time. Persistence is needed.

Over time, I had a large number of people working for jury nullification and other justice. The police were decent people trying to do their job.

The judges, with few exceptions, are scumbags, who only want to put people in jail. They have no understanding of the purpose of the courts, which is not to imprison people, but to keep them out of prison. They think the duty of the courts is to punish people. They are dead wrong. The purpose of a judicial system is to see that justice is done, which often means ignoring or changing the law.

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Larson: What are the most important reforms that you think should be made to the judicial and penal systems, and why?

Heicklen: Every person in prison is there improperly and should be released. Either they had no jury trial, which violates the Constitution. The 6th Amendment says in part: “Whenever someone is on trial for committing a crime, he or she has the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury” It does not say may have the right or unless he waives a jury trial. Anyone in prison without a jury trial should be released immediately.

If the prisoner had a jury trial, the judge lied to the jury twice when he said “you must enforce the law as I give it to you.” It is not the duty of the jury to enforce the law. It is the jury’s duty to see that justice is done. If the jury decides to uphold the law, it is not the often incorrect version given by the judge. It must be the law in the written statute passed by the Congress or state Assembly. If the jurors do not have the written statute there is reasonable doubt. The jury must rule not guilty. Every person who had a jury decision must be released, because the jury was informed incorrectly of its duty.

All present judges should be dismissed. Most, if not all of them should go to prison for violating their oath of office to support and defend the U. S. Constitution.

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Larson: What advice would you give to young people considering going to law school and entering the legal profession so that they can make a difference for liberty? What paths are likely to put them in a good position to effect that kind of change; and what paths are they better off avoiding, if their main goal is to promote and defend freedom? There seem to be a variety of alternatives, such as the Public Defender‘s office, or private organizations, etc. but often there are tradeoffs to consider, such as the resources that will be available in these different organizations, or possible conflicts of interest caused by divided loyalties (e.g. the public defenders are ultimately court employees).

Heicklen: Good kids enter law school with the vision of upholding the law and helping people. They all graduate as criminals with the only intent to win cases, even by lying or distorting the law. In my criminal case for jury tampering in the US. federal district court in Manhattan, the U.S. attorneys forged the grand jury indictment document, since there never was a grand jury indictment, and the court accepted it. A federal speedy trial means within 70 days of indictment. My case for jury tampering dragged on for 17 months before it was dismissed, because the prosecutors could not produce any tampered juror. For details see: http://www.personal.psu.edu/jph13/Wood_4_17_12.html

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Larson: Why did you choose, at a certain stage in your life, to shift your focus to jury rights activism at the street level rather than, say, getting heavily involved in Libertarian Party campaigns for public office; or churning out a bunch of journal articles as an academic; or becoming executive director of a think tank? What made you decide on that particular avenue for making a difference?

Heicklen: All my life I was involved in civil rights of one sort or another. Jury nullification was my last one. It occurred, because of my disgust with the courts, both state and federal in NY City. I did run for several offices on the Libertarian Party platform, and was even elected to some local offices in Centre County, PA. I published 2 books and 284 papers on chemistry and a few pamphlets on contract bridge. I founded and appointed myself executive director of Smart on Crime and Tyranny Fighters. I held numerous positions in the Libertarian Party. For details see: http://www.personal.psu.edu/jph13/ResumeJPH.html

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Larson: What are some of the major lessons learned over the course of your activist career?

Heicklen: You need two characteristics to change the world.

  1. You must be stupid enough to think that you can do it.
  2. You must be persistent and not give up. It takes about 30 years to make changes.

You never convince the present generation. You are influencing the next generation.

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Larson: Do you favor (a) having judges be periodically elected by the people, so that they can be held accountable; or (b) having them serve a lifetime term, so that they will be insulated from political pressures; or (c) some other system? Why?

Heicklen: In principle the people should choose the judges based on their performance in upholding their legal obligations. In practice the people’s vote has failed, because they choose judges base on how many people they incarcerate or punish instead of how well they deliver justice. The lifetime appointments fail because the judges ignore the laws and Constitution and do whatever they wish. Short of impeachment, there is no remedy. I suggest that fixed term appointments may be a solution. The judge does his or her job for a period of time (say 5 years) and then returns to practicing law.

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Larson: What should be the role of juries in sentencing defendants? Currently, in the federal system, when juries are used at all (more often, the facts are set forth in a plea agreement) they mainly determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant and what the facts relevant to sentencing are, and then the judge makes the sentencing decision in accordance with the criteria set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Heicklen: I think that this is OK, as long as the jurors are properly informed that their duty is to see that justice is done, which often means ignoring the law.

__________________________

Larson: Do you see the use of plea bargaining in the vast majority of cases, with the likelihood of a much harsher sentence if the defendant gets convicted at trial, as a major threat to the use of jury rights to safeguard freedom? If so, what should be done about this?

Heicklen: Plea bargaining is unconstitutional. Only a jury can determine criminal guilt.

__________________________

Larson: What should be crime victims’ role in the judicial and penal systems?

Heicklen: Probably not much. A victim is not likely to be unbiased.

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Larson: Are there some ways that privatization of certain elements of the judicial and penal systems could allow market forces to be harnessed for good; or would this cause too many perverse incentives and inequities? For example, the bail bondsman system has sometimes been praised as a good way of ensuring that only the less risky defendants get out of jail pending trial, and are successfully caught if they jump bail. But of course, the poor can’t afford it. Some libertarians have proposed that competing private prisons, in which the prisoners could go to whatever prison they could afford and that would accept them, could give prisoners a more rehabilitative experience by offering certain amenities, such as better work opportunities, that are unavailable in the current bureaucratically-run system.

Heicklen: I am opposed to private prisons. They always become corrupt.

Julian Heicklen Interviewed by Nathan Larson is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Williamsport Accountability… Maybe?

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Michael Clayton shared this post via CopBlock.org’s submit page.

WILLIAMSPORT, PA

http://www.sungazette.com/page/content.detail/id/602082/Charges-filed-in-fatal-crash.html?nav=5011

On January 12th, 2014, Officer Joseph Deprenza of the Williamsport Police Department was responding to a fellow officer’s call of “suspect at gunpoint” when he struck a civilian vehicle. Officer Deprenza was traveling “88 to 101 miles per hour seconds before impact” in a 35 mile per hour zone according to a Pennsylvania State Police report released earlier this week.

The civilian, James David Robinson, 42 was turning left at a stop light when Officer Deprenza’s cruiser passed two other cars on the left before he struck the rear of Robinsons car at 88 mph. The impact pushed the victims car through a utility pole snapping it in half and severing the wires, causing the transformer to explode before the momentum forced the vehicle into the wall of a nearby building knocking out power to half the city. Inevitably the vehicle caught fire and engulfed in flames before emergency services could arrive. Sadly Mr. Robinson was lost in the tragedy.

Lycoming County District Attorney Eric Linhart has filed charges of Homicide by motor vehicle, as well as Involuntary Manslaughter. Pressure from the community as well as a compelling report from the PSP Accident Reconstruction Department has really left them no choice.

When asked about the Incident City Mayor Gabriel Campana said he was “saddened” by the tragedy. Campana spoke at a press conference standing behind the charges saying “No one is above the law”.

Cheif Foresman of the City Police Department responded by saying he was “disappointed that one of his officers was responsible” and that Officer Deprenza’s actions were “unacceptable”.

Officer Deprenza has been arraigned and is out on bail, his next court appearance is February 7th.

Robinson’s friends and family is without a son, brother, and friend because of Officer Deprenza and his itchy trigger finger. He was in such a hurry to get to the scene for a little gun play that an innocent civilian had to lose his life. The crime that started this train wreck into motion, wait for it, a suspect unrelated to Robinson ran a stop sign, leading to a pursuit by a rookie Officer that ended with guns drawn. After the pursuit a subsequent search of the suspects car turned up an undisclosed amount of narcotics.

This raises a very important question. At what point do you draw the line? When does the ends NOT justify the means? Is this Officer going to truly be held accountable, or will this be a dog and pony act for the community and a slap on the wrist?

Even if Officer Deprenza does go to prison, will he be treated as an equal, just the same as every other prisoner in the yard? I have my doubts! Will he eat his lunch in general population, will he be placed in a cushy halfway house , or will they even simply put him on house arrest?

I have seen many cops charged in my day, but not many of them are punished. It’s a tongue in cheek part of American “Justice,” you can’t bite the hand that feeds you, and let’s be honest, they are fed very, very well.

Michael Clayton

Williamsport Bureau of Police
245 West Fourth Street Williamsport, PA 17701
PH: 570-327-7560
police@cityofwilliamsport.org

Williamsport Accountability… Maybe? is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Philadelphia Police STILL Don’t Know the Law

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Edward Yealey shared this post via CopBlock.org’s submit page.

I spent the week prior to October 8th as I usually do this time of year, working 13+ hour days putting on concerts and other events. I am an independent sound and lighting tech, and a production manager, something I have done professionally since I was in my teens. Following the latest event, I had to remove drapery and other set pieces the venue provided to the customer. It was something that had taken me all night because I wanted to be on a train fairly early Tuesday to visit my parents in Delaware, where my Pennsylvania LTCF (License To Carry Firearms) is not valid, so I have to ‘open carry’ to abide by the laws. I also prefer to wear a ‘Drop Leg’ panel for my tools as opposed to a standard tool belt, which many of you have seen me wear in the past. So, after finishing most of my work, I decided to take a nap in the office and finish cutting ropes down and sweeping after I awoke.

I woke from my 2 hour nap and decided to get some food at the diner which is owned by the person I was working for and a good friend of mine. (Incidentally, I also helped another good friend install most of the electrical wiring in the diner). I walked in the diner through the rear entrance as I usually do, and proceeded to serve myself coffee, as I usually do. I then proceeded out the front door to smoke a cigarette, where Sgt. Kevin Bernard of the PPD was already parked (in an illegal spot) in front of the diner, finishing a phone call in his vehicle.

The PPD routinely patronizes the diner on a daily basis, and many of their officers have seen me open carrying without any previous issues. Sgt. Bernard then exited his vehicle and entered the diner to finish his phone call, pausing along the way to exchange pleasantries with me, exclaiming about how cold and windy it had gotten. Bernard had definitely noticed my openly carried Glock 30 on his way in, but said nothing at first.

Later he said he stopped me because he “feared for his life while he ate.” I know that if I was concerned, I would have stopped my phone conversation immediately- he did not. Sgt. Bernard entered the diner and stood in front of the dessert display while both finishing his phone call and staring intensely at my sidearm through the window; I had been surfing the internet on my phone as this happened, so my phone was already in my hand. I knew when Bernard exited the diner without making a purchase or even talking to anyone, he was going to ask about my firearm and permit, so I used my ’Quick Camera’ button on my phone to start a video recording, which most have seen by this point.

(If not, it’s here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPStIKIQDtg)

Police in Philly are allowed to stop an open carrier and ask them for their LTCF, and also allowed the ridiculous policy of being able to remove a safely holstered weapon from someone for their ’safety’. Knowing this, I expected Sgt. Bernard to ask me for my permit; imagine my surprise when he asked me if I was a security guard, and told me, “They told me in there, you are the security guard.” Immediately I was on the defensive, knowing he had not spoken a word to anyone inside. I told him no, and he asked for my ACT 235 card, to which I responded “What does that matter, I’m not a security guard.”

I then told Sgt. Bernard I had my PA LTCF, and held up the clear ID carrier I keep my ID and LTCF in, conveniently next to my lawyer’s card, in an effort to diffuse the situation being as he had not asked for my LTCF. Instantly, Sgt. Bernard changed his tune and tried to tell me I can’t open carry without an ‘Act 235′ card and that I was suspicious because of the knife I was carrying with my tools, which he jokingly referred to as a ‘sword’ on my hip.

At this point I realized that Sgt. Bernard is either ignorant of the laws, or has a blatant disregard of them. I am also aware that the PPD has been through training more than once in the past few years, on how to deal with ‘open carry.’ Without going over the entire video step by step, it is obvious that Sgt. Bernard is trying to goad me into admitting that I am “Moonlighting” as a security guard, either because he doesn’t like ‘open carriers’ or he needed to come up with something after calling in two other officers for ‘backup’ for such a dangerous suspect. At one point, while one of the officers and Bernard were inside the diner trying to figure out what to charge me with, the officer inside noticed I was recording with my phone and ran outside to grab it – this is when the video stopped. Sgt. Bernard told the officer to delete the video, an order I found out later the officer did not follow. The officer pretended to delete the video, shoved the phone back into my pocket, and returned inside to finish debating with Bernard.

Thirty minutes passed before the two finally emerged from the diner. Sgt. Bernard then informed me, “This is what I’m gonna do… You wanna record this part smart ass?” to which I replied, “Yes.” This infuriated Sgt. Bernard who said, “Well, now I’m gonna take your gun, take your permit, and issue you a summary offense for having a knife.” This is clearly illegal, but Sgt. Bernard was done being told what he can and cannot do by a mere citizen, so I told him he would need to take me to the station if he was going to do something so clearly out of spite, and do it in front of the whole station. The officer that transported me to the station made a point to tell me that he, “Didn’t want anything to do with this,” but was mum during the actual incident.

I arrived at the station, still not having been searched fully, or told that I was being arrested, and waited another 20 minutes for Sgt. Bernard, who had stopped for food. Sgt. Bernard arrived, obviously agitated, throwing papers and slamming things on the table, all the while complaining about how, “this little shit pushed the issue, making [him] miss [his] lunch.” Bernard then spent over an hour looking for the city code book, just to be able to find the crime I committed. Once Bernard found the book, he spent the next hour fighting with a computerized system for reports, complaining about the new operating system of his iPhone, taking a 15 minute break to eat, and asking his superiors how to fill out the reports. I assumed this happened because my situation wasn’t a normal legal process.

Two hours after my illegal detention, or kidnapping if you will, Sgt. Bernard handed me my paperwork to sign, and told me I could get all my property back, but now I had to deal with the ”consequences” because I was a “prick.” He also regaled me with tales of how gun-friendly he was - about how he is a “Lifetime NRA Member” and supports the second amendment, but that, “You don’t need to be walking around like dirty harry.”

I left the station, and have since been making moves to have my stolen property returned to me. I have since gone to court and have been found not guilty of the charge of ‘carrying cutting weapons on the highway.’ I have filed a petition to return property with the Philadelphia Court, and am awaiting an answer about getting my firearm and knives back (one knife was a high end Stryder).

My LTCF Permit was also taken, but not revoked, However, I have to go through the process of obtaining a permit all over again, because the state of PA has no provisions for re-issuing lost or stolen permits. I hear the process for return of property in Philadelphia takes up to a year, and I will most likely have to appeal the decision even though I was convicted of no crime.

Edward Yealey

 

Philadelphia Police STILL Don’t Know the Law is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Pulling Out Every Excuse in the Book to Justify Unlawful Orders (VIDEO)

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Apparently saying hello to a person who is suspected of selling drugs warranted the harassment and threats of physical violence that ensued during the encounter shown in the video. These police officers are straight-up thugs! -Kate

This video was submitted anonymously via CopBlock.org’s submit page.

Pulling Out Every Excuse in the Book to Justify Unlawful Orders (VIDEO) is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

How a Philadelphia Family Lost Their Home to Asset Forfeiture

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Nick Sibilla shared this post via CopBlock.org’s submit page.

Under the legal doctrine of civil forfeiture, police can seize property tangentially linked to a crime, even if the property owner herself is innocent. As Isaiah Thompson reports in the Philadelphia City Paper, this is precisely what happened to Sandra Leino and her family:

“Long before the forfeiture action against her house would be completed, and without a judge or jury ever seeing her face, Leino would be forced from her house and made homeless along with her three children. She would lose her most precious possessions, and ultimately be deprived of her family’s most valuable asset — all without Leino ever being accused of any crime.”

But while Sandra and her children were completely innocent of any wrongdoing, her husband, Sam, was accused and arrested for
selling prescription pills. (Sandra asserts Sam was legally using those painkillers for his own personal use, after he was partially disabled from a truck accident.)

Just a few months after his arrest, the Philadelphia District Attorney filed a motion to seize the Leinos’ home in May 2010—a year and a half before Sam Leino even went to trial. Later that month, the Leinos were kicked out of their own home. They tried staying at a motel, but couldn’t afford it for more than one week. With no other options at the time, they were even forced to sleep in the backwoods.

Fortunately, a relative was able to take the Leinos for five months, albeit in tight quarters. Since then, Sandra has been able to rent a new place.

“But on her own now, and unable to pay rent on top of the mortgage on the house she was barred from entering, she began missing mortgage payments. When the DA did eventually withdraw its forfeiture case against the Leinos’ house, it was only because the bank had already foreclosed.”

As for Sam, in 2012, he went to trial and was “found guilty of one count of possession with intent to distribute, and sentenced to three to six years.”

But the story doesn’t end there. Isaiah Thompson elaborates:

“Four of the police officers who surveilled and arrested Sam Leino are among a group of six narcotics officers whose credibility has been effectively dismissed by the DA’s Office itself after allegations were made in open court that they were part of a drug-dealing ring within the Philadelphia Police Department…How many times the DA’s forfeiture unit has seized property based on the testimony of these officers is not presently clear.”

So far, the Philadelphia DA has dropped almost 300 cases due to this misconduct.

Unfortunately, Sandra Leino’s story is not an isolated incident. Between 300 and 600 real-estate forfeiture cases are brought per year by the Philadelphia District Attorney. Lax laws and scant protections have created hundreds of Sandra Leinos, just in Philadelphia.

According to the Institute for Justice’s nationwide study, Policing for Profit, Pennsylvania has some of the worst civil forfeiture laws. Law enforcement agencies can forfeit property based on a mere “preponderance of the evidence,” which is a much less stringent standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal convictions.

Plus, property owners have to prove their innocence, reversing both the burden of proof and centuries of jurisprudence. In other words, in civil forfeiture proceedings, property owners actually have fewer protections than accused criminals.

Not only that, under Pennsylvania state law, police can keep 100 percent of all proceeds seized from civil forfeiture. In fact, the Philadelphia DA has raked in more than $6 million a year in civil forfeiture proceeds.

Most of this policing for profit is from cash seizures. But “the average amount of cash seized by Philadelphia police was $550 — hardly the proceeds of a Pablo Escobar or a Walter White.” No wonder a Pennsylvania judge has lambasted civil forfeiture as “little more than state-sanctioned theft.”

Nick Sibilla is a writer at the Institute for Justice. This is a repost from IJ’s Liberty in Action blog. If you or anyone you know has been a victim of civil forfeiture, contact the Institute for Justice here: http://www.ij.org/about/potentialcase.

How a Philadelphia Family Lost Their Home to Asset Forfeiture is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Man to Sue Police After Being Shot While Walking Home Holding His Shorts

Friday, August 30th, 2013

I’m not even surprised by stories like this anymore. I mean, of course law enforcement officials are let off the hook when they shoot people for ridiculous things, such as carrying a pair of shorts. It would be unreasonable to expect a gang  of thieves and murderers to hold themselves and their fellow gang-members accountable for actions that create victims, as they have become dependent on creating their livelihoods by destroying others’. – Kate

Ed Krayewski published the following article at Reason.com earlier today.

It’s a strange case, but James Weyant says he wasn’t disruptive or intoxicated, though he had taken his ill-fitting shorts off to smoke a cigarette, when a police officer shot him in an alley on his way home, according to a federal lawsuit he’s filing over the April incident in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He insists he was properly covered, when, via the Altoona Mirror:

Police Officer Mark Sprouse drove into the alley. Weyant said he changed directions to avoid the car, not initially recognizing it as a police cruiser.

The cruiser came to a stop next to him, and Sprouse got out of the cruiser with his gun drawn.

Weyant alleged that the officer gave no commands and that no words were exchanged. The officer then fired his gun, the bullet hitting Weyant in the right armpit and shoulder area.

The officer, it is charged in the lawsuit, threw Weyant against a fence and handcuffed him, then would not let him sit down even though he began to “bleed profusely.”

Authorities, however, cleared Sprouse:

Blair County District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio said in June that Sprouse was investigating the “suspicious actions of a civilian in a dark alley” when the officer was confronted by a man holding black underwear that appeared at the time to be a weapon.

The review of the case by the district attorney was followed by a similar review by Altoona Police Department Shooting Review Board, Freehling said. The board included representatives of the police department and the Fraternal Order of Police and found Sprouse had followed departmental polices [sic] and procedures.

You can add black underwear to the list of things cops might mistake for a gun. Weyant’s attorney say they are suing for violations of his Fourth Amendment rights.

Man to Sue Police After Being Shot While Walking Home Holding His Shorts is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Jimmy Leocal: Violent Cop Savage!

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

I am surprised that Cop Block has never published an article about complained-about Philadelphia police officer James “Jimmy” Leocal. One of Leocal’s violent crimes was CAUGHT ON VIDEO, yet Leocal was cleared by his crooked joke of a police department (which Amnesty International has suggested is tied with Pakistan’s as the world’s most brutal and crooked.) To follow is the video link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQXh-v3IZ4c

The video depicts the brutal September, 2010 beating of community activist Askia Sabur by Philadelphia police officers in retaliation for his publicly criticizing them for (ironically) police brutality. To cover up their unprovoked aggravated assault of him, the sanctimonious cops then falsely arrested Sabur for the very crimes which they perpetrated against him! Sabur had just paid for a food order and was waiting outside of a restaurant for it to be prepared. The cops told him to leave, but when he tried to explain why he was there, the crooked cops used his few-second delay as an excuse to attack and destroy him. Thanks to the viral video of the encounter, Askia Sabur was found not guilty of all charges by a jury of his peers on February 19, 2013. Sabur’s truths were believed over the fairy tales told by the always-perjuring Philadelphia cops. Sabur’s lawsuit against the cops is currently pending in federal court. THE COP THUGS FOUND THE SLIGHTEST NONCRIMINAL EXCUSE TO BRUTALLY ASSAULT ASKIA SABUR AND RUIN HIS LIFE, JUST BECAUSE HE TOLD THE TRUTH ABOUT THEIR RUTHLESS CRIMES. NOTE THAT A BLACK COP, JIMMY LEOCAL, WAS ORDERED TO DO THE BEATING, TO AVOID THE APPEARANCE OF RACISM. THANK GOD FOR YOUTUBE VIDEOS!

Sabur suffered debilitating injuries from the attack, including lacerations, contusions, and compound fractures. Leocal is the recipient of other formal and informal citizen complaints. Unfortunately for those complainants, there were no video recordings of Leocal’s felonies. Despite the viral video which definitively proves Leocal’s wrongdoing, he was vindicated by his superiors – as almost always happens to Philadelphia’s criminal cops. Unfortunately, Leocal is barely the tip of Philadelphia’s police-crime iceberg.

This post was shared by Police Crime Victim via CopBlock.org’s submit page.

 

Jimmy Leocal: Violent Cop Savage! is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Fired Cop Thug Jonathan Josey to be Rehired!

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Police-Crime Victim‘ submitted the following via CopBlock.org’s ‘submit‘ page.

Although several articles and comments about crooked Philadelphia police officer Jonathan Josey have appeared at this website, many shocking facts about him were omitted. The most important fact is that, according to a police website, Jonathan Josey is about to be rehired. As many of you are aware, Josey was CAUGHT ON VIDEO feloniously assaulting and falsely arresting an innocent, petite female, Aida Guzman. Google the viral video to watch this extreme and unprovoked police brutality against a completely law abiding citizen.

Josey is the recipient of dozens of prior, covered up, formal and informal citizen complaints for robbery, false arrest, aggravated assault, and even murder (he fatally shot an unarmed man in the back). Josey faced a sham prosecution for the Guzman assault. An extremely weak case, replete with gross undercharging, was presented to a corrupt Philadelphia judge, Patrick Dugan. As expected, Dugan acquitted Josey despite the video evidence definitively proving his guilt! Dugan’s wife, Nancy Farrell Dugan, is a complained-about Philadelphia police officer, a blatant conflict of interest. After Josey’s not guilty verdict was announced, hundreds of cops in the courtroom cheered, a reaction that screams volumes about the EXTREME contempt that Philadelphia police officers have for their taxpayer victims who ironically pay them for PROTECTION!

Taxpayers paid victim Guzman $75,000 to settle her lawsuit against Josey. Criminal charges against her were dropped. By default of the police labor agreement, Josey is about to be rehired with full back pay. In other words, Officer Jonathan Josey’s “punishment” for brutally assaulting an innocent woman will ultimately be a paid, months-long vacation. Josey has many other victims, including James Lewis and his two teenage sons. Josey and four other Philadelphia cops robbed and violently assaulted them, then falsely arrested them to cover it up. The dirty cop thugs also vandalized Lewis’ car, causing over $30,000 worth of damage. Even Philadelphia’s sleazy, inept, corrupt, crooked prosecutors decided to refrain from pursuing the bogus case against the Lewises, eventually dropping all charges against them after they hired world class attorney Dennis Cogan. The Lewises are now suing the officers involved.

All of the aforementioned claims are true and correct; they can easily be verified by googling newspaper articles. Amnesty International recently suggested that Philadelphia is home to the world’s most crooked police force. With cops like Jonathan Josey having carte blanche to rob, frame, assault, and kill, is that characterization really a surprise?

-Police-Crime Victim

Fired Cop Thug Jonathan Josey to be Rehired! is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Pennsylvania Judge Sentenced to 28 Years in Prison for Selling Teens to Prisons

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

The government is not there to protect you. The only way to stop the corruption happening every day is to stop allowing others the power to control your life and your money.

Disgraced Pennsylvania judge Mark Ciavarella Jr has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for conspiring with private prisons to sentence juvenile offenders to maximum sentences for bribes and kickbacks which totaled millions of dollars. He was also ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution.

In the private prison industry, the more time an inmate spends in a facility, the more of a profit is reaped from the state. Ciavearella was a figurehead in a conspiracy in the state of Pennsylvania which saw thousands of young men and women unjustly punished and penalized in the name of corporate profit.

According to allgov.com Ciavearella’s cases from 2003 – 2008 were reviewed by a special investigative panel and later by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and it was found that upwards of 5,000 young men and women were denied their constitutional rights, and therefore all of their convictions were dismissed and were summarily released.

During his sentencing Ciavarella was defiant, claiming he had broken no laws and claimed the money he received was a legitimate ‘finder’s fee.’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod said comments such as these were typical of Ciavarella, according to the local reporting of citizensvoice.com:

I think that’s his way of doing things. Never retreat. Always go on the attack. Always blame somebody else. Always get them to back off. He tried it with the judge. It didn’t work.

Pennsylvania Judge Sentenced to 28 Years in Prison for Selling Teens to Prisons is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights