The New Professionalism

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

So the guy in the video below had two teeth chipped when, as you’ll see, the cop grabs him by the hair and slams his head into the pavement. After you watch, see if the tape jibes with the sworn testimony the police officers gave in court:

Before the Denver detectives knew about the videotape, they wrote reports and were deposed in court about what happened. Both officers said Heaney was throwing “wild punches” at them, hit the officers in the face and chest and continued to attack them, even when they had him on the ground.

Under oath, Cordova and Costigan also denied knowing anything about Heaney’s broken teeth.

Heaney’s attorney Lonn Heymann asked Cordova in court, “Was there a point at which somebody slammed his face into the ground?”

Cordova answered, “Absolutely not.”

“How did Mr. Heaney’s front teeth get broken,” asked Heymann.

Cordova replied, “I have not a clue.”

The internal police investigation couldn’t find a single witness to the incident. The TV station found three. I can see at least that many in the video.

The Denver Police Department said Monday it is conducting an internal investigation of the arrest.

“The investigation is underway, and no conclusions should be drawn until all of the facts are available and the totality of the circumstances can be considered,” said Division Chief of Investigations Dave Fisher. “Everyone in our country is initially entitled to a presumption of innocence, even police officers.”

True. It’s just too bad the cops didn’t show a lick of respect for Cordova’s rights.

Oh, and after the beating, Heaney was charged with second-degree assault on a police officer and “criminal mischief” for allegedly breaking one of the officer’s sunglasses. Those charges have now been dropped. But not for the video, he’d likely have been convicted.

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30 Responses to “The New Professionalism”

  1. #1 |  Mister DNA | 

    Notice how someone tries to help that poor fellow and he retreats when one of the assailants says, “Hey, we’re cops.”

    In other words, “Hey, we’ve got permission to do this!”

  2. #2 |  adavis | 

    There’s some kind of mix-up in the text with Heaney and Cordova.

  3. #3 |  Lior | 

    For some reason I doubt the officers will be charged with perjury.

  4. #4 |  Li | 

    So, all we need to do to have rights in this country, and to not be convicted of crimes we did not commit, is to be videotaped all of the time?

    I feel so proud to be an American.

  5. #5 |  claude | 

    Theres another video of a beating in florida that hit the news today.

    “2 Cops Fired, 1 Quits Over Filmed Beating –
    Cuffed Suspect Who Allegedly Robbed Fla. Pharmacy Beaten On Tape”

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/08/12/national/main4346161.shtml

  6. #6 |  tsiroth | 

    I’m not surprised the police couldn’t find any witnesses. After witnessing that, the witnesses were probably afraid to talk to the police.

  7. #7 |  Cappy | 

    #3 | Lior | August 12th, 2008 at 11:51 pm
    For some reason I doubt the officers will be charged with perjury.

    ——————————

    Briscoe .v. LaHue

    Held: Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1976 ed., Supp. V) does not authorize a convicted state defendant to assert a claim for damages against a police officer for giving perjured testimony at the defendant’s criminal trial. Pp. 460 U. S. 329-346.

    http://supreme.justia.com/us/460/325/case.html

  8. #8 |  Vlad Drac | 

    From a commenter at saysuncle.com:

    “Take Balko. He never mentions police (or prosecutors) without frothing at the mouth. He hates cops. And he lies through his teeth — Patterico has caught him more than a few times. That’s not the same thing as pointing out abuse of power.

    “But Balko needs to have the holy shit beaten out of him seven days a week for a good ten years.”

    Well, let’s see some proof of these lies. Put up, or shut the fuck up.

  9. #9 |  Chris-Denver | 

    They couldn’t find a witness right in front of Coors Field!

    Maybe they couldn’t find good starting pitching, but there should be plenty of witnesses there.

  10. #10 |  claude | 

    “But Balko needs to have the holy shit beaten out of him seven days a week for a good ten years.”

    Wow, another internet rambo pumped full of keyboard courage.

  11. #11 |  Justin | 

    A commenter on that site almost made me throw my computer against the wall:

    cmrent at wrote:
    As a god fearing christian american neoconservative, I believe the police need to defend themselves and not be questioned. They are part of the government and it is not morally correct to question authority. I agree with our president who is also a christian and believe it is right to kill people in america and foreign lands if it is for the safety of our government.

    Does he have any idea how flawed and un-American his logic is? Thomas Jefferson would punch this guy in his face. If a government kills its people- the people it’s supposed to be protecting- in order to protect itself, then it’s no longer serving its function; rather, that government’s sole purpose has become propagating more government. In essence, it exists to further its own existence. Furthermore, he must surely be joking with his suggestion that questioning authority is immoral. The Nazis didn’t question what their government told them to do, but does that make their actions moral? Since he’s such a fan of their logic, I’ll go ahead and borrow from the Nazis’ concept of Eugenics and suggest that he be barred from breeding.

  12. #12 |  the friendly grizzly | 

    Justin: that text you find so revolting IS on its face, but I am suspecting it is satire.

  13. #13 |  Bernard | 

    The commentary in the link is about as alarming as the incident. This is my favourite:

    ~

    GAguilar wrote:
    If we’re going to have a safe and secure socity, we’re going to have to tolerate the occasional bit of official mischief, O.K.?

    So it would have been better if the cops had sent someone by to “explain” to the owner of that embarrassing tape that his health might suffer if the tape surfaced. For by letting these cops suffer, our safety and security is at risk in a time of war. We just can’t tolerate that and it’d have been better if they’d not only beat the bicyclist, but also the owner of the video camera to get rid of the evidence.

    Why? Well, we’d be safer in the future, that’s why.

    Of course the damage is already done, but in the future we should not mind the occasional act of battery, even murder, or the occaisional act of perjury if, and only if, it’s done by someone in authority who’s actions are done in service of a more secure nation.

    Less damage would have been done in this case if the victim of police brutality had done 10 years behind bars for the police assault he didn’t commit than has been done to our security by halting his prosecution to turn a finger of guilt at the lying cops. For if cops can’t occasionally kill and maim innocent citizens, and get away with it, in order to protect us, why they may not have the zeal to protect us at all!

    What’s a few broken teeth and a few years behind bars, anyway?

    Think about it!

    GA

    ~

    That bad boy got 5 recommendations. Score 1 to Big Brother.

  14. #14 |  mike | 

    I’m glad that there is no other crime in Denver anyway, so that the cops can spend their time undercover trying to bust people trying to scalp their tickets to the Rockies. Do you think they got bored when they realized that there isn’t actually a market for Rockies tickets, and decided they would cold-cock a bicylist for sport. What is it about cops and bikes.

  15. #15 |  Billy Beck | 

    When they say they’re conducting a “complete investigation”, what they’re really telling you is that they’re trying to put it away where nobody can see it. That should always be your understanding of the lie, now.

    The limits of euphemasia are infinite.

  16. #16 |  Nando | 

    #7 | Cappy | August 13th, 2008 at 12:24 am

    #3 | Lior | August 12th, 2008 at 11:51 pm
    For some reason I doubt the officers will be charged with perjury.

    ——————————

    Briscoe .v. LaHue

    Held: Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1976 ed., Supp. V) does not authorize a convicted state defendant to assert a claim for damages against a police officer for giving perjured testimony at the defendant’s criminal trial. Pp. 460 U. S. 329-346.

    http://supreme.justia.com/us/460/325/case.html

    Actually, Heaney wasn’t convicted, his case was thrown out. That means that the officers CAN be charged with perjury. Not only that, but the fact that they lied in court should be grounds for them being fired. If they’ll do it once, what is to say they haven’t done it every time or will do it again?

  17. #17 |  Barrett62 | 

    I just hope all the defense attorneys in Denver with cases pending where these cops have to testify see this. “Officer, would you agree that you are a liar?” Have him read testimony. Show video. Won’t take many instances of that for prosecutors to stop taking their cases to trial.

  18. #18 |  DamnthatDE | 

    OMG, I personally know Det. Costigan. I am truly surprised by this video, I have known him since I was a kid and have always known him to be a stand up guy. Crazy, it really makes me take a step back. His father was one of the few Police officers I could trust in my neighborhood, I am just absolutley shocked.

  19. #19 |  Nick T | 

    How come the victim in this video was charged with several crimes without “a full investigation” but the cops have not been? What the fuck is an investigation gonna turn up that paints a clearer picture than that video?

    The sad fact is that Joe Blow could go intot he police station right now and say that Joe Shmoe slammed his face into the ground and the police would charge shmoe with a crime in about a day, just on the word and bruises of Blow. Cops need a video, 6 eye-witnesses, DNA samples and crying children before they get a slap on the wrist.

    Did this stupid police spokesman prick actual talk about the presumption of innocence with a straight face?

  20. #20 |  Matt | 

    And let’s remember that his alleged offense was… running a red light on his bike?

    Anyway, if nothing else, this highlights just how vital it is that we retain our right to videotape police. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that said rights are going to be challenged even more in the future.

  21. #21 |  Frank | 

    #20

    I’m surprised the cops in that video didn’t look around and break the camera.

  22. #22 |  Windypundit | 

    Christ this frickin’ video autostarts and beeps at me every time I visit the Agitator home page. For future reference, Radley, these people have a really annoying media player.

  23. #23 |  claude | 

    “Christ this frickin’ video autostarts and beeps at me every time I visit the Agitator home page. For future reference, Radley, these people have a really annoying media player.”

    Yep. Im with ya there. Im using Firefox right now. I usually use Opera Browser but because of this video it not only beeps at me, it locks me up completely and i have to use the dreaded “end task” button.

  24. #24 |  Frank | 

    One commenter on 9News was suggesting anger management classes for the cops.

    I believe a better action would be to drug test all the cops involved. This sounds like a case of ‘roid rage to me.

  25. #25 |  supercat | 

    I just hope all the defense attorneys in Denver with cases pending where these cops have to testify see this. “Officer, would you agree that you are a liar?” Have him read testimony. Show video. Won’t take many instances of that for prosecutors to stop taking their cases to trial.

    Unfortunately, from what I understand a lot of judges would deem a cop’s testimony from another case to be “irrelevant”. Probably because they know that if defense attorneys were allowed to introduce evidence of cops’ contradictory testimony in other cases, most cops would be useless on the witness stand whether they were truthful or not (even a cop that is 100% honest is frequently going to give testimony that contradicts that of other witnesses). Still, I would think reasonable jury instructions should allow a reasonable compromise.

    Perhaps juries should be instructed that, when the defense tries to introduce testimony and evidence from other cases for purposes of discrediting a witness, they should only discredit the witness if they find specific instances where there can be no doubt but that he lied. They should be informed that anyone who testifies very often is going to occasionally have his testimony contradicted by other witnesses, even if he is 100% truthful. Additionally, they should be encouraged to look negatively upon “throw everything and see what sticks” tactics (by either side).

  26. #26 |  Billy Beck | 

    @#18: drop everything you’re doing and hunt down a book entitled “Pigs and Other Animals: A True and Thought-Provoking Story of Violence, Brutality and Perversion in Our Jails”, by Roger Martin. (Arcadia, CA: Myco Publishing House, 1980). Martin was an airline pilot laid-off in the 70′s. He took a job at the Orange County (California) Jail. His transformation into one of the animals that he wrote about is horrifying. He thought so, too. That’s why he wrote the book about the experience. He was a decent man when he went in there.

    This dynamic is making its way to the street now. (It has been for a long time.) In large part, it is the laws themselves that are corrupting the police. The de facto destruction of the Fourth Amendment alone ought to make this obvious: the work is positively attracting the sort of person who gets his jollies from kicking peoples’ doors down. In a general ethical culture like this, only very exceptional individuals will survive un-rotted, and those kinds of people — because of their ethical sense to begin with — would most likely never become cops now. We’re talking about a Gresham’s Law of policing.

    Tell your friend to get into another line of work. At the very least, he’s going to end up despised by every one of his countrymen with brains in their heads.

  27. #27 |  Chris in AL | 

    These vids set to autoplay are a tremendous pain in the ass.

  28. #28 |  MacK | 

    Damn for two days I was wondering what the hell was beeping around me, because I use headphones (they are sitting a couple feet from me), and did not see anything running in windows other then The Agitator front page. I was getting so annoyed looking for this beep that I was tempted to run next door kick it in, and shoot a dog or two.

  29. #29 |  The Liberty Papers »Blog Archive » Abandoning the Rule of Law | 

    [...] white men murdered a black man.  This is out of fashion – with the famous exception of the “blue wall of silence“.  The other is to “charge stack” – to use its powers to detain and investigate [...]

  30. #30 |  Barra Eastoff | 

    Police are just as capable of telling lies as anyone else. They are not a barometer in any way shape or form against which anyone should measure integrity or morals.

    Truth be told, they have a greater inclination towards thuggery than the general population.

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