This Week in “Sorry We Mistakenly Beat the Hell Out of You and/or Wrongly Convicted and Imprisoned You” News

Monday, March 19th, 2012
  • The city of Pittsburgh has settled with Jordan Miles for a whopping . . . $75,000. The photo at right is what Miles looked like after three Pittsburgh cops beat the hell out of him. They mistook for a weapon the Mountain Dew bottle the 18-year-old music student was carrying. And it just gets uglier from there. I wrote about the case in January of last year, and here’s a follow-up from December. The settlement only covers the city. The cops are still on the hook for possible civil damages, though they’ve been cleared by the state and federal government of any criminal wrongdoing. Of course, if the cops are found liable, the city—by which I mean taxpayers—will cover those damages, too.
  • Next up, a judge in Louisiana has approved compensation for four DNA exonerees. One spent 30 years in prison. The other three spent 16 years each in a cell. They’ll all get $250,000, plus $80,000 in medical and education expenses, the maximum allowed understate law.
  • Finally, the U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to pay a man $140,000 for the three years he was wrongly imprisoned due to some blatant misconduct by a federal prosecutor. A federal judge took the unusual step of declaring the man innocent and excoriating former Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Hinshelwood for concealing exculpatory evidence. The DOJ initially offered just $5,000 per year for the wrongful conviction and incarceration. A Florida regulatory agency ordered Hinshelwood to attend a one-day ethics workshop. The DOJ took no disciplinary action. Hinshelwood is now in private practice in Florida.

 

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40 Responses to “This Week in “Sorry We Mistakenly Beat the Hell Out of You and/or Wrongly Convicted and Imprisoned You” News”

  1. #1 |  shg | 

    Not to run salt in the wound, but for all those whose inclination is to immediately scream “sue ‘em” as if there’s a fortune to be made on 1983 cases, take very careful note of the amounts involved. These are the amounts in severe cases. In cases where a person’s rights are violated but no one was harmed and the detention was brief, they’ll be lucky to get cab fare home.

    No, suing them is not a great reaction. Stop thinking it’s the magic cure.

  2. #2 |  a_random_guy | 

    Here’s one: In Florida, a guy is handcuffed, tased three times, then they notice…he isn’t breathing anymore

  3. #3 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Those amounts put the value of peasant life at “too cheap to worry about beating the fuck out of them”.

    I cannot imagine having a job where I could kill, beat, imprison, and torture only to have my boss use tax revenue to cover any settlement while I get promoted. No wonder they work so hard to ensure they cannot be fired.

  4. #4 |  Jack Dempsey | 

    I’m sure the police and DA’s will profess that the system worked.

  5. #5 |  Dante | 

    The police will never stop misbehaving until they personally suffer as a result of their misbehaving.

    Just like the story about the Prince and his “Whipping Boy”. When the Prince misbehaved, well you can’t beat the future king so they had a boy of a similar age who was beaten while the Prince was forced to watch as “punishment”.

    Being a sadistic psycopath, the Prince loved this. So the misbehaving never stopped, and in fact it grew progressively worse over time.

    Sound familiar?

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  6. #6 |  EH | 

    shg: The problem is settlements. I’m sure almost all of these numbers would be much larger if a jury decided them.

  7. #7 |  Joshua | 

    Here’s some more police misbehavior for your afternoon:

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/03/19/chicago-cop-tells-reporters-your-first-amendment-right-can-be-terminated/

  8. #8 |  GT | 

    These guys need to get with the times – having been in cages for over a decade, they won’t be aware of changes in jurisprudence that happened during their incarceration.

    If someone does something bad to you, you’re allowed to simply launch a massive amount of explosives at them (and their families, and any ‘first responders’ who try to rescue victims… and wedding parties, barbeques and so forth).

    That’s the ‘Obama Doctrine’, am I right?

    Jokes aside: were I any of these people, I would be shelling out a (relatively small) amount of my settlement to ensure that those responsible for my plight wind up as a pile of bloody pulp in a hole in a cornfield.

    As the aphorism goes: “… if I can save just one child from having to go through what I went through, it will have been worth it.”

    Also: watch for the upcoming advance in jurisprudence that will result from the fall guy for the recent family kill team in Afghanistan.

    It will turn out that if you’ve had it ‘up to here’ with being forced to do shit, you can do whatever you like to whomever you like and expect nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

    We are past Mencken’s “Black Flag” moment. It’s time to invoke papal legate Arnaud Amaury (at the seige of Beziers in 1209): Caedite Eos.

    It is now abundantly clear that the ‘powers that be’ do not give a fuck about what ‘due process’ means – so why should we peons?

  9. #9 |  Whim | 

    Qualified Immunity was established under the legal fiction that police officers are public servants charged with the solemn power of arrest, and the use of force to make arrests, based on the law.

    Law ENFORCEMENT officers.

    What police have gradually evolved into, especially for larger cities and counties, is a militant police union.

    Hyper aggressive in fighting for every officer charged with any legal issue, no matter how egregious, and regardless of the foundation of the misconduct charges.

    Hyper aggressive in structuring sweetheart contracts with pandering politicians who desire the endorsement of the self-same police unions. Contract elements that, for instance, allow a police officer three days grace (while he rehearses his story) before he talks with a police investigator on his use-of-force.

    The whole idea of Qualified Immunity for police officers should be overturned by the courts. It simply doesn’t apply any longer.

    Simply because the fiction that these police are public servants is just that:

    Fiction.

    A legal fiction.

    The application of the law needs to catch up to reality.

  10. #10 |  shg | 

    “The problem is settlements. I’m sure almost all of these numbers would be much larger if a jury decided them.”

    You’re sure? Because the lawyers and plaintiffs prefer to get less money? Because qualified immunity doesn’t make it likely that many of these cases will be dismissed on summary judgment, motions to dismiss, or, if they get a decent verdict, reduced on appeal.

    I’m not guessing. I’m a lawyer. These are real numbers, not the delusions that so many outraged people think happens. Perpetuating this delusion harms the discourse, which produces absurd outcomes, with non-lawyers discussing fantasies because they, like you, are “sure.” Don’t be so sure.

  11. #11 |  croaker | 

    @9 All police unions should be prosecuted under RICO.

  12. #12 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @11 – Followed by every single cooperative and credit union and so on in the country. Well done, you’re a corporatism!

    Instead of focusing on abusive behaviour, you want to make cooperation between people outside formal corporate ties a crime.

  13. #13 |  nigmalg | 

    “Here’s some more police misbehavior for your afternoon:”

    See, you can tell how concerned and careful police are with respecting the rights of others. /Sarcasm

    They can get away with anything they want. They don’t have to worry about a thing. There are almost *never* held personally liable, whether it be with their liberty (criminal) or their wallet (civil). Hell, they don’t even lose their fucking jobs.

  14. #14 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Joshua,

    Hmmmm. Chicago cops and Mainstream Media. Kinda hard to take sides on that one. Sort of like Aztecs vs Conquistadores.

    Yes, I know the Cop is way off base. I hope the News Media in question do something more effective than sue. I’m not holding my breath, though.

  15. #15 |  Joshua | 

    I wonder what would happen if I swore at somebody like that while I was at work. No, actually I know exactly what would happen. I’m held to a much higher standard than this police officer.

  16. #16 |  JOR | 

    Suing them will not accomplish anything. Shooting cops in self-defense/revenge needs to be legitimized, step by bloody step, if need be.

    You don’t change laws or the cultures that enable them by being polite or “reasonable”. You change them by being ruthless, manipulative, and tribal. Just look at the cops. If they prove anything, it’s that the Us Versus Them mindset works. The law didn’t always allow them to practice open banditry and beat the crap out of kids for carrying soda bottles (or worse, falsely claim the kid was carrying a soda bottle as a supposed excuse for beating the crap out of him, which they actually did for no reason at all). The cops legitimized this. Step by bloody step.

  17. #17 |  Mattocracy | 

    “Followed by every single cooperative and credit union and so on in the country. Well done, you’re a corporatism!”

    Except Co-ops and credit unions aren’t mercilessly beating the shit out of people and then trying to cover it up.

  18. #18 |  Burgers Allday | 

    I think one problem in the Jordan Miles case is that he went from being (or at least appearing to be) a model plaintiff, to being (or at least appearing to be) another troubled young black man.

    One funny thing about the Jordan Miles case is that police “suppressed” the Mountain Dew bottle themselves. They would not even bring it to court when asked. Probably fearful that it could be traced to the vending machine at the police station.

    One can poke fun at civil remedies, but Jordan already got the full benefit of the exclusionary rule, without even requiring a lawyer to argue a suppression motion. The exclusionary rule is not a deterrent. The claims against the municipality were junk anyway — make weight — pretty much always made and always denied in every section 1983 against the popos. Hopefully Miles can get his shit together before the next round of depos.

  19. #19 |  Homeboy | 

    Radley, on what basis do you state that Jordan Miles was carrying a Mountain Dew bottle when he was attacked by the thugs who beat him, or that those thugs genuinely mistook *anything* on his person for a gun?

  20. #20 |  Jerry Alexander | 

    Parents should be made to inform the public of the danger their child may cause to the people,and someone should infiltrate the Police Academies to find out if they are putting drugs in the Salt Peter.

  21. #21 |  Jerry Alexander | 

    It`s beginning to look like American cops are not even Human….Hanger 51 type things.Their families are proud of them…real scary isn`t it?

  22. #22 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @17 – So? When you make worker organisation illegal, “normal” corporations will move against them the very next day.

  23. #23 |  Beowulf | 

    repeat again: “a cop is not your friend.”
    repeat again: “a cop is not your friend.”
    repeat again: “a cop is not your friend.”
    repeat again: “a cop is not your friend.”
    repeat again: “a cop is not your friend.”
    repeat again: “a cop is not your friend.”
    repeat again: “a cop is not your friend.”
    repeat again: “a cop is not your friend.”

  24. #24 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    @Leon Wolfeson

    Well done, you’re a corporatism!

    Poppycock…you statist.

  25. #25 |  Heidi | 

    “…it’s a sad, sad world – when [the state/cops] will break a boy just because they can…”. I was tased, maced and brutalized by cops. I reported it – and was charged with a crime for doing so by ADA meri larson of eau claire WI, under the direction of rich (dick) white, DA. I haven’t even mentioned the initial sexual assault perpetrated on me by one of them (jesse james of altoona WI) to provoke my “resistance” in the first place – because everybody wants to believe I’m lying…or “mistaken.” But the other things were admitted to in the police report (albeit in a conjecture of some actually provable lies) – and still nothing was done to them. I don’t get it. I thought amerika was supposed to stand for something. And I agree that these scumbags should be charged under the RICO act – racketeer influenced corrupt organizations…yeah, that sounds about right.

  26. #26 |  Pugnacious | 

    And it will only get worse with the new surveillance data site in Utah.

    And the dummkopfen refuse to see that 9/11 was inside job.

    http://rt.com/news/utah-data-center-spy-789/

  27. #27 |  Mike T | 

    Hmmmm. Chicago cops and Mainstream Media. Kinda hard to take sides on that one. Sort of like Aztecs vs Conquistadores.

    More like Nazi Germany and the USSR at the battle of Stalingrad; as bad as the conquistadors were, the Aztecs made them look like Andy Griffith.

  28. #28 |  Pugnacious | 

    The Germans know the truth about the falseflags ops of the neo-con’s 9/11 and OSS Donovan’s Operation Pastorius back in 1942.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5u06K7-TfeU

  29. #29 |  Deoxy | 

    The problem is settlements. I’m sure almost all of these numbers would be much larger if a jury decided them.

    Actually, if you’ll notice:

    They’ll all get $250,000, plus $80,000 in medical and education expenses, the maximum allowed understate law.

    Empasis added. In most cases, there are statutory caps that keep it too low to matter.

    Suing them will not accomplish anything. Shooting cops in self-defense/revenge needs to be legitimized, step by bloody step, if need be.

    I bloody well hope it doesn’t “need to be” so, but that is what it will eventually come to – in one form or another, they must be held personally liable before any of this changes, and if the state won’t do it, eventually, the people will. I really REALLY hope it never gets that far… but I’m honestly surprised it hasn’t already.

  30. #30 |  Trayvon Martin » Right Thinking | 

    [...] returns us to the idea that the police should have a monopoly power on the use of force. Given the problems the police sometimes have with their use of this power, I’m not happy with [...]

  31. #31 |  Homeboy | 

    “When you make worker organisation illegal…”

    You win the prize for the most blatant obfuscation in this thread! No one was discussing “worker organizations,” but rather police unions, which represent the collective office and privileged interests of state agents. To call this a mere organization of “workers” severely offends both common linguistic sense and one’s basic intelligence.

  32. #32 |  InalienableWrights | 

    No I think stealing money off the tax payer is no the solution for these psychopaths criminals actions. Long jail sentences or execution might be more appropriate.

  33. #33 |  picachu | 

    Burgers Allday “One funny thing about the Jordan Miles case is that police “suppressed” the Mountain Dew bottle themselves. They would not even bring it to court when asked. Probably fearful that it could be traced to the vending machine at the police station.”

    I may be wrong but don’t think you can trace a can of mountain dew to a particular vending machine.

  34. #34 |  stupidamerkin | 

    What an insult and atrocity. So the bastard drones with guns and badges who beat this man walk? When will the people wake up to this madness? These criminals along with those who hired them should all be put in prison along with the all others responsible for entertaining this atrocity. Hang em high!

  35. #35 |  Burgers Allday | 

    I may be wrong but don’t think you can trace a can of mountain dew to a particular vending machine.

    Maybe, maybe not. Forensic experts (for those who can afford to hire them) can probably figure out a LOT about where a Mountain Dew bottle came from and went based on the bottle.

    Police had to decide whether they “felt lucky” in regards to any fake bottle they could conjure up. Would the fake bottle contradict the story?
    It would be difficult, or impossible, for police to predict that prospectively (whether the fake bottle would lead to police shennanigans being caught), so they said they lost the bottle when the judge asked. They did not feel lucky. Now that Jordan Miles case seems to be on the ropes, maybe police wish they had bought a Dew and brought it to court. However, at the time of the hearing, police didn’t know whether Jordan was going to get Robert Shapiro and subject them to that awesome level of scrutiny that a Shapiro can bring.

    Now it turns out that the police probably could have brought in a half used tube of Aim Toothpaste to court, and it still probably would have passed muster as the magical, mythical Mountain Dew bottle.

    Frankly, I am surprised that Mr. Balko seems to accept the Mountain Dew bottle story. I think he secretly knows there was no Mountain Dew bottle, but he feels like he will sound conspiracy theorist-ey if he does not embrace the Dew bottle lie, so he lays down a little white lie about believing in the Dew with the apparent hope of moving to the larger issue that the beating was wrong even if there was a Dew bottle.

    Speaking for me, Burgers Allday, I almost always think the lie is more morally repugnant than the excessive force that the lie is being put forward to cover. And I think that here. The story should be about the Dew bottle. Even though Miles denied having the Dew bottle, this Dew bottle is treated like established fact, by the media, by commentators like professor Kerr and so on.

    Look at it this way:

    If the problem is merely police brutality, then Miles could avoid that by staying in at night or dressing like Brother Muzzone or whatever. Not an ideal solution, but a practical solution. However, if the problem is that the police are willing to lie in order to justify beating him up, then he is not safe from them anywhere at any time no matter what he does. None of us are.

    As far as Mr. Miles’ physical injuries, just take the hospital bill and double it (for pain and suffering in addition to paying the hospital bill). That is probably what is already happening with this settlement with the municipality.

    I only really start to see MILLIONS when I think about the lies the police probably told about Mr. Miles. The money suitable to cover the physical injuries doesn’t begin to cover that alleged injustice.*

    FOOTNOTE:

    * Miles’ lawyer is saying that the beating hurt him cognitively and made him drop out of community college (PSU BEAVER, same thing). If that is true then Mr. Miles would deserve more for the physiological injuries to his head, but I am highly skeptical about this particular claim. This suspicious claim may hurt Miles (in the credibility dept) more than it helps (in the additional damages dept).

  36. #36 |  JOR | 

    “If the problem is merely police brutality, then Miles could avoid that by staying in at night or dressing like Brother Muzzone or whatever. Not an ideal solution, but a practical solution. However, if the problem is that the police are willing to lie in order to justify beating him up, then he is not safe from them anywhere at any time no matter what he does. None of us are.”

    That’s sort of a false dichotomy. On one hand, brutality always goes hand-in-glove with deception and dishonesty of the most brazen kind; fighting one involves fighting the other to some extent. On the other hand, the same “solution” would probably work whether or not the cops are willing to tell such asinine lies to rationalize their violent urges.

    The problem really is the violence. The dishonesty only matters to the extent that it rationalizes the violence*. If cops want to lie about the size of their dicks or how many donuts they eat or whether or not they smoke the occasional joint, I couldn’t care less.

    *And in this case, the lie, if it is a lie, is in fact so absurd, that it proves all too much about the law and its priorities.

  37. #37 |  Burgers Allday | 

    That’s sort of a false dichotomy.

    There is no dichotomy. Brutality and dishonesty are in no sense exclusive of each other. However, some ppl think the brutality is the worse problem, and others who think the lying is the worse problem.

    These differences have strategic consequences for rhetorical operators like us. For example, I think it was counterproductive for society to get outraged over the Rodney King beating (and I thought so at the time). I didn’t like the King beating, but I don’t see it as a big deal. I can still very much sympathize (if not empathize) with the officers who beat King. Frankly, if King did again what he did in 1990 then he would probably get a worse beating than he did in 1990 and nobody would bat an eye. The King beating case is like the child who cried wolf.

    If society had cared half as much about Kathryn Johnston, as it did about Rodney King, we would have a much better police force in the US.

    In the Jordan Miles case, we each had to make a decision about how to prioritize the bad aspects of the police behavior. It was one of those cases where you can really see who cares more about brutality and who cares relatively more about police dishonesty.

    The problem with the Jordan Miles case wasn’t that they beat him. He fought back. They pretty much have to beat him at that point. The problem with the Jordan Miles case is that they didn’t appropriately identify themselves as police officers and then they lied about that aspect of the case. If they had announced then it is likely that Miles would have presented no opportunity to do a beating. If they had announced well (that is, without any possibility of being misunderstood) and Miles still ran and fought, then, yeah, he deserved what he got and should get it again if the same thing were to happen again tomorrow. This just goes back to the fact that the proximate cause of the injuries was the lack of good announcement, rather than the fists and clubs and hard sidewalk. It is the announcement part that COULD be done differently next time (if only the poor announcement was seen as the central fundamental problem here). Telling the police to hold back their force against a physically actively resisting suspect is a non-starter.

  38. #38 |  JOR | 

    “The problem with the Jordan Miles case wasn’t that they beat him.”

    Oh. You’re one of those.

    See, the problem really is the violence. The lies only matter at all to the extent that they enable it (cops can lie all they want about the biggest fish they ever caught or whatever and I couldn’t care less). What if they really didn’t identify themselves as pigs, and told the truth about that, and still got off clean? Would that make this case better?

    The problem just is that cops are a privileged caste who can appeal to the mere fact that their victims inconvenience them as an excuse for (occasionally fatal) beatings. Sometimes they lie about it, but even the lies they choose to tell are signs that we grant them too much.

    “Telling the police to hold back their force against a physically actively resisting suspect is a non-starter.”

    Telling the police anything at all is a non-starter. It’s far too late to accomplish anything by pandering and cajoling the pigs. Like it or not, see it or not, it’s war, and they’re the enemy. Maybe the best tactics for fighting them are nonviolent, but the task is not to persuade them. It is to crush them.

  39. #39 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Telling the police anything at all is a non-starter.

    Now don’t get carried away. To use just one counterexample during my lifetime, police used to do a lot more chokeholds than they do now.

    The key is that it has to be the police department’s insurance company that tells the popos. We don’t get to see those conversations, but they occasionally happen.

    Right now the trend seems to be for police departments to rewrite more restrictive taser use policies (basically, no tasering passively non-compliant suspects). If you go to cop boards, you can see there is much less support for tasering passive people and/or for repeatedly tasering than there used to be. Lot less sick j/k’s about us regcits riding the lightning. Lot fewer cops proudly telling us how they endured 3 seconds of a stun drive on a gym mat one time. Fewer controversial youtube tasering vids. Surprising number of stories of departments having their tasers taken away. The police aren’t lissening as well as they should on the tasers, but they are lissening (and, again, I mean lissening to their insurers).

    In Jordan Miles case, the problem was a jump out squad. and, yeah, police kind of get that those are a bad thing, or at least subject to abuse. They don’t talk publicly much about the Jordan Miles story. Cuz they know they did bad on that one. They are denying that they did bad in court and in the media. But they know they did bad. You can tell by what they say and don’t say.

    remember folks: know your opponents. the internet is crawling with cops. real life, working stiff cops. in blogs, on boards. they speak publically all the time — comment earnestly (or not!) on the cases that you read about here at the Adge. the more you read what they say, the more you find out about your own misconceptions about them. there is stuff you wouldn’t think they get that they get. otoh, there are areas of deep stupidity and intransigence, even when it comes to the relatively smart ones. and, of course, each one is an individual snowflake, so they have some fair amount of difference of opinion among themselves about controversial cases where police arguably did bad.

    One last tip for navigating cop boards: In cases where a policeman wants to criticize a video of excessive police force, the phrase he will use is “looks bad.” at first it sounds like the police commenter is only saying that it “looks” bad, but it really isn’t bad. That seems like something a policeman would say, but that is not what “looks bad” means. What he is really saying through the words “looks bad” is that he is having a hard time imagining any mitigating or exonerating circumstances (not shown in the vid beating) that could possibly exist to excuse the beatdown (or whatever violent abuse the police did that day). That way the policeman can express disagreement with another policeman’s use of force in a tactful way that seems to be generally acceptable to the police community.

  40. #40 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Pittsburgh update:

    while the jump out car beatings may have slowed or stopped, the police lies march on:

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/breaking/s_787399.html

    h/t: Packratt.

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