But for Audio

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

An incidental recording taken while a Florida woman was on the phone with her insurance company shows that the police who arrested her and charged her with a felony for resisting arrest lied in their reports, and then again under questioning.

Here is the cops’ story:

The . . . ordeal began late-afternoon on Oct. 4, when Fernandes, a four-year CSPD veteran with no previous internal affairs complaints on his record, noticed Mait’s Lexus SUV stopped in the left lane of Royal Palm Boulevard.

Fernandes, 35, pulled up behind her vehicle to see what was wrong. Mait approached his car and told him that two of her tires had blown out, and she needed a tow . . .
According to police reports and the officers’ sworn depositions, Mait told Fernandes and later Stasnek, who arrived as backup, that she was on Xanax, and that she couldn’t move the car out of traffic — but that she did want to drive it the two miles to her home.

Before Stasnek pulled up, Fernandes told Mait to call for a tow, which she did from her passenger seat. But as she waited for a GEICO roadside assistance representative to dispatch a wrecker, things unraveled.

When Stasnek, a four-year member of the force with a clean prior record, approached Mait’s SUV, she repeatedly asked for a driver’s license, the tape shows. Mait refused. In her deposition, Stasnek said she warned the driver repeatedly she “would be disobeying my lawful command and would be arrested for resisting my lawful command.”

At some point, Mait put a hand in the officer’s face to dismiss the request, according to police accounts, which was apparently one insult too many.

The officers hauled her out of her car and tried to arrest her, which they claim she resisted by tensing her body and slamming into Stasnek.

The alleged Xanax didn’t show up in toxicology tests. And then Mait’s attorney got the recording:

The 17-minute recording features a series of exchanges that Catalano says contradict the officers’ sworn testimony, including this back-and-forth between Mait and Stasnek after the female officer asked for ID:

Mait: “Did you not see me on the phone?”

Stasnek: “Did you not see this uniform I have on? Don’t give me any s— right now. Give me your f—ing driver’s license.”

During her deposition, Stasnek was asked by Catalano — who did not tell the officers the encounter had been recorded — if she had used those words. She twice said no.

Catalano also pressed both officers under oath on whether Stasnek had given Mait notice that the driver was disobeying a lawful command. Both officers testified she had — at least twice. The recording catches no such exchange, although it is possible she did during a short stretch when GEICO had Mait on hold.

Late in the recording, while Mait can be heard sobbing in the distance, the officers say the following:

Fernandes: “I didn’t hear anything you said. I was in the back of the car.”

Stasnek: “I did drop the F-bomb.”

Fernandes, laughing: “I didn’t hear that. In my [internal affairs] statement, I’ll say I didn’t hear that. … Don’t worry, I will put everything I heard beforehand.”

If you live in Illinois, you might consider sending this story to those of your state legislators who last week voted down an amendment that would have allowed citizens to record on-duty police officers.

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57 Responses to “But for Audio”

  1. #1 |  Difster | 

    And those cops will not be fired or disciplined in any way I’m sure. Par for the course.

  2. #2 |  Robert | 

    Ah, a female cop. That explains a lot. They are the absolute worst. They have to prove they are the toughest MFer on the planet, else the guys on the force will say they are soft.

  3. #3 |  30 year lawyer | 

    No elected prosecutor will ever prosecute a cop for perjury. The prosecutors depend on it to hold up their conviction rates. When a fact is missing, the competent officer supplies. The judges are totally complacent in that they regularily “believe” impossible tales if the testifier is wearing a badge.

    Robert, you are correct. Female and short male cops are the worst actors but it’s the really big hitters that do the most physical damage. The job attracts just the people Society doesn’t want to have that kind of power. That’s why the cops cannot, and do not, “police” themselves.

  4. #4 |  Zeb | 

    We really need private prosecutions of police.

  5. #5 |  Dante | 

    Who will protect the citizens from those who swore an oath on the Bible to “Protect & Serve”? It seems they are the single greatest threat these days, even more than terrorists.

    I wonder how many criminal justice workers are reading this story, and angrily thinking “Damn – she recorded them! We need to stop that!” ?

    (Rather than thinking “I’m glad justice will prevail in this case”).

  6. #6 |  Brandon | 

    “If you live in Illinois, you might consider sending this story to those of your state legislators who last week voted down an amendment that would have allowed citizens to record on-duty police officers.”

    And they will respond “This is from Florida. That doesn’t happen in the great state of Illinois.”

    #5 “(Rather than thinking “I’m glad justice will prevail in this case”).”

    Do you think it actually will?

  7. #7 |  Steve H. | 

    Always, always, always, Record Police Encounters. One of the best ways is to use your blue tooth, call your home phone or someone else in your families cell phone and let the recording go on the voice messaging system, then the cops don’t know you are recording. Better yet, set up a dash cam. This will save you so much money you won’t believe it.

  8. #8 |  nigmalg | 

    Betting pool for discipline anyone? I’m putting together the initial odds.

    1.) Slap on the wrist at the department level [1:2]
    2.) This even *gets* to the FDLE review board [1:3]
    3.) FDLE reports charges are filed / requested [1:10]
    4.) Officers are convicted [1:50]
    5.) Officers are fired [1:100]

  9. #9 |  Leigh | 

    So what is the whole point of “under oath”, if the consequences are so meaningless? You’d think that deliberate lying under oath would be a “no questions ask” termination.

  10. #10 |  Bad Medicine | 

    “As the facts are developed, we will take any and all appropriate administrative actions,” McHugh said.

    You know… high-fives, back-slaps, admiration for putting the citizen in her place, drinks bought at the local pub… those kind of appropriate actions…

  11. #11 |  Bad Medicine | 

    Also interesting, in the quote I just quoted, that he said “as the facts are developed”, rather than “discovered”. Because, of course, facts are what we create them to be, not objective truth that we have to respect…

  12. #12 |  Dave Krueger | 

    If that happened in Illinois, I guess they would have arrested Geico for recording cops without permission.

    There are two kinds of cops: bad cops and cops who cover for bad cops. If that seems extreme, feel free to post a bunch of examples of cops blowing the whistle on bad cops (before they were already outed by someone else).

  13. #13 |  CSD | 

    The GEICO operator is an American Hero.

  14. #14 |  ill make stuff up - Page 3 - INGunOwners | 

    […] Here's a case that could have gone badly for a lady, had she not had the good fortune to have access to a recording of her interaction with some gang members. They even lied under oath. If there were no recording things would have ended in their favour and she'd have been railroaded. Sad thing is that it's not an isolated incident. But for Audio | The Agitator […]

  15. #15 |  el coronado | 

    “If you live in Illinois, you might send this story to your state legislators” hoping they’ll change things and fix this.

    Good one. It *would* be fun to send it to the cops the next time they run PSA’s whining about the ‘don’t snitch’ culture that makes their jobs so much harder.

  16. #16 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    To be fair, without the heavy-handed approach by the poilce
    no one would have been left crying, or jailed— a situation increasingly frowned upon by Florida’s finest.

  17. #17 |  CyniCAl | 

    #12 | Dave Krueger — “There are two kinds of cops: bad cops and cops who cover for bad cops.”

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels that way or who has the balls to say it.

  18. #18 |  CyniCAl | 

    OT, but some good news for a change:

    http://beta.local.yahoo.com/news-unpaid-tickets-wiped-clean-end-nears-red-light-cameras.html

    It would be nice if Los Angeles were at the vanguard of the end of red-light cameras.

  19. #19 |  SusanK | 

    I like how the article emphasizes how the officers have “no prior record” or any disciplinary complaints.

  20. #20 |  Boyd Durkinb | 

    nigmalg,
    I run the book here. Find another corner! :)

    You’d think that deliberate lying under oath would be a “no questions ask” termination.

    Easy now. It ain’t like they were mowing the yard in boxers.

  21. #21 |  David | 

    I like how the article emphasizes how the officers have “no prior record” or any disciplinary complaints.

    I do too, but I wonder how many people will draw the conclusion that bad cops don’t get disciplined.

  22. #22 |  Woog | 

    Termination – getting fired from the police force? Wait, what’s the penalty for perjury again?

  23. #23 |  JimBob | 

    Pfft. Termination?

    The Austin PD tried to terminate the employment of Hector Polanco, a known perjurer who had, on numerous occasions, used illegal tactics to coerce false confessions. Lots of men are in jail because of his lies and deceit, and some of ‘em will never be the same (Richard Danziger suffered irreparable, debilitating brain damage at the hands of another prisoner while wrongfully incarcerated).

    The Austin Police Association provided Polanco with a fucking lawyer and sued the city to overturn the firing. They WON, largely on the basis that Polanco had not been criminally convicted of perjury (guess how many times the scumbag was charged). He was fired in 1991, reinstated (with back pay plus interest) in 1993, and allowed to retire in 2001 with a full pension and nice farewell party.

    Lying under oath about a woman resisting arrest? Please. That bitch of an officer is– at the most– going to receive “additional training”, to help her understand that, while rarely enforced, there actually ARE department policies that frown on perjury. Because, hey, without specific training, how can we expect an officer to know that lying in a police report, filing a false report with internal affairs, and perjuring herself in court is something she shouldn’t do? It’s such a GREY area, right?

    The only fucking good that will come out of this is that, if the DA has ANY current or future cases involving this cop, she is legally obliged to inform the defense counsel of this officer’s BLATANT lies on the stand. Brady v. Maryland, 1964.

  24. #24 |  Not Sure | 

    “That bitch of an officer is– at the most– going to receive “additional training”, to help her understand that, while rarely enforced, there actually ARE department policies that frown on perjury.”

    More likely, additional training on understanding department policies on techniques for avoiding getting caught perjuring herself.

  25. #25 |  CyniCAl | 

    Self-described paleocon blog takes our fearless host to task for his opinion of the Trayvon Martin case:

    http://mansizedtarget.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/our-courageous-consistent-and-totally-useless-libertarians/#comment-11087

    Feel free to comment on his blog.

  26. #26 |  DavidB | 

    Some cheap, subdomained WordPress site is CyniCAl’s source for the “paleocon” perspective.

    That’s funny: I visit nothing but paleoconservative sites – InfoWars.com, LewRockwell.com, etc. – and I’d estimate that 99.9999% of the regulars on those types of sites are in total agreement with this post and virtually everything else Radley Balko writes. And actually, the great paleo-conservative William Grigg at LewRockwell is my fallback for good stories of police evils when Radley’s on break or busy with other projects: http://www.lewrockwell.com/grigg/grigg-arch.html

    But maybe it’s not funny. Maybe you cherry-picked that obscure blog precisely because you knew it was NOT representative of “paleocons”, but your objective was to get people who visit this site to be full of hate and prejudice against “paleocons”. (And you’re no doubt prancing around – in the way you people do – and posting similarly dismissive comments about “liberals” at those sites. We know: divide and conquer. It’s getting obvious, dude.)

  27. #27 |  EBL | 

    Who would have guessed that some insurance company recording (which is done so they can screw you on coverage) turns out to help defeat lying cops setting you up.

    Kismet!

  28. #28 |  John | 

    Sorry to bring up the Martin case, don’t start a flame war, this post says nothing about the guilt or innocence of Zimmerman.

    But stuff like this really gets at me. I should be able to know when the police say something, that we aren’t being lied to. I should be able to know that when the cops said what they did about the Martin case, that I could take what they said and have faith in it. Instead, police testimony is at least as uncertain a source as eyewitness testimony.

    Politicians have to treat police word as gospel (if they want to get elected), so our policies end up colossally fucked (why yes officer, sign me up for twelve Bearcats, the Keene Al Qaeda branch won’t know what hit them!). It makes me think that it doesn’t matter what logic you apply to crime (and other) problems, your information is bad and the law of Garbage In, Garbage Out comes back to bite you. Junk food for thought

  29. #29 |  JOR | 

    #25, What the fuck? Seriously, just, what the fuck?

    The sheer stupidity of that post could cause a lethal aneurism in more fragile readers. It’s even dumber than the shit-for-brains liberals who are shrieking about how gun ownership is all about racism and bringing back lynch mobs.

  30. #30 |  Laben | 

    I feel I must add my story from earlier tonight. I met a lovely woman on a popular dating website and we had been talking over the internet and text messaging. As soon as I told her I would like to one day be a lawyer that goes after corrupt cops, DA’s and such, she informed of her plans to attend the police academy here in PA to become an officer. Then she layed into me about how the ACLU is corrupt and makes situations worse. As I told her my disdain for about 90 percent of police officers, she began to spew the usual BS about “all they are doing is trying to get home to their families alive!” I felt like Elaine when she found out that her dream man was Pro-Life. Or maybe I can change her? I would love to hear her stance on this story….I feel she would use some form of circular logic to stick up for the police in this situation.

  31. #31 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    @#29 — Get. Out. Now. But do it gently and subtly, or you’ll have a vengeful cop and her LEO colleagues haunting you the rest of your life.

  32. #32 |  InalienableWrights | 

    Disband and get rid of every police department in the country and we would all be a hell of a lot richer…. and safer.

    Lock up the bastards and throw away the key.

  33. #33 |  marco73 | 

    @ 30 – Run away. Now.
    The cops in the story will receive ZERO discipline. Your boss has you dead to rights lying to put someone in jail, and he is still trying to “develop” the facts?
    If it wasn’t for the man bites dog twist of an insurance company recording nailing the cop’s deceit, this doesn’t even make page 6 of the metro section.

  34. #34 |  Mike T | 

    #29

    FWIW, as a social conservative I feel your pain when I read many of his arguments against Balko. There is nothing “conservative” about adopting Third Reich policing strategies for the US.

  35. #35 |  GeneralGarbage | 

    What really gets me is how ridiculously implausible even the fictional account is. The resisting consisted of tensing and bumping into? Really? If you’re gonna lie, can’t you do better than that?

    I guess they were just using it for “you can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride purposes” and got surprised when she refused to plead down to disorderly persons or something.

  36. #36 |  Your Humble Servant | 

    Keep in mind: our society has shifted so that great wealth is held by very few. Who do you think is tasked with protecting that wealth?

  37. #37 |  JOR | 

    #34, Maybe. I’m inclined to grant people whatever political, religious, or ideological label they want to claim for themselves (even if they claim to be libertarians or anarchists or individualists and proceed to say things that I think are wrong, stupid, evil, or all three). Whether or not our Mr. Roach is a True Conservative is a matter I leave to self-identifying conservatives to argue over; either way, his arguments are so eye-bleeding stupid that I’d try to not judge anyone else by them just out of basic fairness.

  38. #38 |  And you still trust the cops « MjNet | 

    […] “Fernandes, laughing: “I didn’t hear that. In my [internal affairs] statement, I’ll say … […]

  39. #39 |  Maia | 

    Use these apps for secretly recording of cops!

    http://openwatch.net/apps/

  40. #40 |  Anne Ominous | 

    They don’t have to pass a law to make recording legal. An Illinois judge has already ruled that the law that made it illegal is unconstitutional.

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/03/illinois-judge-law-barring-recording-police-is-unconstitutional.ars

  41. #41 |  smokiee | 

    i have always said that the USA is becoming a police state. in the UK if such happened, it would mean the police would not be prosecuted, as such, but hell, they would be in the most crappy job ever just for bringing the Queens uniform in disrepute. when you wear the uniform, no matter what, you are governed by the laws that are that uniform. to protect and serve is your motto, perhaps they should say something differet if they allow such to go unpunished

  42. #42 |  Cyto | 

    It makes me so proud, living in Broward county as I do. I wonder if I’ll be paying for this come settlement time?

    Also, I thought perjury was a felony… so why are they investigating “filing false documents” instead of proceeding straight to prosecution for perjury (and false documents if you wish)?

    I also like the fact that the police say they’ll take appropriate “administrative action” should the facts warrant it. So as far as the cops are concerned, there’s no possible criminal infraction, despite the fact that we have them on tape conspiring to falsify their testimony. That should be a third felony right there.

    For all you activists that want to get your undies in a wad over perceived racism, chew on this: What would police do with a 22 year old black male and his 20 year old buddy who were caught on tape conspiring to lie to police about an investigation? Think they’d just sweep it under the rug? Or would they try to blow it up into the biggest felony possible?

    Only this isn’t about race, it is about the color blue. It is about being above the law. It is about a system that won’t even acknowledge that there is a problem with being above the law.

  43. #43 |  Jim Strathmeyer | 

    “#1 | Difster | March 28th, 2012 at 1:45 pm
    And those cops will not be fired or disciplined in any way I’m sure. Par for the course.”

    Nope! Dirty cops stick up for dirty cops! There are no good cops left in the forces. They have eradicated all of the good cops. All that is left is dirty cops. You can tell because they get away with shit like this.

  44. #44 |  cd34659 | 

    #$%& the police.

  45. #45 |  Mike T | 

    #37,

    According to him, we’re colleagues…

    What I cannot stand from guys like him is the incessant bed-wetting fear of drug users. Get a freakin gun and use it when some crack head tries to rob you. No need for more prohibition, just solid castle doctrine and stand-your-ground laws along with prosecutors who do stuff like this to people who get drunk and high and then kill someone while driving.

  46. #46 |  Michael | 

    To become a police officer a person has to possess psychological issues. Who in their right mind would choose a profession where your responsibilities are mainly to mess with people and risk getting shot for a low salary? Occasionally, they do catch the bad guy but most often they just stalk the borderline innocent and harass them. Talk about needing Xanax……

  47. #47 |  Sriad | 

    I’m happy to pass along the story of at least ONE good cop good enough to blow the whistle on bad cops. The downside is he’s been put through hell by the NYPD, who’ve tried everything short of physical assault (and even that, depending on your definition) to shut him up.

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/414/right-to-remain-silent

    “For 17 months, New York police officer Adrian Schoolcraft recorded himself and his fellow officers on the job, including their supervisors ordering them to do all sorts of things that police aren’t supposed to do. For example, downgrading real crimes into lesser ones, so they wouldn’t show up in the crime statistics and make their precinct look bad. Adrian’s story first appeared as a five part series in the Village Voice (http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-05-04/news/the-nypd-tapes-inside-bed-stuy-s-81st-precinct/), written by Graham Rayman. Schoolcraft’s website looking for other cops to come forward is here. (http://schoolcraftjustice.com/)”

  48. #48 |  Terri | 

    Business as usually for Illinois. I moved out 3 years ago. When I lived in IL, the police harassed me monthly. For three years I have had one cop interaction (some kid hit me in his car…minor accident).

    My brother’s wife hit him, drawing blood. When he called 911 the local police arrested him for domestic violence…the charge was battery, which went on his public record for 2 years. It cost him $500 and two days off of work to “expunge.”

  49. #49 |  CyniCAl | 

    #26 | DavidB — “Some cheap, subdomained WordPress site is CyniCAl’s source for the “paleocon” perspective.”

    Have a problem with reading comprehension David? Skip over the first two words of my comment?

    “Self-described.”

    If you apologize, I promise I’ll accept your apology.

  50. #50 |  CyniCAl | 

    JOR, I’m confused. Was that comment directed at me or at the content of the blog I linked to?

    There’s some serious paranoia going on here.

  51. #51 |  CyniCAl | 

    Will Grigg is one of my favorite writers. So is Butler Shaffer, both are regulars at Lew Rockwell.

    Before there were paleocons, there were classical liberals. What’s in a name? It’s ideas I care about.

  52. #52 |  Vince | 

    Police lying doesn’t shock me at all anymore.

  53. #53 |  dave | 

    Just more crooked cops,in a corrupt system. The Police and politicians in this country are rapidly creating a police state based on 9/11. As occupy Oakland showed they are more than willing to treat their own citizens the same way as the Syrians and Egyptians do. Don’t think for a second they will hesitate to shoot you dead if you don’t follow their game plan. With unlimited surveillance powers and an excess of firepower our government is set to show the world what “freedom” means now.

  54. #54 |  EBL | 

    It is like Rashomon!

  55. #55 |  citizen | 

    people don’t need a state’s permission to record police.
    The court’s already ruled on that. It’s protected under the us constitution.

  56. #56 |  swampdood | 

    Only a few weeks earlier a nineteen year old girl was shot in the back with a taser by an obese Florida State Trooper while she tried to run from a misdemeanor charge? He left the girl brain dead and then bragged before an FHP review board that he did nothing wrong and that he would do it again under similar circumstances. Of course they cleared him of all wrong doing. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2L85M287gk&context=C435984dADvjVQa1PpcFPlZYC8kFxpOuYGGJL3S8fJL7SjAdUn2YU=

  57. #57 |  Jamessir Bensonmum | 

    Thank you for posting this article. We need to know every time a law enforcement person lies. I’ve never had the privilege of serving on a jury, but if I do I will not just take for granted that the police are telling the truth.

    The driver is lucky she wasn’t killed either by the arresting officer or by intake personnel at the jail who love to get rough with anyone who exhibits contempt of cop.

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