- Whether you support abortion rights, oppose abortion rights, or are somewhere in between, there’s one position on which we can all join together in agreement: Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais is an asshole.
- Virginia man exonerated of rape after accuser admits to a detective that she lied. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is still blocking the man’s release, claiming the judge didn’t have jurisdiction to exonerate him. Remember, following procedure to the letter is only important when you’re trying to exonerate someone. When you’re trying to convict them, straying from the rules is just “harmless error.”
- Good article looking at how and why conservatives joined the prison reform movement.
- Spokane police officer who beat a mentally disabled man to death after falsely accusing him of stealing from an ATM . . . gets a four year prison sentence. Otto Zehm’s last words: “All I wanted was a Snickers bar.”
- TSA detains, jails a man for wearing a “weird watch” and having “unusually large boots.”
- Headline of the day.
- Step 1: Take advantage of nepotism to get elected to Congress. Step 2: Be corrupt. Step 3: Go into a deep depression when you’re caught for being corrupt. Step 4: Offer to resign, but only on the condition that you get disability pay because of the depression you’ve suffered after you got caught being corrupt.
Category: Police Professionalism
- More evidence that the public is nearing a tipping point in the war on drugs.
- This will surprise all of you. The Omaha police union is defending the officer who tackled a man out walking his dog, then shot the dog.
- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the fact that City Hall reporters illegally recorded journalists without their permission is “much ado about nothing.”
- America! F*ck yeah!
- This New York Times review of Guy Fieri’s restaurant is burning up the Internet at the moment. On the one hand, it kind of makes me want to try the place. On the other hand, I’m not putting anything called “Donkey Sauce” into my mouth.
- Headline of the day.
- “He’ll push to loosen marijuana penalties, legalize undocumented immigrants and pursue a less aggressive American foreign policy.” Guess who?
- Man uses garden hose to spray fire at neighbor’s house. Police tell him to stop. He does. But when firefighters don’t arrive minutes later, he gets frustrated and starts spraying the fire again. So they Tase him.
- Finally, via Gawker:
Florida cop responding to a report of a stolen motorcycle snoops around a cemetery at night, knocks on the door to an equipment shed without first identifying himself. Cemetery owner is in the equipment shed, hears the knock, fears he’s being robbed, and so opens the door holding a gun. Cop opens fire. The guy lived, and the cop has now been cleared of any wrongdoing. The motorcycle was on the property, but given that he wasn’t charged, it appears the cemetery owner had nothing to do with its theft.
I’m not sure why you wouldn’t announce yourself if you hear someone in the shed. Not just for the other guy’s safety, but for yours. This particular case may not seem as egregious as others you might see on this site, until you consider this particular cop’s history:
A 13-year FHP veteran, Cole has been the subject of 10 internal affairs investigations. In 2001, Cole shot a man in the hand during a traffic stop when the man made a sudden movement toward Cole after ignoring commands to show his hands. The man turned out to be a Christian minister who was unarmed and was driving erratically after getting lost. He said he was trying to show the trooper his wallet when he was shot.
Last year, Cole was investigated after he used a Taser to subdue a handcuffed woman, who fell and hit her head. She fell into a coma and suffered debilitating brain damage.
Cole was cleared in both cases.
Maybe it’s time the Florida Highway Patrol found Officer Cole a desk job. Or at least the sort of job where he’ll never need to use force.
I’ve been neglecting you. But just think, in the spring you’ll have your own portable collection of groin-punching, blood-pressure raising stories to pull down off your bookshelf—any time you like!
I do have some thoughts about the election. I just don’t have time to put them into a more substantive post at the moment. And they’re more about the various ballot measures than the election itself. Summary: I think that for the most part, there’s lots of reason for optimism in Tuesday night’s results. Even on the GOP side, the one Republican senator who managed to win a competitive Senate seat this week was Jeff Flake, a devoted fiscal conservative and principled advocate for limited government who also happens to be pro-immigration, pro-internet gambling, favors ending the sanctions with Cuba, and who generally avoids the culture wars. He’s a huge improvement over his predecessor. And he won in a state filled with Latinos and rock-ribbed conservatives. He’s a template for the rest of the party.
On to the links:
- Cop tries to kill dog during drug raid, shoots fellow cop instead.
- “The Permanent Militarization of America.”
- In Colorado, legalization of marijuana got more votes than Obama.
- Carlos Miller wins again. And how he’s suing the cops who deleted the video depicting his illegal arrest. You’d think Miami police would know to just leave him the hell alone.
- North Korean court rules that the country’s military can torture dissidents with impunity.
- A new front in the war on vegetable gardens. Don’t know about you, but if these stories ending up pitting the militant locavores and anti-obesity paternalists in an epic battle with the petty zoning tyrants . . . I’m making popcorn.
- Hey, remember when super PACs were going to destroy American democracy? Not so much. Of course, when the anti-Citizens United crowd would say things like “this will destroy American democracy,” they actually meant, “this will help the candidates I don’t like!” Which means that if and when the GOP ever gets its act together (more likely: when they Democrats inevitably overplay their hand), we’ll be back to blaming money in politics for election results again.
- The preliminary hearing is underway in the case of Matthew Stewart, the Ogden, Utah man who shot a police raid team as they broke into his home. Stewart had six marijuana plants inside.
- Bubbles likes mail.
- Sweden wants your trash.
- Amazing tales of asset forfeiture abuse at the Bal Harbour, Florida police department.
- Headline of the day.
- Today’s lesson in in why you avoid calling the cops.
- Another exoneration in a shaken baby case.
Blogging will continue to be light over the next few weeks. I’m in the homestretch of finishing up by book manuscript.
- Newsweek continues the long, proud newsweekly tradition of unskeptical drug war cheerleading.
- Local news investigation finds that Atlanta cops have shot 100 dogs since 2010. That number is fairly meaningless without more detail. The notable takeaway is that only one police department in the entire Atlanta metro area gives cops any training on how to deal with dogs, and that department only started this year.
- Speaking of which . . .
- Beautiful photo of New York City shortly after Sandy.
- But for video, Chicago edition.
- Federal judge rules that police can install hidden cameras on private property without a warrant.
- Mask-clad cops in riot gear raid a free, openly advertised poker tournament in Florida.
- What your favorite sport says about your politics.
- Eric Posner, the law professor last seen arguing that the First Amendment is overrated, now argues that executive power should trump the Fourth Amendment.
- Today’s horrifying lesson in why you should avoid calling the police. Here’s some unfortunate background on this particular sheriff.
- Esquire interviews Agitator pal, onetime guest blogger, and bartender extraordinaire Jacob Grier.
- Reason staff and contributors reveal for whom they’ll be voting.
- Headline of the day.
- Cop who used a submachine gun to kill an unarmed, fleeing man who had committed no crime . . . won’t be charged.
- But for video: Medley, Florida edition.
- Headline says there’s an 18 percent gender pay gap. But click through to the study, and you’ll find that when they adjust for occupation, it’s actually 7 percent.
- Puppycide: Cop shoots Golden Retriever puppy six times. Neighbor witness says the dog was never a threat.
- Headline of the day.
- “ . . . a mere 19 percent of millennials think that government spending is the way to improve the economy.” There is still hope for America!
- Britain will sleep safer tonight knowing these monsters are off the streets.
- Pot raid in Detroit = triple puppycide. One dog was fenced in the backyard. According to witnesses, police chased the other two around the house until they had killed them.
- More problems with drug dogs, this time at the border.
- Admitted pot smoker named “fittest man of all time.”
- Better dead than high: Chris Christie edition.
If you aren’t familiar, Huffington is the tablet magazine spinoff of Huffington Post, focusing on long-form journalism. If you have a tablet computer, I’d encourage you to check it out. One of the main complaints I hear about the Huffington Post site is its clutter and busyness. The magazine is very clean. No ads, no extras.
Anyway, while researching my book I recently came across the passage below from The New York Times Magazine. It has almost on-the-nose relevance to the issues at play in Huff’s case.
See if you can guess when it was published. Answer in the comments.
. . . a number of judges [have begun] questioning police testimony that relie[s] on such legal passwords as “in plain sight” and “furtive gesture.”
“The difficulty arises,” New York Criminal Court Judge Irving Younger wrote last year, “when one stands back from the particular case and looks at a series of cases. It then becomes apparent that policemen are committing perjury at least in some of them, and perhaps in nearly all of them . . . Spend a few hours in the New York City Criminal Court nowadays, and you will hear case after case in which a policeman testifies that the defendant dropped the narcotics on the ground, whereupon the policeman arrested him. Usually the very language of the testimony is identical from one case to another. This is known among defense lawyers and prosecutors as “dropsey” testimony. The judge has no reason to disbelieve it in any particular case, and of course the judge must decide each case on its own evidence, without regard to the testimony in other cases. Surely, though, not in every case was the defendant unlucky enough to drop his narcotics at the feed of the policeman. It follows that in in at least some of these cases the police are lying.”
In California, where many drug arrests are made during highway patrols, Judge Stanley Mosk of the State Supreme Court recently questioned the police reliance on furtive gestures in justifying arrests.
“The furtive gesture,” Mosk wrote, “has on occasion been little short of subterfuge in order to conduct a search on the basis of mere suspicion or intuition.” In so doing, he said, policy imply guilty significance to gestures that are no more illegal than reaching for one’s driver’s license or turning off a car radio.
On Monday evening, October 8, 2012, police were called about a man who was sleeping in the lounge of the Aliyah Center on East New York Ave. The caller may have mistakenly believed that the homeless man, Ehud H. Halevi, was loitering on the center’s property without permission.
Aliyah is a synagogue and outreach center for troubled youth in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Two officers from the 71st precinct, one male and one female, arrived and woke the man. Confused as to why he was being accosted by police, the man refused the officers’ attempts to escort him outside, insisting that he had permission to be there and asking that they allow him to prove it.
His pleas fell on deaf ears, and they proceeded to place him under arrest.
When he resisted arrest, the male officer flew into a rage and began to beat the defenseless man. As can be seen in the video below, the officer assumed a boxing stance and then lurched towards his victim, pummeling him from all sides.
Over the next couple of minutes the man is also pepper-sprayed and beaten with a truncheon by the female officer, all while posing no threat to the officers’ well-being whatsoever.
After a good two minutes of sadistic thrashing, the officers are joined by a squadron of their peers, and successfully put him in handcuffs and under arrest.
A source confirmed with CrownHeights.info that the man had full permission to be there, and had been living there for a month without any trouble. It is unknown who called the police or why.
And it wouldn’t be a police beating without the obligatory charge against the victim for assaulting the police officer’s fist with his face.
The guy clearly wasn’t cooperating. But he wasn’t breaking any laws. Even if you don’t think the beating itself is excessive (I do), why not contact someone at the center to see if his story checks out before you move in with the cuffs? Why move immediately to confrontation, and then to escalation?
- It appears that a Utah state trooper has been falsifying arrest records for DUI cases. Bonus: Higher-ups probably knew, covered it up. Double bonus: In 2007 she was named “Trooper of the Year.
- Attempted puppycide.
- Mark Bittman wants food labels to include what mood the workers were in when it was picked and manufactured. Okay, not quite. But awfully close.
- Headline of the day. For your amusement, please note the improbable name of one of the two researchers.
- I’m pretty sure that if anyone who didn’t happen to be a cop responded to a colleague’s teasing by taking out a gun and shooting toward colleague’s feet, they’d be charged with some sort of crime.
- Milwaukee cop charged with
sodomizing peopleperforming several illegal body cavity searches is let out on $0 bail. Chief Ed Flynn referred to the officer’s actions as “noble cause misconduct.” You remember Ed Flynn. He’s the one who instructed his “troops” to tackle, detain anyone carrying a gun in the city, even though it’s allowed under state law.
- Houston Police Department admits to pre-writing traffic violations.
The Philladelphia police union is throwing a benefit party to honor the cop who was recently fired for doing this:
- The Salt Lake Deseret News runs an editorial on SWAT raids.
- When occupational licensing bullshit meets anti-immigration horseshit.
- Man raided, dog shot, “small amount of narcotics” found. No big deal.
- Strong lager is the new heroin. Worse yet, someone is making a profit!
- The self-perpetuating police state: Asset forfeiture funds used to purchase surveillance cameras.
- NYC police team takes a detour on the way to a drug raid, pulls over an unarmed man, kills him.
This video includes a surreptitious recording of a stop and frisk in New York. It also includes interviews with NYPD cops who say that what you’re hearing isn’t atypical.
The phrase “police state” is overused. But if you can’t merely walk on the sidewalk in your own neighborhood without enduring this kind of harassment on a regular basis, I don’t know of any term that’s more appropriate.
More information on the video here.
- EU gender equity regulations mean women will be paying more for car insurance.
- NYPD cops run over a man, killing him. The department then sends his mother a bill to repair the police car.
- “Well this is awkward.”
- Another isolated incident: “Salt Lake police raid wrong home, point gun at elderly woman”
- Government is just a name for the things we do together. Like poison black people in St. Louis.
- Cop does not shoot dog.
- Interesting article on Wikipedia’s reluctance to let go of accepted but false historical narratives.
- Police raid on child porn suspect ends in gunfire, wounded suspect, and wounded officer. Use of the word “stormed” makes me suspect they didn’t announce themselves. You don’t have to sympathize with the suspect (if the charges are true, I certainly don’t) to understand why this is such a dumb tactic. For example, look at the interrior wallof a Redditor who (claims he) lives next to the suspect.
- Schrödinger’s cat’s lives.
- Mother Jones tries to link an alleged rise in mass shootings to increased gun ownership. Michael Siegel lets all the air out of that claim here. It’s also worth pointing out that Mother Jones is wrong not just on the analysis, but on the facts. Gun ownership is actually down. As is the overall crime rate. As is support for gun control. Which is to say I doubt there’s a link between guns and crime at all—positive or negative.
- Suspect that Baltimore police claim died from choking on drugs while in custody actually died of blunt force trauma.
- Fun gallery of hyperphotos from Slate.
- Another isolated incident.
- Probably the most outrageous thing you’ll read today: Sarasota, Florida sheriff tries to trick pain patients into signing away their Fourth Amendment rights.
- Some judges are finally started to question police officer claims of superhuman ability to sniff out marijuana.
Most of you have probably seen this video by now. It was taken in Philadelphia. I’ll just make the obvious point others have already made: Even assuming the woman had been the one who threw water/silly string on the cop, the reaction should at least get him fired. And probably prosecuted. That it doesn’t appear to have been her makes it worse, but is kinda’ beside the point.
- Another major publication runs an essay calling for censorship. I wonder if these speech trolls will also advocate the censorship of radical Muslims whose speech is offensive to Jews, gays, women, atheists, and just about everyone who isn’t a radical Muslim. Do they get a pass? What if I’m offended by censorship? Does that count?
- Photos from inside North Korea’s creepiest building.
- Ken at Popehat: How I Convicted A Man For Helping Terrorists Who Now Aren’t Terrorists
- Further adventures in taxicab protectionism.
- Your latest crime lab scandal: St. Paul, Minnesota.
- Puppycide. Cop hops fence while looking for a bike thief, kills dog protecting its yard.
- “The most transparent administration in history.”
- Glenn Greenwald on Shakir Hamoodi, currently in prison for ensuring his family in Iraq didn’t starve to death while the U.S. was imposing sanctions on Saddam Hussein.
- “GMO Opponents Are the Climate Skeptics of the Left” – Yep. And people are unnecessarily starving to death because of it.
- Due to recent events, The Almighty Muhammad’s Porkalicious Toon Jihad has been cancelled.
- I’ve addressed this issue here in the past, but yesterday, USA Today ran a front-page story on how convicts who get released after serving their sentences usually get more government aid than the wrongly convicted.
- Brazil has a law prohibiting anyone from criticizing a politician around election day. How backward of them!
- Headline of the day.
- “The video is one of the most troubling things I have ever seen. It’s simply unconscionable to watch what happens in the back of that squad car.”
- The only remaining certified police officer in the town of Vaughn, New Mexico is the drug dog.
- 83-year-old Virginia woman shot, killed by police after she called them to report someone breaking into her home.
- “It’s not for the American government to regret what American citizens do. “
- This year’s Ig Nobel Prize winners. My favorite: MEDICINE PRIZE: Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti [FRANCE] for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode.
- Police officer lures actual vicious dog away from family, manages to not fire a single bullet.
- Slowly poking holes in the veil of infallibility of fingerprint evidence.
- Houston cop shoots, kills wheelchair-bound double amputee who was wielding a pen.
- Headline of the day.
- Governments lie.
- Mosque leader tries to dissuade teen from turning to terrorism . . . even as the FBI was encouraging him.
- A Fistful of Freedom: Using 3D printers to distribute firearms around the world (via Dave Killion and the Libertarian Book Club).
- Do you think this brochure will make officers safer… or more paranoid?
- Police Need New Professionalism, by Christopher Stone: “There will always be a certain degree of force in policing. What matters is whether policing—when it asserts its authority—makes democratic progress possible or impedes it. Professional policing enhances democratic progress when it accounts for what it does, achieves public support, learns through innovation, and transcends parochialism.”
- Automatic License Plate Recognition: In Minnesota, license plates are not considered private information. This means license plates in police ALPR databases are subject to FOI access requests by anyone in the state. What could possibly go wrong?
Asset Seizure and Forfeiture – The State’s (Often Wrong) Rationale for Seizing Currency During a Traffic StopWednesday, August 8th, 2012
By Eapen Thampy, Americans for Forfeiture Reform
Charles B. Frye, Attorney at Law in Houston, Texas, has written an excellent discussion on the government’s fallacious rationales for seizing cash during traffic stops at the Americans for Forfeiture Reform blog. I excerpt this portion and encourage you to read and share the rest:
What are the risks of transporting large sums of cash when you’re traveling? Obviously, you could get robbed or get involved in an accident and lose the money. Your car could catch on fire while you’re buying gas and your currency could go up in smoke. A number of bad things could happen if you carry a large amount of cash on you when you travel. But, one risk that many folks never consider is that a law enforcement officer could decide to seize your cash,even if you are not committing a crime and the officer cannot show any reason to believe that you have committed a crime.
If you’ve never had a law enforcement officer stop you for a traffic violation and then ask for your “consent” to search your vehicle, you probably find it difficult to believe that you or any other “law abiding citizen” could become embroiled in a criminal case or a forfeiture lawsuitjust because you happen to be carrying a large amount of currency. But, it can, and does, happen.
One Texas Court of Appeals case, Deschenes v. State, 253 S.W.3d 374 (Tex.App.‑Amarillo 2008, pet. ref.), catalogued the various ways that the State tries to justify a seizure and later forfeiture of a large amount of currency discovered after a traffic stop. Justice Pirtle wrote in the majority opinion in Deschenes listing twenty two arguments the State advanced to justify the seizure:
“Here, the evidence tending to establish a connection between the money and some unnamed criminal activity amounts to mere conjecture. In support of a nexus between Appellant’s $17,620 and some unidentified “criminal activity,” the State points to profiling characteristics and a positive alert by a narcotics dog: (1) Appellant opened the passenger door to speak to the officer, handed him his wallet when asked for his license, and exited on the passenger side at the officer’s request; (2) car had energy drinks and fast food wrappers on the floorboard giving it a “lived‑in” look; (3) he could not give his uncle’s exact address in San Diego; (4) he was traveling east to west on Interstate 40; (5) he was nervous throughout the encounter; (6) he stared at his vehicle rather than maintaining eye contact when answering one of Esqueda’s questions; (7) he denied carrying a large sum of cash; (8) he was in possession of scales; (9) he avoided showing Esqueda [the investigating officer] the money; (10) the money was in a plastic bag; (11) it was a large amount of money; (12) the money was divided into bundles and wrapped with rubber bands; (13) he had an empty suitcase; (14) he denied having any drugs in his vehicle; (15) he stated he was going to Las Vegas; (16) he failed to produce “documentation” for the money; (17) a narcotics dog alerted to the money and the large empty suitcase; (18) an odor of narcotics on the empty suitcase; (19) the close proximity of the cash to the empty suitcase that presumably contained narcotics at one time; (20) an odor of narcotics on the cash; (21) the money was enough to purchase a felony amount of narcotics; (22) money from drug trafficking travels east to west.”
by William Anderson
For most of my life, I was a fairly typical law-and-order conservative, although there were times I questioned some police tactics. For example, nearly 40 years ago one of my college friends was severely beaten by the Knoxville, Tennessee, police in a situation considered serious enough for the FBI to investigate. After seeing Jake’s face two days after the beatdown and knowing the circumstances behind it, my long-held faith in the police certainly was shaken. Still, I wanted to believe that the police were “on our side.”
Today, I no longer hold to that illusion. Yesterday, I met with a woman about my age whose son, a Marine veteran, was found dead in his Dade County, Georgia, jail cell earlier this year, allegedly due to suicide. Not long before that arrest, he had been picked up for DUI by those same police and was severely beaten and tased by six officers, much of the beating coming after he was prone on the pavement with his hands cuffed behind his back. He had broken ribs, a ruptured eardrum, numerous burns from the taser repeatedly used on him, and bruises all over his body. Naturally, he was the one charged with felonies.
If police officers ever believed in their “protect and serve” mottos, that time is long past. As this post from Will Grigg demonstrates, the police today are obsessed with “officer safety” and their pay. He writes:
Police departments exist to enforce the will of the municipal corporations that employ them. Any actual service they render with respect to the protection of person and property is incidental to that mission.
As a recovering law-and-order conservative, I never believed I would be writing anything like this, and I would love to be proven wrong. I no longer buy the “few bad apples” argument; as I see it, the few “good apples” left in police departments either are driven out by fellow officers or they are cowed into silence.