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Update: Officer Jeronimo Yanez the Latest Cop to Get Away With Murder After Philando Castille Verdict

Earlier this afternoon, a jury in Minnesota reached a verdict in the trial of St. Anthony Police Officer Jeromino Yanez. Yanez had been charged with second degree manslaughter after he shot Philando Castille seven times in July of 2016. At the time Yanez decided to start shooting, Castille was reaching for his ID that Yanez had asked him for seconds earlier. Presumably, Officer Yanez was afraid that he was instead reaching for a (legally registered) gun that Castille had informed him of. Castille’s girlfriend, who was also in the car along with their four year old daughter, live-streamed, via Facebook Live, his final moments and her own treatment by the police after the shooting. (Video embedded below.) Philando Castille’s “crime” consisted of having a broken taillight.

Sadly, but not at all surprisingly, the verdict that was announced was “not guilty.” The glaring reality that cases like this and those of Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby, who was also issued a license to murder just last month, serve as grim reminders of is that, even on the rare occasions when cops are charged with a crime after unnecessarily killing someone, it’s close to impossible for them to be convicted. Of course, even beyond the basic pre-conditioning of society of the provably false notions that the police are always right and never lie, the deck is always stacked in their favor during these show trials.

A judge controls what evidence can be presented to the jury and what will instead be excluded because it is “inflammatory” or prejudicial. Meanwhile, the onus of presenting that evidence falls to the prosecutor’s office, who work with the police on a daily basis and are dependent on maintaining good relations with them for every other case they pursue. Most trials against police officers are as much a forfeit as they are a loss.

Not only that but the bar is set incredibly low for police officers, even when they kill people that were clearly innocent. All they have to do is wear their Magic Uniform (sometimes they don’t even have to do that) and use those Magic Words, “I feared for my life.” That fear doesn’t have to be justified or even in any way rational. A cop simply has to state that they were afraid and it’s up to the prosecution to somehow prove that this heroic, fearless defender of the public was not in fact afraid for no good reason.

Plus, the media always does their part for the home team helping to glorify the heroic cop and demonizing the victim. Regardless of the circumstances or what you can see with your lying eyes on a video it’s always portrayed as a “tragic mistake” or that victim’s fault. Then they build up sympathy for the killer cops by telling you how much they have already suffered by losing their job and feeling really bad about what they did (oftentimes in spite of evidence to the contrary).

Of course, anyone else charged with a crime generally also ends ups being fired and rarely has the unwavering support of a police union to cushion that blow. yet, nobody says they should just walk free based on that “hardship.” Not to mention the deadly consequences of those officers’ actions inflicted upon those they kill and their families afterwards.

I’ve warned cops and their cult of followers in the past, and in spite of the fact I know there’s pretty much zero chance they will listen, I’ll warn them again: accountability is something you should be seeking for your own sake, as well as for the sake of common decency and there are consequences when you actively work to prevent it.

No justice, no peace” isn’t always just a catchy little slogan to be chanted.

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Bodycam Video: Nevada Deputy Unnecessarily Shoots Pet Dog; Jokes “Maybe I’ll Get Time Off Now!”

Nye County Nevada Pahrump Dog ShootingOn April 10th, Deputy John Tolle of the Nye County Sheriff’s Office responded to what turned out to be a false panic alarm at a residence in Pahrump, NV. (Located just Northwest of Las Vegas.) Soon after Deputy Tolle entered the fenced in yard of that residence and knocked on the door, he shot the pet dog of the owner. According to Tolle, that dog, a pit bull named Blu, was barking, growling, and attacking him at the time. So, obviously he had no choice but to shoot it.

However, Deputy Tolle was wearing a body camera at the time and the footage from that camera tells a completely different story. While the dog does come running from the back of the house much like any dog would when a stranger enters its yard, it never appears to attack Tolle or even try to on the video. Rather than charging toward him “full on, growling and snarling,” as he described, the dog’s action would more properly be described as a quick jog without any sort of aggression being shown at all.

In addition to the discrepancies in Tolle’s description of the shooting of the dog, the body camera footage also highlights numerous issues with the way he responded to the call from the start. Had Deputy Tolle followed proper procedure regarding those issues, he would have never been in a position to shoot Blu in the first place. Among other things, Tolle never tried to contact the owner, Gary Miller, prior to entering the gate of the fence surrounding the yard. Nor does he check first to find out if there is a dog within that yard. Both of those precautions would have prevented any perceived confrontation with Blu from happening.

Furthermore, once the dog was approaching Deputy Tolle he never attempted to use any non lethal deterrents prior to shooting it. As of 2015, state mandated (NRS 289.595) law enforcement training is required to include a course on how to handle situations involving encounters with dogs. Part of that training is that non-lethal methods, such as tasers, batons, or mace, be used prior to resorting to deadly force. Tolle had every one of those options available at the time and never even attempted to use them. There was even enough time after the dog had initially barked for Tolle to simply walk back out of the gate, had he chose to do so. Instead, he just shot the dog and then lied about it attacking him to try and justify having done so.

This video is also pretty telling in relation to the mindset and attitudes of the officers involved. Beyond the simple act of unnecessarily killing the dog and then lying to rationalize it, Deputy Tolle’s body camera also caught a few other things afterwards. First, as an unnamed detective and Tolle’s supervisor, Sergeant Deutsch, discuss the shooting with him, they can be heard making disparaging remarks about Miller and joking about him being angry because his dog was shot.

Deputy Tolle really takes the cake when he is informed that he will have to fill out a “use of force” form for the incident. His response is to break out in laughter and state, “Maybe I’ll get time off now!” It’s almost like getting a free paid vacation is in the forefront of police officers’ minds when they kill.

In the end, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office quickly cleared Deputy Tolle after assigning him to take a 24 hour training course (that presumably teaches cops not to murder non-threatening dogs). Meanwhile, Gary Miller was disrespected even more when the animal shelter cremated his beloved pet without even notifying him first. They then added insult to injury later when they brought him ashes that they claimed were Blu’s, but that were in fact not from his dog. (It’s not clear where the “fake ashes” actually came from. However, unlike Tolle, the animal control officer responsible has been suspended, as a result.)

Full Unedited Body Camera Video

Local News Coverage

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Update: Racial Profiling Case by LVMPD Saturation Team Body Cam Videos Show No Original Cause for Stop

In May of 2016, I reported on the case of Solomon Galloway, a Las Vegas man who was illegally detained, assaulted, and falsely arrested by one the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s “Saturation Teams” in February of that year. At the time, Galloway was the passenger in a vehicle driven by a co-worker, which had been stopped under the stated claim that he was speeding (more on that below).

The original pretense for that arrest and accompanying violent, illegal actions was Mr. Galloway’s refusal to identify himself. However, the passenger in a vehicle that has been stopped for a traffic violation is not considered a party to that infraction. As a result, they are not under any obligation to identify themselves. In fact, legally Galloway could have gotten out of the car and walked away from the traffic stop. (Since the actions of the driver do not represent the “reasonable suspicion” required to legally detain a passenger, they are “free to go.”)

Lacking a legitimate reason to detain Galloway, let alone arrest him, Metro’s designated harassment squad settled on the old standby of “I smelled pot.” They then embarked on a fruitless and illegal search of the car to hopefully find something to justify their illegal against against their victim. In the process, they even discussed amongst each other their need to “do what ever you gotta to do, because we gotta find something.” Unfortunately for them, they didn’t find anything at all.

Even more unfortunately for them, Galloway had placed a GoPro camera on his dashboard, which he turned on just after they were stopped. Unbeknownst to them, the entire incident, including the illegal search and that incriminating conversation, had been recorded on the GoPro. That included a statement from the supervisor on the scene, Lieutenant Connell, that they should “just arrest his ass and strip him,” once they finally gave up on finding anything to rationalize their actions. Galloway was then falsely arrested, taken to jail, and subjected to a humiliating and illegal strip search. All of which still failed to justify the obstruction charge that they eventually settled on.

It was already incredibly obvious from the GoPro video (which was later featured in a documentary about corruption among Las Vegas police entitled, “What Happened in Vegas“) that the LVMPD officers involved were completely lying and fabricating a reason to justify what they knew was a false arrest (and illegal demand for ID to begin with). Now however, body cam footage from the officer that initiated the stop, as well as another officer that participated in the assault on Galloway, have been released as part of discovery. One of the interesting aspects of those body camera videos is that in the beginning of the first officer’s footage you can actually see his speedometer as he’s driving. What that shows is that even the original justification for the stop was based on a lie.

Contrary to that officer’s claims about their speed (which fluctuated at various points in the video between them going either 55 or 65 mph when he pulled them over), they were in fact going below the 45 mph speed limit. Therefore they didn’t even have legal cause to pull them over in the first place. Nor did they have the reasonable suspicion of a crime necessary to justify detaining even the driver of that vehicle. That makes it even more obvious that everything that was done to Galloway, who was the passenger, after the illegal traffic stop was initiated was both unjustifiable and illegal, as well.

The badly disguised reality is that this was nothing more than a case of racial profiling and simple harassment. The LVMPD deploys what they call saturation teams into certain neighborhoods they have decided they want to concentrate on. These saturation teams descend upon those neighborhoods looking for any excuse to stop and harass the residents who live there. Even such minuscule “crimes” as jaywalking on a residential street or having a bicycle without a reflector are used to justify demanding ID from and attempting to question a person.

They are essentially just playing the odds in the hope that if they harass enough people within a chosen area they will find a certain percentage of individuals who have warrants or something illegal on them and that are willing to consent to a search to justify an arrest. Statistically, that makes the department look good, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that the vast majority of the people in any given neighborhood are not actually criminals and don’t deserve to be indiscriminately harassed because a cop has arbitrarily decided they “do not belong” in that neighborhood.

The other side of that equation is that the areas that the LVMPD targets for their saturation teams are invariably those inhabited predominantly by poor and minority residents. In fact, some years ago a Metro spokesperson went so far as to explicitly state to the Las Vegas Review Journal that they would not use saturation tactics against residents living in the wealthy suburb of Summerlin.

As is noted in the video’s title, Galloway and his friend were stopped because they were people of color driving an expensive car within a geographical region that the LVMPD had deemed to be suspect. Everything that happened after that was a result of him not “respecting their authoritah.” An authority that they did not legally have and that he had every legal (and moral) right not to respect.

Video Featuring Police Body Camera Footage and GoPro Video

Original GoPro Video

Related Posts Submitted By or About Stephen Stubbs:

Stephen-Stubbs-CopBlockThose of you that have followed CopBlock.org over the past several years are probably already aware that Stephen Stubbs has been a frequent subject of posts on  NVCopBlock.org. He often represents bikers and motorcycle organizations, whom are frequent targets of harassment from the police. In addition, I have personally worked with Stephen in the past on several occasions through Nevada Cop Block on issues or cases involving his clients or on know your rights seminars he has done within the Las Vegas area.

Therefore, there is a pretty lengthy (and growing) list of posts on the Nevada Cop Block site involving Stephen Stubbs, his clients, and/or people or groups he is associated with. Included below are links to those posts.

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