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Henderson Police “Not Concerned About” Violent History of Newly Hired Deputy Police Chief Thedrick Andres

Newly hired Henderson NV Deputy Chief of Police Thedrick Andres shot Juan May during an off-duty incident while he was a sergeant at the Arlington Police Department in Texas

A photo taken earlier in the evening shows newly hired Henderson Deputy Police Chief Thedrick Andres and Juan May, the man Andres shot to death after a fight on a party bus.

In November, LaTesha Watson, formerly a deputy police chief with the Arlington (TX) Police Department was sworn in to replace Moers as the Henderson chief of police. Thedrick Andres, who served at the APD with Watson before retiring as a lieutenant, was subsequently hired to replace Long as Watson’s deputy police chief.

While there has been some unhappiness expressed over the department’s decision to pick candidates from out of state as replacements, Deputy Chief Andres’ work history would seem to be right on par with those working within Las Vegas area police departments. That history includes three incidents of violence, two of which involved the use of a firearm by Andres while he was off-duty, at the Arlington (TX) Police Department.

During what was described as a road rage incident, Andres pulled his gun on another driver after claiming that driver had threatened him with a hatchet. That “hatchet” that reportedly caused him to believe his life was in danger turned out to be a plastic ice scraper. Previously, while employed at the New Orleans Police Department, Andres was also accused of using excessive force in a citizen complaint.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

Party Bus Shooting

The most troubling incident from Andres’ past was his fatal shooting of a Marine veteran named Juan May in June of 2014. That incident began with a birthday party, which took place on a “party bus.” Although May and other relatives of his who were among the twenty people on that bus didn’t know Andres or that he was (at the time) a sergeant with the Arlington Police Department, the group picture above implies there was possibly some mutual friendships between them.

Juan May was murdered by Henderson Deputy Chief Thedrick Andres while he was a Sgt. at the Arlington Police Department

Juan May

According to descriptions, at some point someone (presumably May) jokingly suggested that Andres should dance on a stripper pole that was on the bus. That apparently offended Andres and led him to begin directing derogatory remarks at May and his relatives. This later escalated into a physical fight once they left the bus after Andres approached May and reignited the argument.

There are some differences in the details of what happened next among eyewitness statements. However, there are several common denominators among them. Everyone agrees that Andres is the one who approached May and began the final argument and that he had been drinking on the party bus. They also agree that Andres also hit Juan’s cousin, Patrick May, who was attempting to break up the fight.

The other point of agreement is that shortly after, when Juan May was walking back to his car, Andres began running to his own car. Witnesses state that “someone” yelled that he had a gun in his vehicle. Andres, in fact, retrieved that gun and killed May with it, later claiming he had fired in self-defense.

Not surprisingly (since grand juries are primarily used for that purpose in cases involving police officers), he was eventually exonerated by a grand jury in spite of the retrieval of a weapon after a fight being pretty well established as an act of premeditation.

Police Chief Latesha Watson is Not Concerned

It shouldn’t be surprising that Chief Watson isn’t concerned about Andres’ past. Of course, she worked with him for years in Texas and obviously is the reason he was hired to be the second in command at the Henderson Police Department. In spite of the fact her statement that “if someone was found guilty of wrongdoing, then they wouldn’t have a job,” when applied to police officers is at best a technicality, it’s not something that should be unexpected.

The Henderson Police Department's newly hired Deputy Chief of Police, Thedrick Andres, and Chief of Police, LaTesha Watson

Thedrick Andres and LaTesha Watson

However, the lack of concern by the City of Henderson is something that should draw a few more raised eyebrows. After all, Watson and Andres were hired to replace two police executives who were forced to resign after sexual harassment claims were made against them and the Henderson City Council was caught covering that up by portraying it as a “mutual parting of ways.

In addition, Assistant City Manager Greg Blackburn, who previously resigned from a city government position in North Las Vegas after a sexual harassment scandal, is currently under investigation again for (you guessed it) sexual harassment in Henderson and Mayor Debra March has also just been sanctioned over ethics violations. (At this point, it takes a bit of searching to find someone in the Henderson city government that isn’t under some sort of investigation.)

When you consider all that, maybe you should look to hire someone who doesn’t already have a history that includes excessive force complaints and pulling guns on (or actually shooting) unarmed people while off-duty. Maybe that’s a good idea for the City of Henderson for PR reasons, if nothing else. You know, hire someone who is less likely to create yet another misconduct scandal.

Of course, Henderson is the city known for not prosecuting (and later promoting) a cop who was caught on video repeatedly kicking a man suffering from diabetic shock in the head, because “they train officers to do that in the police academy.”

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Update: Details Revealed About Evidence, Previous Arrests of Las Vegas Ex-Cop Finally Charged in 1997 Rape and Murder

Previous Charges Arthur Lee Sewall Former LVMPD Officer Murder

At a preliminary hearing, court documents revealed LVMPD Officer Arthur Lee Sewall already had a criminal history before the 1997 rape and murder he was finally charged with in January.

Last week, I wrote about former Metro Police Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr., who was charged with murder and rape for the 1997 killing of a woman named Nadia Iverson. The original story was that a “lack of funding” prevented the testing of the Iverson’s rape kit and other DNA evidence from the crime scene. Presumably, that made it impossible to prosecute him at the time from a lack of evidence.

After receiving a grant from the New York District Attorney’s Office, the rape kit was finally sent for testing in 2016. Then, in February of 2017, Sewall’s DNA was positively matched to that rape kit. As a result, Officer Sewall was finally charged with rape and murder earlier this month (Jan. 10th).

A sample of Sewall’s DNA had actually been available since 1999, when he was sentenced to (just) probation for a separate arrest on multiple on duty sex crimes, and he was accused by prosecutors of Iverson’s murder the very same day her body was found. Once again though, since they couldn’t scrape together the cash to test that one rape kit, Sewall was able to avoid prosecution for twenty-plus years.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

When he was eventually arrested  last month Sewall essentially confessed to the murder of Iverson in a statement to Metro detectives. Although, in a quote published by Mike Shoro of the Las Vegas Review Journal it does sound like he is looking to claim it was an accident:

“During the interview, he admitted to engaging Iverson in sex for money,” Sewall’s arrest warrant said. “During their sexual encounter, Iverson was shot. Sewall couldn’t account for why his gun was out or pointed at Iverson. He knew she was shot in the head and he immediately fled the scene.”

A Previous History of Violence Against Women

However, like most cases of crimes and misconduct committed by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers, it has now come out after the fact that the real story is quite a bit different than what was originally reported. Not only did court documents reveal even more details about his arrest history that predated the murder, but it also raises serious questions about why he couldn’t have been prosecuted even without the DNA evidence.

Rape Murder Charges Las Vegas Police Officer Arthur Lee Sewall

Former LVMPD Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr.

Those documents, which were made public at a preliminary hearing last week, also show that Metro police officers had responded to a domestic violence call at Sewall’s house in 1995, two years prior to the murder. Although he (not surprisingly) was never charged with a crime as a result, a .357 revolver was confiscated from Sewall by those officers.

As I mentioned in the original post, Officer Sewall was also arrested earlier in 1997 in a video sting operation for forcing prostitutes to perform sex acts. He was on duty and used the threat of arrest in those sexual assaults. That arrest led to his resignation from the LVMPD.

In addition, although he was only sentenced to probation for those rapes, that sentence is what required him to submit a DNA sample in 1999. As was once again mentioned in the previous post, Sewall also was arrested while he was awaiting sentencing in 1999 for propositioning an undercover cop who was posing as a prostitute in San Diego.

Sufficient Evidence Twenty Years Ago?

Based on those court documents, that .357 revolver and those previous arrests would have represented a pretty significant piece of evidence in the 1997 case for which Sewall currently faces charges. In fact, had it been pursued that alone probably would have been more than enough to tie him to the murder and secure a conviction.

Las Vegas Police Officer Arthur Sewall Murder Rape Victim Nadia Iverson

An Undated Photo of Nadia Iverson.

Back then, before Clark County’s “Blue Card” law was overturned, all handguns had to be registered with Metro. As a result, Sewall’s was officially listed as an owner of such a weapon. Obviously, there was also a record of that from when he had it impounded during his domestic violence incident as well.

According to the current arrest warrant detectives at the time determined a bullet “consistent with a .357 revolver Sewall previously registered with Metro” was used to kill Iverson. In spite of that, Las Vegas police seemingly did not even attempt to match the bullet to the gun they knew Sewall had at the time.

Not only that, but when Sewall was arrested for soliciting a prostitute in San Diego while he was already awaiting sentencing for raping prostitutes, he had that same revolver in his possession. Meanwhile, neither the LVMPD or Clark County prosecutors mad any effort to acquire the gun they obviously suspected he had used to murder someone after it was confiscated by San Diego police.

Instead, Sewall was sentenced to probation and that revolver was later destroyed by the SDPD, eliminating any chance it could be tested for a ballistics match. Officer Sewall proceeded to violate that probation numerous times over the course of the next five years with relatively little consequences for those violations. Also, as can be evidenced by his Facebook profile, Sewall was living a pretty comfortable life during the twenty years Iverson’s rape and murder went unpunished.

Incompetence or an Intentional Lack of Effort?

As has already been pointed out in previous posts, the excuse that there was a lack of funds is a ridiculous excuse for not testing the thousands of rape kits that have sat untouched in evidence rooms from as long ago as the mid-eighties. Las Vegas area city governments and police departments have had no problem coming up with well over a billion dollars in total for new government buildings, publicly funded NFL stadiums, and faulty radio systems.

They even came up with $400,000 to pay off the police chief and deputy chief at the Henderson Police Department after they were forced to resign for sexual harassment. The idea that they couldn’t somehow come up with enough money to test that one rape kit that would positively identify the person they suspected in the case literally from day one should be considered an insult to everyone’s intelligence.

But even if you disregard the DNA evidence altogether, they shouldn’t have had a very difficult time charging and even convicting Sewall. Detectives investigating the crime scene had already determined she was killed by a gun matching one they knew for a fact he owned.

The fact he had it impounded by the San Diego police during his 1999 arrest obviously means he still had it in 1997 after the murder. They very easily could have gotten a warrant to have it tested right after the murder or while it was in the possession of the San Diego police.

Regardless of any other evidence (which I’m sure there was), matching the gun to crime would by itself be pretty damning. A prostitute being raped and then killed using a gun owned by someone with a history of sexual assault and violence against women (and in particular prostitutes) would be pretty hard to explain away.

Instead of presenting (or apparently even seeking) that evidence however, investigators just filed it away along with the rape kit that they don’t seem to have had any interest in ever having processed. At best, this would have to be classified as a huge case of incompetence by the Las Vegas police and prosecutors.

In fact, it’s almost like they intentionally tried to avoid prosecuting one of their own by making sure the evidence didn’t get found. Almost exactly like that.

Original Local News Report

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Grand Jury to Review Manslaughter Charge Against LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera in Tashii Farmer-Brown Murder

LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera Grand Jury Manslaughter

A Las Vegas grand jury will review the involuntary manslaughter charge against LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera, who used an unauthorized choke-hold to murder Tashii Brown in May 2017.

Lawyers for Las Vegas Police Officer Kenneth Lopera (he didn’t personally attend) were in court Thursday (Jan. 25) for a preliminary hearing. It was described in a story by the local Fox affiliate as a date-setting hearing.

In May of 2017,  Lopera used an illegal choke-hold to murder Tashii Farmer-Brown, who had approached Lopera and another officer at the Venetian Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip asking for help. (See description below) Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department statements have referred to it as a “unauthorized restraint technique” in order to try and make it sound less violent than it actually was.

During the hearing, it was announced that prosecutors will have a grand jury review Officer Lopera’s involuntary manslaughter charge. Lopera has also been charged with one count of “oppression under the color of law.” That too will be reviewed by the grand jury.

The LVPPA, the Las Vegas police union, is providing legal defense (and has set up a fundraiser that violates the GoFundMe rules, but GoFundMe has refused to take down) for Lopera. Steve Grammas, their president is quoted as saying that they “welcome the review.” But then he’s also on record stating that he thinks hiring a cop who has murdered three people to officially advise cops that shoot someone is a good idea because “he has a lot of experience with that.”

The Clark County District Attorney’s Office was given until March 26th to seek an indictment against Lopera by the judge. The grand jury can choose to endorse those previous charges or could revise them.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

Ploy by Police & Prosecutors to Drop the Charges?

Of course, that last part about “revising” the charges is something that likely will cause people who have followed this case to take notice. Grand jury hearings are usually just a formality within the process of filing charges. The old saying, “any good prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich” is often used to illustrate just how easy it is.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Officer Kenneth Lopera

LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera

However, as has been pointed out before here at NVCopBlock.org, prosecutors often use grand juries to justify not indicting police officers after they kill someone. District attorneys are in full control of the proceedings and decide what evidence is presented (or not). Essentially, they throw the case then use the fact the grand jury didn’t issue an indictment to claim they did everything they could but the case just wasn’t strong enough.

They are also ostensibly the representatives of the victims during the grand jury proceedings, although they really work for the other side. Much more often than not, that carries over to when cops are accused of criminal behavior. The fact that grand juries are by law a secret hearing, with criminal penalties for anyone that discusses what transpired, ensures that no one (including even the jurors) can expose or even criticize their lackluster efforts.

The fact that Officer Lopera is only facing a manslaughter charge (involuntary at that) is itself a point of contention among locals. Most who have seen the body camera footage (embedded below) of Lopez repeatedly tazing, beating, and then choking Tashii Farmer-Brown to death feel it was a pretty clear cut case of murder.

If a grand jury somehow decides not to uphold even those charges, things are going to get hot early this year in Vegas.

Statement by Tashii Brown’s Mother Trinita Farmer

Tashii Brown’s Mother and “What Happened in Vegas” Q&A Panel Discussion

On May 14th, Tashii Farmer-Brown was beaten, tased at least seven times, and then choked to death by LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera. Brown had approached Lopera and another officer inside the Venetian Casino asking for help, stating he thought someone was chasing him. Instead of receiving that help, he was treated like a suspect by the officers, then chased into a parking area after he became afraid and tried to run away.

The choke hold that Ofc. Lopera used to kill Brown was not authorized by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, nor is use of a taser more than four times. Metro has also publicly admitted that Brown was not suspected of any crime at the time and in fact would not have been charged with a crime had he survived Lopera’s attack.

Therefore, Lopera had no legal reason to detain him in the first place. At the time that he began illegally choking him, Brown was also already being held down by at least two hotel security guards and did not represent a threat to anyone. Officer Lopera also refused to relinquish that “rear naked” choke hold when other officers that arrived at the scene told him to.

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Murder Charges Filed Against Former Las Vegas Cop After 1997 Rape Kit is Finally Processed Twenty Years Later

Rape Kit 1997 Murder Charges Arthur Lee Sewall Former LVMPD Officer

Former LVMPD Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr. has been charged with murder after a rape kit from 1997 was finally processed in 2017.

Earlier this week, former Metro Police Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr. was charged with murder and rape for the 1997 killing of a woman named Nadia Iverson. Iverson’s body had been found by a construction crew at an unoccupied apartment in May of that year. He was finally arrested on January 11th in Reno, where he had been living recently.

Sewall was named by prosecutors as a suspect the very same day that her body was discovered. However, although they had acquired a sample of his DNA in 1999, a positive identification of Sewall wasn’t made until February of 2017. The reason for that is because, due to a lack of funding, the rape kit collected from Iverson was not sent for processing until March of 2016.

In the meantime, Sewall spent a large percentage of those twenty years on probation for sex crimes committed while on duty prior to Iverson’s murder. In February of ’97 Officer Sewall had been caught on video attempting to force a woman to perform oral sex on him. Instead of being fully prosecuted for that crime, he was allowed to resign from the department and given a plea deal for two charges of oppression under the color of law.

He was then sentenced to probation, even though he was arrested in San Diego for soliciting a prostitute while awaiting sentencing. During that time on probation, he was caught in possession of a knife and gun by probation officers, failed to submit required reports, and also did not comply with a sex offender counseling program he had been ordered to complete.

Finally in 2004, he was sentenced to almost two years in prison for repeated probation violations. Even after being released from prison, he still didn’t comply the restrictions he was subject to as a convicted felon. At the time he was arrested in Reno, he had not registered his address change after moving from California and had to be tracked down by detectives. According to media reports (video embedded below), he then confessed to the murder of Iverson.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

The failure of police departments and city governments to fund the testing of rape kits across the country has left huge backlogs and prevented the arrest and conviction of rapists. As a result, many of those perpetrators have been able to continue victimizing women and committing other violent crimes for years and even decades in some cases. Others have been falsely convicted only to be exonerated once the testing was finally conducted.

In Southern Nevada alone 6,473 rape kits went untested, including approximately 5,600 connected to investigations within the LVMPD. It wasn’t until they received a $2.7 million grant from the New York State District Attorney’s Office that those kits began to get tested within the past couple of years.

Over 4,000 of those rape kits are still in the process of being tested or have not been sent out for testing to this day. Meanwhile, in recent times Metro has spent almost $300 million on a new headquarters complex, $42 million dollars on a new radio system that never worked properly (of which allegations of favoritism and kickbacks have been made), and another $26 million dollars to pay for the radio system that replaced it.

The City of Las Vegas also spent $185 million to build a new City Hall. That and the LVMPD’s HQ were both initiated in 2008. So somehow they managed to find the funding for those optional (and heavily criticized) expenditures during the worst recession in 70 years, but not for the (relatively) tiny fraction of cost that would be involved in the testing of the rape kits.

And that doesn’t even take into account the annual cost of payouts to victims of the misconduct and violence perpetrated by Las Vegas area police officers. In several recent years that money alone would have paid for all of the rape kits to be processed. That’s especially relevant when discussing a crime that was committed by one of those officers and then went unsolved for twenty years because there was no money for the rape kit to be processed.

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“It Was Murder – He’s a Monster” Joe Rogan Experience Discussion of Police Brutality and Daniel Shaver Shooting

Police Brutality Daniel Shaver Murder Discussion Joe Rogan Experience

Host Joe Rogan, comedian Duncan Trussell, and psychologist/author Christopher Ryan discuss police brutality and the murder of Daniel Shaver by Mesa, Arizona Police Officer Philip Braillsford during the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast.

If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

Embedded below is an excerpt from Joe Rogan’s podcast the “Joe Rogan Experience” during which there was a discussion of police brutality. Specifically, the discussion centers around the body camera video  (also embedded below) showing the 2016 murder of Daniel Shaver by Mesa Police Officer Philip Braillsford in Arizona. As pretty much everyone on the planet knows at this point, earlier this month a jury somehow managed to watch that video (contrary to what Rogan says in the video, they did watch it) and then decide Braillsford was not guilty of that murder.

Rogan is joined by two guests, Duncan Trussell, a comedian who hosts his own podcast, entitled the “Duncan Trussell Family Hour,” and Christopher Ryan, a psychologist, writer, and who (of course) also hosts his own podcast, entitled “Tangentially Speaking.” Not surprisingly and as is probably obvious by the title of this post, the common consensus is that Daniel Shaver was murdered that day.

Beyond that basic conclusion, there are some good points made about the situation itself and Braillsford. One thing brought up by Rogan, which actually hasn’t been discussed much, is that Arizona is an open carry state. In fact, Arizona is one of only thirteen states that recognizes “constitutional carrygun rights, meaning that you don’t need any license whatsoever to carry a gun, even when it is concealed.

To a large extent, that invalidates the very reason that the police were there in the first place, since it was based on someone reporting that they saw Shaver with a rifle. The fact that the witness claims he was pointing it out the window would be the only thing worthy of any investigation and, as noted, the demeanor of Shaver and the woman with him quite obviously wasn’t that of someone preparing to go on a killing spree.

Just what a monster Braillsford is and the fact that police departments attract psychopaths is another point brought up. As I and others have mentioned many times, the authoritarian nature of the police and their ability to inflict violence on others, often with little to no consequences for their abuses, attracts the type of people who have a desire to do so.

Then, of course, the other thing becoming incredibly obvious is that people are fed up with these type of crimes by the police being condoned and/or covered up and that discontent is likely heading toward a serious backlash.

Related Content on NVCopBlock.org:

Yes, All Cops ARE Bastards; How and Why Modern Policing Discourages Moral Responsibility

ACAB All Cops Are Bastards Police Violence Corruption

The “Thin Blue Line,” that even “Good Cops” abide by almost without exception, not only protects “Bad Apples,” but also enables and even incentivizes police corruption and violence.

Note: This post was shared with Nevada Cop Block via reader submission. It was originally posted at JohnLaurits.com, entitled, “All Cops Are Bad: How Modern Policing Negates Moral Responsibility” and has been posted as it was originally published by Laurits. (Some links to relevant content on NVCopBlock have been added within the original text.)

There are several ways you can support the writing and other work of John Laurits and I would encourage you to do so. That includes paypal donations, monthly Patreon contributions, as well as donations of Bitcoin  using the following wallet address: 1Nr5EvC3Ye6nZDJJP2ikD7X9SpxdAmeeZV.

If you see (or write) any blog posts, news stories, social media posts, or videos that you feel are relevant to NVCopBlock, send them to us. Also, please share any personal videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you have by sending them to us.

We will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

All Cops Are Bad: How Modern Policing Negates Moral Responsibility

Anyone following the news is probably aware that body-cam footage of Daniel Shaver’s murder was released earlier in December right after the officer who murdered him walked away with no conviction. A day after the video’s release, Oklahoma prosecutors chose not to file any charges after a deaf man walking with his cane was killed when police fired a taser and five bullets into his chest, pelvis, and arms after he failed to hear them shouting at him. Also during the same week, an 11-year-old black girl was held at gunpoint, hand-cuffed, and stuffed into the back of a police cruiser by officers who were searching for a middle-age, white, female suspect in Michigan. Meanwhile, an unarmed person was being shot to death in San Francisco by a rookie cop on his 4th day. As this post is written, US police have killed 1,132 human beings in 2017 so far and yet — in spite of this ongoing state-sponsored terror — questioning the integrity or usefulness of police institutions is still somehow seen as a pretty extremist thing to do.

There are a lot of very good reasons, however, that no one has ever written a song called Fuck Tha Fire Department

History & Origins of the Police:
A Tale of Two Law Enforcement Paradigms

Daniel Shaver Murder Philip Brailsford

Daniel Shaver and the cop who got away with murdering him

The police — or, more specifically, the policing institutions that exist today — are younger than most people imagine. The type of policing that exists today first emerged in France during the 1700s and the earliest use of “police officer” only appears in the USA in 1794, while the first known use of “police station” is from 1817. Just 200 years ago. The concept of policing has existed for a long time, of course — but these cops are something else…

Traditional Concepts of Policing:
Watchmen & Community Self-Policing

Long before the police institutions of today were established, policing was mostly a grassroots enterprise. In pre-industrial Europe, the law was usually enforced by volunteer watchmen who formed local groups known as the night watch or simply the watch. With the exception of large cities ( which is where empires, such as Rome, liked to keep their armies ), most towns and communities did not expect government authorities to deal with everyday criminal activity — so people did it themselves. While a lack of official oversight meant watch-groups could be prone to corruption, the fact that similar groups appear all over world-history shows that self-policing at the local level is a viable model that can spring up spontaneously in human society.

Private Security & Mercenary Forces

In cities with greater levels of crime, the watch might be assisted by inspectors or constables employed by the city’s authorities to protect commerce and help with more serious crimes. Merchants and traders who had a lot of valuable goods typically hired private security guards to protect their wares. Even with the watch and a city official on duty, businesses did not expect the government to take responsibility for guarding their interests — it was, after all, their business.

The Modern Police Department:
A Government Takeover of Policing

acab history police riot gear militarization ftp

1850 Historical Poster No Police Aberystwyth Boys Community PatrolsThen, the police changed in a big way. As the feudal power-structures of Europe broke down beneath a wave of revolutions in the 18th century, governments took a more active role in law enforcement and the first centralized policing organization was created in France by King Louis XIV. The duties of the new police were bluntly described as a mechanism of class-control over workers and peasants:

“ensuring the peace and quiet of the public and of private individuals, purging the city of what may cause disturbances, procuring abundance, and having each and everyone live according to their station and their duties

While France’s Gendarmes were seen as a symbol of oppression in other parts of Europe, the French policing model spread during the early 1800s as Napoleon Bonaparte conquered much of the continent. By the mid-1800s, modern policing institutions — publicly-funded, centralized police organized in a military hierarchy and under the control of the state — had been transplanted everywhere from Tsarist Russia to England and the United States.

Power, Paramilitary,
& Political Policing

plantation police slave patrols history of US copsPolicing became the exclusive right of governments as other law enforcement groups were absorbed into new and “official” institutions. The new police were not just tasked with serving the public, however — they also protected the political power of their new employers. It was a revolutionary era and the new police were shaped by rulers facing a particularly mutinous  population. The use of police as the vanguard of state-power was a major development and it was adapted to repress popular movements all over the world. Early police organizations in the US, for example, pretty much handed blue uniforms to former slave-patrols and anti-union mercenaries who had historically protected the interests of plantation-bosses in the South and industrial capitalists in the North.

( For more on the historical links between slavery, anti-union security, and law enforcement, read “Private Property Is the Police-State” )

The Problem of Modern Policing:
The Negation of Moral Responsibility

This was a fundamental shift — police were no longer organized as a response to the needs of communities but as an instrument of state-authority. With government officials deciding the scope and extent of policing practices, watchmen became employees of the government and ordinary citizens no longer had any control over the police. A watchmen’s authority could be challenged if they pissed off too many peasants because it was the peasants who organized the patrol to begin with — the authority of the state, however, is trickier to challenge.

FTP Don't Trust Cops Sesame Street Big Bird

Today, the police are a military hierarchy organized in a chain of command of captains, sergeants, etc — patrols do whatever their superior officers’ say, those officers do whatever their superiors say, and so on into the bureaucratic abyss. To be part of the police, officers must obey orders, just as the members in any military must. Since failing to obey orders is a pretty quick and reliable way to leave a police force, cops who disobey orders are pretty rare ( and only employed as officers very briefly ).

Because of this, cops lack what philosophers call moral agency.

Moral Agency & Diffusion of Responsibility

Good Cops Ignoring the Violence Corruption of Bad ApplesMoral agency is the ability to know whether an action is right or wrong. For example, if a bear kills a person, there is no moral issue because that’s just how bears operate but, if a person kills a person, they need to hire a lawyer because people typically have more options than bears do, which means they can be held responsible for their actions. Murder is not just killing — murder is having a choice not to kill and killing anyway. Without moral agency, there is no murder. In fact, the whole idea of “justice” assumes that moral agency exists, which is why most legal systems do not prosecute kids or folks with certain mental illnesses — if someone lacks the ability to do the right thing, it is pointless to punish them for not doing it.

Modern policing deprives cops of moral agency at a structural level. With a militaristic chain of command as the institutional core, moral responsibility for the actions of individual officers is transferred to the abstract spook of governmental authority. The result is that nobody can be held responsible and the officer becomes an inanimate tool in the spooky hand of an unseen and unaccountable bureaucracy — the police officer becomes no more than a vessel for policies, totally devoid of agency and free of its consequences.

And without agency, there can be no accountability. There can be no justice.

Why All Cops Are Bad
( Yes, Every Last One)

ACAB All Cats Are Beautiful All Cops Are BastardsIf you are stopped by a cop, then A.C.A.B. means ‘All Cats Are Beautiful’ — but, in any other situation, A.C.A.B. stands for All Cops Are Bad or All Coppers Are Bastards, depending on how edgy you wanna be. There is extreme social pressure from all sides to support the boys in blue ( as the Ninja Turtles call them) and criticism of the police is supposed to be followed by reassurances that “most cops are good” or that “it’s just a few bad apples.” But all of that sidesteps the actual problem, which is a structural problem. The fact that 3.3% of all injuries treated in US emergency rooms are inflicted by police is not because some cops are unpleasant people — it is because the institutions are structured to shield officers from being held responsible for their actions as individuals.

All cops are bad because no cop has moral agency. They might be a good parent or a good friend or even a good saxophonist — but they are not a good cop. Without agency, moral responsibility is negated and the result is that nobody is responsible for executing Daniel Shaver on his knees as he pleaded for his life. Nobody is responsible for Philando Castille being shot to death in front of his partner and her child and nobody is responsible for firing the bullets that extinguished the life of a 12 year-old black child named Tamir Rice as he played in the park.

Fuck the Police” Is a Moral Statement

Cops Beating People with Batons Police BrutalityAs the first paragraph of this post was written, 1,132 human beings had been slaughtered by US police so far in 2017 — as its last paragraphs are written, that number has grown to 1,142.  And it will grow more by the time most of you read this. (Note: It’s now up to 1,147, as of the time this was cross-posted on Dec. 20th. – Less than one day later.) Instances of particularly despicable police violence, such as the execution of Daniel Shaver, sometimes force their way onto the newsreel — but the vast majority who are killed by police simply slip into the oblivion beneath the headlines. There are not enough hours each day to report on that much suffering.

And none of this is going to change, either — not until more of us have had enough. Not until our courage to speak out against the police is greater than the social and political pressure to deny that the problem exists. Not until more of us are more offended by cops shooting kids than by someone saying “fuck the police.” Fuck the institution of policing. Fuck the structural mechanisms that rob police of their humanity as much as they rob our mothers of their children. And even if your brother-in-law or [insert family-member or relative here] is a really nice person — when they wear that badge — fuck them, too.

In solidarity,
John Laurits

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LVMPD Documentary “What Happened in Vegas” Premieres in Los Angeles on Friday (Dec. 1st) at Laemmle Music Hall

Documentary What Happened in Vegas Ramsey Denison Laemmle Los Angeles Premier

What Happened in Vegas” by Ramsey Denison, the documentary about police brutality and corruption at the LVMPD, premiers in Los Angeles at Laemmle Music Hall 9pm Friday Dec. 1st.

Los Angeles Premier

What Happened in Vegas,” the award winning documentary by Ramsey Denison, is set to open in Los Angeles tomorrow. The official West Coast theatrical premier of the documentary about corruption, coverups, and police brutality at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is being held at the Laemmle Theater in Beverly Hills (a “Secret Path to Oscar Qualifying” for independent films, short films, and documentaries) at 9pm on Friday, December 1st. (Purchase tickets here.)

As has been detailed numerous times here at NVCopBlock.org, What Happened in Vegas explores the extremely controversial killings of Trevon Cole, Erik Scott, Stanley Gibson, and Tashii Farmer-Brown by Las Vegas police and the cover ups that followed. Several other instances of violent, racist, and/or outright criminal acts by members of the LVMPD are also featured to illustrate the overall systemic corruption within the department.

In the run up to the official opening, What Happened in Vegas has already received positive reviews from the Los Angeles media. In a preview article in the LA Weekly (originally published at the Village Voice), Daphne Howland writes:

Denison’s documentary What Happened in Vegas is more than a revenge project. He unveils a pattern of police malfeasance, including cover-ups and lies, through disturbing stories of unjustified deaths.

It’s a damning takedown of the city’s powers that be — casinos cozy with a sheriff willing to protect their interests, and a constabulary infected with a Wild West mentality, armed with military weaponry and prone to lies. He argues that those powers even abet a law enforcement debacle surrounding the recent mass shooting at an outdoor music festival that left 58 concertgoers dead and nearly 500 injured.

Denison keeps up the pace — those television skills coming in handy — and unpacks a lot. But he also allows in some light. There are plenty of Las Vegas police officers who want things to change, and Denison gives them, and the victims’ families, a voice.

(As mentioned within the review, What Happened in Vegas also addresses several questions and issues about the investigation surrounding the shootings from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas by Stephen Paddock during the “Route 91 Festival” on Oct. 1st.)

Last week, What Happened in Vegas premiered in New York City at the Cinema Village Theater in East Manhattan on  Black Friday. Subsequent New York showtimes after the official theatrical premier can be found here. The New York opening represented the first showing of the movie within commercial theaters. Prior to that, What Happened in Vegas enjoyed a very successful run of screenings at film festivals throughout the country.

After premiering to rave reviews at Cinequest in San Jose in March, What Happened in Vegas won several awards in subsequent festivals. Among those awards was Best Documentary at the Las Vegas Black Film Festival and the Grand Prize award at the Anthem Film Festival, which is hosted by FreedomFest here in Las Vegas.

In addition, What Happened in Vegas is currently available for pre-order on iTunes.

Police Interference with Las Vegas Showings

Incidentally, outside of the two festival showings previously mentioned, audiences within Las Vegas have yet to see What Happened in Vegas. The reason for that is very much not because of a lack of interest. In fact, three different commercial theater chains had at one time expressed interest in showing the movie here in town.

However, in all those cases that initial interest waned due to the controversial nature of the film and potential fallout from it. It’s even been reported that they received visits from representatives of the LVMPD to help them make that decision. Sources I’ve been in contact with have also told me that Metro has issued a memo to all of their officers directing them not to discuss What Happened in Vegas publicly.

Once you see the movie, you will very much understand why Metro desperately doesn’t want it to be shown theatrically within the city of Las Vegas. It very clearly, convincingly, and dramatically lays out the criminal nature of Sheriff Lombardo and others at the top of the LVMPD and the real consequences of it for the residents and visitors of Las Vegas.

“What Happened in Vegas” Trailer

“What Happened in Vegas” Filmmaker Intro

Body Cam Video of Tashii Farmer-Brown Murder by Officer Kenneth Lopera

The LVMPD’s Shifting Timeline for the Oct. 1st Las Vegas Mass Shooting

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Police Brutality Documentary “What Happened in Vegas” Set to Premier in New York on Black Friday (Nov. 24th)

New York Premier What Happened in Vegas Cinema Village Theater

“What Happened in Vegas,” the documentary about corruption and police brutality within the LVMPD by Ramsey Denison, premiers in New York at Cinema Village on Friday, Nov. 24th.

New York Premier

What Happened in Vegas,” the award winning documentary by Ramsey Denison, is set to open in New York City this week. The first showing of the movie about police brutality within the city of Las Vegas takes place at the Cinema Village Theater in East Manhattan on (Black) Friday, Nov. 24th at 7:00pm. Subsequent showtimes after the official theatrical premier can be found here.

As has been detailed numerous times here at NVCopBlock.org, What Happened in Vegas explores the extremely controversial killings of Trevon Cole, Erik Scott, Stanley Gibson, and Tashii Farmer-Brown by Las Vegas police and the cover ups that followed. Several other instances of violent, racist, and/or outright criminal acts by members of the LVMPD are also featured to illustrate the overall systemic corruption within the department.

In the run up to the official opening, What Happened in Vegas has already begun receiving positive reviews by New York media. In a preview article entitled “A Filmmaker Reported Police Brutality in Las Vegas. So the Cops Arrested Him,” Daphne Howland of the Village Voice wrote:

Denison’s documentary What Happened in Vegas is more than a revenge project. He unveils a pattern of police malfeasance, including cover-ups and lies, through disturbing stories of unjustified deaths.

It’s a damning takedown of the city’s powers that be — casinos cozy with a sheriff willing to protect their interests, and a constabulary infected with a Wild West mentality, armed with military weaponry and prone to lies. He argues that those powers even abet a law enforcement debacle surrounding the recent mass shooting at an outdoor music festival that left 58 concertgoers dead and nearly 500 injured.

Denison keeps up the pace — those television skills coming in handy — and unpacks a lot. But he also allows in some light. There are plenty of Las Vegas police officers who want things to change, and Denison gives them, and the victims’ families, a voice.

(As mentioned within the review, What Happened in Vegas also addresses several questions and issues about the investigation surrounding the shootings from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas by Stephen Paddock during the “Route 91 Festival” on Oct. 1st.)

The New York opening represents the first showing of the movie within commercial theaters. Prior to that, What Happened in Vegas enjoyed a very successful run of screenings at film festivals throughout the country.

After premiering to rave reviews at Cinequest in San Jose in March, What Happened in Vegas won several awards in subsequent festivals. Among those awards was Best Documentary at the Las Vegas Black Film Festival and the Grand Prize award at the Anthem Film Festival, which is hosted by FreedomFest here in Las Vegas.

Los Angeles Premier, Las Vegas Showings, and Beyond

Next month, What Happened in Vegas will make its West Coast theatrical premier when it opens in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Theater in Beverly Hills on December 1st. BTW, word on the streets is that playing at the Laemmle Theaters is a “Secret Path to Oscar Qualifying” for independent films, short films, and documentaries that normally haven’t received the attention that big-budget, studio films are afforded. So, Joe Lombardo and the rest of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in theory could really get their ivory tower shook up by a cameo with a guy named Oscar come February. (#JusSayin)

Speaking of the LVMPD and appearances they desperately don’t want to happen, outside of the two festival appearances previously mentioned, audiences within Las Vegas have yet to see What Happened in Vegas. The reason for that is not a lack of interest. In fact, two different commercial theater chains had at one time expressed interest in showing the movie here in town.

However, in both cases that interest waned due to the controversial nature of the film and potential fallout from it. It’s been reported that they even received visits from representatives of the LVMPD to help them make that decision. Sources I’ve been in contact with have also told me that Metro has issued a memo to all of their officers directing them not to discuss What Happened in Vegas publicly.

Regardless of that, plans are for the movie to show theatrically within the city of Las Vegas, one way or another, at some point after the New York and Los Angeles premiers. In the meantime, What Happened in Vegas is currently available for pre-order on iTunes.

“What Happened in Vegas” Trailer

“What Happened in Vegas” Filmmaker Intro

Body Cam Video of Tashii Farmer-Brown Murder by Officer Kenneth Lopera

The LVMPD’s Shifting Timeline for the Oct. 1st Las Vegas Mass Shooting

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After Officer Mohammed Noor Shot Justine Damond Minneapolis Police Got A Search Warrant For Her House

Justine Damond Officer Mohamed Noor Minneapolis Police

For some inexplicable reason Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor “feared for his life” when him and his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity were approached by an unarmed 40 year old woman wearing pajamas. The Minneapolis Police Department’s equally ridiculous response to Noor shooting Justine Damond, whose “crime” was calling the police to report a potential sexual assault, was to go out and get a search warrant for Damond’s house.

According to a description of the search warrant posted at KSTP.com, the intent seems to have been to find evidence of drug usage or some sort of written statements by Damond:

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators were granted permission to search Justine Damond’s home hours after she was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer, according to court records.

A criminal law expert can’t understand why.

“I don’t understand why they’re looking for bodily fluids inside her home,” said Joseph Daly, an emeritus professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, referring to one of two recently-released search warrant applications.

“Whose bodily fluids are they looking for? Is she a suspect? I don’t understand why they’re looking for controlled substances inside her home. I don’t understand why they’re looking for writings inside her home. The warrant does not explain that to me.”

“When I read that search warrant, I really cannot find probable cause to search her home,” he continued.

According to court documents, investigators applied for the warrant on the following grounds:

  • The property or things above-described was used as a means of committing a crime
  • The possession of the property or things above-described constitutes a crime.
  • The property or things above-described is in the possession of a person with intent to use such property as a means of committing a crime, or the property or things so intended to be used are in the possession of another to whom they have been delivered for the purpose of concealing them or preventing their being discovered.
  • The property or things above-described constitutes evidence which tends to show a crime has been committed, or tends to show that a particular person has committed a crime.

Asked if that means the BCA considers Damond to be a suspect, spokesperson Jill Oliveira replied via email:

“No, an individual involved in the incident.”

Daly, who said he has served as a visiting professor at the University of Queensland in Damond’s native Australia, believes concerned members of the public in both countries will be outraged by the BCA’s request to search the home.

Instead of investigating Noor’s deadly actions, the first reaction to a completely unjustifiable murder by a police officer against an innocent woman was to go and file for a search warrant for her house. The focus of that search on the victim rather than the shooter, along with the statements about Damond being “panicked” during her 911 calls, Noor being startled by a loud noise, and the references to ambushes of police officers tells you what their true intent was in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

They were hoping to find something to smear her name with and make it appear that she was acting irrationally or in some way that could somehow be construed as threatening. Just for good measure, they’ve also made sure to say that a cell phone was found near her body, so they can claim he thought she was holding a gun. As is common practice for police departments when one of their own kills an innocent person, they were already setting up a scenario where Damond had caused her own death.

Meanwhile, Noor reportedly feels that his Brothas in Blue have “thrown him under the bus.” According to an anonymous friend, “His colleagues are accusing him of not showing proper police conduct on Saturday night.” To be fair, cops will normally support one of their own, regardless of how heinous and obvious their crime might be. However, it’s a bit hard to argue with anyone that says that shooting an innocent, unarmed woman is proper conduct.

In another development last week, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau has been forced to resign by Mayor Betsy Hodges. It’s been a bad couple weeks in the arena of public opinion for Chief Harteau. In rapid succession, she has had another murderous cop get off after shooting Philando Castile and video surface an officer executing a family’s pet dogs.

Tashii Brown’s Mother Calls For Murder Charge Against Las Vegas Cop At “What Happened in Vegas” Screening

Tashii Farmer Brown Family Mother Trinita What Happened in Vegas ScreeningLast week, following a screening of “What Happened in Vegas,” Tashii Farmer-Brown‘s mother, Trenita Farmer, addressed the media in attendance. The statement, quoted below, represents the first time that Brown’s family had spoken publicly since he was murdered in May (2017) by Las Vegas Police at the Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip.

Over 200 people attended the July 20th screening at the Anthem Film Festival, which is part of Freedom Fest inside the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The screening was very well received (it was later awarded the film festival’s grand prize) and the majority of those people stayed for the press conference. In addition, a question and answer panel followed featuring director Ramsey Denison, producer Randy Wiles, and Neill Franklin of LEAP.

Las Vegas Metro LVMPD Police State ChalkDuring the screening, Trinita and other members of Brown’s family left the room after becoming emotional and were unable to watch the film. There were others in the audience, including family members of other people featured in it, that also began crying. The four cases that “What Happened in Vegas” focuses on, those of Brown, Trevon Cole, Erik Scott, and Stanley Gibson, are some of the most controversial killings by police in the history of Las Vegas.

Tashii Brown’s murder, which was caught on both Lopera’s body camera and casino surveillance footage, was so graphic and so obviously unnecessary that his story was added to the video just prior to this screening. In the months since, Lopera’s actions and the response of the LVMPD’s leadership has been questioned heavily, both locally and nationally.

As is typical for crimes committed by their officers, Metro immediately began attempting to blame the victim by smearing Brown’s character. Also, even though Officer Lopera eventually became the first Las Vegas area police officer to be charged with a crime as a result of killing someone while on duty, he was only charged with Involuntary Manslaughter.

Within her statement, Farmer addressed that low level charge and called for Clark County District Attorney Steve to charge Lopera with the appropriate one. While she didn’t specify it herself, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out that the crime Officer Kenneth Lopera committed that day was murder.

Here is the full text of Trinita Farmer’s statement. Below that is video of the press conference.

“I’d like to thank everybody for coming today. I’m happy that the police officer that killed my son has been charged, but it’s not enough. If it was a regular person, a citizen, they wouldn’t have been so lenient on them. Because it was an officer, he was given special treatment. I call on District Attorney Wolfson to re-examine the case and charge this officer appropriately.

Tashii was my heart. He was a good son, a good father. And he had a lot of dreams. They never gave him a chance. He didn’t deserve this. I thank you guys for coming.”

Statement by Tashii Brown’s Mother Trinita Farmer

Tashii Brown’s Mother and “What Happened in Vegas” Q&A Panel Discussion

On May 14th, Tashii Brown was beaten, tased at least seven times, and then choked to death by LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera. Brown had approached Lopera and another officer inside the Venetian Casino asking for help, stating he thought someone was chasing him. Instead of receiving that help, he was treated like a suspect by the officers, then chased into a parking area after he became afraid and tried to run away.

The choke hold that Ofc. Lopera used to kill Brown was not authorized by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, nor is use of a taser more than four times. Metro has also publicly admitted that Brown was not suspected of any crime at the time and in fact would not have been charged with a crime had he survived Lopera’s attack.

Therefore, Lopera had no legal reason to detain him in the first place. At the time that he began illegally choking him, Brown was also already being held down by at least two hotel security guards and did not represent a threat to anyone. Officer Lopera also refused to relinquish that “rear naked” choke hold when other officers that arrived at the scene told him to.

Body Cam Video of Tashii Farmer-Brown Murder by Officer Kenneth Lopera

“What Happened in Vegas” Trailer

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