Tag Archives: car accident

Columbia MO Police Commit Felony Wiretap to Record Phone Call Between Attorney and Client

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by Stephen Wyse, a civil rights attorney from Missouri, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. The accompanying video, embedded below, was posted to the Citizens For Justice YouTube channel. Additional information about Citizens For Justice can be found at their Facebook page.

MEDIA ADVISORY

January 27, 2017

Columbia, Missouri – Civil Rights Attorney Stephen Wyse filed dual criminal and Internal Affairs complaints against a presently unidentified Columbia Police Department officer or officers for felony wiretap act violations of recording the attorney-client phone call between Shayne Healea and his attorney Shane Farrow on October 24, 2014.

In October 2016, Wyse made repeated calls to Boone County Prosecutor Daniel Knight requesting for him to appoint a special prosecutor to determine if this felony by a Columbia Police Officer(s) was a single incident or part of the pattern and practice of Columbia Police Officers to illegally record attorney-client communications and use them in their investigations and/or turn them over to government prosecutors.

Shayne Healea is presently the Moniteau County Prosecuting Attorney. Before becoming an attorney he was a police officer that worked undercover in a multi-jurisdiction drug task force. He is currently awaiting trial on DUI charges related to a 2014 car accident.

Columbia Police Commit Felony Wiretap

Columbia Police officer(s) recorded a legally privileged phone call between Shayne Healea and his attorney Shane Farrow on October 24, 2014, at the Columbia Police Department. The officer(s) involved have yet to be identified.

Mr. Healea had been arrested on October 24, 2014, after which he had requested to speak with his attorney in private. At first, the yet unidentified officer refused to permit a private and legally privileged attorney-client phone call. But then the officer apparently relented and placed Mr. Healea in holding cell for privacy to talk with his attorney. A legal duty the officer was required to obey as commanded by both Missouri law and the United States Constitution. Unbeknownst to Mr. Healea this Columbia Police officer was using electronic surveillance equipment placed in the holding cell to enable police commit felony wiretap and record the 15 to 20 minute phone call between Healea and his lawyer.

As an attorney who has had what I believed to be legally privileged attorney-client conversations with my clients within the confines of the Columbia Police Department. I was outraged when news reports from the Columbia Tribune and Columbia Missourian revealed that Columbia police officer(s) had committed a felony wiretap and I was concerned that my client(s) rights might also have been violated by similar criminal actions committed by the police.

– Stephen Wyse

Stephen Wyse’s complete blog post on the subject with links to his complaint and a video report from Wyse can be found here:

Columbia Police Commit Felony Wiretap of Attorney-Client Phone Call

 

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California Officer (Only) Demoted for Driving Drunk; Texting During Hit and Run in Police Vehicle

I’ve finally found a victimless crime that police are unwilling to enforce. Of course, by some odd coincidence that crime (along with several others that also weren’t enforced) was committed by another Hero in Blue.

In spite of admitting that he had been drinking and was sending a text when he ran into a parked semi in Temecula (a suburb of Los Angeles), a police officer from the Riverside Police Department wasn’t charged with driving under the influence or texting while driving. Nor was he charged with leaving the scene of an accident, even though he had to be tracked down to his house after the accident and at least one motorist had also called to report his car was “swerving all over the roadway” and had hit a curb.

Instead, Chad Milby‘s only punishment was being demoted from lieutenant to sergeant. Although the department used “privacy regulations” to avoid discussing it, or the $9,500 in damages he caused in the process, that presumably resulted from the fact Milby also was driving an undercover police vehicle at the time and hadn’t reported the accident, as is required.

Via the Press-Enterprise:

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, which provides police services for Temecula, investigated the crash that happened the night of April 29 on Wolf Store Road east of Mahlon Vail Road.

When a deputy questioned Milby at his home later that night, he did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol, the sheriff’s incident report said.

Milby was not cited for violating the state Vehicle Code section requiring the use of a hands-free device to text because an officer must witness an infraction to write a ticket, said Deputy Michael Vasquez, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman.

The driver of the truck did not want to press hit-and-run charges, Vasquez said, so there was no victim. Some crimes, such as domestic violence, can be prosecuted with the state of California as the victim, Vasquez said, but hit and run is not one of them.

Milby, through a Riverside police spokeswoman, declined to comment for this story.

The deputy who questioned Milby, whose name was redacted from the report provided to The Press-Enterprise, said he was dispatched to a report of a hit and run involving a semi at 10:46 p.m. April 29. Two minutes earlier, the deputy wrote, there was a separate report of a silver car “swerving all over the roadway” and that the car hit a curb about a mile away.

The deputy examined the semi and found only a scuff on a tire. He also found pieces of the city’s car.

Milby reported the crash to the Riverside Police Department, the deputy wrote. The deputy did not specify when. Department policy requires crashes to be “promptly” reported to a supervisor and a collision report filed with the agency having jurisdiction where the crash occurred.

The policy also prohibits using take-home cars for personal errands “beyond a reasonable minor detour,” unless approved, and prohibits driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. It also bans, without permission, drinking any alcohol within four hours before driving.

Milby told the deputy he had drank two beers between 6 and 10 p.m. before the crash.

The deputy contacted Milby in the driveway of his home in Temecula and said he noticed “an odor of either cologne or fragrant soap, preventing me from detecting an odor of an alcoholic beverage.” But Milby did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol, the deputy wrote.

Milby told the deputy that his airbag deployed when he hit some unknown object, but he did not stop because he did not see any vehicles or injured pedestrians. He did not immediately check for damage to his car. Milby could not explain why he didn’t report the crash to the Sheriff’s Department.

Milby called the deputy the next day to add that he was responding to a text message from his wife at the time of the crash.

The deputy subsequently talked with a second witness who said he saw a silver car with its hazard lights on and the airbag inflated “doing donuts” near the site of Milby’s crash.

It’s not exactly hard to figure out why he didn’t report the crash or hang around to talk about. Or, for that matter, why there was another odor preventing that unnamed deputy from detecting the smell of alcohol. I’m sure that deputy couldn’t put two and two together, either. I’m also rather sure that if anyone else admitted to drinking and texting while driving during an investigation of a hit and run accident in which witnesses reported their car swerving all over the road and doing donuts (the joke writes itself) with their airbag deployed nearby, they wouldn’t have charged them with anything at all either.

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Colorado Springs Police Officer G. Lucero Fails to Protect or Serve Accident Victim

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by a reader who only provided the first name Shannon (Shae), via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

Note: This isn’t the first time Officer Gilberto Lucero’s behavior and demeanor has been called into question. In March  2015, we received another submission regarding Officer Lucero.

Date of Incident: November 4, 2016 (Around 6:30pm)
Officer Involved: Officer Gilberto Lucero
Department Involved: Colorado Springs Police Department – 217 Division
Department Phone No.: (719) 444-7240

I had just gotten into a bad car accident. The other driver had tried to beat the light, and I couldn’t see him coming because the other cars that did stop blocked my view of that lane. I thought all was good until it was too late. I was heading west and as I was making my left turn heading south, the other driver hit me so hard that, when all was said and done, my car was facing north east on the corner of Fillmore and Wood.

I’d never been in an accident where I was hit so hard my air bag deployed and I was freaking out! I’m in a panic, I’m scared and shaking. People are running up to me from out of nowhere asking me if I was OK and telling me I should sit down. I’d said I was fine, just a nervous wreck.

When the policeman showed up, he started barking at me; I need your license, I need your insurance, etc… I handed him my license and told him I couldn’t get the rest of it because the glove box wouldn’t open. It had gotten crushed in the accident. He began yelling at me, “Are you towing this or am I going to have to do it” He showed no concern for my well being. He was just barking a million and one orders at me. Get all the stuff out of your car, I need your insurance info, you need to fill out this form, if you don’t get this car towed I’ll tow it.

I turned and looked at him and said, I’m trying to do the best I can. I’m a ball of nerves and you’re not helping. I can only do one thing at a time! I was already on the phone with the insurance lady and she said “would he like to speak with me? So I looked at him and said, “Do you want talk to the lady?” He said I don’t fucking want anything to do with that! You need to get your car moved out of the middle of the road! I thought my car isn’t in the middle of the road the other person’s is! Mine was crunched up against the corner curb! And yes, he did use that cuss word and he walked away, temporarily.

IMG_20161114_152849Within about 10-15 minutes the tow company came and that seemed to satisfy him. He told me to go wait over at the 7-11 for the tow guy. After I was done and I filled out the paperwork, he was so desperate for me to get done. I said well I need the other person’s insurance info. You haven’t given me anything! He yelled at me, “I told you already I would call you back when I get that info!” And he then handed me a ticket!

What!? Why? I didn’t run the light! The other guy did. He said with such an attitude. Like I was a criminal! (I’m still shaking from the fear and shock of accident.) With that attitude he asked me how did I know the other person ran the light. I said because after yellow comes red! It was yellow and everyone else had stopped. That’s how I know he ran the light! Because after the light is green and it turns yellow what comes after that red! I’ve got common sense! They didn’t knock that out of me!

He was just so rude, obnoxious, arrogant, and not at all worried about me and my well being. I was just an annoyance to him. He was no help at all. That’s what I thought police were for. To help you, not make you feel like a bother and a criminal! I was appalled with his pushy bossy and down right RUDE attitude!! He was in no way there to help out or make me feel safe! It was just the opposite! And the strange thing about this whole nightmare is the one thing that stuck in my head was his name. Officer Lucero!

The rest of the accident is a blur. I can’t even remember what I wrote on that piece of paper he so urgently wanted me to fill out. But I do remember his name and what he looks like. That’s how much of an asshole he was. His name stuck in my head. When I was telling my friend about the accident she paused and said something’s not right, and she remembered hearing his name before about harassing the handicapped lady. We got online and now I’m telling you my story.

Thank you very much for taking time to read this. If you have any advice it would be greatly appreciated. And if anyone out there reads this and was witness to this accident, please, I know Lucero didn’t even try to ask anyone else what happened. It was on Fillmore and Wood right where the 7-11 is. It happened on the 4th of Nov. 2016, around 6:30pm, just over a week ago. To be exact, ten days ago. Thank you! And thank you to those people who did show concern and consideration for me and the other driver in the Academy driving school car. Who also is fine just fyi.

– Sincerely, Shae

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New York Sheriff’s Deputy James H. Bissell III Only Fined $504 For Fatal Car Crash in Plea Deal

Niagara County Deputy James H. Bissell III was sentenced to a small fine after agreeing to a plea deal for an on-duty accident last year, in spite of the fact that he seriously injured a woman and killed her husband in that accident. In exchange for pleading guilty to three traffic infractions, the charge of reckless driving he had been facing was dropped.

Via the Buffalo News:

The former Niagara County sheriff’s deputy whose patrol car T-boned a sport utility vehicle last year, killing its driver, pleaded guilty to three traffic violations Tuesday.

James H. Bissell III, 31, who had been a deputy for only 39 days when the crash occurred, was fined a total of $501 by Cambria Town Justice Amel S. Jowdy Jr. after Bissell admitted to imprudent speed, failure to yield the right of way and running a stop sign.

Jowdy Jr. imposed a $75 fine and a $92 state surcharge for each count.

Niagara County taxpayers could be liable for much more than that when a civil suit by the victim’s widow is either settled or tried.

“As long as he pleads to a violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, that cements the county’s liability. It becomes an admission of liability,” said Terrence M. Connors, attorney for Mary A. Annalora of Newfane, the victim’s widow.

Her husband, Glenn T. Annalora, 61, died from injuries suffered when Bissell’s patrol car smashed into the driver’s side of the Jeep at Ridge and North Ridge roads in Cambria shortly after 7 p.m. Oct. 22.

Mary Annalora, 58, who was a passenger in the Jeep, suffered multiple injuries, including fractured ribs and vertebrae, according to her lawsuit against the county.

I’m sure someone not wearing a Magic Suit would get off with a few minor traffic tickets after killing someone. And the bonus is that taxpayers get to pay for the million dollar lawsuit that will be getting settled soon with the victim that survived. To be fair though, his wrist is gonna sting for a minute and it’ll probably be a month or two before he gets hired by another police department.

As you can see in the video below, Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour also sent Thoughts and Prayers.

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New York Cop Who Crashed a Stolen Car While Drunk Then Ran From the Scene Fined $1000 and Not Even Fired

Nicholas P. Kozack, a Kingston NY police officer, got drunk on St. Patrick’s Day, stole a car, wrecked into a highway sign after missing an exit, flipped the car totaling it, and then ran away from the accident site. He was later caught hiding nearby in someone’s backyard. Initially, he was charged with DWI, leaving the scene of an accident, and felony possession of stolen property.

One would think he’d be in big trouble after all that. However, one would soon be reminded that Officer Kozack has a Magic Suit that renders him impervious to meaningful consequences for his actions, regardless of how illegal, immoral, dangerous, or even deadly they might be. Instead, Kozack received a rather generous Policeman’s Discount and was allowed to plead to a misdemeanor DWI charge by Ulster County Assistant District Attorney Margo Hanstein.

His “punishment” will consist of a $1000 fine, getting one of his co-workers to sign a paper saying he attended a “victim’s impact” class, and having to get someone to blow into the tube attached to his car for a year when he drives drunk (unless he steals another car in order to avoid that indignity).

Priot to that, he also had to pay the person whose car he stole almost $2500 to cover what the insurance didn’t pick up and was given a thirty day suspension before it converted into a paid vacation for the past six months. But he could afford that since he didn’t even lose his $68,000+/year job. He also didn’t even lose his license, although there’s no word on whether he will be required to have an anti-alcohol ignition lock installed on his patrol car.

Via the Daily Freeman:

Kozack pleaded guilty before Ulster town Judge Marsha Weiss in full satisfaction of the charges against him. He was then sentenced to pay a $1,000 fine, ordered to attend a victims’ impact panel, and was ordered to install an ignition interlock device on his vehicle for one year.

Kozack was given a 20-day stay in order to apply for a conditional driver’s license. His license had been surrendered to Weiss in April.

His attorney, Kevin Harp, said Kozack had waived an earlier hearing with the state Department of Motor Vehicles regarding his refusal to submit to a sobriety test after the accident.

Harp added that Tuesday’s sentence was standard for a person pleading guilty to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge. (He forgot to add that people committing this type and number of crimes don’t typically get the opportunity to plead down to a misdemeanor drunk driving charge – Editor)

Prior to pleading guilty, a felony possession of stolen property charge against Kozack was reduced to a misdemeanor by Ulster County Assistant District Attorney Margo Hanstein.

The stolen property charge was in relation to the vehicle Kozack was driving at the time of the crash.

“He paid restitution to the owner of the vehicle to cover all out of pocket expenses not covered by insurance,” Harp said of Kozack. He said paying the $2,470.25 in restitution was required of Kozack as part of a plea deal.

Kozack, who was off duty at the time of the crash, was suspended for 30 days without pay after a unanimous vote of the Kingston Police Commission on March 16. After the 30 days expired, Kozack remained suspended but began receiving his pay again.

That’ll teach him.

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Roseland (IN) Police Chief Uses Position to Influence Child Custody; Drives Unsafely with Child in Police Vehicle

The following post was shared with the Cop Block Network by Jennifer Szymarek, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

In this submission she details how her ex-boyfriend Aaron Catanzarite, the town marshal (police chief) of  Roseland (IN), has used his position as a police officer to influence custody hearings between him and her. In addition, she maintains he has also used his influence to violate their shared custody agreement and prevent her from seeing their daughter.

Jennifer also discusses an accident that Catanzarite was involved with in which their daughter was injured and now has a scar on her face as a result. (You can see a news report on that accident here.) She accuses Catanzarite of not properly securing her daughter’s child seat and also of driving unsafely, both of which she says contributed to the injuries her daughter suffered in the accident. (Embedded below are two videos Ms. Szymarek provided that show Catanzarite picking up their daughter and placing her in the front seat of his police vehicle.)

Date of Incident: March 15, 2016
Officer Involved: Town Marshal Aaron Catanzarite
Department Involved: Roseland Police Department
Department Phone No.: (574) 272-6241

“Jennifer Szymarek (My Story)”

My ex-boyfriend, Aaron Catanzarite, the town marshal for the Roseland Police Department and who lives in South Bend, Indiana, forced me to sign, through tears and a shaky hand, after I had refused for over a-week-and-a-half, a ‘Custody/Stipulation Agreement Order’ in the kitchen of his residence atop the stove, without any legal counsel present, on February 27, 2011.

In the ‘Stipulation Agreement Order’ the document stated that Mr. Catanzarite had ‘Physical Custody’ of our daughter and that I, Jennifer Szymarek, and him, both, shared “Joint Legal Custody.” However, to this day Mr. Catanzarite has never once exercised that right to include me in any matter of my daughter’s future, which is illegal, along with many other matters which he ignores. I continued to live with Mr. Catanzarite back then until March 10, 2012, after signing this document, which I strongly did not agree with, only for the sake of my daughter, Keira.

Later in the year, I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, an illness which causes muscle weakness, after a horrific fall that led to a massive head injury and also led to my diagnosis in July of 2011. And then, eight months later, Aaron sternly stated, “I can’t take it anymore,” which led to him kicking me out on March 10, 2012, and, of course, not allowing me to take my daughter with me, even though it was my Saturday to take her.

At that point in time, the schedule was set up to where I practically, on paper, had my daughter every night except for Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, to go along with my existing Brown Mackie College schedule. So, even though I was the individual with the muscle illness, and the person who was already fighting to get on disability and changing some things in my life, Mr. Catanzarite thought his life was changing so much more than mine that he would just take my child, even though I knew, for a fact, due to him allowing his ex-wife to ‘kidnap-my-child-several-times-before history,’ that my daughter would just be living at his ex-wife’s house, and would be raised my his ex-wife, as usual.

Every since my daughter, Keira, had been born, I was still always taking care of her on my own 24 hours a-day, while he continued to be gone 24/7, like usual. In fact, the first ten months of Keira’s life I had my own apartment that she and I, both, shared, without Mr. Catanzarite, which he failed to mention in court during our trial ending August 21, 2013.

Our ‘Custody Trial’ was complete perjury committed by Mr. Aaron Catanzarite between him and his seven ‘family’ witnesses, including one witness who was his ‘boss’ from Roseland. I mean, I seriously thought that you were not allowed to have family members testify.

Then, when I tried to put my witnesses on the stand to testify every single one was thrown-out for no ‘good-real reason.’ I had my dad (because I was living with him, but his testimony was thrown-out anyway) and one longtime friend (but her testimony was thrown-out, too). I was told by the probate judge/court, due to Mr. Catanzarite’s attorney (Mr. Vincent Campitti) that we were all talking about the case in the lobby, which, of course, was a flat-out lie.

Mr. Catanzarite’s family was coached, every time one individual walked in. I believe that the trial should have been, and still should be thrown-out for countless reasons. It was just a way to criticize me and to makeup situations that never occurred. But I never once got the chance to say anything bad about Mr. Aaron Catanzarite.

My daughter will be eight on July 2nd. Ever since she was four, she has suffered emotional abuse from being tossed around constantly, as well as being forced to lie by her father and his ex-wife, Kelly Catanzarite. She gets picked up from school and then usually goes straight to the house belonging to Mr. Catanzarite’s ex-wife. Then maybe to Mr. Catanzarite’s residence later at night.

Since the parenting time schedule was changed in the fall of 2012, I have only every Wednesday and every other weekend with my daughter, so it makes it pretty hard to spend much time with Keira and to really be her mother. In 2014, I actually was allowed to have my daughter for two-weeks at a time for the summer, but I have been unable to ever get that again.

Mr. Catanzarite uses excuse after excuse, I truly feel, with the court system when it comes to getting his way. He signs Keira up for five-plus extracurricular-sports-activities per summer without even asking me, which is against our ‘Signed Sports Agreement’ and expects me to take her to every single event, knowing that I rarely have any time with my child. Last summer, I refused to take her and he tried to see if there was any legal action that he could take against me. He failed, but he thinks he can always overpower me and he still has my child due to the court’s failure to properly hear me out.

On March 15, 2016, Mr. Aaron Catanzarite placed my daughter in the front passenger seat of his Roseland police SUV. (I have taken him to court on this issue, but I have lost the fight.) She was in a child restraint seat but it was not tethered down. He also decided not to wear his seat beat, which he has done repeatedly over the years. He also was apparently going over the speed limit. (I do not know the exact speed, but he also does this repeatedly).

All these irresponsible actions of negligence resulted in a car crash that seriously could have been prevented and also hit two other vehicles, injuring another family. Mr. Catanzarite never put his foot down on the break peddle; the SUV only finally came to a stop when it hit a wall. This is a guy that insurance companies will not even insure, so he does not have his own personal vehicle. And he will never have his own personal vehicle.

Roseland Town Marshal Aaron Catanzarite AccidentI would know, because I knew him, personally. I never have approved of my child riding around in a police vehicle. I have always been a good and decent mother to my child. I am Keira’s mother and I have always been. I own my own vehicle. I always have owned my own vehicle. I have a very good driving record. I always have had a good driving record.

My daughter’s father has used his ‘Cop Thing’ to hurt my child since 2011. This year, when he had his car crash, she ended up with a scar from her forehead down to her left eye, as a reminder of how irresponsible and negligent he will always be. And when the car crash occurred, I was not even allowed to take my own daughter home from the hospital. Mr. Catanzarite’s ex-wife was instead. Aaron wanted her to and the hospital allowed that over me, the mother, even though I am on the hospital records.

Now my daughter has suffered physical abuse. The system needs to get over the badge for my daughter’s sake.

As of right now, my daughter spends most of her time at Mr. Catanzarite’s ex-wife’s house, which is illegal. Mr. Catanzarite has yet to change his legal address, which is also illegal. He does not drive, which clearly leaves an open question mark. I am not aware if he even has a license or not, another open question mark. I am sure he does not have a vehicle, due to the fact that he is unable to afford auto insurance, so irresponsible there.

All these issues need to be addressed, but no one seems to want to address these issues with me. It is even difficult for me to take my daughter on ‘Just One Short Summer Vacation’ without it becoming an issue, due to me not getting the two-weeks that I asked for in ‘Summer Parenting Time,’ which was not asking too much. I did not know that it was legal to ‘Commit Perjury in Court’ and to ‘Share Custody with an Ex-Wife’ when there is a ‘Perfectly Good and Decent Mother in a Child’s Life with All the Time in the World.’

– Jennifer Szymarek

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Hawaiian Police Officer Arrested Five Times in One Year; Still a Good Cop

Between January of 2015 and January of 2016, Maui Police Officer Rachel Garvin has managed to get arrested a grand total of five times. All of which began when she showed up drunk to school to pick her son up, then promptly crashed into a guard rail.

Instead of arresting her or even so much as testing her to see if she was in fact legally drunk, the other Good Cops who showed up to “investigate” that crash, including a lieutenant, merely forced her to get a ride home from a friend.

However, unfortunately for Officer Garvin, the complaints about her being drunk from the teachers at the school led to an internal investigation. That led to charges against her for child endangerment (not drunk driving, since her co-workers didn’t bother to investigate that) for which she was given probation.

Soon enough she was back to drinking and testing her driving skills, though. Although she was actually charged with a DUI for her arrest in May, somehow she managed to not be thrown in jail or so much as fired, even though it was a violation of her probation. The department even sent out a press release about it, except they forgot to mention that part about how she was already on probation for doing the same thing just four months earlier.

Officer Rachel Garvin Trial MotionThis eventually led to her being arrested three more times for that probation violation and for not bothering to show up to court twice. Meanwhile, guess who hasn’t been fired or sent to jail for her string of crimes. Instead, she has just been relegated to desk duty until everybody forgets about all this and she can get back out there on the streets keeping everyone safe again.

And the local M.A.D.D. representative has an interesting take on the whole situation.

Via Hawaii News Now:

Arkie Koehl, with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said the situation puts the Maui Police Department in a difficult position.

“It’s kind of awkward for Mothers Against Drunk Driving because the police are our closest partners and we totally depend on the police, just as the public depends on the police to protect us from drunk drivers,” Koehl said.

The Maui Police Department and the police union did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Koehl said the case illustrates that no one is immune from alcohol abuse.

“Misuse and abuse of alcohol and drugs does not discriminate by what company you work for, what government agency you work for, what race, nationality, or religion you are … alcohol strikes anybody,” he said.

So, that magic uniform doesn’t render cops impervious to drug and alcohol addiction or bad decisions while under the influence of them. (In fact, statistically it actually does the opposite.) However, it does render them impervious to the consequences of those decisions or any actions taken as a result of them.

Plus, not only does it put the police in a “difficult position” where they may one day be forced, kicking and screaming, to take action against one of their, but it puts Koehl and M.A.D.D. in one, too. Normally, they would be railing against OFC. Garvin and demanding stiffer laws to prevent her from driving around liquored up. However, they “totally depend on the police.” So obviously, they can’t take some sort of principled stance in line with their core beliefs and demand that this Hero be prosecuted like everyone else would.

On the upside, it’s been over two months since Officer Garvin of the Maui Police Department was arrested. At least I haven’t heard anything yet today.

Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL

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NYPD Says Brooklyn Man Killed by Cop While Legally Crossing Street Was at Fault Because He “Assumed Risk”

Felix Coss, a 61 year old Brooklyn Spanish teacher, was killed in 2013 by an NYPD officer, who was making a left turn at a stop light. Mr. Coss was within the crosswalk, had a green light, and in every other way possible was legally walking across the street.

In contrast, NYPD Officer Paula Medrano did just about everything that someone could possibly do wrong in the given situation. As can be seen in the video of the fatal incident, Ofc. Medrano quickly accelerated through the intersection as soon as the light changed without looking for pedestrians attempting to cross. Medrano was also reportedly using her cell phone at the time of the accident.

Her failure to observe the conditions in which she was driving extended to the point that she never visibly tries to apply the brakes until she has already hit Coss with the NYPD van. Furthermore, the speed that she reached in the short amount of time it took for her to cross the intersection can be gauged by the velocity with which Coss is thrown backwards upon impact. As a result of that violent impact, Coss suffered severe head injuries. Later that night, Felix Coss died from those injuries.

Amazingly enough, the NYPD is now claiming as a defense to a lawsuit filed by Coss’ two surviving brothers that Officer Medrano was actually not at fault. The reason she bears no responsibility either criminally or financially, according to the NYPD, is because Mr. Coss “assumed the risk” of crossing the street when he stepped off the curb and into the crosswalk. In other words, Coss was the one actually at fault for not avoiding or anticipating Officer Medrano’s reckless actions that day.

Via a “StreetsBlog NYC” post: (Emphasis added)

Video of the crash shows Medrano stopped at the Hooper Street crosswalk on the north side of the intersection as Coss, approaching from the south, stops for the signal. When the light changes, Coss enters the Broadway crosswalk, still facing Medrano, as Medrano accelerates into the intersection and turns left, driving directly into Coss and knocking him to the asphalt.

The NYPD crash report says Medrano “had the green light,” but does not indicate Coss was crossing with the walk signal and had the right of way.

Following up on a witness statement that Medrano was on her cell phone at the time of the crash, the Internal Affairs Bureau subpoenaed her phone records, according to the Daily NewsBut just two days after Coss was killed the Post reported that Medrano probably wouldn’t be summonsed or charged by NYPD. Though Coss “had the pedestrian signal,” the Post reported, “No criminality and no traffic-law violations are suspected.”

“It was a tragic, unfortunate accident,” an anonymous NYPD source said.

NYPD denied a Streetsblog freedom of information request for files related to the crash.

Coss was survived by two brothers, who filed a suit against the city, NYPD, and Medrano, claiming Medrano was driving recklessly, using a cell phone, and failed to yield. But the city’s Law Department claims Coss was responsible for the collision.

The city’s response to the suit says Coss “knew or should have known in the exercise of due/reasonable care of the risks and dangers incident to engaging in the activity alleged.”

From the city’s court filing:

  • Plantiff(s) voluntarily performed and engaged in the alleged activity and assumed the risk of the injuries and/or damages claimed. Plaintiff(s) failed to use all required, proper, appropriate and reasonable safety devices and/or equipment and failed to take all proper, appropriate and reasonable steps to assure his/her/their safety … Plaintiff(s)’ implied assumption of risk caused or contributed, in whole or in part [sic] to his/her/their injuries.

The Coss family’s attorney, Andrew Levine, says NYPD and the city have resisted providing materials relevant to the case, including witness statements, which the city has failed to surrender despite two court orders. “We believe those statements are going to be very powerful evidence about the conscious pain and suffering that Felix Coss went through,” Levine told Streetsblog. “It feels as though they really put up a stone wall to try and prevent any flow of information whatsoever.”

NYPD has a history of mistreating victims of police-involved traffic crashes. The department keeps a tight lid on information related to crashes that involve police personnel, going so far as to withhold data from other city agencies, a policy that has not changed since Mayor Bill de Blasio launched the Vision Zero initiative in 2014.

Even for the NYPD, and police in general,  the level of arrogance and disrespect within that quoted portion sets a high bar. Getting beyond that, do you have any doubt that if you blew through an intersection while talking on your cell phone, and ran into someone legally crossing the street causing that innocent person’s death that you would walk scot-free without so much as a traffic ticket? In all likelihood, you would be awaiting trial on manslaughter charges.

And they don’t even so much as want to compensate the family of Officer Medrano’s victim.

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Off Duty NYPD Cop Killed in Hit and Run Accident was Threatening Woman With His Gun

Last week it was reported that Vincent Harrison, an off duty NYPD cop, was killed by a hit and run driver after he had rear ended another car. At the time, it was also reported that Harrison had his gun drawn when he was struck, but no details were released beyond that.

However, since then it has come out that Officer Harrison was not only verbally and physically threatening the woman (whose two year old was in the vehicle at the time) he had run into, but also that he was at least partially responsible for his own death, having walked backwards into the roadway in the process.

Via Gawker.com:

According to a local news report, Harrison told another driver “I can kill you right now” in a bizarre scene moments before his death.

Before the fatal crash, Harrison got into a minor accident with another driver, which prompted him to exit his car and speak with her. Initial reports noted that he had drawn his gun drawn (sic) as he approached the other driver’s car, but the nature of the conversation was not immediately clear. At some point as Harrison stood on or near the roadway, a third driver named William Espinal-Mejia allegedly struck him with his Infiniti and kept driving. Harrison died on the scene.

Citing “authorities” and other unnamed sources, ABC 7 is now reporting that Harrison threatened the second driver before he was hit.

Authorities say Harrison had rear ended a vehicle driven by a 26-year-old Rahway woman who was traveling southbound in the Turnpike’s right center lane. Harrison got out of his vehicle and walked up to the other car, occupied by the woman in the driver’s seat and her 2-year-old son in the back.

The two reportedly got into a verbal dispute, and sources say Harrison pulled his service weapon and pointed it at the woman, who was remained (sic) seated in her car. He allegedly yelled words to the effect of, “You don’t know who I am” and “I can kill you right now” numerous times.

As Harrison backed away from the woman, he stepped into the Turnpike traffic lanes and was struck by a passing vehicle.

The man driving the car that killed Officer Harrison, William Espinal-Mejia, is facing a felony charge based on the fact that he didn’t stop and that certainly is reasonable. However, based on the behaviour of cops in the past in road rage situations and the fact that Harrison was threatening a woman over an accident he was at fault in even with a small child in the car, it’s equally reasonable to wonder if Espinal-Mejia’s unintentional act didn’t actually prevent a completely innocent person from being assaulted and possibly even murdered by Harrison.

In fact, it tells you something about the attitude of police and their assumptions about whether they will be held accountable for their criminal actions (upto and including murder) that just prior to being killed Officer Harrison was yelling at the woman things such as, “you don’t know who I am!” and “I can kill you right now!” That’s not just empty bragging or false boasting, either. That’s learned behaviour based on past experiences and future expectations. The history of police “accountability” is quite simply that if they don’t make the mistake of walking backwards into traffic, they literally can kill you and get away with it. And they know that.

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Nevada Medical Marijuana Patient Freed by Jury Nullification

After nearly three years of legal limbo, Steven Ficano, a 65 year old medical marijuana patient, was finally set free by an act of jury nullification last month. On May 29, Ficano was found not guilty of two felony counts for possessing too much marijuana. He faced over ten years in prison if he had been convicted.

The case against Ficano, a long time local business man with no criminal history and a registered medical marijuana patient, revolved around the amount of marijuana in his possession at one time and prosecutors’ contention that this indicated he was selling it.

National Jury Rights Day is September 5th. Don't forget to fully inform the potential jurors in your community.

National Jury Rights Day is September 5th.

At the time of his arrest, Ficano was in possession of 68 plants and 24 pounds of finished marijuana. Nevada medical marijuana laws limit patients to 12 plants and 2.6 ounces of finished marijuana, but Ficano had a waiver from a doctor stating that he could possess more than that limit. Those limits are also based on a three month growth period and Ficano stated that he only harvested the plants in his possession once a year.

Defense attorneys maintained that the aspect of the rules regarding how much could be possessed were ambiguous, hadn’t been explained properly to Ficano, and that the lack of proper dispensaries are what led him to feel the need to store large quantities of cannabis. They also presented three of his neighbors, including a former policeman, as witnesses that testified they did not believe Ficano would ever sell marijuana.

Prosecutors attempted to use the large amount of marijuana in his possession, and the discovery of a digital scale, more than $51,000 in cash, and 26 guns, as well as the lack of “a single pot baked-good located in his home,” during the raid, as proof he was intending to sell it. However, the guns were antique lever-action rifles, collectible pistol sets, and historic muskets.

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In addition, the money was Ficano’s life savings that he had removed from the bank during the recession, some of the marijuana had developed mold from having been stored so long, and most of the plants were either male plants or ones that had not matured enough to produce buds. Pretty much none of that was indicative of a drug sales operation.

Within an hour, jurors, some of whom cried along with Ficano after the verdict was read, voted to acquit him of all charges. Later, several jurors stated that their decision was based on sympathy for Ficano’s medical conditions, which included arthritis, scoliosis, and pain from a recent car accident, and not the “letter of the law.”

Via the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) website (by way of Southern Nevada Watchdogs):

Outside the courtroom, jurors said they focused on the doctor’s waiver, and said they didn’t think the document clearly defined how much pot Ficano could have at his home.

The waiver allowed him to possess 29 plants and 2 to 4 pounds of finished marijuana per three-month growing cycle. But Ficano said he only harvested marijuana once a year and assumed that he would be allowed to have up to 84 plants and 16 pounds of finished medicine.

Another juror, Donna Florence, said that after reaching the verdict she thought of her mother, who died of cancer about two years ago.

“If I could have gotten something for her that would have spared her that pain, I would have done anything,” she said. “And I think this guy was just in similar pain and trying to help himself.”

Click Here For Information On Your Rights as a Juror

Click Here For Information On Your Rights as a Juror

So it’s pretty clear, even if they didn’t actually realize that they were doing it, that the jurors used jury nullification (AKA their conscience) to protect a good person from a very bad law. Although this is still a rarity and the courts actively work to hide this right from jurors, it’s great that people are becoming aware of this important option for those that sit on juries. This is especially important in cases like this where senseless and counterproductive prohibitions are used as a weapon against people who are clearly not a threat to society or the communities in which they live.

The War on (Some) Drugs is a source of more theft, violence, and other abuses (on both sides of the law) than any drug it purports to fight with very little success at actually preventing drug use along the way. People serving on a jury can and should separate true criminals from someone simply seeking relief from a chronic illness or medical condition. Especially, when that relief comes from something that has consistently been proven to be not just harmless, but actually beneficial in many ways. Fortunately, this jury had enough compassion and moral strength to do the right thing this time.

“Jury Rights Day” 2014 in Las Vegas, courtesy of Southern Nevada Watchdogs:

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