Tag Archives: chicago

First Amendment Audit: Chicago TSA Agent Claims Filming Airport Security Screening is Illegal, Calls Police

Ohare International Airport TSA Screening First Amendment Audit

A “First Amendment Auditor” was confronted by a TSA supervisor while legally filming security screenings at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and initially threatened with arrest.

Note: The video included within this post was shared with Nevada Cop Block via an anonymous reader submission. 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.

This video embedded below shows what is known as a “First Amendment Audit.” That consists of going out and filming government buildings and other public property. Oftentimes, the police, security guards, government employees, and even members of the public don’t understand that the First Amendment protects a citizen’s right to take photos and/or record video of anything that is within view of a public place.

This particular audit took place within the TSA security screening area at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. As you can see in the screenshot above, the TSA employees were getting fairly intimate with some of the passengers going through the screening. (And no, there in fact was neither a movie, nor a dinner provided by the Transportation Security Administration afterwards.) Soon after, one of the screening agents noticed the camera and alerted a supervisor, by whom the camera woman was then confronted.

He approached, (very incorrectly) stated that it was illegal to film the screenings, and even briefly attempted to physically block her camera. Next, the supervisor threatened to call the Chicago police and have her arrested. When that didn’t scare her into stopping, he attempted to make good on that threat by calling (presumably) the police.

In the meantime, while he was on the phone, she returned her attention to filming. During that phone conversation she was also approached by several other TSA employees and told that she was not allowed to film the screenings. However, it is in fact very legal to film the screening area of airports and the screening process itself. The only restriction upon that is a rule against filming (or photographing) the monitors displaying the NSFW images that they take with their body scanners.

The woman in the video (AKA “It’s That Magic You Crave“) frequently posts First Amendment Audits and other videos to her Youtube channel: “Pink Camera Magic.” You can support her by making donations to her via GoFundMe.

***Spoiler Alert***

In the original description for the video on YouTube, a “surprise ending” is mentioned. Whoever the TSA supervisor was talking to apparently informed him that he was wrong and they weren’t going to send any cops down to arrest her for legally filming in public. However, that’s actually not the “surprise.” (Not the biggest one, at least.)

The shocking plot twist is that he told her that and even apologized about being wrong.

Related Content on NVCopBlock.org:

Watch This Video for “Piggy Piggy,” a Controversial Police Brutality Parody, by Chicago Rock Band “Black Bear Rodeo”

Piggy Piggy Video by Black Bear Rodeo Nevada Cop Block

“Piggy Piggy,” by Chicago rock band Black Bear Rodeo. The video which was released earlier this year features an anti-police brutality theme and imagery.

Note: The video and description included within this post was shared with Nevada Cop Block via reader submission. 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 video embedded below was submitted by a reader. It features the song “Piggy Piggy” by a Chicago based band named Black Bear Rodeo. It was released as part of their April 2017 album “Bunk.” As you’ll see in the video, live performance footage is interspersed with video showing incidents of police brutality, along with some more comical scenes involving the police. (There’s also some sweet cameos of Cop Block gear mixed throughout.)

Stevie Mac, the person who submitted it, deemed the video a “controversial police brutality parody.” While it seems kinda ridiculous that being against the abuse and outright murder of people would be controversial, it actually kinda is. So yeah, that’s the world we are living in these days.

At any rate, personally I think “Piggy Piggy” is a damn good song. If you’re into a heavier rock and punk style of music, you should enjoy it, too. (If you aren’t into that kind of music, you should probably question your upbringing and life choices. #JusSayin.) The video itself is very well done and does a good job of visually matching the energy and pace of the music. It’s well worth checking out.

Chicago rock and roll natives “Black Bear Rodeo” have teamed up with recording engineer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, Bush) to give you “Piggy Piggy.” The video for this song (embedded below) features a montage of police brutality videos to raise awareness of a serious, systemic issue through a comical, yet terrifying, medium.

– Stevie Mac

We strongly encourage any bands, musicians, or fans out there to share songs that you (or someone you enjoy listening to) have put out. Music is obviously a great way to get the message out and connect with others of a like mind. So if you or someone you know records music with a (controversial) anti-police brutality theme and/or has a history of being involved in activism of that nature, send it in. In return, those of us here at NVCopBlock will do as much as we can to help promote it and expose your band to the masses.

Upcoming Live Shows by Black Bear Rodeo

Black Bear Rodeo is currently on tour and will be playing an Xmas show on Dec. 23rd at Demma’s Bar and Grill in Oak Lawn, IL. After that, they play a show with Green Jelly on January 5th at Beat Kitchen in Chicago. Links to other places on the internets where you can find information on, music by, and tour dates for Black Bear Rodeo are included below. If you live in the Chicago area or they come to a venue near you, you should get out and see them live.

Other Places You Can Find Black Bear Rodeo

Related Content on NVCopBlock.org:

  1. Las Vegas Punk Band Apathetix Plays “ACAB” Live at the Womb Room
  2. Pennsylvania Councilman Proposes Bill For Cops to Target Music Festivals And Performers
  3. “Kelly” (Thomas) – Music Video by Surrogates
  4. My Ransomed Soul – Monarch (Anti-Police Brutality Music Video)
  5. “Im Upset” (Music Video)
  6. Tim Commerford of Rage Against The Machine Waterboards John McEnroe in New Video
  7. Police Issue Important Warning About Men Challenging Passers-By to Rap Battles
  8. Submit Your Own Story of Police Abuse/Corruption
  9. Help Wanted! How You Can Become Involved With NVCopBlock
  10. #FTP – How and Why You Should Always Film The Police
  11. Press Passes for Independent Media and Freelance Journalists
  12. How to File a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) Request
  13. “Let Me See Your I.D.” Stop and Identify Statutes – Know Your Rights
  14. Beware of Gang Activity in Your Neighborhood!
  15. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: The LVMPD’s Killer Reputation
  16. A Video Compilation of Las Vegas Area Police Brutality
  17. Donate to the Cause – Help Us Help You Fight The Power

False Imprisonment: Its Increasing Frequency and the Huge Cost It Imposes on Society

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network anonymously by a reader, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

If you have a video, personal story involving police misconduct and/or abuse, or commentary about a law enforcement related news story, we would be happy to have you submit it. You can find some advice on how to get your submission published on the CopBlock Network within this post.

Police Abuses on the Rise

It’s no secret that police brutality and misconduct has been on the rise recently with cases in the news like Eric Garner who was suffocated in a choke hold by police and killed for illegally selling cigarettes. Similarly, a 12-year-old boy Tamir Rice was shot and killed after playing with a toy gun in the park. The level of uneasiness between police officers and citizens has hit an all-time high and we see this unrest play out in society. Police brutality is not the only form of police misconduct- false arrest of citizens can be an excruciating experience that sends innocent people to prison for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For example, Chicago’s taxpayers have had to pay over $120 million for the racial torture committed by one police commander, Jon Burge. Part of the disconnect between officers and citizens is the unfairness in power and how that power is used. To add on to this, police are offered different treatment when it comes to false arrests or misconduct. Although Burge oversaw the torture of over 118 black men – which would typically lead to decades in prison – he was released in three-and-a-half years and sent to a halfway house. All the men he tortured remain behind bars.

Police officers were granted a Qualified Immunity Doctrine by the Supreme Court which essentially states that police officers are innocent of harm towards their suspects in most cases due to their risky and honorable line of work. The best intentions are seen to be associated with most police officers, but has that been the case recently?

Typically, false arrest from police officers falls into the police misconduct category, which can also encompass police brutality and wrongful death. According to the University of Michigan Law School’s National Registry of Exonerations report, 75% of homicide exonerations involved police misconduct. One widely publicized example of a wrongful arrest was James Bain, who was convicted of kidnapping and rape at the age of 18. He served 35 years for a vicious crime he did not commit. Although DNA evidence was tested and presented prior, he was refused further DNA testing from the courts until his fifth try in 2006. Although misidentification from eyewitnesses account for 75% of all convictions that are overturned by DNA evidence, Bain was wrongfully arrested and incarcerated by police.

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How Does False Imprisonment Affect the Public?

Some people may think that the police arrest people who they think are guilty of a crime, and if they are wrongfully arrested, they are quickly released and go about their happy lives. That is far from the truth in most cases where the arrest was outright wrong and unlawful. Many people who are falsely arrested fight back and sue the police officer who wronged them and because of this, the public is responsible for paying that fee.

Amount of Money City Taxpayers Have Paid for Police Misconduct:

  • Chicago: $521 million from 2004-2014
  • Cleveland: $8.2 million between 2004-2014
  • Denver: $12 million since 2011
  • Dallas: $6.6 million between 2011-2014
  • Los Angeles: $101 million between 2002-2011

For example, Robert Graham was arrested for disorderly conduct by a police officer who was stuck in traffic behind him. Due to the gridlock traffic in New York City, Graham was also stuck in traffic and unable to move. The police officers wrongfully arrested Graham due to the circumstances of the situation. Graham’s wrongfully arrested cases was one of the ones that contributed to New York taxpayers paying $18 million to pay back people who were wrongfully arrested by officers.

According to Jon Norinsberg, a false imprisonment attorney, New York city police may only legally arrest citizens if:

  1. The police have an arrest warrant.
  2. The police have probable cause that you committed a crime.
  3. You are interfering with a police investigation or arrest.
  4. The police believe you are a criminal attempting to flee a crime scene.

Why are Police Officers Getting Away with False Imprisonment?

The number of innocent people behind bars is the highest number it has ever been historically, so it is only natural to question the source – the police. Why has it become okay to so quickly convict people and rarely face punishment as a police officer for wrongfully arresting someone? The issue gets stickier when videos of police officers using excessive force and even killing citizens when they appeared to pose no threat. Are there consequences for that? Rarely.

Unfortunately, false arrests happen and can be scary to argue your case in front of a judge – especially because police are most often shielded by the Qualified Immunity Doctrine exercised by the Supreme Court. This is a protective order that is designed to protect police officers from facing punishments from their mistakes or unlawful actions. In theory, this Qualified Immunity Doctrine was originally designed to shield officers who are properly bringing justice to criminals and who handle situations appropriately – if someone is upset for getting arrested if they deserve it, well this doctrine will protect the police from this potential complaint or lawsuit. Since videos have been released of police officers using unnecessary excessive force on unarmed people, citizens are growing scared that officers are abusing this immunity from the Supreme Court to get away with their unjust behavior. This is where a disconnect lies between police officers and citizens.

Where is the Accountability From the Police?

Why is it that as a society we only started paying attention to police misconduct and false arrests when Netflix featured programs like Making a Murderer?

Police officers are designed to keep our communities safe. While most cops are heroes and upstanding citizens who work hard to protect our safety, those who entered the police force to unlawfully assert power over others and take advantage of their badge are getting more press in recent news. Although it’s an unfortunate circumstance, it is important to stay educated on what is happening in society to better educate yourself and to hopefully make a positive change.

Chicago Cop (Only) Fired for Shooting Sixteen Times at the Victims of a Drive By Then Lying About It

Last week, the Chicago Independent Police Review Authority, one of those civilian oversight boards that are designed to make it appear police aren’t investigating themselves, voted to fire Officer Francisco “Frank” Perez over a shooting that took place in 2011. Amazingly, considering the level of corruption and violence that is routinely carried out by members of the Chicago Police Department, this was actually the first time the board had ever voted to fire a cop for a shooting in its ten years of existence. (If you know anything about the reality of police oversight boards, that actually won’t be that surprising.)

The shooting for which Perez was eventually fired involved a drive by shooting at a restaurant where he was working during his off-time as a security guard. Three people were shot, including one fatally, by a car that pulled up next to another car parked in front of the restaurant. Officer Perez responded to the shooting and began firing his gun. However, instead of shooting at the car that had committed the drive by, he began shooting into the parked car.

Before all was said and done, Perez had fired 16 shots into that car hitting one of the occupants. Later, when he was being questioned about the shooting by internal affairs, he lied about which car he was actually shooting at, apparently maintaining that he was just a really bad shot. Even after being shown the video, he continued insisting that he was firing at the other car, which had driven away before he began firing.

Via the Chicago Tribune:

According to authorities, the shooting occurred shortly before 4 a.m. Nov. 5, 2011, outside the La Pasadita restaurant in the 1100 block of North Ashland Avenue. Perez was off-duty and working security for the restaurant when an occupant of a red Mitsubishi Galant opened fire after pulling up beside a blue Chrysler 300M that was double-parked in front of the restaurant.

The evidence against Perez hinged largely on video obtained from a surveillance camera outside the restaurant. After the Mitsubishi had sped from the scene, the footage showed Perez moving toward the Chrysler and firing his weapon at the rear of the vehicle, according to IPRA. Perez continued to fire as the Chrysler took off, IPRA said.

Yet even after viewing the video in 2015, Perez continued to maintain that he had fired at the red car.

In testifying before a Police Board hearing officer last year, Perez did not dispute that he mistakenly shot an occupant in the Chrysler but said he was aiming at the red car seconds after the drive-by shooting.

Three people standing outside the restaurant were shot, one fatally.

A lawyer representing the Police Department contended that Perez should be fired for lying and shooting an “innocent bystander.”

But Perez’s lawyer, Daniel Herbert, described his client as a hero and dismissed the allegations against him as preposterous.

John Farrell, who testified as an expert on use of force on behalf of Perez, defended the off-duty officer’s decision to open fire because the gunman in the red car had just committed a forcible felony and was attempting to escape.

Farrell also criticized the quality of the video as not “top notch.” He said the video did not depict what Perez saw that night because the camera captured the scene from a different angle than what the off-duty officer viewed. It also gave a limited view of what took place that night, he said.

In addition, Farrell testified that outside factors, including tunnel vision and an inability in the poor lighting to distinguish the colors of the two cars, could have played a role in the incident.

But the Police Department lawyer, Special Assistant Corporation Counsel James Fieweger, told the hearing officer that he was skeptical that Perez intended to fire at the Mitsubishi because the car was a full block and a half away when he opened fire. The odds that Perez would be successful in hitting the moving vehicle in the dark at that distance were minuscule, he said.

“I think Officer Perez was trying to do the right thing, but he was ill-informed and made a horrible mistake,” Fieweger said. “He’s been offered multiple opportunities to correct his story. If an officer’s gonna lie to cover that up, what else is he gonna lie about?”

Update: Chicago Cop Who Admitted Firing Gun While Driving Drunk Acquitted by Judge

In spite of maintaining that he was “acutely aware” of the fact people are really tired of cops getting off without any sort of repercussions for their (often violent) actions, Cook County Judge James Linn chose to drop charges against an off-duty Chicago police officer who admitted to firing his gun five times during a confrontation with a firefighter and an off-duty cop from another jurisdiction while driving drunk.

As I previously posted here on the CopBlock Network, Chicago firefighter Charles Ostrowski, along with his passenger, off-duty Merrionette Park Police Officer Dominic Dimaggio, began following Officer John Gorman after witnessing him driving erratically. When they eventually caught up to him, Gorman fired five shots toward them, one of which hit the bumper of Ostrowski’s truck. During the trial, Gorman claimed that he fired the gun into the air as “warning shots.”

Via Chicago.CBS.Local.com:

John Gorman had been drinking before he got behind the wheel on Nov. 23, 2014, but off-duty Merrionette Park police officer Dominic Dimaggio and his friend Charles Ostrowski were behaving aggressively and in an “threatening manner,” Judge James Linn said.

Gorman wasn’t sure who these men in a large “military-type truck” were and what they were up to, Linn said in dismissing aggravated discharge of a firearm and aggravated battery charges.

“This was not a situation [Gorman] started. This was a situation he was confronted with,” Linn said.

Dimaggio and Ostrowski, then an off-duty suburban firefighter, said Gorman almost hit a flower vendor at 111th and Pulaski.

Moments later, Dimaggio got out of Ostrowski’s Ford F-250 and knocked on Gorman’s tan Buick while he was stopped in traffic to ask if he was okay.

Dimaggio said he had been holding his badge the whole time. Gorman said he never saw a badge.

As Dimaggio screamed “why are you driving like an “—hole?” while pounding on his window, Gorman and his partner were rightfully scared not knowing who Dimaggio was, Linn said.

Gorman drove off and Dimaggio called 911. But instead of taking the dispatcher’s advice to let authorities handle the situation, Dimaggio and Ostrowski tailed Gorman as he drove toward the 22nd District, Linn said.

It was at Prospect and Pryor that Gorman said he got out of his car and shot five warning shots in the air as Ostrowski’s truck came “barreling” toward him. Ostrowski said he only hit the gas pedal and went around Gorman because he saw a gun in Gorman’s hand. Ostrowski and Dimaggio said they ducked beneath the dashboard and only heard the gun go off as they passed Gorman.

“I had no idea who he was or why he was pursuing us,” Gorman said of the men.

“I didn’t know if he was someone I had previously arrested or he was trying to carjack us.”

No bullets holes were found on Ostrowski ‘s truck that day.

However, three weeks later, Ostrowski found a hole–possibly caused by a bullet–on his back bumper.

Linn admitted a “disconnect” between the stories and said neither party was looking for trouble that day.

When clearing Gorman of the felony charges, Linn said he was “acutely aware” of the societal feelings of police officers’ conduct. He said while police officers shouldn’t be treated better, they shouldn’t be treated “worse” either.

Obviously, convicting a cop who pulled out a gun while driving drunk and fired off five rounds (even if you buy the story that he shot into the air) while involved in a confrontation with other drivers would certainly be “worse” than the treatment any average citizen would receive under similar circumstances.

It was also announced after the trial to reporters by Gorman’s lawyer, Michael Clancy, that the DUI charge Gorman had been facing had been dropped prior to the judge’s ruling. That decision was made even though Gorman, who wasn’t tested until over five hours after he was arrested, had registered a .07 blood alcohol level, just below the .08 that is considered legally intoxicated.

Retired Chicago Cop, “Medal of Valor” Winner, Arrested for Burning Homeless Man’s Tent and Belongings

A man who was arrested for arson after he burned the tent and personal belongings of an area homeless man is a retired Chicago police officer. In fact, Sergeant James R. Povolo, much like a slew of other violent cops that have been exposed as criminals, was a former award winning officer.

Although the exact reason for his recognition is unknown (because the Chicago Police Department attempted to hide the fact that he was once one of their Good Cops), the Naperville Sun confirmed, via a FOIA request, that he was recipient of the department’s “Medal of Valor,” which is awarded for acts of “heroism, personal courage, and devotion to duty” by police officers.

The case he stands accused of currently is decidedly unheroic, though. Although investigators haven’t provided any motive for his actions, the victim was an outspoken and well known activist and political protester who has been involved in a long standing battle with the government officials in Naperville.

Via the Chicago Tribune:

In the Naperville case, Povolo was arrested less than two weeks after the alleged arson. Prosecutors said he approached Huber’s tent at a time he knew Huber would not be there and set fire to it, reportedly with a cigarette. Police have offered no motive for Povolo’s alleged action and have not disclosed what information prompted them to arrest Povolo.

(Scott) Huber, 66, lost his two-tent encampment and most of his possessions in the blaze. At the time, he said he was most distressed about the destruction of numerous computer discs on which he had stored what he said was the history of his political struggles with Naperville officials, police and local judges.

He has battled Naperville authorities for about 20 years, ever since losing his electronics business and being evicted from his home. He is protesting what he says has been unfair and illegal treatment by authorities.

Povolo’s next court hearing is March 1. The terms of his bond were modified last month so he could travel from his Naperville home in the 1300 block of Dartford Court to his Key Colony Beach home in Florida, where he is a legal resident and where he winters from fall to spring, according to court records. Under the original terms, he could not leave the state without permission from Judge Liam C. Brennan, who is presiding over his trial.

“Defendant (Povolo), because of injuries sustained while employed ‘on the job’ as a police officer for the City of Chicago, has artificial knees, and does not well tolerate cold weather,” Povolo’s attorney Charles Dobra wrote in his petition.

Admittedly, it would be a shame if Povolo had to face the cold unprotected within his Illinois summer home, rather than being afforded the warmth of his winter home in Florida, just because he intentionally and maliciously destroyed the shelter and most of the personal belongings of another man for no apparent reason. He is a Medal of Valor winner, after all.

Trial Begins For Chicago Cop Charged With Driving Drunk; Shooting Gun at Firefighter

After witnessing it almost hit other cars in traffic, Charles Ostrowski, a Chicago firefighter, began following a car owned by off-duty Chicago Police Officer John Gorman, who was drunk at the time. Gorman responded by jumping out of his car and pointing his gun at Ostrowski’s truck and then firing five shots at it as he tried to steer around Gorman.

Fortunately, neither Ostrowski nor his friend Dominic Dimaggio, the other occupant of the truck and who also was an off-duty police officer from a different department, were hit by the shots. However, one of the bullets did hit the rear bumper of the truck. Officer Gorman admitted to firing at them, but in his version of events he was defending himself from Ostrowski and Dimaggio, who actually were the aggressors.

Via the Chicago Tribune:

The incident began as Ostrowski and Dimaggio drove home after lunch at a Palos Heights bar and a stop at an American Legion Hall in Worth. They were driving east on 111th Street when the Buick passed them and sped through traffic, weaving in and out of lanes, Ostrowski testified.

After seeing the Buick nearly strike the flower vendor after the light turned green at Pulaski Road, the two began following the car as Gorman continued to drive recklessly, Ostrowski testified.

When Gorman stopped near 111th Street and Spaulding Avenue, the suburban cop stepped out of the truck, showed his badge and told Gorman to roll down his window.

Dimaggio said, “I’m the police. Are you OK? Roll down your window. We need to talk about your driving,” Ostrowski testified.

But on cross-examination by (Gorman’s lawyer, Michael) Clancy, Ostrowski admitted telling police that day that his friend had asked, “Why are you driving like an (expletive)?”

Ostrowski also acknowledged that the police report did not indicate his friend had identified himself as a suburban cop.

When the left-turn light turned green, Gorman sped around the truck and continued driving east, Ostrowski testified. Dimaggio then called 911.

At Prospect and Pryor avenues, Gorman stopped the car and got out. He walked to the rear of his car, displayed a pistol, raised his arm and pointed the gun at the front of the truck, according to testimony.

Officer Gorman was sloppy drunk at the time and even had open beer containers strewn around on the inside of his car. However, he refused a breathalyzer initially and by the time he was compelled to take one by the department’s internal affairs division over five hours had passed. At that point, his blood alcohol level still registered 0.07, just 0.01 below the legal level to be considered intoxicated. However, as a result he was only charged with misdemeanor DUI.

Chicago to Pay $2 Million to Police Whistle-Blowers After “Few Bad Apples” Destroyed Their Careers

On Monday, Chicago’s City Council Finance Committee approved a settlement of $2 million to two police officers that were the targets of extensive and widespread retaliation after they exposed corruption within the police department. Shannon Spalding and Daniel Echeverria had gone to the FBI back in 2007 after they were told by superiors to ignore illegal activity by Ronald Watts, a sergeant with the Chicago Police Department.

After Watts was convicted of extorting drug dealers and sentenced to prison, Spalding and Echeverria became targeted for retaliation throughout the department. This included threats of physical violence against them, ostracization, and overt attempts to ruin their careers. According to their accounts of the retaliation they experienced, it’s almost as if the “Few Bad Apples” were the ones running the entire police department and somehow outnumbered all of the “Good Cops” we hear so much about.

Via the Chicago Sun-Times:

Spalding and Echeverria allege they were retaliated against for helping to expose police corruption nearly a decade ago.

The partners had alleged their superiors told them in 2007 to ignore evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Sgt. Ronald Watts. Instead, on personal time, they said they reported it to the FBI.

What the officers thought would end with a simple meeting eventually turned into “Operation Brass Tax.” And while they tried to limit their involvement in the investigation to personal time, it became so time-consuming that the officers were forced to tell CPD’s internal affairs. As a result, they were formally detailed to the FBI.

Spalding and Echeverria spent two years working exclusively on the Watts investigation. Watts was sentenced in October 2013 to 22 months in prison for shaking down drug dealers.

But lawyers for the two officers say Internal Affairs Chief Juan Rivera blew their cover. Spalding and Echeverria were branded “rat motherf——” and told their bosses didn’t want them in their units. They were allegedly told their careers were over, given undesirable assignments and shifts and told fellow officers wouldn’t back them up. Their actions allegedly made the brass so angry that Spalding was warned to “wear her vest” so she wouldn’t be shot in the parking lot for crossing the thin blue line.

“One of the defendants … charged with some of the retaliatory conduct resigned in December of 2015 before the Police Department initiated disciplinary proceedings against him for his role in the re-investigation of the David Koschman case,” (First Deputy Corporation Counsel Jenny) Notz told aldermen Monday.

“Also in 2015, a key CPD witness who would have rebutted some of the plaintiffs’ most serious allegations of retaliation relating to their experiences in the Narcotic Unit was indicted on felony perjury charges relating to testimony that he gave in another case. … The police superintendent recommended [in March] that this officer be terminated.”

Notz added, “The plaintiffs would certainly, if this case went to trial, use these recent developments to attack the credibility of two of the defense’s key witnesses at trial, making this case difficult to win.”

The settlement was reached one day before Mayor Rahm Emanuel would have been forced to testify at their civil trial. This has spurred speculation that the settlement was really intended to keep Emanuel from having to testify about a code of silence within the CPD, that he has already publicly acknowledged.

Former Illinois Police Officer Charged With Stealing Over $65,000 From Elderly, Disabled Person

Steve Kneifel, a former officer with the La Grange (IL) Police Department, was charged with writing checks on the account of an unnamed elderly, disabled person with whom he had a legal relationship. The exact nature of the relationship was not disclosed in the indictment from a Cook County Grand Jury. Kneifel, who lives in the Chicago suburb of Wheeling, IL, is accused of stealing $65,836 from the victim’s checking account between 2013 and 2015.

Officer Kneifel took a leave of absence from the La Grange Police Department in November 2013. At the time of his indictment in December of 2015, Kneifel was still on leave and was in the process of applying for disability. He had been diagnosed with PTSD and reported having suicidal thoughts, which he attributed to a combination of experiences in Iraq and during his time working as a police officer.

Via the Chicago Tribune:

Steven C. Kneifel, 47, of 165 Shadowbend Drive, Wheeling pleaded not guilty Oct. 17 to the charges of official misconduct, financial exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability, forgery and theft, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The state’s attorney filed criminal charges against Kneifel following an investigation by the Illinois State Police. Kneifel is accused of committing official misconduct, along with the criminal charges filed, according to a statement from the village of La Grange.

The complaint shows the charges stemmed from a grand jury that met from about April 1, 2013 through March 1, 2015, and allege that Kneifel was in a position of trust or confidence with the victim and had a legal or fiduciary relationship with the victim.

The complaint states that Kneifel made or altered checks that drew on the victim’s bank accounts on a series of occasions, at various times and in various amounts that ranged from $100 to $13,000, from April 5, 2013 through Oct. 11, 2015. The complaint alleges that Kneifel withdrew a total of $65,836 from the victim’s accounts at three different banks.

The complaint also states that as a sworn police officer he “knowingly committed an act which he knew that he was forbidden by law to perform.”

Kneifel was an active police officer with the village from January 1997 until November 2013, when he took a leave of absence. Kneifel was on a leave of absence when the village was made aware of the allegations against him. Kneifel never returned to service as a police officer or any other position for the village, according to the village’s statement.

That’s a lot of money to steal and with the victim being a disabled, elderly person, and therefore in a very vulnerable position, this could be something where the police actually crack down on one of their own and Kneifel ends up with not one, but two sore wrists when all is said and done.

The Blue Mafia: New Book Explores Police Brutality and Consent Decrees in Ohio

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by Tim Tolka, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. Within the post, Tim discusses “Blue Mafia,” a book he wrote detailing police corruption and violence in Ohio, specifically concerning the police departments in Steubenville and Warren. Also included is a video preview of that book by Tim.

Tim also states:

The book is forthcoming and mentions all the officers involved by name with extensive documentation from the media, court documents, former and current officials and witnesses.

Blue Mafia: An Exploration of Consent Decrees in Ohio

A new book entitled “Blue Mafia” examines the nation’s second ever and fourth oldest Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations of patterns and practices of police misconduct in two small Ohio towns seated in Rustbelt Democratic counties. Ohio has hosted as many federal police misconduct investigations as New York state although it has only a fraction of its population. Only California has hosted more investigations than Ohio, although it has more than twice Ohio’s population. However, nowhere has the DOJ been resisted more fiercely than in Ohio.

In 1995, civil rights lawyer Richard Olivito began to feel hunted while litigating a civil rights case against the Steubenville police. He and his family received death threats. He and his wife survived two failed assassination attempts before placing a desperate call to the DOJ and driving to D.C. to meet with federal attorneys. The DOJ later sent two attorneys to investigate and requested a truckload of documents from the city of Steubenville. In 1997, the DOJ sued Steubenville for a pattern of civil rights violations and the city signed the second consent decree in U.S. history.

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The pattern of misconduct that caused Steubenville to become one of the less than 3% of municipalities saddled with a consent decree was essentially similar to that of the LAPD Rampart scandal. There were one or two allegations the DOJ was aware of against the police in Steubenville that not even the LAPD could touch. Steubenville has a history of corruption and organized crime which persists until the present day. The federal auditor for the consent decree eventually admitted that he couldn’t change the town’s culture or the choices of its powerful families.

Before the DOJ came to town, there were brutal and unaccountable police on the payroll of the mob in Steubenville. In 1986, the chief was accused of beating a white British woman who was with a black man in a Bob Evans, while yelling “niggerlover!” Once, an officer beat a woman with a chair inside the local courthouse, yet the chief famously refused to discipline his officers. Meanwhile, the county prosecutor was recruiting hitmen into an undercover narcotics task force and plotting to set people up, rob them and even murder them. Richard Olivito handled two criminal cases in which it was revealed in open court that an officer planted evidence and trafficked drugs. All these circumstances on top of forty-four court settlements in civil rights cases piqued the interest of the DOJ Civil Rights Division.

Six years after being involved in the DOJ investigation of Steubenville, Olivito again faced DOJ attorneys on the other side of a conference room in 2003. One of them asked, “Is it as bad as Steubenville?” Olivito replied,”I think it’s worse. It’s laced with racism.” Olivito visited the DOJ after he learned of strip searches, beatings and multiple alleged murders by the Warren police.

Warren was Ferguson ten years before the death of Michael Brown and had similar problems as recently reported by the DOJ in the Baltimore Police Department. In 2003, a video of three cops beating an African American was broadcast by national outlets. Strip searches were “routine” after traffic stops, if cops discovered the driver has a suspended license or acted in a way they didn’t like. A spree of volatile new lawsuits on top of more than fifty during the preceding decades as well as desperate calls from community leaders convinced the Bush DOJ to investigate in 2005, but the DOJ didn’t file a suit accusing Warren of a pattern and practice of civil rights violations until 2012.

Still today, no Warren officer has ever been fired for excessive force and no officer has ever been punished in a lethal force incident. The nine-year tenure of the department’s former chief, John Mandopoulos caused DOJ intervention after two years and a pattern of federal involvement which intensified after every presidential election. The WPD now hosts the fourth oldest DOJ investigation in the country, as they “strive everyday to reach compliance with the decree,” which must be maintained for two years in order for the consent decree to be lifted.

Blue Mafia portrays the challenge of civil rights on the frontline against police brutality in the courts and the streets of America. No other book examines the federal process of police reform in comparable depth, revealing the influence of local and national politics as well as insurers, law firms and police unions. Often, the DOJ is the last line of defense for small town residents, but it offers no remedy to those deprived and violated, only the promise of a less brutal future. For residents in Cleveland, Baltimore, Chicago and other cities with ongoing DOJ settlement agreements, there is much to learn from the experiences of Warren and Steubenville.

– Tim Tolka