Tag Archives: CO

Colorado Police Planned to Sell 80-Year Old Crime Victim’s Car Instead of Returning It To Her

Colorado Springs Police Car Auction Senior Citizen Victim

When 80 year old Mary Antrim’s stolen car was used in a robbery, Colorado Springs police told her it was on hold as evidence, then tried to auction it off without notifying her.

Back in June, Mary Antrim’s car, a Ford Crown Victoria, was stolen in Pueblo, Colorado. A few days later, it was recovered about 45 miles away by police in Colorado Springs after the unnamed person(s) who stole it used it in an aggravated robbery.

However, instead of returning her car once they recovered it, Colorado Springs police informed Antrim that it was being held as evidence. Then Antrim says they stopped answering her calls. The next time she heard anything her car, it had been scheduled to be auctioned off.

Via KOAA.com:

“They (police) told me it was involved in a robbery and that it was being held for evidence and that’s all I was told,” Mary said.

That information was give to Mary on June 5—more than a month ago!

“I’ve called them (police) every week to find out where the car is at and what’s going on with the car,” Mary said. “No one has called me back.”

Fast fast forward to July 10—Mary logs onto her computer and discovers her car is set to be auctioned off in September.

“I was dumbfounded,” she said. “I thought how in the world can the car go from being on hold for evidence and now it’s on hand and being ready to go to auction. I couldn’t believe that…”

“I need my car for my doctors appointments that I have to go to,” Mary said. “That’s my transportation and I’m 80 years old and I’d like to have my car back so I can do what I have to do.”

At that point, Antrim contacted one of those consumer investigation teams for a local news station. When KOAA News 5, the local NBC affiliate, called on her behalf they were told that the car was up for auction because she owed $178 for impound fees.

The problem with that answer, though, is that the Colorado Springs Police Department policy states that crime victims whose cars are impounded are not supposed to be charged storage fees. Another issue is that neither Antrim, nor her husband Clyde, were ever informed that the car had been released from the hold that had been placed on it as evidence.

In fact, the CSPD was even caught a lie regarding the latter requirement. When question, the department initially claimed that they had sent a letter to the Antrims on July 7th stated that the car had been released and giving them until September 11th to claim it before it would be auctioned.

However, the letter that was sent out was postmarked July 11th. By some odd coincidence, that just happened to be the same day that the TV station first contacted the Colorado Springs police about Antrim’s car.

Fortunately for Antrim, in the end, once the media was involved the police waived all of the impound fees (that she should have never been charged in the first place). The next day, her car was released and she was able to go down and reclaim it with being extorted out of any money first.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Springs Police Department hasn’t apologized or even offered an explanation for their “mistake.” Reportedly, they stated that they are “looking into it,” though. And we all know how thorough those internal investigations tend to be. I’m sure they’ll get right to the bottom of this whole thing.

KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

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Second Body Cam Video of Baltimore Police Planting Drugs Then “Finding” Them Has Surfaced

Baltimore Police Department Planting Drugs Video

For the second time in a matter of weeks, body camera footage has been released showing officers from the Baltimore Police Department planting drugs. In both videos, the planting of that evidence was exposed by a feature of the body cams that causes them to begin saving video thirty seconds prior to the point where they are manually activated. This video is from November 2016, while the earlier one dates from January of this year.

In this latest video to surface, police were conducting a traffic stop in which they were profiling drivers in an effort to make drug arrests. After claiming to have seen the passenger in Shamere Collins’ vehicle making a drug sale, the police stopped them. However, after a thorough search, no drugs were found anywhere in the car.

The body cam video of that initial search includes audio of one officer stating that there would be “negative consequences” if they didn’t find drugs and thereby couldn’t arrest someone. After that, the cops for no apparent reason all turned their body cameras off.

What followed, according to CBS News.com:

When the cameras come back on, an officer is seen squatting by the driver’s side of the suspect’s car, apparently unaware that he’s being recorded.

He then stands up and steps back. About 30 seconds pass, and another officer approaches the car, then squats down and pulls out a bag of drugs.

Although the charges were thrown out once the public defender representing her got ahold of this video, Collins and her boyfriend, who was the passenger were charged with possession of opiates and marijuana, as a result. According to Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, dozens more cases that involve this group of officers could also be thrown out.

Meanwhile, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis maintained that this is no reason for the public to “jump to conclusions” or make “heavy allegations” about police misconduct based on the video. Because concluding that something suspicious was going on after all the cops turned their cameras off right after one of them expressed concerns about getting in trouble if they didn’t find any drugs to justify an arrest, then video (that the cops didn’t expect to be recorded) showing one cop crouching next to the car, followed by body cam video (that they did expect to be recorded) of a different cop easily finding drugs in that same area after it had already been thoroughly searched is quite a jump.

Of course, this also comes on the heals of the previously released video (embedded below), which is even more damning. In that video, Officer Richard Pinheiro can be clearly seen putting a bag inside a can on a pile of debris in an alley. He then walks back out to the street, accompanied by two other officers who have not been named.

After activating the camera, he proceeds to walk back down the alley as one of the unnamed officers can be heard laughing behind him. Miraculously, he manages to quickly zero in on the can shortly after searching through the debris pile. He then pulls out the bag that he unwittingly recorded himself planting to reveal that it is filled with pills.

The man who was arrested as a result spent over seven months in jail awaiting trial before this video was made public and his charges were thrown out. So far, thirty-four other cases have also been thrown out and as many as fifty-five more could be, as well. Officer Pinheiro was (only) suspended for his actions, while the two other officers that watched (and laughed) as he planted evidence have received no punishment at all.

Not Isolated Incidents

These incidents don’t represent the only times that the Baltimore police have been under scrutiny for manufacturing evidence and manipulating body cameras. In March, all seven members of an “elite task force” that targets illegal weapons and drug crimes were indicted on racketeering charges for robberies that included completely innocent people of cash and filing false paperwork to get paid for overtime they didn’t actually work. In the process, they also falsified search warrants to justify detentions and traffic stops against their intended targets. As they were performing these “shake downs,” officers were known to have turned off their body cameras.

Nor is this the first confirmed instance of body camera footage being falsified to show police finding evidence against suspects. In May of this year, charges were dropped against a man in Colorado after a cop in Pueblo admitted he staged a video of himself  finding heroin and a gun in his car. In that case, Officer Seth Jensen claimed that he was merely “reenacting” his legitimate discovery of the evidence.

An “Unintended Consequence” of Transparency?

Given all of that, it’s rather interesting that in the CBS News video embedded below (beginning at about 3:45) correspondent Jeff Pegues characterizes the issue as a “downside of video transparency” and an “unintended consequence” of police wearing body cameras. Apparently, on his planet these type of incidents aren’t an argument for increased scrutiny and transparency, but rather a problem for “police departments that have to defend themselves against this type of policing.”

Obviously, I can’t see any reason we shouldn’t just trust these cops and accept their word. It would be crazy if cops didn’t have the ability to freely plant evidence without being detected and police departments had no incentive to eliminate “this type of policing.” That freedom to just arrest whoever they want and make up a reason undoubtedly would make their tough jobs so much easier.

Watch him throw it into the floorboards

BPD Officer Richard Pinheiro planting drugs

CBS News coverage of  the latest incident:

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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.

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Denver Cop Who Recorded Himself Stealing Cash From Suspect Given Plea Deal For Probation

Information included in the following post was shared with the CopBlock Network anonymously, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

In October of last year, CopBlock Network Contributor Asa J  posted about Officer Julian Archuleta of the Denver Police Department, who apparently forgot he was wearing a body camera and recorded himself stealing $1,200 from the car of a suspect. The car he had taken the money from was involved in a roll over accident during a high speed chase following an incident in which the owner and a passenger had fired shots at two police vehicles.

A detective that reviewed the video as part of the investigation later noticed that the video showed a $100 bill, but the money that had been turned in as evidence did not include any $100 dollar bills.

Via the Denver Post:

On Oct. 7, Archuleta, a patrol officer in northwest Denver, assisted in the investigation after two suspects in a vehicle fired shots in the direction of two police vehicles parked at a 7-Eleven store. A short pursuit ensued, investigators say, ending with the suspects’ vehicle rolling over near the intersection of East 50th Avenue and Washington Street.

The driver took off on foot and a passenger was left unconscious in the vehicle, police said.

Archuleta’s body camera recorded as he searched a suspect’s clothing and took pictures of the wrecked car, according to his arrest affidavit.

In the footage, Archuleta picked up a stack of cash with a $100 bill on top. He removed that bill, and the footage showed him shuffling papers and cash in his patrol car, the affidavit said.

A detective who later reviewed the body camera footage noticed the $100 bill and questioned why only $118 had been logged into evidence. Archuleta later produced $1,200 and told another detective that it must have fallen into his bag, the affidavit said.

The affidavit noted that Archuleta’s actions also violated Denver Police Department policy on handling evidence and/or personal property.

His excuse that it had somehow fallen into his “war bag” unbeknownst to him for some odd reason didn’t work. Archuleta was originally charged with a felony for tampering with physical evidence and two misdemeanors of first-degree official misconduct and theft. In addition, as a result of his evidence tampering and contamination of the scene, the two suspects were never prosecuted (way to have your Brothas’ backs).

Of course, rather than facing any sort of real consequences for his actions, he was instead gifted with a plea deal that allowed him to cop to (you saw what I did there) misdemeanors with the felony being dropped. After entering his guilty plea on Monday, Officer Archuleta was only sentenced to 180 days of probation. He was also allowed to resign instead of being fired.

Obviously, it’ll be a long, hard six months before he can go out and get hired at another police department.

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Colorado Citizens Forced to Pay $325,000 for Mass Detention of Motorists by Aurora Police

A total of 14 drivers in Aurora, Colorado have received a settlement of $325,000 for a 2012 incident, in which local police decided to detain everyone within an intersection at gunpoint in order to search for a bank robbery suspect. Those motorists had filed a lawsuit in 2014 based on violations of their Fourth Amendment rights during the detention.

After the bank robbery, police had used a tracker within the stolen money to determine that the robber, Christian Paetsch was at the intersection. However, the tracker wasn’t precise enough to pinpoint which car he was in. In the process of the detention, over two dozen people, including children, were forced out of their cars at gunpoint, some of them were verbally berated and even physically abused. Several of them are reported to have suffered medical episodes as a result, including a woman who suffered a panic attack and a seven year old child who had an asthma attack. Neither were given any assistance by the police officers detaining them.

Even after Paetsch had been identified as the robber and arrested, those 28 people were held in handcuffs, threatened with arrest, and subjected to illegal searches of their bodies and vehicles. Prior to being released, they were all forced under duress to sign forms stating that they had consented to the search. (Read the PDF containing the full court documents here: Aurora Colorado Mass Detention Lawsuit Complaint and Jury Demand)

Via the Denver Post:

The incident occurred on June 2, 2012, at the intersection of Iliff Avenue and Buckley Road after Christian Paetsch robbed a Wells Fargo bank branch and police used GPS technology to home in on a tracking device that was hidden in the stolen money. The tracking technology, however, wasn’t precise enough to allow officers to determine which vehicle contained the robber.

Police decided to surround 19 vehicles — containing 28 occupants — stopped at a red light at the intersection in an effort to find the suspect, demanding that “all vehicle occupants hold their arms up and outside of their vehicle windows,” according to the suit.

“They brandished ballistic shields and pointed assault rifles directly at innocent citizens, including children under ten years old. Officers with police dogs were at the ready,” the suit reads. “No one was free to leave.”

Some motorists were patted down, handcuffed and made to sit on the side of the road while police searched their cars.

“This all occurred despite the fact that the officers had removed and handcuffed a single individual — Christian Paetsch — from his vehicle just 30 minutes after the initial stop,” the lawsuit reads.

Essentially, the Aurora police decided that once they already had everyone at their mercy (quite literally, based on the descriptions of the hostility involved in the detentions) and they had already found the suspect, they might as well go on a fishing expedition and see what else they could subject them to. I have little doubt that they were hoping to generate a little revenue in the process, as well.

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