Tag Archives: coroner’s inquest

Judge Denies Qualified Immunity for Two Montana Deputies in Lawsuit Over Fatal Shooting

On Thursday, a judge in Montana ruled that two Yellowstone County Sheriff’s deputies could be held personally accountable in a lawsuit brought by the family of a man they shot in 2015. Judge Susan Watters ruled that Deputies Chris Rudolph and Jason Robinson had not acted reasonably when they killed Loren Simpson as he drove toward a roadblock they had set up. As a result, should Simpson’s family win their suit, the deputies will not be entitled to protections under the law and instead will be personally liable for damages awarded.

Rudolph and Robinson had used the old standby excuse of “I thought he was going to run into me with his truck” to try and justify their murderous actions. However, dashcam video (embedded below) showed that Simpson had actually veered off the road and into the ditch in an effort to avoid the police vehicles blocking the road. In addition, the deputies even admitted that they weren’t sure Simpson’s vehicle was the one they were looking for at the time.

Further testimony showed that the low visibility caused by darkness and the snowy conditions, along with potential noise from the vehicle itself and its heater may have prevented Simpson from seeing or hearing the deputies and the vehicles, which had no overhead lights on at the time, from a distance.

The judge ultimately ruled that there was no evidence to support the deputies’ contentions that Simpson was trying to hit them, nor was there any reason to believe he had even committed a crime. According to Judge Watters, even if they had possessed such evidence, the crime of burglary that they claim he was suspected of was so minor that the force used would have been excessive, regardless.

Via KTQV.com:

“The force used by the deputies was severe, the crime they suspected Simpson had committed was minor, the danger to the deputies was minimal, and the deputies could have used less intrusive means to affect the investigative stop,” said Watters in her judgment.

Rudolph and Robinson shot and killed Simpson on White Buffalo Trail Road in Huntley in January of 2015.

The former deputies were cleared of criminal wrongdoing at a coroner’s inquest in February of 2016.

Rudolph and Robinson claimed to believe Simpson was a suspect in a burglary and they believed he was driving a stolen vehicle.

The former deputies parked the patrol car in the street to block traffic from coming through and pointed their weapons at the oncoming vehicle.

The former deputies said they killed Simpson because they believed he was trying to run them over with the vehicle.

Dash-cam video from the patrol car shows Simpson driving the Explorer toward the deputies but it swerves into the ditch.

“The question that will never be answered is whether Simpson even knew the deputies were attempting to stop him,” said Watters in her judgment. “Prior to setting up a roadblock without even turning on the patrol car’s overhead lights, Robinson admitted to his supervising officer that he wasn’t “even 100% it [was the right] car.”

The former deputies fired at least 24 shots at Simpson, according to the judge’s review.

Watters added that it was possible Simpson could not hear the deputies’ commands because it was winter and he had the heat on in the vehicle.

She also noted that it was dusk and visibility would have been impaired.

Watters said in her judgment that not only was there no evidence to support Simpson’s intent to hit the deputies, but argued that there was no proof Simpson had committed any crime.

“A rational jury could find the deputies’ use of deadly force was unreasonable,” said Watters in her judgment.

Not surprisingly (because that’s what they are designed to do), a coroner’s inquest found Deputies Rudolph and Robinson were justified in executing Simpson.

Dash Camera Video:

Full Unedited Dash Camera Video:

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Still No Justice for Tommy McClain in Family’s Federal Wrongful Death Lawsuit Verdict

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network anonymously, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. They stated along with the submission: “From a supporter for Tommy McClain and all police shootings by Humboldt County police.”

Date of Incident: September 17, 2014
Officer Involved: Officer Stephen Linfoot
Department Involved: Eureka (CA) Police Department
Department Facebook Page: Eureka Police Department
Department Phone No.: (707) 441-4060

These are my thoughts regarding the Jury verdict in the Federal civil wrongful death lawsuit brought by the McClain family against the City of Eureka for the actions of the Eureka Police Department (EPD) which resulted in the police shooting death of their son, 22 year old Tommy McClain on the night of September 16/17, 2014. I attended about 95% of the eight hour, five day’s long trial, getting to the courthouse half-an-hour late on the second day. At times there were 14 members from the community who attended the trial to observe justice in action, and to support the McClain family.

First, the Setting–
The setting for this case is that the Eureka Police Department (EPD) had assigned a team of officers to a stake out a duplex apartment on the 1600 block of Allard Avenue hoping to catch a neighbor, who was on their “Most Wanted” list. The other apartment in the duplex was the home of Tommy McClain, his cousin Josh, Josh’s wife Nichole Mottern, and the Motterns’ two young daughters. The EPD Officers had a photo of the neighbor, and at least one of the officers had previously arrested him. Tommy McClain was not the person they were seeking, and all the officers knew this. The person they were looking for didn’t show up while the EPD was working its stakeout.

Instead, a car with two women in the front and two men in the back pulled up, and the men and one woman got out and made their way into the apartment while the driver drove away. Though the police didn’t know it, the passengers were Josh and Nichole Mottern, and Tommy McClain. They had been celebrating Josh’s birthday. While the police claim that one of the men, Josh, was showing signs of being drunk, nobody makes this claim for Tommy McClain.

After some time, so the police story goes, another vehicle parked across the street from the duplex, and Tommy McClain came out of his apartment and talked with the driver. According to the police, Tommy McClain appeared confrontational, and after the driver had walked away and gone down the street, he ran his hands around his waistband, giving the police reason to think that he might have a weapon tucked into his pants. At this point the EPD doesn’t claim to have seen a weapon. Two of the officers doing the stakeout, Officers McElroy and Harkness, standing across the street, up a short slope, and behind a line of trees and an approximately six foot fence, then claim, from a distance of over 100 feet and through a closed door, to have heard the sound of a weapon being racked coming from Tommy McClain’s apartment, and then saw him step onto his porch.

The EPD then called for a police vehicle, driven by Officer Linfoot, to drive past the house in an effort to get Tommy McClain to go back into his apartment. These Officers then claim that Tommy McClain first waved his hand at Officer Linfoot as he drove by, then took a gun out of his waistband and racked or loaded it before walking across the lawn, up the stairs to the porch of his apartment.

At this point Sgt. Stephens, the Senior EPD Officer in charge of this stakeout, drives up and parks his patrol vehicle. He turns on his vehicle’s spotlight and points it at Tommy McClain standing on his porch. Then he exits his vehicle and stands in front of it on the sidewalk. He also pulls his gun from its holster and points it at Tommy McClain, while giving Tommy McClain commands to put his hands up and come down from the porch and onto the lawn towards where the sergeant is standing.

In the meantime, Officer Linfoot has driven his patrol vehicle into the alley behind the duplex to continue his stakeout for the neighbor. From where he is parked he can see past the side of the apartment into the front yard, and he sees that Sgt. Stephens has drawn his weapon. Officer Linfoot immediately speeds his car back around to the front of the duplex on Allard Avenue. He parks his vehicle, exits it, takes his weapon out of its holster, then chooses to move in front of both his vehicle and a telephone pole and walks down the sidewalk toward the lawn where Tommy McClain is being given commands by Sgt. Stephens.

Within moments of Officer Linfoot drawing his weapon and advancing toward Tommy McClain who is standing on the level if uneven lawn about 10 feet from the sidewalk with his arms straight up above his head (as shown by Officer Linfoot when he was giving his testimony), the audio from Officer Linfoot’s own patrol vehicle records the tragedy as it takes place.

As reported in the Eureka Times-Standard of November 15, 2016:

“A series of shouted commands are then given by multiple officers over the next seven or so seconds, some more difficult to make out than others. The first clear command on the recording was “Get down here right now.” Then “Get your hands up” is yelled four times by [Sgt.] Stephens, Office Ryan McElroy and finally Linfoot, (according to his testimony)…. The next command of “get down,” which was followed about a second later by “stop,” then seven gunshots and a woman’s scream.”

The assessment–“about a second later”—is the assessment of the Times-Standard journalist, Will Houston. In the opinion of Officer Linfoot, who fired the shots, he started shooting about “a split second” after he shouted “Get down here,” and the reason the “here” is not heard is that it is covered over by the sounds of the shots. (Time travel may not be available for you and I, but noise of Officer Linfoot’s gunshots can go backwards in time to cover up his command shouted before he pulls the trigger. I don’t believe it, but the Jury did.)

Now Comes the Verdict—
The jury of six women and men (one of whom works for the Ukiah Sheriff’s Department) ruled that Eureka Police Department (EPD) Officer Linfoot did not use excessive or unnecessary force when he fired seven shots at Tommy McClain hitting him with three, but he was 50% negligent for causing Tommy’s death. They also decided that Tommy McClain was 50% negligent for his own death for reportedly lowering his hands from above his head and moving them toward his waist, toward the gun that was reportedly tucked into his pants.

In order to decide that Officer Linfoot did not use excessive or unnecessary force the Jury had to agree with Officer Linfoot’s assertion that Tommy McClain reached for a gun at his waist, and that Officer Linfoot felt that there was immediate danger to himself of loss of life or injury. One problem with Officer Linfoot’s assessment is that then-EPD Sgt. Stephens (now Captain having been promoted shortly after this incident), the senior and commanding officer on the scene who had been interacting with Tommy McClain from the beginning and who was better positioned than Officer Linfoot to see Tommy’s hands, did not fire his gun. Sgt. Stephens never fired a shot despite having drawn his gun and kept it pointed at Tommy from the beginning of his contact with him.

Sgt. Stephens characterized his initial interaction with Tommy McClain as a “consensual encounter.” How an interaction between a uniformed on duty Policeman who is pointing a .40 caliber gun at the empty handed Tommy McClain while at the same time shouting commands at him and while a spotlight is shining on him can be called “consensual” is beyond my reasoning. It does, however, let us into the authoritarian mindset and philosophy of law enforcement.

Another problem I have is with the number of shots Officer Linfoot fired. Did he really need to fire more bullets after the one which first hit Tommy causing him to start falling to the ground? In fact, couldn’t he have fired a warning shot, or shot him in the leg and then evaluated the situation? Tommy McClain had not threatened any of the police verbally or physically. He was not wanted for any crime nor did he have a record of being a violent person. Most importantly, Tommy McClain had not tried to run away. He had complied with Sgt. Stephens’ commands to come down from the porch and put his hands up.

The jury also had to ignore the testimony from all three expert witnesses: for the plaintiffs, Roger Clark, an expert in police practices, tactics and use of force; for the defense, Don Cameron, an expert in the use of force, and Alexander Jason, who specializes in reenactments of shooting scenarios and testifying on behalf of police who’ve shot someone. All three experts stated or admitted while on the witness stand that the California POST (Police Officer Standards and Training) training required to qualify to be a police officer in California teaches officers that it is inappropriate to shoot someone who does not have a gun in their hands, that doing so would amount to using excessive force. None of the Eureka Police on the scene said Tommy McClain ever touched the gun in his waist before Officer Linfoot killed him.

What might be the basis for the jury’s determining that Officer Linfoot was 50% negligent? I think it comes from Officer Linfoot’s failure to seek cover (“breaking cover”) immediately after exiting his police vehicle. He could have sought cover by positioning himself behind his car or the nearby telephone pole. This would have provided him a degree of safety. Instead he incautiously walked closer toward Tommy McClain, a person who he thought had a loaded gun in his waist. By breaking cover, Officer Linfoot placed himself in an exposed and vulnerable position. Doing so increased his level of stress. Moving closer to Tommy MClain, whom he testified that he thought was armed with a lethal weapon, reduced the time he had to assess the situation without feeling that his life was in heightened or immediate danger requiring him to immediately fire his gun to protect himself.

It should be noted that Sgt. Stephens, the senior and commanding EPD Officer on scene, set a bad example for Officer Linfoot. Sgt. Stephens also broke cover and placed himself in a more vulnerable and dangerous position by walking onto the sidewalk and confronting Tommy McClain. If the Jury decided Officer Linfoot was 50% negligent, why did they not assign some negligence to Sgt. Stephens?

In addition to both Officers’ dangerous decision to break cover, when Officer Linfoot sped up in his car, exited it and got onto the sidewalk, he created confusion by shouting commands to Tommy McClain which conflicted with commands given by Sgt. Stephens. Sgt. Stephens, the senior officer in charge who had initiated contact with Tommy McClain, had drawn his gun and pointed it at Tommy McClain while commanding him to keep his hands up and to walk towards the sidewalk.

It is at this point, when Tommy McClain is being engaged by the sergeant and complying with his commands, that Officer Linfoot hurriedly arrives and gets out of his police car. Then, instead of seeking cover he walks toward the lawn where Tommy McClain is standing with his hands up, and immediately shouts “Get Down!”

Despite his and other Officer’s claims that he really said “Get Down Here!” which they say meant get down to the sidewalk, after listening to the audio from Officer Linfoot’s police vehicle being replayed three times in the courtroom I can say that I never heard the final word “Here.” All I heard was “Get Down.”

The reason given by the Officers for the absence of the final word “here” on the audio recording, is that it is blocked out by the sound of the seven shots fired by Officer Linfoot’s .40 caliber gun. Officer Linfoot admitted that he fired his gun at Tommy McClain a “split second” after shouting. At this moment, Tommy had at least two Officers he could see within 15 feet pointing guns at him and telling him to do contradictory actions: “Put your hands up” and “Get down.”

The Plaintiff’s expert witness, Roger Clark–who was a police officer for many years and testified that one of the teams he trained had 2, 500 arrests in his last 5 years with them without firing a single shot (85% of the arrests were with multiple homicide suspects, many of them armed)–talked about the hypothetical situation of seeing a gun in someone’s waistband and how important clear commands are in this situation. Mr. Clark emphasized that having clear commands like “Put your hands up” and “Don’t move,” commands with no to little room for confusion—on the part of both the police and the person being engaged by them, in this case Tommy McClain–would have been a good scenario.

Mr. Clark went on to testify that with an officer’s sudden approach there is a moment of anxiety. That anxiety needs decompression which means the officer should deescalate what’s going on, have clarity of commands, no movement, and definitely not be the engine of moving things forward. Instead of defusing the incident, Mr. Clark says that the EPD’s behavior continually escalated it. When being held at gunpoint, as Tommy McClain was, Mr. Clark testified that it is “catastrophic to be given multiple commands.” Up until the moment shots were fired there were multiple officers yelling conflicting and confusing commands at Tommy McClain. Mr. Clark testified that he believes Officer Linfoot overreacted and “none of the shots were justified” in his opinion.

The use of force expert that the EPD defense had testify, Don Cameron, also testified for the EPD and Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department in the wrongful death trial after Eureka police beat Martin “Freddie” Cotton II to death in 2007. The jury in that case found Cameron’s testimony unbelievable, and awarded the Cotton Family an award of approximately $4.5 billion for their son’s death. It came as no surprise then when Don Cameron testified that Officer Linsfoot and the other EPD Officers had done no wrong. But even he had to admit under cross examination that the training given to officers emphasizes that shooting at someone in a situation like this one is inappropriate and amounts to the use of excessive force. The defense’s other expert, Alexander Jason also admitted under cross examination that it was clearly excessive force and bad police practice.

In order for the jury to decide that Officer Linfoot was only 50% negligent, they had to believe the officer’s testimony that when Tommy McClain heard the command “Get Down!” he lowered his hands and reached for the gun in his waist. They must also accept the rationale of Nancy Delaney, the defense (EPD’s) lawyer, and I paraphrase, “that a drunk 22 year old will do irrational things, like reach for an unloaded pellet gun while having two police officers pointing their .40 caliber guns at them.” While Tommy McClain had been at his cousin’s birthday earlier that night, none of the police testified that they thought he was drunk at the time of his death.

Equally important, the defense offered no evidence that Tommy McClain was suicidal. In fact Tommy McClain was enjoying his life in Eureka: he had a job as a trainee-roofer and was able to pay his rent. As part of his living arrangement with Josh and Nichole Mottern he provided child care for their two young girls. He was the exact opposite of suicidal—he was working, financially responsible, loved by his family, and happy.

Why I Disagree with the Jury–
The problem I have with the jury’s decision is this: if they agree that Officer Linfoot’s negligence–his violation of tactic and command protocols–caused the chaotic and dangerous situation which resulted in him killing Tommy McClain, then any force he used should, ipso facto, be considered excessive and unnecessary. Even if you accept that Tommy McClain reached for a gun tucked in his waist (a version of events which was contradicted by the only non-officer witness to the shooting, Nichole Mottern, who was standing on the porch when Tommy was shot and said that his hands were lowered to the side as he began to lower himself to the ground), if Officer Linfoot and Sgt. Stephens had followed their POST training and remained in cover (positioning themselves behind their cars, or in Officer Linfoot’s case he could have also used a telephone pole) they would have had more time to talk with Tommy McClain from a greater distance and with less anxiety and fear.

Mr. Clark also testified that, as indicated by standard police training, “distance and cover equals time.” If the Officers had remained in cover they would have had time to ask Tommy McClain about the gun they thought he had in his waistband. Tommy McClain would have had the time to tell them it was a replica pellet gun and that it wasn’t loaded. This would have, or should have, deescalated the situation and it would have been resolved peacefully and Tommy McClain would not have been killed. Also, again as per standard police training, if only one officer had done the talking with Tommy McClain, then ambiguous, contradictory and confusing commands would have been less likely to have contributed to the fatal outcome.

I think it is obvious that—going by the EPD’s own account of this tragedy–if the EPD had not been in the neighborhood in the middle of the night on the lookout for his neighbor, if Sgt. Stephens had not called Tommy McLain down from his porch into his yard, if Officer Linfoot had not charged in with his whirlwind of chaos, if they had left him alone, Tommy McClain would be alive today. Tommy had never been arrested. He had a job. He was respected and loved. He was trusted to take care of children. Nobody had called the police on him. This whole incident was initiated and escalated by the EPD. The question remains as to why the EPD took this aggressive approach to a non-existent threat? After all, the gun Tommy McClain allegedly had stuck in his waistband was an unloaded replica pellet gun.

EPD, “Broken Windows” Philosophy, and President-Elect Trump–
I think we can get a glimpse of the answer when we see that, from a larger context this murderous mistake on the part of the EPD and Officer Linfoot was not really a mistake at all. It was the result of the “Broken Windows” philosophy of policing, which asserts that when you have a broken window in a building, if you don’t repair it immediately then soon another window will be broken, and then another and eventually the whole neighborhood will be run down.

It is an appeal to proactive policing, of justifying police vigorously enforcing minor offenses because it is believed this will deter major ones. It is the philosophy behind New York’s “Stop and Frisk” policy which was initiated by then-Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani. “Stop and Frisk” was ruled to be unconstitutional by Shira Sheindlin, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York in 2013.

This has not deterred President-elect Donald Trump from promising to expand “Stop and Frisk” nationwide. Declaring himself as “law and order” candidate when he was running for the Republican nomination, President-elect Trump got the backing of the Fraternal Order of Police, the 300,000 member strong police union. He also got the first endorsement ever from the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Council representing the nation’s approximately roughly 5,000 agents and personnel.

But long before the 2016 election season, beginning back in 2005, the EPD had, under the “Broken Windows” philosophy, already killed a number of people under questionable circumstances. The EPD, much like many police outfits throughout the country, regularly criminalize people (especially if those people are poor) and then often exaggerate or flat out lie about the danger they were “threatened with” in order to justify killing or severely harming those civilians.

One remarkable distinction, however, between EPD and many other police departments who’s officers are suspected or known to have used excessive violence or lethal violence, is the patent and utter refusal of EPD or the City of Eureka to fire, reprimand, or demote such officers–even if only for the purpose of instilling confidence in the communities which they ‘police’. Because EPD routinely ignores, downplays and covers up instances of wrongful and unjustified use of force, there is a climate of indulgence in the department, whereby officers – and particularly those with predilections for over-aggressiveness, violence and abuse of authority, feel free to violate peoples’ rights while on duty, because they are confident no disciplinary consequences will arise.

Here is a partial list of people killed by the EPD and/or Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department or California Highway Patrol since 2005:

  • Fall of 2005, 16 year old Christopher Burgess, killed by EPD Officer Terry Liles
  • Spring of 2006, another teenager, Zachary Cooke, also killed by EPD Officer Terry Liles
  • Spring of 2006, Gabriel Muldenado, who spoke only Spanish, was killed by EPD
  • April 14, 2006, Cheri Lyn Moore is shot and killed in a standoff with EPD SWAT in her second-story apartment
  • August 9, 2007, Martin “Freddy” Cotton II, 26 years old, was killed by EPD Officers on August 9, 2007 (The Cotton family won an award of approximately $4.5 million in an unlawful death civil lawsuit against the City of Eureka.)
  • Tommy McClain, killed by EPD Officer Linfoot due to escalating and confusing commands coming from multiple Eureka Policemen, on September 17, 2014
  • “Richie” Richard Fredrick Tis’mil Estrada, member of the Hooopa Tribe, had just turned 17 when he was killed by California Highway Patrol on Dec. 18, 2014.

I hope that the tragedy of Tommy McClain’s death is a wake-up call for the EPD to finally begin to see that the irrevocable harm done to the community by implementing policies informed by the “Broken Windows” philosophy will no longer be tolerated. However, given that the senior officer in command of the operation resulting in Tommy’s death, Sgt. Stephens, was promoted to captain shortly after this incident, this does not seem likely. It is also past time for the Eureka City Council to step forward and give some humane guidance to its police department. Even here, where the then-Eureka Coroner Frank Jaeger, now Mayor, massaged the Coroner’s Inquest into the Cheri Lyn Moore killing by the EPD SWAT such that none of the officers suffered any adverse consequences, I am far from convinced that any progress will be forthcoming.

Until this nation’s law authorities radically reform their philosophy and policies which result in police brutality on a regular basis, it is up to “we the people” to be an alert civic community and keep an eye on those who are sworn to protect us, but who instead harm us. It is up to us to follow the example and lead of Redwood Curtain Copwatch located in Eureka, Humboldt County: we must observe the Police on a daily basis and be prepared to photograph them, both when an incident is taking place, and in order to prevent future incidents from happening. And after an incident of police brutality occurs, we must be prepared to work within the judicial system to seek justice for the victim/s and their families. There are Copwatch groups all over the nation, which, with Donald “law and order” Trump as the president-elect promising to implement the “Stand and Frisk” policy nationwide, is a good thing.

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Police Fatality Review of D’Andre Berghardt Jr. Murder Scheduled for Today

dandre-berghardt-murder-videoAt 9:00 AM this morning (March 2, 2015), the Clark County District Attorney’s office will be conducting a “Police Fatality Public Fact Finding Review” for the murder of D’andre Berghardt Jr., who was shot to death by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents on February 14, 2014 after he asked passersby near Red Rock Canyon (just outside Las Vegas) for water and some of them called to report that he may need assistance. Those BLM agents, along with a Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper,  subsequently showed up and instead of offering assistance (or simply leaving him alone if he refused assistance), began to antagonize, pepper spray, taze, and beat Berghardt.

Not surprisingly, Berghardt attempted to get away from the people that were assaulting him and tried unsuccessfully to get into several nearby cars. Unfortunately, when he did finally find a vehicle that he could get into, it ended up being NHP Trooper Lucas Schwarzrock’s SUV. That prompted the two (unnamed) BLM agents to shoot and kill Berghardt, presumably because they were afraid that he would use the rifle that was locked up (according to the BLM’s own official statement) inside the trooper’s passenger seat.

Although a video (which is embedded below), taken by two people that witnessed the incident from their car while stopped on the road, surfaced within a few days of the shooting, there actually should be another video that would show a much better view of what happened that day. Unlike the LVMPD and other Las Vegas area police, Nevada Highway Patrol vehicles have dash cams. That video has never been released, nor has any explanation ever been offered for it not being released. It’ll be interesting to see if that will be included in the presentation or, at the very least, if some sort of excuse for it’s lack of availability will be given.

In spite of it’s Orwellian name, the “Police Fatality Public Fact Finding Review” is, in reality, designed to do anything but provide facts to the public. It was created after the LVMPD and Police Protective Association were unable to have reforms to the old Coroner’s Inquest overturned via lawsuits. The much maligned original Coroner’s Inquest had functioned as a rubber stamp process of automatically justifying police shootings for about 40 years. In spite of the proposed reforms standing up to those legal challenges and being declared constitutional by the Nevada Supreme Court, the entire process was scrapped in favor of this newer version that is even worse and less transparent than the Coroner’s Inquests had ever been.D'andre Berghardt Jr

Basically, the new method of rubber stamping police shootings consists of the District Attorney declaring (every single time) that the killing was justified, then having someone present to the public the police version of events without any cross examination, witness testimony, presentation of evidence, or impartial representation. It essentially is designed in order to facilitate an official, institutionalized coverup, with very little opportunity for the public to question the official story they are being fed. You couldn’t ask for a much better opportunity to hide the truth and bury facts while advancing the official narrative. Nor could you more effectively sow mistrust and hostility within the communities that are effected by these killings, which historically have never resulted in any sort of accountability, regardless of how questionable they have been and whether the victims of the LVMPD’s trigger happy cops were completely innocent and/or unarmed.

Details for Police Fatality Review of D’Andre Berghardt Jr. Murder:

Via www.clarkcountynv.gov

The Police Fatality Public Fact-finding Review into the February 2014 death of D’Andre Berghardt Jr. will be held Monday, March 2, at 9 a.m. in the Clark County Government Center Commission Chambers at 500 S. Grand Central Parkway in downtown Las Vegas. The review will be aired live on Clark County Television (CCTV) and streamed over the County Internet site at www.ClarkCountyNV.gov.

According to reports, Berghardt was shot and killed during a confrontation with law enforcement officers on state Route 159 near the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

The review of this incident will be presided over by Hearing Officer Chip Siegel. Mark Bailus will serve as ombudsman for the review. Both are longtime criminal defense attorneys in the community. Presiding officers and ombudsmen are selected by the county manager from lists approved by the County Commission. The ombudsman represents the public and the deceased’s family in this fact-finding review.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Staudaher will represent the District Attorney’s Office in this proceeding.

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Call Flood Request for Brian Sumner Arrested for Filming Cops *Update*

Update: Charges Dismissed Against Brian Sumner

Brian Sumner’s Case was Dismissed. (Thanks to a Little Help from Some Freinds.)

Brian Sumner has reported via the FaceBook event page that his charges were dropped He also stated:

“Its all thanks to you. I wish everyone of you could have seen the DAs face. My lawyer told me that she wasn’t sure if the DA was going to inner (sic) the agreement. I’m going to take that as it was a very successful phone bomb. You all have my heart, and our voices will be heard.”

Thanks to everyone that managed to call. Remember, call floods have been very effective at putting pressure on police departments and courts to release people being charged with bogus crimes based on retaliation or intimidation motives. Always call if you can.

 

 


Brian Sumner wrote the article included below regarding how “obstruction” charges are often used to punish and attempt to discourage people involved in Copwatch or Cop Block related activities. This is done much the same way that “resisting arrest” is often used to prosecute people who have been arrested, even when the actual excuse for arresting them is thrown out or dismissed, as a way of intimidating them.

Brian is a local activist and copwatcher from the Fresno area. Within a relatively short time he’s made quite a few videos and been involved in several major actions in and around Fresno seeking police accountability as part of the Fresno Liberty Movement. As a result, he has become a target for retaliation by local police and other government employees. In one such instance (not the one in the video included below), he was charged with obstruction simply for filming the arrest of another person from a distance. He will be starting trial for this “crime” today, Sept. 10th 2014, and has asked (via a FaceBook event) that people call the DA to show their support and ask that they drop those bogus charges:

“Brian Sumner was arrested for obstruction of justice while filming a routine traffic stop in Clovis, Ca. Please call the DA’s office as many times as humanly possible and ask them to drop the charges. Brian will begin his first day of trial at 1:30 pm 9/10/14. Vanessa Wong is the DA prosecuting the case against Brian. The phone number to her office is (559) 600-3141. Any and all support will be greatly appreciated. #NoVictimNoCrime #PhotographyIsNotACrime #CopBlock #CopWatch #Solidarity”

“Obstructing” is “Resisting” for Cop Watchers

We have all seen a youtube video where a cop demands ID, or for someone to go with them, and when they refuse the cop threatens them with resisting arrest. Even though no crime was committed beforehand…  If you have not seen one of these videos click the link below.


Threatened with resisting arrest.


 

I FILM COPS!

I have been filming the police for around a year and a half now, and it has slowly just become apart of who I am. I was just out of the military, and dealing with the poor taste it left in my mouth. I had been Listening to the Adam VS the Man podcast, reading The Free Thought Project, and watching everything CopBlock.org was putting out. I had joined the military to serve, and well lets just say my service was more of a disservice.

The visible wars in Iraq, and Afghanistan these “Wars on Terror” were being flaunted along with 9/11 as major reasons to draft such legislation as the Patriot Act, or NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) to create such organizations as the NSA, and the TSA. While the US military eroded rights, and lowered the living conditions in the middle east, the US government was  systematically removing rights, and lowering the standard of freedom in the USA.

I was drawn to activism and civil disobedience because it was an in your face act of rebellion, and when you do something like block a freeway, chalk up a police station, or take over the streets with a group of people, and the authorities just have to let you do it due the critical mass its very liberating to one’s soul. You make connections, and form bonds with each other much like in the military.

One thing I have noticed is cops don’t take kindly to an unknown person walking up and sticking a camera in their face. Luckily for me, I could care less what a cop wants. Too many times there is no objective record, and cops take advantage of people, or worse hurt them. The supreme court ruled that it is the job of police to enforce the laws, not protect people. With that in mind does it make a little more sense why there are so many victimless crimes?

Police often tell me that my presence is an obstruction of their investigation, they usually try to defend it with “I’m cool with you filming, just from over there, Officer safety, and all” or something along those lines. In reality what the cop is trying to do is place you in a position where you are less likely to capture what he is doing, and/or saying. I have been threatened with arrest for this crime known as “Obstruction of Justice”  on many different occasions. I recently made the connection between resisting arrest, and Obstruction of Justice.

If I am not harming anyone, and I am filming from a distance that I deem is reasonable for both mine, and the officers safety, and if I am not engaging the officer in any unwanted dialogue how can I be obstructing justice, or interfering with his investigation? Is he claiming that my presence with a camera is somehow hindering him from doing his job? Or is he afraid of what the camera will see? Regardless the situation remains where unquestioned obedience to an authority figure, possibly a complete stranger, can and will land  you in cage, even worse you can end up with a criminal record.

The same can be said with resisting arrest. As we saw in the video link above the man was eating a meal at a fast food restaurant. When the man did not want to leave his meal, and go with the officer he was threatened with arrest for resisting arrest. How can your only crime be not wanting to have an interaction with a complete stranger? Does it make sense that you can literally be arrested for refusing to go somewhere with someone who claims authority over you?

Police now can detain and arrest you for not wanting to talk to them. At the same time police can detain and arrest the people who would film these arrest’s in order create an objective record, if they do not follow the orders of a the police officer. I will now share a personal experience from 2 nights ago with the Clovis, Ca police department.


Clovis police officer, and local hero Jesus Santillon, threatened me with arrest for filming him while he detained, and later arrested a homeless man with a bicycle.


This video also may serve as an objective comparison of the behavior of  cops while in certain uniforms. The officer with the tactical vest, and the military haircut was the one to make contact with me, and cry about “officer safety” in an attempt to get me to alter my position.  While the police officer in his regular uniform was very patient, and kept to the matters at hand.

Notice also that even the nice cop was telling me what to do. Officer Santillan was telling me to move, the other person involved Officer Shermanti was telling me that no one threatened me, and the supervisor was telling me to keep my opinions to myself, and to do whatever complete strangers with guns tell me to. In retrospect thats actually not that bad of advice… If a complete stranger came up to me with a gun and told me what to do. I would probably do it. Unless it was a cop. Then I would probably film it.

I hope you also noticed that none of the cops really listened to me, they all just made excuses for each other, and talked at me in a manner that made me feel more like a subject to them. In other news, Officer Jesus Santillan was awarded a hero medal for 80 DUI arrests, and singlehandedly making up 21% of the DUI arrest for Clovis PD.

Hero Cop Jesus Santillan

 “A Clovis police officer was given a California Hero Award on Saturday at the 16th annual Statewide Law Enforcement and Community Recognition Event in Sacramento, said Janet Stoll-Lee, spokeswoman for the Clovis Police Department.

Stoll-Lee said Officer Jesus Santillan arrested 80 drunken drivers during the graveyard shift in 2013, which accounted for 21% of the department’s total DUI arrests. Santillan worked on DUI checkpoints, AVOID task forces and saturation patrols in Clovis.

The event, which is sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, recognizes law enforcement officers and community leaders throughout California for their efforts to stop drunken driving.”

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Bill Scott, Father of Erik Who Was Killed by LVMPD Employees, Interviewed by Bill Buppert of ZeroGov.com

 

Erik Scott

The text below was posted to ZeroGov.com on August 04 by Bill Buppert. It is cross-posted here (by way of CopBlock.org) per the obvious relevance of the matters it addresses, including the fact that the shooting of Erik Scott took place in Las Vegas four years and one month ago, on July 10, 2010.

Related:

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Ten Questions for Bill Scott, Author of The Permit
by Bill Buppert

I read Bill’s book, The Permit, and was aghast at the more intimate and grim details on his son’s murder by cops in Las Vegas in 2010 depicted in the novel. This site is no stranger to reports of predation and rampant misbehavior and mayhem wrought by American police today. My twitter posts three-five new incidents of cop brutality daily. The police state in the US may be the most far-reaching residual of the American War on Terror which has become a self-fulfilling Orwellian prophecy with the use of the campaign as a means to institutionalize maximum government to keep the tax cattle safe no matter the expense in liberty and freedom.

Bill has been kind enough to grant this interview with me.

Bill Scott is now a full-time author, writing techno-thriller novels. The latest is “The Permit,” which is based on the murder of his eldest son, Erik. He co-authored two other novels, “Space Wars: The First Six Hours of World War III,” and a sequel, “Counterspace: The Next Hours of World War III,” plus one nonfiction book, “Inside the Stealth Bomber: The B-2 Story.”

Bill can be reached via the Contact section of my website, http://williambscott.com, or e-mail at: [email protected].

While Bill and I may not agree on everything, we do agree that the US police state is a clear and present danger to any human being living within the borders of the US. -BB

Bill Buppert: Tell the readers some of your background.

Bill Scott: My wife and I have been married 44 years, and we were blessed with two incredible sons, Erik and Kevin.

In 2007, I retired as the Rocky Mountain Bureau Chief, concluding a 22-year career as a writer/reporter for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine. I’m a Flight Test Engineer graduate of the US Air Force Test Pilot School (TPS), and flight-tested aircraft for 12 years, both as an Air Force officer and civilian FTE. My undergraduate degree is in electrical engineering. While on USAF active duty, I flew classified nuclear debris-sampling/collection missions, served as an R&D engineer with the National Security Agency, and was a flight test instrumentation engineer, prior to being selected for USAF TPS. As a civil pilot with a commercial certificate and instrument and multi-engine ratings, flight test engineer, AvWeek reporter, and USAF aircrew member, I logged about 2,000 hours of flight time in 80 different types of aircraft.

Bill Buppert: Many condolences on the loss of your son; I read Erik’s story when it first happened in 2010 and then read your cathartic novel, The Permit, which fleshed out more details in a fictional narrative of the murder of your son by Las Vegas Metro cops and the subsequent cover-up. Were you surprised at the cover-up, stonewalling and general nastiness of the police after they murdered your son?

Bill Scott: Yes, very surprised. Before Erik was shot to death, I was one of those naïve American military veterans, who thought all but a few rogue police officers also were honest public servants dedicated to protecting and serving. I quickly learned that cowardice, corruption and cover-up were the standard for about a third of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department—including the sheriff, Doug Gillespie, and his chief cover-up “spook,” Captain Patrick Neville. I arrived in Vegas two days after Erik was murdered, convinced that a sloppy, transparent cover-up was well underway. When I asked, “Why would they cover up an officer-involved shooting, which appears to be a massive screw-up, not an intentional murder?” my lawyer, several of Erik’s friends, and long-time Vegas residents looked at me as if I’d parachuted in from Mars. They unanimously replied, “Because they always cover up their murders! There’s nothing special about Erik!”

Bill Buppert: Most Americans are living in what I consider an illusion in thinking the police protect and serve anyone but the rulers and bureaucracy of the various levels of government. This especially appears to be the case with the consistently egregious behavior of the LVM. Do you consider the LVM to be a viciously compromised and self-serving entity?

Bill Scott: Most definitely. Las Vegas Metro PD is an integral arm of the Clark County/Las Vegas Cartel of Corruption, which comprises billionaires, powerful politicians, immoral, appalling cops, a complicit district attorney’s office, compromised judges, the coroner’s office (which now encompasses Public Administrator functions), and an absolutely venal, obstructionist police union. This cartel is controlled by a Cleveland branch of the Mafia or Mob, which has its dirty paws in several of the big resort-hotels and casinos.

In short, this Cartel uses LVMPD cops as its enforcers of evil, ranging from stealing the wealth of elderly citizens to beating and executing those who can’t pay gambling debts, and forcing runaway kids into child sex rings. Paying off low-IQ cops is more sophisticated than hiring a bunch of knee-breaking “Guidos,” as the Mob does back East. Instead, the Las Vegas Cartel developed a quasi-legal “coroner inquest” system that guaranteed any murder committed by a police officer was found “Justified.” Since the late 1970s, about 200 coroner inquest hearings were held in Clark County, NV, billed as a quasi-judicial “fact-finding” exercise. Of course, not a single cop was ever found at fault. Every killing by a LV Metro cop was ruled “Justified.” Incredible.

Bill Buppert: Were you surprised at the cruel and nasty attitude and behavior of the LVM when you were attempting to get justice for Erik in the legal system?

Bill Scott: By the time we filed our lawsuits, I knew LVMPD would stop at nothing to protect their killer-cops and Sheriff Doug Gillespie’s reelection campaign. Good, honest cops said that my phones and e-mails were being monitored, thanks to the Vegas federal-state-local “Joint Fusion Center,” which routinely uses high-tech snooping technology, under the guise of counterterrorism. Metro detectives illegally broke into, and stole several guns from, Erik’s condo, twisted the facts of his medical records (Erik had 40% of his L5 vertebra broken off, a casualty of Army airborne training. He suffered severe back pain, after a fender-bender car accident that realigned his spine in late 2009.), tried to intimidate Erik’s ex-wife, harassed Erik’s then-girlfriend (three traffic tickets within three weeks of Erik’s murder), and cherry-picked witnesses for the coroner’s inquest hearing. Further, LVM cops illegally acquired court-sealed records from another state, which were clearly stamped by a judge, stating that the claims in a detective’s report “did not occur.”

Metro detectives even pursued laughable measures to gin up a patently false narrative about Erik carrying a “second gun,” when, in fact, he only had a single pistol on his person (a legal, concealed-carry weapon), when he was shot to death. His .45-caliber Kimber Ultra Carry semiautomatic was removed from the body, after Erik’s corpse had been loaded into an AMR ambulance. That firearm was then placed on the concrete, near the entrance-exit of Costco-Summerlin in Las Vegas, supposedly as “proof” that Erik had pulled it, still in its holster.

Ooops! The ambulance EMTs’ report documented a firearm and extra magazine found on Erik’s body. That little hiccup prompted a panicked effort to break into Erik’s condo and steal a “second gun” to comport with 1) a gun found on Erik’s body, and 2) a pistol, in its holster, being on the ground, after the shooting. In fact, the only item on the ground, after Erik was shot seven times, was his BlackBerry, which he had in his right hand. At least two of Erik’s pistols, and, possibly, two rifles were stolen from the condo. Then, brilliant Metro detectives fired a hole in the handle of a small (stolen) Ruger LCP, trying to imply the small gun was in my son’s jeans front pocket, which contained Erik’s 1.75-inches-thick wallet!

A detailed analysis conducted by Mike McDaniel, a former professional police and ex-SWAT officer, trainer and crime scene investigator, completely destroys Metro’s ludicrous “two-gun” narrative. That superb analysis is available (with photos of Erik’s firearms) on Mike’s blog: The Erik Scott Case: Update 19

Bill Buppert: Is a Coroner’s Inquest designed to protect the misbehavior and brutality of the police and its allies?

Bill Scott: In Las Vegas, NV, that’s absolutely true. The old Vegas inquest was a one-sided, bizarre perversion of due process, which made a mockery of American jurisprudence. We allowed Erik’s September 2010 inquest hearing to be televised and streamed over the Internet. Once Las Vegas citizens and thousands throughout America and many foreign countries witnessed, first-hand, this moronic kangaroo court in action, the outrage and blow-back that erupted forced a radical revision of the Clark County coroner’s inquest process. However, the Cartel of Corruption, through its proxy, an uber-arrogant Las Vegas Police Protective Association (police union), managed to put the new, revised inquest system on indefinite hold. Now, a corrupt district attorney, Steve Wolfson, reviews all officer-involved shootings and single-handedly rules whether they were justified or criminal. Over the past three years, Wolfson has found every single shooting “Justified.” Surprise! New system, same outcomes. The Cartel maintains iron-fisted control of the Southern Nevada “justice” system, ensuring Metro’s killer-cops always go free and never are held accountable for crimes that would imprison a “civilian” for life.

Bill Buppert: There are an estimated 19,000 law enforcement agencies in the USA; do you suspect the behavior and actions of the LVM are a microcosm of modern American policing?

Bill Scott: I do, given that cops across the nation routinely commit and get away with egregious murders and acts of raw brutality. The federal Patriot Act literally gave cops a license to kill, and many don’t hesitate to shoot. As a result, law enforcement now attracts an extraordinary number of bullies and brain-damaged, angry men and women. Many of these are totally devoid of courage and conscience, and are convinced they truly are above the law. They feel they can do anything they please, and can get away with it. Backed by obscene unions, today’s cops take great umbrage with anybody daring to question their judgment, tactics, use of force, and absurd accounts of an incident.

Bill Buppert: I suggest an evil trifecta of police misbehavior in police unions, officer safety mandates and qualified immunity to be core causes of the tragedy that is the US police state today bolstered by creeping militarization and Federalization. What do you think?

Bill Scott: I agree. As described in Chapter Ten of The Permit, law enforcement officers and agents of all stripes constitute the most dangerous domestic terrorist threat facing Americans today. Over the last few decades, cops and federal agents have killed more citizens than our nation lost at Pearl Harbor, on D-Day 1944, and on 9/11/2001…combined. An American citizen is now eight times more likely to be killed by a cop than by a terrorist. And a police officer is 130 times more likely to be involved in an act of misconduct than to be killed in the line of duty.

Police unions leverage the power of money to elect, then control, politicians. With polished, proven rhetoric, unions have tricked well-meaning, yet hopelessly naïve, politicos into passing “Qualified Immunity” laws that virtually guarantee a killer-cop will never be held accountable for murdering an innocent “civilian”—as cops now refer to lowly taxpaying citizens. Juries rarely find a cop guilty of murder or wrongdoing, because the average jurist still believes the falsehood that cops are honest and would never lie. As any experienced courtroom lawyer will confirm, though, cops do lie, even under oath.

Add to that the totally unjustified, runaway militarization of local and state police departments—aided and abetted by federal dollars and military equipment—and we now have precisely what the nation’s founders tried to prevent: A standing domestic army that exists for the sole purpose of controlling the very people who pay the jackbooted thugs’ salaries. In the 21st Century, America truly has become a police state.

Bill Buppert: Absent a police power, how would a state deny individual freedom and liberty?

Bill Scott: By gutting the Second Amendment and disarming American citizens, removing the only sure, last-ditch means to resist a tyrannical government. Disarmament, in itself, would inspire a power-hungry tyrant to create his own police force. No politician would allow unarmed, vulnerable masses to live as they pleased.

erik-b-scott-slain-by-lvmpd-employees-zerogov-copblockBill Buppert: Any updates in the case with Erik?

Bill Scott: I’m still pursuing legal measures, and continuing to wage asymmetric war against the Cartel of Corruption that controls Las Vegas. I don’t talk about strategies, operations and tactics, but several battles have been relatively successful. I’m aided by a small number of motivated, well-connected allies, who are quietly working behind the scenes. I’m not privy to their campaign strategies, but am assured that the Vegas Cartel and its killer-cop drones are literally living on borrowed days. I couldn’t halt these warriors’ strikes-for-justice, if I wanted to.

Bill Buppert: I hope The Permit has been well received. I would urge my readers to buy the book and, if possible, review it on Amazon. Has it caused the reaction you expected? Do you still receive threats from the LVM?

Bill Scott: Many thanks for the endorsement, Bill. National sales of the novel continue to build steadily, thanks to overwhelmingly positive reviews, particularly on Amazon. In Las Vegas, reactions from Cartel entities are basically what we expected: Ignore the book and pretend it doesn’t exist, or, when pressed, demean and dismiss it as irrelevant. Fortunately, criticism and patronizing dismissal by the police union director, Chris Collins, and his team of online intimidator trolls backfired and has significantly increased sales of “The Permit.” Anything union cops hate and trash-talk, smart people embrace.

Metro’s threats aren’t as overt and transparent as they were a few years ago. However, the Las Vegas Joint Fusion Center’s geek-goons still may be monitoring my phone calls and e-mail messages, according to inside sources.

Before Erik was murdered, LV Metro had two public affairs officers; it now employs nine, supposedly because the “Scott Family” caused the department so much grief. The Permit also has contributed significantly to Metro’s miserable, tanking public image. I’m assured that, as a result of Erik’s senseless murder and courageous activism by “Erik’s Warriors,” LV Metro has quietly changed its policies, procedures and training dramatically. Of course, Sheriff Gillespie and his scared-stiff “Tower” staff also were motivated by the threat of a Department of Justice consent decree being imposed on the department.

I’ve been accused of being anti-cop and hating police officers. Absolutely not true. I’m deeply indebted to many good-hearted, professional police officers, who helped me expose the sordid inner workings of Las Vegas Metro, in particular, and Sin City, in general. Law enforcement professionals across the nation have patiently explained how a good police force operates. They invariably express stunned disbelief, outrage and embarrassment, when they hear how LV Metro’s badged thugs executed my son, then covered up the killers’ crimes.

These pros (and I) are quite distressed by the militarization of U.S. cops, and a few have helped me develop a presentation I call “Restore Honor.” I firmly believe that, unless good cops stand up and collectively demand that their own departments return to a “protect-and-serve” mentality and culture, our nation will explode in rebellion. As The Permit warns, armed, infuriated citizens will literally hunt down any cop sporting a badge. The level of simmering, subsurface fury I sense throughout the country, primarily directed at arrogant, above-the-law cops, is unprecedented…and scary.

I adamantly emphasize that I do not advocate violence against police officers. But “good” cops have been too silent, too willing to look the other way, for too long. I predict that, in the name of self-protection, honorable, professional cops will soon launch an aggressive crusade to Rid the Ranks of Rogues—eliminating corrupt outlaws from their own departments. Such a campaign might take the form of destroying a corrupt officer’s credit rating; pressuring a bank to foreclose on a killer-cop’s home; filing criminal charges for malfeasance, or taking more-direct action. The operation will spread rapidly, and it won’t be pretty. But, when Neanderthal killer-cops are systematically expunged from local, state and federal law enforcement, citizens will be quick to rally behind those high-integrity officers, who Restore Honor to what once was an honorable profession.

Godspeed to them.

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