Tag Archives: Internal Affairs Investigation

“What Happened in Vegas” Anti-Police Brutality Documentary to Show at Anthem Film Festival (Freedom Fest) July 20th

What Happened In Vegas Ramsey Denison LVMPD Documentary Movie Police Brutality

On July 20th at 3:20pm, “What Happened in Vegas,” the documentary by director Ramsey Denison about police brutality, corruption, and cover-ups within the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (AKA: “Metro“) will be screening during the Anthem Film Festival. The annual film festival, which takes place from July 19th to the 22nd, is part of Freedom Fest, which is also held annually here in Las Vegas.

The screening will be held at the Paris Hotel and Casino, which is located on the Las Vegas Strip. Passes for an entire day, as well as all access passes for the entire festival, can be purchased in advance at their online ticket link. (Freedom Fest tickets are also available at the same link.) In addition, tickets for individual screenings can be bought at the door for $10.

As has been previously reported here at Nevada Cop Block, What Happened in Vegas premiered at the Ciniquest Film Festival in March and received rave reviews from critics during multiple showings there. This will be the second screening held here in Las Vegas. Previously, in April, the movie showed at the Las Vegas Black Film Festival and won the award for best documentary.

What Happened in Vegas focuses on the murders of Trevon Cole, Erik Scott, and Stanley Gibson by Las Vegas police officers and the cover ups of those murders by the leadership of the LVMPD. All three of those shootings were extremely controversial and heavily debated at the time they took place within Las Vegas.

However, none of them received widespread coverage by the media outside of Las Vegas. That lack of publicity for police killings and the role the local media, politicians, and casinos play in that is a major focal point of the movie. In addition, several cases of police brutality, racial profiling, and false arrests by members of Metro are also highlighted.

(Full Disclosure: I am personally in the movie. Stanley Gibson was a personal friend of mine and I also contributed general knowledge about other cases that I have learned through involvement with Nevada Cop Block and police brutality activism within Las Vegas.)

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“What Happened in Vegas” Didn’t Stay in Las Vegas; Police Brutality Documentary Premiers at Cinequest

Last week on March 4th, “What Happened in Vegas” had its world premier to rave reviews at the Cinequest Film Festival, which is held annually in San Jose, CA. (This year there were also additional screenings held in Redwood City.) The documentary by Ramsey Denison is primarily focused on three very questionable shootings of Las Vegas residents by members of the LVMPD (AKA “Metro”) and the lack of any resulting consequences for the officers involved in those killings.

Within Las Vegas all three cases were very prominent incidents that received widespread local coverage and generated significant criticisms against the LVMPD and their handling of them. The inadequacies of the investigations into the questions surrounding those cases and outright cover-ups, as well as the reasons behind them also play a major role in the film.

Trevon Cole and Bryan Yant

The first case featured in the movie is that of Trevon Cole, who was caught on camera selling a very small amount of marijuana to an LVMPD detective. Cole very easily could have been arrested right then or at virtually any other time he stepped out of his house and there was no indication that Cole was or would become violent.

Instead, in order to create a dramatic confrontation intended to be used in a proposed reality show the LVMPD was hoping to create, they decided to conduct a full SWAT raid on his apartment. During that raid, Sgt. Bryan Yant, who had intentionally used falsified information from another person (that actually lived in Texas) with the same name as Cole to attain the search warrant, shot Cole in the head with an AR-15 in front of his pregnant girlfriend, while Trevon was on his knees in the bathroom.

Later, in an attempt to justify their actions, Metro police officers showed up at the house belonging to Cole’s in-laws, where his girlfriend, who was literally within days of having their baby, was staying. They then conducted an illegal search of Cole’s belongings hoping to find something that would incriminate him and provide justifications for the murder.

Not only was nobody held accountable in any way whatsoever for the falsified search warrant, the illegal search afterwards, or the murder itself, Bryan Yant, for whom this was his third deadly shooting, was recently hired by the Las Vegas Police Protective Association as the union representative that advises police officers when they are involved in shootings.

Erik Scott and Costco’s (Conveniently) Malfunctioning Camera

The second and most well known case featured in the movie is that of Erik Scott, who was shot by LVMPD Officers William Mosher, Joshua Stark, and Thomas Mendiola as he walked out of a Costco located in a suburb of Las Vegas known as Summerlin. The original reason that the police were called was because an employee at the Costco had noticed that Scott was wearing a holster under his shirt. Erik Scott was legally registered to carry the concealed weapon that he was armed with that day. However, Costco has a policy against firearms within their stores. After having a discussion about that with Scott, a Costco security guard, Shai Lierley, called Metro and reportedly exaggerated his behavior. (Erik had asserted his legal right to be armed, but had not acted in a threatening manner.)

After an evacuation order was given at the store, Lierley pointed Scott out to Mosher, Stark, and Mendiola. Those officers then proceeded to give contradictory, confusing, and aggressive orders to Scott. Shortly after, Mosher shot Scott and after he had already fallen to the ground Stark and Mendiola followed suit firing numerous rounds into his body as he lay already mortally wounded.

Like most large retail stores, that Costco location had security cameras throughout the inside and outside of the store. One of those was situated where it should have recorded the entire confrontation. By some amazing “coincidence” that one surveillance camera just happened to be malfunctioning that day and all the footage from that specific time was unrecoverable.

In the movie, Erik Scott’s father, Bill, also describes how the police soon realized that a report by the EMT in the ambulance that transported Erik to the hospital where he was pronounced dead had noted that there was a gun on his body still within the holster. the problem with that was that the police had at some point retrieved that gun and placed it at the scene of the shooting to corroborate their story that Scott had pulled his gun as a justification for it. The next day, even after they were denied permission to do so by Erik’s brother, who lived with him at the time, Metro officers conducted an illegal search on his apartment under the pretense of securing his property. Not long after, the narrative became that Scott had actually been carrying two guns at the time of the shooting.

As was the case with those involved in the Trevon Cole murder, Erik Scott’s killing was ruled justified. In fact, Mosher and Stark were given awards for bravery during the murder of Scott shortly afterwards. (Mendiola had been fired by that point for giving a gun to a felon.) Both of them are still employed with the LVMPD.

Stanley Gibson and Jesus Arevalo

The third case featured in the movie is that of Stanley Gibson, a Gulf War veteran who had cancer and PTSD, both of which were caused by his military service. Partially as a result of his medication being cut off by the Veteran’s Administration and partly because of the effects of the cancer on his memory, Gibson entered the wrong apartment complex after having just moved. Police were called after someone saw him attempting to open the door to the apartment he thought was his and soon after they had blocked his car in inside the parking lot.

In spite of the fact that Gibson’s car was completely blocked in by two unoccupied police cars (see embedded video below) and would not have been able to move, the police at the scene decided they could not simply wait him out. Instead, they concocted a plan to break out Gibson’s back window with a bean bag round and then shoot pepper spray into the car (which is against Metro’s policy) to force Gibson, who at the time was unresponsive, to come out of it. However, once the bean bag round was fired, Officer Jesus Arevalo fired seven times with his personal AR-15, later claiming that he thought the firing of the bean bag round was Gibson shooting at them.

While the investigation was still ongoing Arevalo’s soon to be ex-wife was recorded stating that, among other things, he had said before Gibson’s killing that he wanted to shoot someone so he could get paid time off, had referred to Gibson using a racial slur and expressing disdain for him, and had bragged about how fast he was able to fire off those seven rounds. Not surprisingly though, Stanley Gibson’s shooting, like every other police shooting in the entire history of the city of Las Vegas was ruled justified. Not only that but Arevalo was placed on disability as a result of stress from the shooting and given a monthly payment of $23,000 to $28,000 (plus cost of living increases) for the rest of his life.

Beaten and Arrested for Reporting Police Brutality

Several other non-fatal incidents are also featured in the movie, including an unarmed and innocent man who was shot at a local 7-11 after he was mistook for a murder suspect and a man who used a hidden GoPro camera to film himself being assaulted and falsely arrested by a “saturation team” after he refused to provide ID as a passenger at a traffic stop (which he legally was not required to do). The video in the latter case also captured audio and video of those officers stating as they searched his car that they “had to find something” to justify his arrest, after the fact.

The other incident featured within the movie is director Ramsey Denison’s own arrest by Las Vegas Police Officers Mark Belanger, Kyle Frett, and Jared Casper. While on vacation in Vegas, Ramsey saw those three officers both verbally and physically abusing a man they had already taken into custody and successfully handcuffed.

Not having seen that type of behavior from cops before and having a positive opinion of the police from working on “true-crime” shows as a film editor in Los Angeles, Denison made the rookie mistake of calling 911 and reporting the officers. The 911 operator responded by calling Belanger, Frett, and Casper to let them know someone had called to report misconduct by them. They then promptly came over and beat, then arrested, Denison.

Later, both the supervisor who had responded to Denison’s 911 complaint and the Internal Affairs “investigators” rubber stamped their approval of his treatment by the trio of Metro officers. Also not terribly surprisingly, he was later told that none of the cameras at the club where his assault took place were turned on that night, effectively precluding him from being able to file a lawsuit to attain some sort of justice. That, along with his experience in the jail and during court, prompted Denison to begin looking into the history of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and eventually to make “What Happened in Vegas.

Shining a Light on the Darkness within the LVMPD

Ramsey contacted me a couple months after his arrest, which was also not long after I and several other members of Nevada Cop Block were arrested for the ridiculous charge of graffiti (and even more ridiculous “conspiracy” charges) for writing with chalk on public sidewalks during protests over the murder of Stanley Gibson, whom I was friends with in high school, and Metro’s many other victims, including Erik Scott and Trevon Cole.

After meeting with him and getting the feeling that he was genuine in his intentions, I agreed on doing an interview, much of which was included in the movie. Also, while I was limited on what I could discuss about our arrests for chalking, due to lawsuits we had filed (which are still active to this day) as a result, that is discussed in general terms within the film. In addition, several scenes shot of me chalking were included in the movie.

Due to the connections I had built working with Nevada Cop Block and during those demonstrations, I was able to point Denison toward several people within Las Vegas that I felt would potentially be helpful, including some who knew or were related to Erik Scott, Trevon Cole, and Stanley Gibson. I’m happy to say that Ramsey did a great job of seeking those people out, building trust with them, and presenting them in a convincing, professional, and impactful way within the movie.

He also did a great job of researching the background of those featured in the movie and portraying them as real people, as well as separating their true characters from the smear campaigns that the LVMPD uses to deflect blame from the department after they kill someone. What Happened in Vegas does a very equitable job of showing who Scott, Cole, and Gibson were and the impact their murders had on those they left behind.

I was fortunate to be able to attend the movie’s premier screenings at the Cinequest Film Festival last week and it turned out as good as I could have ever expected, if not better. Audiences, as well as critics, attending those screenings were very responsive and positive about the movie. I very much appreciate the work that Ramsey and his crew did both in making a great movie and shining a light on the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department that I expect will not go unnoticed and that was much overdue.

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It’s Officially Within Philadelphia Police Department Policy to be a Nazi

Earlier this week, an internal affairs “investigation” determined that an officer had not violated Philadelphia Police Department policy by having a Nazi tattoo on his arm. Officer Ian Hans Lichterman had been photographed in July during the Democratic National Convention openly displaying the tattoo of a Nazi era eagle with “Fatherland” written above it.

Not surprisingly, that caused a bit of a controversy. People aren’t really used to cops just coming right out and openly acknowledging their allegiance to Nazism and/or membership in the KKK. They generally try to keep that shit on the downlow. Of course, in keeping with that tradition, the Philadelphia Police Internal Affairs Bureau didn’t just announce that it’s okay to openly be a Nazi. Instead, they based their endorsement of Officer Lichterman’s tattoo on the fact that the department didn’t have any policy specifically addressing tattoos.

Via the Philly Voice:

The Internal Affairs investigation cleared Lichterman of any violations, closing the case in December, police said. They did not respond to follow-up questions inquiring whether any specific determinations were made about the tattoos.

Meanwhile, nearly five months after the controversy erupted, police brass have yet to deliver a promised tattoo policy for its ranks.

Photos of the tattoos, posted to Facebook by Evan Parish Matthews, showed a German eagle beneath the word “Fatherland” on Lichterman’s left arm. The post indicated the photos were taken on July 26, 2016 at Philadelphia’s #BlackResistanceMarch during the Democratic National Convention.

The eagle appears to resemble one depicted in the Nazi Party’s partieadler emblem, a symbol included in the Anti-Defamation League’s “Hate Symbols Database.”

That symbol features an eagle with outstretched wings, its head pointed left, and holding a wreath containing a swastika. The photos of Lichterman’s tattoos did not show whether his eagle was perched on a swastika.

Mayor Jim Kenney, who previously called the tattoos “disturbing” and “incredibly offensive,” released a statement that voiced the same reaction. But without an existing tattoo policy,  Kenney said police could not dismiss Lichterman.

Of course, you could make a really shitty argument (that nobody on this planet actually believes) that having a Nazi tattoo isn’t an indicator that you would act with bias when performing your job as a cop. You could even go into total denial and claim that a Nazi tattoo doesn’t mean you’re racist or a member of Neo-Nazi hate groups. Or you could also try for the low hanging fruit and claim that the eagle is just a traditional symbol of his heritage (you’re actually not really even trying at this point), even though the traditional German eagle looks nothing like the one used for Nazi era symbols.

All those ridiculous arguments would be exposed as nonsense though, if that same police officer with the Nazi tattoo had already previously been exposed as a member of racist skinhead groups, and someone who liked to dress up as an actual Nazi in his off time, though.

During a series of hacks against Neo-Nazi websites that took place between 2010 and 2012, emails and other identifying information belonging to members were leaked. By some amazing coincidence, an email address belonging to Officer Lichterman and an address matching the house he lives in with his wife (who is also a Philadelphia police officer), along with some photos of him in full Nazi uniform while taking part in war re-enactments, just happened to be included in those leaks:

…during a period from 2010-2012 there were several successful hacks of Neo-Nazi websites that led to the identification of dozens of Neo-Nazis and White Nationalists.

One of the more interesting cases was that of Ian Hans Lichterman. Lichterman was listed as a member of Blood and Honour, an international network of Neo-Nazi organizations started by Ian Stuart Donaldson, the lead singer of Skrewdriver. Upon some investigating, it was discovered that Lichterman was also a Philly PD officer who had even recently been commended at a crime stoppers awards ceremony. The e-mailed listed alongside his name with the leak, [email protected], seemed to refer to Lichterman’s badge number, 3155. The address that was also leaked with the name and e-mail is owned by Lichterman and his wife, fellow Philly PD officer Susan Bevidas.

Shortly after the hack, Lichterman appeared to leave the Philly PD and to be working as a private security contractor (mercenary) in the middle east, presumably using his connections from his time as a Marine. However, members of the media have noted that during this time Lichterman was still on Philly PD payrolls. So either the move was a ruse because people had been calling Philly PD asking about him and his affiliations… or he was kept on the books while working abroad for some reason. Recently, at the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice’s march during the DNC, someone noticed that one of the bike cops working the event had some shady tattoos. That cop has been identified as Ian Lichterman, back on duty in Philly.

So yeah, not only has the Philadelphia Police Department known they had an openly Nazi police officer among their ranks for years, they seem to be pretty okay with that.

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Cop Blocker Nasty Nathanial Threatened with Arrest for Filming LA Police Station on New Year’s Eve

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by Nasty Nathanial Thomas, a frequent contributor to Cop Block, via the CopBlock.org Submission Page.

Date of Incident: December 31, 2016(New Year’s Eve)
Department Involved: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office
Department Address: Compton Station, 301 S. Willowbrook Ave. Compton, CA 90220
Department Phone No.: (310) 605-6500

Howdy folks. Hows everyone doing? I hope that all of you had a Happy New Year. I spent final hours of 2016 doing some Cop Blocking and conducting First Amendment Audits with fellow Cop Blockers/Auditors High Desert Community Watch and Teen For Justice. What a better way to say goodbye to 2016 than to film public officials in the commission of duties and to hold them accountable for their actions.

I met up with High Desert Community Watch and Teen For Justice on the morning of December 31st and together we spent the day traveling around the greater Los Angeles area and filming. Things had been going pretty peacefully until later in the evening when we decided to audit the Compton Sheriff’s Station.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been providing law enforcement services for the city of Compton ever since September of 2000. The Compton Police Department is said to have been disbanded for fiscal issues. But the reality is that when a gun used to murder a Long Beach police officer was found in possession of the Compton Police, it opened the doors to an Internal Affairs investigation that involved missing drugs and a level of corruption that forced the city to disband its own police force. But having LA County sheriff’s deputies patrolling the city is not much of an improvement.

Together the three of us walked over to the gate where official police vehicles come in and out of the station. One thing that I found peculiar about the Compton Sheriff’s station is that there is this very high wall that surrounds the lot. At many police stations that I have filmed there was a fence that you could easily see through, or if there was a wall, it wasn’t very high. But it was obvious that sheriff’s officials in Compton didn’t want the public to be able to see beyond those walls. But my question is “why”? What are they doing back there that they don’t want us tax paying citizens to know about? Torturing prisoners? Dealing drugs? Practicing witchcraft?

So, I decided to have a look for myself. Attaching my camera to an extension pole and raising it high above, not over, the wall I was able to get some nice shots of the parking lot. It didn’t take long before this caught the attention of a passerby whom did a quick u-turn in the middle of the street and then parked their vehicle with the headlights facing us. It became pretty obvious that this individual, whoever they were, had reported on my filming above the wall for within’ no time at all the three of us were swarmed by LA County sheriff’s deputies whom were a bit upset to say the least. I counted ten in total.

One of the deputies, whom looked, talked, and acted like a Cholo, walked up on me and in his best intimidating sounding voice informed me that if I record over the “fence” I’ll go to jail. It’s a WALL not a fence idiot. But his point was clear. He didn’t like the fact that I was filming above the wall.

Now let me point out a few things. First of all, I was not filming “over” the wall. I was filming ABOVE the wall. Second, the whole time I was standing in a public area and filming from public view, which is perfectly legal under the law. The eyes cannot trespass, nor can a camera lens.

So with this being the case, what alleged crimes had been committed that would justify a gang of sheriff’s deputies coming out of the station only to intimidate us and threaten me with arrest? The answer is simple. No crimes had been committed. What we were doing at that very moment in the final hours of 2016 was exercising our constitutionally protected right to film in public. A right that has been upheld by several courts. I can’t help it if some thuggish cops got butt hurt over it.

As we enter 2017, maybe these deputies in Compton should make a New Year’s resolution to start honoring their oath to uphold the Constitution instead of attempting to violate the rights of private citizens. Either way, HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!

– Nasty Nathanial

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Dallas Transit Cop Committed Perjury to Justify Arresting “Citizen Journalist” for Filming Them

Apparently, a transit cop in Dallas doesn’t understand that Photography Is Not A Crime. Avi Adelman, who is described as a “Citizen Journalist” and local activist, was arrested by Officer Stephane Branch in February of this year by Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Officer Stephane Branch.

What was his diabolical crime you ask? Standing quietly and legally filming the police during a medical call, something that he does on a regular basis. (The excuse used to justify that illegal arrest was a trespassing charge.)

Of course, since that’s not actually a crime, the charges were soon dropped, although it still cost him 20 hours in jail. However, that’s where the trouble began for Officer Branch. Not only did Adelman notice on the police report that Branch had completely fabricated statements on her police report (otherwise known as perjury, which is a crime) to make it appear she had cause to arrest him, but a microphone she was wearing confirmed she was a liar.

Via WFAA8, the local ABC affiliate:

…when DART officer Stephane Branch gave her account of what happened in the report, she included supposed verbatim quotes between herself and Adelman, starting with “Sir, please stay back so the firefighters can help this man.”

“That sent up a lot of red flags because I looked at that and said, ‘This isn’t what happened,’” Adelman said.

A microphone Officer Branch was wearing captured what actually happened.

“Sir, leave – you’ve got to leave,” she could be heard saying on the recording. “I’m talking to my supervisor.”

The officer’s report also included quotes from Dallas Fire-Rescue personnel and a DART passenger, but the internal affairs investigation found those quotes were entirely made up.

Branch “engaged in conduct that was illegal or could reflect poorly on DART if brought to the attention of the public,” investigators said.

“A sworn law enforcement officer lied – thought she could get away with it – stood by her lies – and then they busted her,” Adelman said.

Of course, the amount of potential trouble she might get into is up in the air, since she has one of those Magic Suits in her closet that renders its wearer impervious to meaningful consequences for their actions, no matter how illegal, immoral, or even violent they might be.

Morgan Lyons, a DART spokesperson, has stated that the investigation has been completed. However, Internal Affairs has not yet decided just how hard they will be slapping her wrist yet. In the meantime, Officer Branch is still out there protecting and serving the shit out of people in Dallas.

For his part, Adelman is hoping she will be fired for her clearly illegal acts. However, I wouldn’t advise him to hold his breath on that. Stranger things have happened, but the fact that criminal charges for her illegal arrest and blatant perjurious actions in the process of that is a pretty good indicator that they are preparing a nice Policeman’s Discount for her and any “punishment” she receives will likely be for show and not anything of substance.

The Internal Affairs Report

Internal affairs report: DART officer fabricated quotes by wfaachannel8 on Scribd

Video Included in Local Coverage

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