Tag Archives: internal affairs

Update: Head of Las Vegas School Police Internal Affairs Keeps Job In Spite of Guilt Due to “Minor Notification Oversight”

Last June, I posted about the case in which the head of Internal Affairs for the Clark County School District Police Department was being investigated. In short, Detective Christopher Klemp, the guy in charge of investigating school cops in Las Vegas when they’ve been accused of misconduct, was himself being investigated for threatening other officers and suppressing evidence in order to influence investigations he had taken part in.

Part of that investigation included audio recordings of phone calls between Detective Klemp and one of the Lieutenants in the department in which he implicated himself and discussing open cases (which is itself prohibited). Not surprisingly with evidence like that, the result of that investigation was that all of the charges against Klemp were upheld. However, Klemp filed a grievance through the Las Vegas police union.

That grievance was based on a clause in the union’s contract that the school district has to keep officers informed every thirty days during active investigations. Instead, the district notified Klemp of the final results of their investigation 33 days after their last notification. So, as a result, Kemp’s only punishment is to be removed as the head of Internal Affairs. He’ll still be working as a police officer for a local school.

Via KTNV 13 News, the local ABC affiliate:

Internal records obtained by Contact 13 show they were making regular notifications when things took longer than expected.

But CCSD officials made their final notification three days late.

So Associate Superintendent Edward Goldman effectively threw out the entire investigation.

Though Klemp was removed from his position in Internal Affairs, he’ll be allowed to keep his job.

He’s currently a campus officer at Peterson Behavior School.

As Contact 13 first exposed in June, Detective Klemp disclosed confidential information about ongoing internal affairs investigations, told another officer to lie about the source of that information and threatened to come after him if he spoke the truth about it in the future.

All that was caught on an undercover recording made by a former school cop who filed a complaint against Klemp with the District Attorney.

On the recording, Klemp can be heard saying, “And if something happens and I got to I.A. you, if you say anything about this I’m going to call you a motherf—ing liar. And I’ll come at you like a whirlwind because I gotta protect myself.”

In a letter, the D.A. called Klemp’s conduct “highly concerning… especially how he so callously and repeatedly stated he would lie under oath.”

The letter goes on to say that Klemp’s statements “are more than inappropriate and should not go without review and subsequent punishment.”

Klemp did not return our call for comment.

A CCSD spokesperson says Klemp is working as assigned by the CCSD Police Department, and they can’t say more because everything else is part of his confidential personnel record.

So, while the DA claims that Detective Klemps actions should not go without punishment, that’s exactly what will happen. (I’m not entirely sure if it’s ironic or really appropriate that his new assignment is at a school for kids that have been expelled from regular schools for behavior issues.) In fact, based the past behavior of Las Vegas area school cops, Kemp is probably due a hefty promotion. BTW, I’d like to think this was an unintentional over-site, but the fact that Metro waited until Jesus Arevalo had submitted and gotten approved for disability (based on stress from being criticized for murdering Stanley Gibson) before “firing” him two weeks later, just tends to make me a bit skeptical of the motives of Las Vegas Police departments in these type of situations.

1 Comment

Annapolis, MD Police Officer James Spearman Threatens and Tries to Intimidate Citizen Legally Filming

The following post and video were shared with the CopBlock Network by Landon Tomsa, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

The following post is fairly self explanatory. The person who submitted it states that they saw an Annapolis City police officer, James Spearman, parked illegally while having some unspecified interaction with a woman. Shortly after, Officer Spearman aggressively approaches Tomsa and begins filming with his own cell phone.

As anyone who has filmed the police knows, this is actually not an unusual reaction by cops. They often project their own displeasure at being filmed onto the people legally filming them and think they’ll  “show them” by filming them back. Generally, Cop Blockers don’t mind being filmed and it amounts to a whole lot of nothing.

However, in the case of Officer Spearman, as can be seen on the video, he acts very aggressively and purposely invades Tomsa’s personal space (something that would get a citizen arrested) in order to harass and intimidate him for exercising his legal right not only to film in public, but as has been affirmed numerous times in court, also to film public employees performing their duties.

Also on the video you can see several “Good Cops,” including Officer Kevin Freeman, show up after being called by Officer Spearman to back up his efforts to stop a citizen from exercising his legal rights. Initially, they remove Spearman from the area and pretend to be sympathetic to Tomsa’s valid complaint. However, when Tomsa begins walking away and Officer Spearman resumes his harassment of him, the other officers somehow don’t seem to notice, since they make no effort to intervene a second time.

Date of Incident: October 10, 2016
Officers Involved: Officer James Spearman Badge #2077, Officer Kevin Freeman, also multiple other officer who didn’t identify themselves.
Department Involved: Annapolis City Police Department
Department Facebook Page: Annapolis Police Department
Department Twitter Account: @AnnapolisPD
Internal Affairs Section:

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.

Click the banner to submit content to CopBlock.org

Click the banner to submit content to CopBlock.org

I would just like to start off by saying that my prior interactions with the law enforcement officers of the Great State of Maryland had been pretty good, overall. The Annapolis County Police have given me nothing but respect and even a little help in some situations with my filming of interactions with the police. For some reason though, it seems that the Annapolis City Police Department doesn’t do things quite the same way.

On the morning of October 10th, I got up early and, having the day off, decided to head to the state capital to see what was going on. After walking around for about a half-hour, I came across a police cruiser, which happened to be parked in a loading only zone. I noticed a woman interacting with a police officer, so I decided to film this attraction.

After a while, the woman left and the officer, after sitting in his car for a bit, got out and started approaching me. What transpired next is exactly what you see on the video.

Having pulled out his personal cell phone, he approached me continuously while trying to get a picture of me for some reason. Officer Spearman then chased me down a main thoroughfare in Annapolis about two blocks from where I originally started the interaction.

It was about at this point that other officers started arriving. The arriving officers then separated Officer Spearman and I. A second officer approached me and, as you can see in the video, I sort of explain the situation to him. A third officer, with a body cam, identified himself as Kevin Freeman. I found out later he was the commander for the Annapolis Police K-9 Division.

I explained the situation to him, he seemed to agreeably and professionally take my complaint about the officer and assured me it would be addressed. Unfortunately, as I was walking back towards the Capitol Building, Officer Spearman continued to follow me. He again began walking, unimpeded, away from the other officers, who had told me they wouldn’t let him do this.

As he was following me he made some very odd comments. I don’t know if you can hear them in the video, but one was, “now we’ll do a follow up with the Department of Homeland Security.” The other was, “We may have a lone wolf situation here.” Both ludicrous statements as you can tell from my reaction if the video.

I hope the public finds this video as informative as I did about certain officers within the Annapolis Police Department. And if anybody feels like expressing their own opinion to the Annapolis Police department, included are the public access, non-emergency numbers and email for their Internal Affairs Department, as well as links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Feel free to express your opinion, it is your right as much as filming them in public without having to be being harassed and intimidated is.

– Landon Tomsa

Just wanted to give a big thanks and a shout out to everyone involved at CopBlock.org. Though I have not been doing this very long, you guys have helped me immensely. Keep up the good work and let people know that Badges Don’t Grant Extra Rights.

1 Comment

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

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

MEDIA ADVISORY

January 27, 2017

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

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

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

Columbia Police Commit Felony Wiretap

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

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

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

– Stephen Wyse

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

Columbia Police Commit Felony Wiretap of Attorney-Client Phone Call

 

Leave a comment

Cleveland Cop Who Previously Shot Unarmed Man, Allowed To Attend Rehab Instead Of Jail After Drug Arrest

A member of the Cleveland Police Gang Unit, who was involved in a 2015 shooting of an unarmed man that the department initially lied about, was later himself busted for drugs. However, instead of going to jail, he’s been given a deal that will allow him to go to rehab instead of having his guilty plea count as a conviction.

In the shooting, for which a lawsuit is set to go to trial soon, Detective Jon Periandri claimed that the man he shot during a drug bust, Joevon Dawson, had gotten out of a car with a gun in his hand. The other five Good Cops at the scene backed up his story and one of them also moved a bullet casing to support the claim. Even Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams got in on the act, making a statement to the press at the scene that Dawson was armed when he was shot.

However, information later released as part of the lawsuit indicated that the only gun recovered at the scene had been stored within the center console area on the inside of the vehicle. Investigators from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigation concluded that the gun could not have been used by Dawson.

Meanwhile, even as he was in the process of arresting and shooting people for drug crimes he was simultaneously buying drugs by the handful. In fact, evidence showed that he literally ordered drugs while on duty as part of the narcotics squad. Incidentally, his taste for prescription pain killers and heroin were uncovered after a drug bust that included the Brooklyn, Ohio Law Director and the son of the mayor of Parma, Ohio.

Via Cleveland.com:

Periandri would soon face criminal investigation for another incident that happened in the weeks before and after the shooting.

In October 2015, as investigators continued probing the Dawson shooting, local and federal authorities raided the Seven Hills home of Alfonso Yunis, a suspected drug dealer.

Police found Yunis counting and crushing pills at his house along with then-Brooklyn law director Scott Clausen and attorney Brian Byrne, son of Parma Mayor Mike Byrne.

All three were arrested. A subsequent tip from a confidential police informant and a search of Yunis’ cellphone turned up hundreds of text messages with a number that was later traced to Periandri, according to court records.

The messages appeared to be “criminal in nature” and showed Periandri, a detective in charge of investigating and arresting drug dealers, repeatedly requesting to buy prescription painkillers and heroin off of Yunis, and even agreeing to act as a middleman for some drug deals, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by cleveland.com in December 2015.

Dawson’s attorney entered the affidavit as evidence in the federal lawsuit on Thursday.

Messages seized from May 23, 2015 showed that Periandri ordered drugs while he working during protests in Cleveland that followed the acquittal of Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo on manslaughter charges in the 2012 killing of an unarmed couple. He also used a shorthand for what the affidavit describes as a racial slur to describe the protesters.

Cleveland police’s internal affairs unit launched an investigation and, that same month, obtained a warrant to collect a hair sample from Periandri and have it tested for drugs.

But before they could execute the warrant, Periandri took a medical leave of absence and checked himself into a drug rehabilitation center in California, internal investigators wrote in the affidavit.

The deal

A May 13, 2016 email between from Cleveland police commander Brian Heffernan to Williams, the head of internal affairs Lt. Monroe Goins and another Cleveland police officer indicated that Periandri was in talks with Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Jim Gutierrez.

The two agreed that Periandri would be charged by information and plead guilty to a felony drug possession charge at a June 7 court hearing. He would receive treatment in lieu of conviction, the email says.

Periandri would then serve a year’s probation, and the charge would be dropped from his record if he successfully completed treatment. In exchange, Periandri agreed to give up his certification to be a police officer.

But that court hearing never happened.

Prosecutors did not charge Periandri until Thursday, more than eight months after the original offer, according to court records. And the information was not delivered to the clerk’s office until about 1:30 p.m. Monday, after reporters began asking the prosecutor’s office about Periandri’s case.

The information, signed by Gutierrez, Periandri and Periandri’s attorney, Robert Dixon, is stamped Jan. 19. A note stuck on the outside of Periandri’s file says the information was “back-dated” to Jan. 19.

Kathleen Caffrey, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office, said on Monday that Periandri had been charged by information and pleaded guilty in June.

After a reporter asked for a copy of the information and more information about the court hearing on Tuesday, she called to say that she had misinterpreted a conversation with Gutierrez and that no June agreement was reached.

Periandri was allowed to retire from the department for medical reasons on Aug. 9, 2016, Williams said.

Also, when reporters began asking about the drug “conviction” as a result of discovery information from the lawsuit, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office explained that the records of it had never been entered into the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court’s public docket due to an “IT issue.” #SeemsLegit

Leave a comment

San Antonio Cop Caught Trying to Feed Shit Sandwich to Homeless Man Fired (Again) for 2nd Feces Related Incident

In November, I posted about San Antonio Police Officer Mathew Luckhurst who had tried to feed a sandwich filled with dog poop to a homeless man:

Luckhurst had bragged to another cop that he had placed feces inside bread and put it in a styrofoam container next to a sleeping homeless man, hoping he would eat it. That unnamed officer fortunately had some decency and told Officer Luckhurst to go back and throw the shit sandwich away. He then reported the incident to the San Antonio Police Dept.’s Internal Affairs Bureau in July.

Subsequently, the suspension was recommended by both a civilian review board and a review board comprising sworn officers. in October. After a meeting with Officer Luckhurst, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus upheld the suspension. Earlier today, both he and San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor released statements regarding Luckhurst’s behavior.

As I noted at the time, although it was reported that he had been fired, that was really a bit of a technicality because he actually has been “indefinitely suspended.” In reality, the intention is probably just to buy a little time until the publicity quiets down and then have the local police union play bad cop and file a dispute that ends up getting him his job back.

However, yesterday some new information emerged showing that this was not the only time that Officer Luckhurst’s feces fetish has gotten him into hot water with the SAPD. In fact, he seems to have been building on that as his go to prop for workplace pranks. And this time he even enlisted a sidekick.

Via MySanAntonio.com:

In June, just a month after the incident with the sandwich, police say Luckhurst defecated in the women’s bathroom stall at SAPD’s Bike Patrol Office and spread a brown substance with the consistency of tapioca on the toilet seat, giving the appearance that there was feces on the seat.

Officer Steve Albart was also involved in the prank, according to the records. He was originally given an indefinite suspension, but Chief William McManus reduced it to 30 days without pay. Albart finished serving that suspension Jan. 19.
Unlike Officer Albart, Luckhurst’s suspension was not reduced and he received a second indefinite suspension. So, now Officer Luckhurst has been “fired” twice (although he’s apparently still officially on the roster and in the process of appealing both suspensions). Expect him back out there protecting and serving (shit) at some point in the near future.
Leave a comment

Detroit Cop Complains In Racist Facebook Rant That Cameras Prevent Police From Abusing Citizens

Detroit Police Officer Daniel Wolff is in a bit of hot water after he got offended by an article discussing how many police now live in the suburbs, rather than the city in which they work. He then posted comments to the article in which he called the residents of Detroit garbage and lamented the good old days before it was routine for cops to be filmed as they perform their duties and could “walk up to a kid or asshole and smack them in the face.”

In a previous comment, he also stated that he “hit them in the head with handcuffs” while apparently responding to another person’s comment. Other posts included racist comments, such as his desire to send a Terminator back in time to kill “Whoppi” Goldberg and Al Sharpton’s parents and stating to another commentor who said his posts sounded racist that it didn’t matter, because his “Chaldean ass will be deported soon enough.”

He also expressed a desire to be fired after he was told that screenshots of his comments had been sent to internal affairs. That’s not a very unrealistic goal at this point.

Via MotorCityMuckraker.com:

Wolff, who works in the second precinct and lives in the suburbs, said he would never live in the city he serves because it is “just a nasty place.”

“Getting rid of residency was the best thing that ever happened to the Detroit Police!!!!! We have to police the garbage but you can’t make us live in the garbage.”

Wolff bemoaned cell phone cameras, saying, “You can’t walk up to a kid or asshole and smack him in the face like we did.”

Motor City Muckraker alerted police to the posts, and the screenshots were sent to Internal Affairs. Police spokesman Michael Woody said there would be “a full investigation.”

Wolff said he worked for DPD for more than 20 years.

In other Facebook posts, Wolff , who is white, said he wanted to “send a terminator (Cyberdyne series 101) back in time to take out Whoppi Goldberg and Al Sharpton’s parents.”

When someone said the post sounded racist, Wolff responded, “Don’t matter anyways, your Chaldean ass will be deported soon enough” and then called him “a little girl” and declared, “you should die.”

Wolff, a fanatic Donald Trump supporter, said he’s tired of “politically correct cry-baby soft ass snowflakes” and made a “personal pledge” to “do my best to offend at least one person a day with a harsh comment. … I want to make someone cry today.”

When I told him that Internal Affairs was investigating, Wolff responded, “Please do. I’ve been trying to get fired for years you cunt. Help me you ass.”

During his psychotic little rant, he also complained that people weren’t watching enough John Wayne movies and used enough homophobic slurs to make one wonder if he might be overcompensating for something (perhaps something he keeps in his closet). His Facebook page has since been deactivated.

Leave a comment

Philadelphia Police “Reviewing Tactics” of Cop Seen Slamming, Punching Teen Girl on Video

Several videos (embedded above and below) posted online showed an incident that occurred on Monday, during which a female Philadelphia police officer can be seen grabbing a sixteen year old girl, slamming her to the ground, and then, after straddling her chest, throwing numerous punches at her face.

The unnamed officer was part of a group of police officers that showed up to break up a large fight that apparently involved members of two families. Johnnae Pendleton, the girl seen being hit in the video, has since stated that she was trying to defend her mother just prior to being pushed away by one officer and then confronted by the officer who eventually assaulted her.

Although, Pendelton appears to be arguing with the first officer, the second officer (who punched her) acts aggressively toward her from the time that she initially approaches Pendelton from behind and pulls her around. While seemingly yelling at her to leave, she also repeatedly points her fingers into the teen’s face, appearing to make physical contact several times, at least. According to witnesses, Pederson was responding by telling her not to touch her.

Shortly after, the officer can be seen grabbing Pederson and spinning her around before throwing her to the ground. She then follows up by sitting on top of her chest and repeatedly punching at her head and face as Pederson attempts to block those punches. At some point, the officer also pulls out a telescoping baton. After several bystanders move close and yell for her to get off Pederson, at least two other cops, who are also holding batons, intercede before the video ends.

Via 6ABC.com (in Philadelphia):

The Internal Affairs Unit is now investigating an incident caught on video involving a 12th District Philadelphia police officer and a teenager.

All charges against 16-year-old Johnnae Pendleton, the girl seen in cell phone video, were dropped Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s just an ugly situation from start to finish,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross. “There’s no denying that.”

The melee was captured on cell phone video in Southwest Philadelphia on 54th near Springfield Monday afternoon.

Police arrived to find a large group of teens fighting in the street.

In the video, a 12th District officer and a teen, later identified as Pendleton, separate from the group.

Action News spoke with Pendleton Tuesday about what happened from her perspective.

Pendleton contends she was trying to help her friend’s mother, who was being detained by police, when the officer started pushing her back.

“It went from there. She was dragging me by my hair, banging my head on the ground, on the car, punching me, sat on top of me and was punching me in my face,” Pendleton said.

Caliph Douglass captured the cell phone video.

He said he found what he was witnessing “confusing” because he also thought the Pendleton was trying to back away.

“The girl was saying ‘Don’t touch me. You don’t got to touch me.’ Then, the next thing you know she just swung the little girl to the ground and started punching her,” Douglass said.

Commissioner Ross says Pendleton was refusing the officer’s commands, and the officer reported that the teen knocked her glasses off her face.

“One of the things that did not get captured on the video that the young lady admitted to in her interview is that she actually smacked the officer in the face, knocking her glasses off her face,” Ross told Action News.

The teen told police she wasn’t hurt at all, and the 12th District officer, with several years on the job, had minor bruising to her eye.

The officer’s tactics are now under review by Internal Affairs.

“When I say tactics, it’s a possibility, before they hit the ground, that something could’ve been done a little differently. That’s not a legal thing as much as it is a tactical thing, but it’s a decision that gets made in a split second,” Ross said.

Pendleton was initially charged with assault on a police officer.

The district attorney declined to move forward with those charges and Pendleton was released from custody.

“I am happy that it was caught on video because if it wasn’t, I would have been charged and I would’ve been in a youth study center or something,” Pendleton said.

A source tells Action News the video and witness statements seem to indicate that Pendleton never intentionally tried to harm the officer.

“Both parties told the truth,” said Ross. “There’s not a whole lot of discrepancy between the two stories. It just doesn’t happen that often like that.”

Ross said the officer will remain off the street while the Internal Affairs investigation into the matter continues.

So, it’s interesting that, even though the “investigation” is still going on, Commissioner Ross has already announced that it’s “not a legal thing,” but rather a matter of tactics. Probably, one of the tactics that someone should avoid when they are trying to break up a fight would be to not act aggressively and escalate a confrontation.

Not physically pushing and jabbing your fingers at someone would be another questionable tactical consideration. Maybe, repeatedly punching someone when they are already on the ground and under your control would be another strategic “faux pas” that should be avoided.

Of course, if you’re a cop and you know there’s little to no chance you’ll suffer any sort of meaningful consequences for your actions, you probably don’t have to quibble over “tactics.”

Interview of Teen Seen Being Punched:

Video Posted to Instagram:

Longer Video That Shows Part of Initial Fight:

Leave a comment

Fresno CA Taxpayers Forced to Pay $2.2 Million Settlement to Family of Man Executed by Police

The family of a man who was shot as he climbed a fence then executed by a Fresno police officer  has received a settlement of $2.2 million. In June of 2012, Jaime Reyes Jr. was shot by Officer Juan Avila while attempting to escape arrest by climbing over a fence near a school. After falling from that fence, Reyes was then shot in the back an additional three times by Avila as he lay wounded and defenseless on the ground.

The fact that the fence Reyes was climbing was at an elementary school and that police later found a gun in his pocket were used as justifications for the murder. However, information released as a result of the law suit indicated that the gun was not only unloaded, but also was inside a plastic bag. Therefore, in spite of police claims that Reyes represented an “imminent threat,” there’s no way he threatened them with it or even could have done so at the time he was shot. One of the officers at the scene also stated in a deposition that there was a pause between the time Avila shot Reyes the first time and the subsequent three shots.

Supposedly, along with the settlement that taxpayers will be forced to finance, the Fresno Police Department will be explaining to the cops working there what the word imminent actually means and making other “minor changes” within their use of force policies. That includes teaching cops to assess whether someone needs to be shot in the back while they are already lying on the ground unable to move.

In addition, homicide detectives and Internal Affairs officers will be strongly encouraged not to ignore witnesses who provide information that doesn’t fit the predetermined narrative. For instance, in this case a woman who witnessed Officer Avila murder Reyes stated that she “saw an execution,” but officers with internal affairs were reported (by me) to have responded by putting their fingers in their ears and yelling, “I can’t hear you” until she gave up and left the area.

Via the Fresno Bee:

With the settlement comes major changes for the Fresno Police Department, said Oakland attorneys Michael Haddad and Julia Sherwin, who represented the parents of Jaime Reyes Jr., 28, who was shot while climbing a fence at Aynesworth Elementary School in southeast Fresno in the afternoon of June 6, 2012.

Haddad said Tuesday that if the lawsuit had gone to trial, the evidence would have shown that Officer Juan Avila shot Reyes near the top of the fence. Once Reyes toppled to the ground, Avila shot him three more times in the back as he lay wounded, face down on the ground, Haddad said…

Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer acknowledged that the city has agreed to review policies and recommend any appropriate minor changes. The city, Dyer said, “has always felt that this tragic shooting was legally justified and settlement should not be viewed as an indication that this view has changed.”

According to Dyer, Reyes was a gang member under the influence of methamphetamine who fled from officers while carrying a stolen handgun into a schoolyard occupied by children. “However, circumstances unrelated to the actual incident have dictated that it would be economically sound for the city to settle this matter before incurring the costs of trial,” he said.

Documents provided by the Fresno Police Department say the fatal shooting of Reyes was justified. Avila no longer works as a Fresno police officer.

Haddad disagreed with Dyer’s assessment of facts. He said Reyes never pointed a gun at the officers nor threatened them. After he was fatally shot, officers found a gun in Reyes’ shorts pocket, but the firearm was unloaded and wrapped in a plastic bag.

City officials agreed to the settlement on Nov. 18 in U.S. District Court in Fresno. As part of the settlement, Haddad said the Fresno Police Department has agreed to change its use-of-force policy. Before, officers could shoot a suspect if he posed an imminent threat. “Fresno police have a unique interpretation of what ‘imminent threat’ means,” Haddad said. To police, it means a pending threat or a threat in the near future, Haddad said.

The settlement mandates that Fresno police are only allowed to shoot a suspect if the suspect poses an “immediate threat,” or a threat at this very moment, Haddad said.

Sergeants and patrol officers also will be trained to “assess every shot,” Haddad said. This way, an officer doesn’t fire extra bullets when the situation doesn’t warrant it, Haddad said, noting that Reyes was incapacitated with the first shot, therefore he didn’t need to be shot three more times in the back.

In addition, the settlement requires additional training for homicide detectives and the police Internal Affairs officers. The training will require them to consider statements by witnesses that contradict statements by officers at the scene. In the Reyes shooting, a female witness said she “saw an execution,” Haddad said. But homicide detectives and Internal Affairs officers disregarded her statement, Haddad said.

“We’re hopeful that these policy changes could prevent some future shootings by police,” he said.

Minor policy changes that reiterate what cops and the cops that “investigate” them should already be doing is likely to do that.

Leave a comment

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

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

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

Via the Chicago Tribune:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave a comment

San Antonio Police Officer Matthew Luckhurst Fired for Trying to Feed Shit Sandwich to Homeless Man

Officer Matthew Luckhurst of the San Antonio Police Department has been placed on indefinite suspension as the result of an incident in May. Luckhurst had bragged to another cop that he had placed feces inside bread and put it in a styrofoam container next to a sleeping homeless man, hoping he would eat it. That unnamed officer fortunately had some decency and told Officer Luckhurst to go back and throw the shit sandwich away. He then reported the incident to the San Antonio Police Dept.’s Internal Affairs Bureau in July.

Subsequently, the suspension was recommended by both a civilian review board and a review board comprising sworn officers. in October. After a meeting with Officer Luckhurst, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus upheld the suspension. Earlier today, both he and San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor released statements regarding Luckhurst’s behavior.

Via KVUE.com, the local ABC affiliate:

“This was a vile and disgusting act that violates our guiding principles of “treating all with integrity, compassion, fairness and respect’,” said Chief McManus. “The fact that his fellow officers were so disgusted with his actions that they reported him to Internal Affairs demonstrates that this type of behavior will never be tolerated.”

Mayor Ivy Taylor also released a statement Friday regarding the incident. “Firing this officer was the right thing to do,” Mayor Taylor said. “His actions were a betrayal of every value we have in our community, and he is not representative of our great police force.”

It’s not entirely clear from the news reports of the “indefinite suspension” equates to an actual firing or if that is still in the process of happening. According to MySanAntonio.com, Officer Luckhurst is planning to appeal the suspension/firing. Although Luckhurst declined to comment to the media, his lawyer, Ben Sifuentes, it was all just a joke that “spiraled out of control.”

Homeless people are frequently the targets of bullying and police are often some of the biggest bullies around. The stigma attached to being homeless and the criminalization of  homelessness are huge issues within most, if not all, cities throughout the country. Having worked with Food Not Bombs Las Vegas and personally witnessed the abusive manner that a good majority of police officers behave toward homeless people, I have very little doubt that it happened, even though he likely did consider it a joke. (And it certainly did spiral out of control for him.)

I also don’t have a lot of doubt that he will win his appeal and be reinstated. When you have free rein to murder people, trying to serve someone a shit sandwich is small potatoes. And if all else fails, he can always just move to the next police department over and continue as if nothing ever happened.

Leave a comment