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Henderson Police “Not Concerned About” Violent History of Newly Hired Deputy Police Chief Thedrick Andres

Newly hired Henderson NV Deputy Chief of Police Thedrick Andres shot Juan May during an off-duty incident while he was a sergeant at the Arlington Police Department in Texas

A photo taken earlier in the evening shows newly hired Henderson Deputy Police Chief Thedrick Andres and Juan May, the man Andres shot to death after a fight on a party bus.

In November, LaTesha Watson, formerly a deputy police chief with the Arlington (TX) Police Department was sworn in to replace Moers as the Henderson chief of police. Thedrick Andres, who served at the APD with Watson before retiring as a lieutenant, was subsequently hired to replace Long as Watson’s deputy police chief.

While there has been some unhappiness expressed over the department’s decision to pick candidates from out of state as replacements, Deputy Chief Andres’ work history would seem to be right on par with those working within Las Vegas area police departments. That history includes three incidents of violence, two of which involved the use of a firearm by Andres while he was off-duty, at the Arlington (TX) Police Department.

During what was described as a road rage incident, Andres pulled his gun on another driver after claiming that driver had threatened him with a hatchet. That “hatchet” that reportedly caused him to believe his life was in danger turned out to be a plastic ice scraper. Previously, while employed at the New Orleans Police Department, Andres was also accused of using excessive force in a citizen complaint.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

Party Bus Shooting

The most troubling incident from Andres’ past was his fatal shooting of a Marine veteran named Juan May in June of 2014. That incident began with a birthday party, which took place on a “party bus.” Although May and other relatives of his who were among the twenty people on that bus didn’t know Andres or that he was (at the time) a sergeant with the Arlington Police Department, the group picture above implies there was possibly some mutual friendships between them.

Juan May was murdered by Henderson Deputy Chief Thedrick Andres while he was a Sgt. at the Arlington Police Department

Juan May

According to descriptions, at some point someone (presumably May) jokingly suggested that Andres should dance on a stripper pole that was on the bus. That apparently offended Andres and led him to begin directing derogatory remarks at May and his relatives. This later escalated into a physical fight once they left the bus after Andres approached May and reignited the argument.

There are some differences in the details of what happened next among eyewitness statements. However, there are several common denominators among them. Everyone agrees that Andres is the one who approached May and began the final argument and that he had been drinking on the party bus. They also agree that Andres also hit Juan’s cousin, Patrick May, who was attempting to break up the fight.

The other point of agreement is that shortly after, when Juan May was walking back to his car, Andres began running to his own car. Witnesses state that “someone” yelled that he had a gun in his vehicle. Andres, in fact, retrieved that gun and killed May with it, later claiming he had fired in self-defense. Not surprisingly, he was eventually exonerated by a grand jury in spite of the retrieval of a weapon after a fight being pretty well established as an act of premeditation.

Police Chief Latesha Watson is Not Concerned

It shouldn’t be surprising that Chief Watson isn’t concerned about Andres’ past. Of course, she worked with him for years in Texas and obviously is the reason he was hired to be the second in command at the Henderson Police Department. In spite of the fact her statement that “if someone was found guilty of wrongdoing, then they wouldn’t have a job,” when applied to police officers is at best a technicality, it’s not something that should be unexpected.

The Henderson Police Department's newly hired Deputy Chief of Police, Thedrick Andres, and Chief of Police, LaTesha Watson

Thedrick Andres and LaTesha Watson

However, the lack of concern by the City of Henderson is something that should draw a few more raised eyebrows. After all, Watson and Andres were hired to replace two police executives who were forced to resign after sexual harassment claims were made against them and the Henderson City Council was caught covering that up by portraying it as a “mutual parting of ways.

In addition, Assistant City Manager Greg Blackburn, who previously resigned from a city government position in North Las Vegas after a sexual harassment scandal, is currently under investigation again for (you guessed it) sexual harassment in Henderson and Mayor Debra March has also just been sanctioned over ethics violations. (At this point, it takes a bit of searching to find someone in the Henderson city government that isn’t under some sort of investigation.)

When you consider all that, maybe you should look to hire someone who doesn’t already have a history that includes excessive force complaints and pulling guns on (or actually shooting) unarmed people while off-duty. Maybe that’s a good idea for the City of Henderson for PR reasons, if nothing else. You know, hire someone who is less likely to create yet another misconduct scandal.

Of course, Henderson is the city known for not prosecuting (and later promoting) a cop who was caught on video repeatedly kicking a man suffering from diabetic shock in the head, because “they train officers to do that in the police academy.”

Related Content on NVCopBlock.org:

LA Supreme Court: It’s Reasonable to Believe “Give Me a Lawyer Dog” was Request for a Dog Who is a Lawyer

Lawyer Dog Louisiana Supreme Court Canine Attorney

Lawyer Dog should really ask Grumpy Judge to recuse herself. #JusSayin

Recently, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued a ruling on a motion to suppress evidence against Warren Demesme, who is currently awaiting trial in New Orleans. By a 6-1 majority the court denied that motion, which maintained that statements Demesme had made should be thrown because the police had ignored his request for legal counsel during interrogations.

What’s gotten a lot of attention (and rightfully so) since that ruling is the courts’ contention that Demesme’s request was ambiguous and unclear. But even more so for the reasoning behind the ruling. Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Kyle Daly argued in his response to the motion that Demesme’s statement, “just give me a lawyer dog,” could be misinterpreted by a “reasonable officer” based on the use of the words “lawyer dog.”

In a brief accompanying the decision, Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton agreed that the defendant’s use of “lawyer dog” could be misconstrued to mean something else and therefore did not qualify as a request for counsel.

Via the Washington Post:

Warren Demesme, then 22, was being interrogated by New Orleans police in October 2015 after two young girls claimed he had sexually assaulted them. It was the second time he’d been brought in, and he was getting a little frustrated, court records show. He had repeatedly denied the crime. Finally, Demesme told the detectives:

“This is how I feel, if y’all think I did it, I know that I didn’t do it so why don’t you just give me a lawyer dog ’cause this is not what’s up.” The punctuation, arguably critical to Demesme’s use of the sobriquet “dog,” was provided by the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office in a brief, and then adopted by Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton.

Demesme subsequently made admissions to the crime, prosecutors said, and was charged with aggravated rape and indecent behavior with a juvenile. He is being held in the Orleans Parish jail awaiting trial.

The public defender for Orleans Parish, Derwyn D. Bunton, took on Demesme’s case and filed a motion to suppress Demesme’s statement. In a court brief, Bunton noted that police are legally bound to stop questioning anyone who asks for a lawyer. “Under increased interrogation pressure,” Bunton wrote, “Mr. Demesme invokes his right to an attorney, stating with emotion and frustration, ‘Just give me a lawyer.’” The police did not stop their questioning, Bunton argued, “when Mr. Demesme unequivocally and unambiguously asserted his right to counsel.”

Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton

Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton

Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Kyle Daly responded in his brief that Demesme’s “reference to a lawyer did not constitute an unambiguous invocation of his right to counsel, because the defendant communicated that whether he actually wanted a lawyer was dependent on the subjective beliefs of the officers.” Daly added, “A reasonable officer under the circumstances would have understood, as [the detectives] did, that the defendant only might be invoking his right to counsel.”

Bunton’s motion to throw out Demesme’s statement was rejected by the trial court and the appeals court, so he took it to the state Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in a ruling issued last Friday and first reported by Reason, could have denied the appeal without issuing a written ruling, which it does in most cases. But Justice Crichton decided to write a brief concurrence “to spotlight the very important constitutional issue regarding the invocation of counsel during a law enforcement interview.”

Crichton noted that Louisiana case law has ruled that “if a suspect makes a reference to an attorney that is ambiguous or equivocal . . . the cessation of questioning is not required.” Crichton then concluded: “In my view, the defendant’s ambiguous and equivocal reference to a ‘lawyer dog’ does not constitute an invocation of counsel that warrants termination of the interview.”

So…

There’s a lot of things wrong with that decision. The most obvious issue is that they didn’t actually provide him with a dog who is a lawyer, as they claim they thought he had requested. It’s probably not the wisest move to request a dog to represent you in court, but if he’s a good boy and graduated from an accredited law school, who am I to cast aspersions?

Of course, that’s kind of the biggest problem with the “logic” of this ruling. They couldn’t give him a “lawyer dog” because, outside of memes on the internets, it’s not an actual thing. At this point in history, not one single dog has ever managed to pass the bar exam. Not Lassie, not Rin Tin Tin, not Benji, not even Snoopy. Scooby Doo is way to high to even think about taking the SAT’s, let alone the LSAT’s, and don’t even get me started on Marmaduke.

If any dog could have pulled it off, it obviously would have been Brian Griffin, but he died tragically after eating chocolate out of the garbage years ago. So, he’s not available right now.

What it boils down to is, if somebody asks for legal council, as is their constitutional right under the Sixth Amendment, you shouldn’t just be able to pretend you didn’t understand them because they used some (not uncommon) slang. In fact, if for some reason they ask for a “lawyer dog,” but there aren’t any available (or willing to work pro bone-o), then you give them a lawyer human instead.

It’s hard to have a lot of faith in the U.S. Injustice System, especially after rulings like this (not to mention all the coerced confessions and false convictions they allow for). However, you would hope that some sense of common decency and shame would compel the next appeals court this goes in front of to render a proper ruling on this nonsense.

I have a suspicion this might be a big part of the reason why the State of Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world.

Louisiana Deputy Accused of Using Taser on His Fiancee During Domestic Violence Incident

A deputy with the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office appeared in court last week. In September, Deputy Victor Cass Butler was accused of using his department issued taser on his fiancee during a domestic dispute in Vidalia, Louisiana, where he lives. According to court files, the data saved on Butler’s stun gun shows that it was used “several times” that day.

Via the Natchez Democrat:

“From what I understand, it was a confrontation (at his residence),” [Vidalia Police Chief Joey] Merrill said.

Sources close to the investigation said Butler allegedly used the stun gun multiple times.

Merrill declined to give more details about the incident or how many times Butler reportedly used the stun gun on the victim, citing the ongoing investigation.

Following the incident, the victim was treated and released at a local hospital, Merrill said.

The stun gun allegedly used in the incident was sent to Alexandria to be evaluated, Merrill said. The stun gun has a computer system, Merrill said, that records the date and time of when the weapon was fired and how many times it was fired.

More information will be made public when VPD is able to get the records of the weapon’s use, Merrill said.

“This was an unfortunate event for both parties involved,” Merrill said. “We at Vidalia Police Department are going to investigate this case fully and make sure justice is served. We, as neighboring law-enforcement agencies, are going to move forward and get past this unfortunate event.”

In spite of how unfortunate this was for both of them, the fiancee who was tasered multiple times was apparently the only one that had to be treated at the hospital afterwards.

Also, although he was originally charged with aggravated battery, Deputy Butler, who had only recently been rehired by the CPSO and has since resigned from the sheriff’s department, has already had the charged reduced to just simple battery. He pled not guilty to that during his latest court appearance and is due back in court in April. By that time, a deal involving a fine and some community service should be ready for him to accept and get right back to work tasing people out on the streets.

Three New Orleans Police Officers Caught Selling Untaxed Cigarettes; Not Choked to Death

Late last month, six people including three New Orleans police officers, were indicted as part of an illegal tobacco smuggling ring. The scheme, which lasted just about one year, involved smuggling cigarettes and cigars across state lines in order to avoid paying federal and state taxes.

Officers Justin Brown and Joshua Carthon, of the New Orleans Police Department and Deputy Garrett Partman, Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, are accused of accepting bribes in exchanging for transporting the products across state lines and providing protection during the trips.

Via TheAdvocate.com:

Federal prosecutors say the conspiracy began in September 2015, when two Gretna men, Jadallah Saed, 30, and Anwar “Tony” Abdelmajid-Ahmad, 29, started buying thousands of cartons of cigarettes considered by the authorities to be contraband because they had no state tax stamps on their packaging.

Authorities said the racket involved at least 15,000 cartons of cigarettes. It was unclear where they obtained the cigarettes.

Beginning in January, the indictment says, the two police officers, joined by Abdelmajid-Ahmad, would transport the cigarettes to another co-defendant in North Carolina, Atalla Atalla, a 38-year-old Wilmington man known as “Tommy.” The officers made their second trip in March but were joined this time by Partman, the indictment alleges.

The defendants face a host of charges, including conspiring to traffic contraband cigarettes, evading federal excise tax and interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises.

Partman, 31, resigned from the Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, said Philip Stelly, an agency spokesman. Stelly said Partman was hired in January 2010, but it was not clear whether he had been assigned to the city’s jail or the Sheriff’s Office’s civil division.

Meanwhile, the two officers, Brown and Carthon, were placed on emergency suspension without pay this week, officials said. Brown, 29, has been with the New Orleans Police Department for four years and most recently was assigned to the Special Operations Division.

Carthon, 32, is a seven-year veteran and most recently served in the 7th District, which covers New Orleans East. He previously was suspended for 25 days following an April 2014 drunk-driving incident in which he crashed his pickup while driving with a blood-alcohol content of .131. He also was involved in a fatal officer-involved shooting following an armed robbery last year, which the authorities deemed to be justified.

I’d say I was surprised by that last paragraph, but it’s getting hard to find a report of a cop who was (finally) busted that already didn’t have a long list of previous misconduct and very mild slaps on the wrist. One thing I did find just a bit odd was that, unlike Eric Garner in New York, the cops in New Orleans weren’t forced to choke any of these guys to death for selling untaxed cigarettes.

After Recent Shootings of Police, Cops Prepare to Double Down on the Police State

Police State Militarization Cop Block

The following post was originally published at TheAntiMedia.org under the original title “Here Are the New Tactics Police Are Preparing to Roll out in Your Communityand was written by Darius Shahtahmasebi.

In the post, Shahtahmasebi discusses how the police plan to respond to the recent shootings of police by citizens in several cities (this was written prior to the incident in San Diego) across the country. Not surprisingly, instead of stepping back and saying, “maybe all those times we unnecessarily shot people and/or refused to hold each other accountable for it or even essentially celebrated it had something to do with this” police nationwide are preparing to become even more militarized and violent toward the citizens they claim to protect and serve.

Here Are the New Tactics Police Are Preparing to Roll out in Your Community

Following the recent events in the United States, which have resulted in armed civilians taking on police officers—namely in DallasBaton Rouge, and most recently in Kansas City, Kansas —  police forces across the country are set to adjust their strategies and tactics.

An interesting detail to note is that on July 11, 2016 — following the first deadly attacks on police officers that occurred in Dallas — Reuters reported police were set to rethink their tactics in nearly half of America’s 30 largest cities. They evidently didn’t act swiftly enough (a number of deadly attacks followed shortly after). It’s either that or the suggested police tactics were never going to address the root causes of the problem we are facing.

So what kind of changes can we expect to see?

The most prominent change to occur is the pairing up of police officers. However, some more drastic suggestions are also in the pipeline. For example, the Indianapolis police force has said it will consider the use of robots to “deliberately deliver lethal force.” Denver’s police union has called for officers to be able to wear riot gear for local protests, and to be armed with AR-15 assault rifles while on patrol at the Denver International Airport.

In the wake of the Baton Rouge shooting, other changes likely to occur include: requiring that two cars respond to all calls, shifting officers to serve as extra backup, imposing increased security and surveillance, increasing the number of helicopter patrols, and suspending solo patrols.

It seems as if the police are considering all options — anything, that is, but refraining from summarily executing unarmed civilians in broad daylight. At the very least, they could start by prosecuting those responsible for such incidents. Apparently, however, that is too much to ask of those who are sworn to protect and serve.

America’s current president, elected on promises of hope and change, has told police officers across the country that “we have your back.” This is noteworthy because to date, there has been no concrete effort on the part of the president to address the underlying issues that have resulted in the uprising starting to unfold. To date, he has insisted on ploys that are nothing but politically acceptable attempts at pleasing all parties involved. I would go so far as to argue Donald Trump’s racist tirades do more for minority groups — by empowering and uniting them against his demagoguery — than Barack Obama has done his whole time in office, which has reflected his unwillingness to actually represent them on issues that grossly affect them.

The saddest part about this ongoing issue is that the tactics as suggested by satirical newspaper, The Onion, are more honest than any conversation our police departments or politicians are having about police brutality in the United States.

In particular, the outlet suggested the ability to ensure this can all legally be thrown out the window if a cop feels threatened” is something police forces across the country are so apt at implementing, The Onion need not have mentioned it all together.

Former Chicago Bears Superbowl QB Jim McMahon Urges NFL Allow Medical Marijuana For Players

Jim McMahon Medical Marijuana NFL

Jim McMahon, the Superbowl XX winning quarterback from the 1985 Chicago Bears, a team which is often considered one of the best all-time teams and arguably the best defense in the history of the NFL, has joined the long list of people advocating for the medical use of marijuana.

Currently, McMahon is battling symptoms attributed to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), such as early dementia, severe headaches, memory loss and depression, all of which have been attributed to the effects of multiple concussions and for obvious reasons are especially prevalent among people involved in contact sports.

Even in states in which medical marijuana has already been legalized, the National Football League prohibits its use among players. Anyone testing positive for marijuana use, regardless of local laws (even in Washington and Colorado, which both allow recreational use), are subject to punishments that increase with each instance.

McMahon made his statements advocating for marijuana as an alternative to opiates for pain management while appearing as part of a panel discussion by retired NFL players at the Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo. The panel was held at Manhattan’s Javits Convention Center.

Via the Sporting News:

The panel, according to the New York Daily News, was moderated by former Giants defensive lineman Leonard Marshall and included former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, former Broncos tight end Nate Jackson, former Broncos wide receiver Charlie Adams and former Jaguars offensive tackle Eben Britton.

McMahon, who is dealing with early dementia, severe headaches, memory loss and depression — all symptoms associated with too many concussions — believes he would be healthier now if he was allowed to use marijuana instead of pills during his playing career. Marijuana is an effective pain killer and less harmful than opiods, McMahon said.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are dying from [painkillers] and there’s not one case of people dying from the hemp plant,” McMahon said.

Britton added, “Juxtaposing my experiences with pharmaceutical drugs like Vicodin and Percocet, that made me angry and irritable, frustrated, didn’t get rid of any of the pain, made it difficult to sleep, increased my heart rate and made me feel crazy. On the other side of that there’s cannabis that helped me sleep, put me into a healing state of being where I was relieved from stress and anxiety as well as feeling the pain relief.”

Jackson, who appeared on an edition of HBO’s Real Sports that dealt with the same issue, added, “The owners of these teams are, by and large, wealthy men who are older and do not understand that this is a pretty innocuous substance.”

As is also mentioned in the Sporting News article, this offseason the Baltimore Ravens cut Eugene Monroe, a former first round pick who has campaigned publicly for the acceptance of medical marijuana in the NFL. Many people, including Monroe, have attributed that move to his strong advocacy for cannabis use, although the Ravens have denied that is the case.

Jim McMahon Superbowl XX MoonMcMahon, who was known as much for his flamboyant attitude and defiance of arbitrary or silly rules as he was for his play on the field, is no stranger to alternative medical practices or controversy. In one of the more famous photos from the build up to Superbowl XX, he mooned a helicopter while wearing a headband that said “ACUPUNCTURE” on it.

He later explained that he was just showing the media where he had received treatment for an injury he had received in a game the previous week. (The headband derived from an incident earlier in the season where he was fined $5,000 for having an Adidas label on his head band during a game and subsequently wore a headband with “ROZELLE” written on it in reference to the league commissioner, who had fined him.)

Jim McMahon Rozelle HeadbandIt’s silly and contradictory that the NFL approves the use of opiates and all kinds of other horrible pharmaceutical medications for players if they have a prescription (and sometimes without even having one), but prohibits the same medical rights for cannabis patients, even in locations where it can be legally prescribed by a doctor. In fact, it’s not at all unusual for players with lingering injuries to receive shots that numb the affected area in order to play during a game. Stories have even emerged of players receiving such shots in the locker room during a game in which they were injured.

So, it’s clearly not a case of the NFL being opposed to drug use in general or a concern for the safety or health of players. Their refusal to accept that playing in the NFL and improper care for concussions in the past increased the chances of players developing CTE alone is proof of that not being true.

The least they could do is give those players the option of using a safe and non-addictive option to treat the pain is inherent to the game. Being that there are different laws in the different cities which have NFL teams, there’s a small complication in the fact that some players would have access to legal medical marijuana while others wouldn’t because they state they live in still living in the dark ages.

However, in reality, all they would have to do is remove it from the list of drugs which they test for. Legally, they are not under any obligation to test for drugs, whether they are illegal or otherwise. Players certainly make enough money that they could set up residence during the offseason within the states that do allow its use for the next four or five years or so until it’s made legal not just for medical use, but for recreational use as well, nationwide. (That writings on the wall in big letters.)

What ISIS And The Police Have In Common: Intentionally Burning People Alive

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by James McLynas, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. While discussing the rarely acknowledged police tactic of intentionally burning people alive James asks, “Is there any end to the violence police are willing to inflict?”

As pointed out by James in this post there are several known instances in which the police have intentionally set fire to buildings occupied by people they had been involved in a standoff with and then allowed those fires to burn while those people were trapped inside.

Probably the best known and most well documented examples of that is the Waco Siege, involving the Branch Davidians, that took place in 1993. A total of 76 men, women, and children died in the fire that many believe was intentionally set by FBI and ATF agents and that they undoubtedly made no effort to extinguish.

Another even more blatant example that has recently begun to receive some publicity, but is still largely unknown to the general public is the fire bombing of the neighborhood surrounding the home of the MOVE Organization. Philadelphia has been referred to as the “city that bombed itself” in reference to this 1985 incident.

This is, in fact, a pretty accurate description of what happened that day when police dropped a bomb onto the row house MOVE members were living in and then stood by as it and 65 neighboring houses burned. Police could be heard saying, “let the fire burn” on their radios and they did just that killing 11 people including five children.

More recently, the cabin in which former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner was holed up in during a standoff with police was ignited by CS gas and allowed to burn completely. Once again, police could be heard on the radio stating, “All right, Steve, we’re gonna go, er, we’re gonna go forward with the plan, with, er, with the burn [or burner]. We want it, er, like we talked about.” That was then followed by, “Seven burners deployed and we have a fire.”

Other police could be overheard on video recorded by a local TV station shouting, “We’re going to burn him out,” and “Burn this motherfucker!” It’s not exactly hard to put two and two together there. Nor is it hard to figure out why, although in theory people are supposed to have a trial before a death sentence is carried out.

A Police Tactic: Intentionally Burn People Alive

Images and statements coming out of San Francisco clearly show police intentionally set fire to a home despite knowing a person was inside. Police were angry that the man inside the home may have been responsible for shooting two police officers, and this is what police REVENGE and mob mentality looks like. No jury, no due process, no Constitutional rights.

A policeman of some rank within that department literally decided that this suspect no longer deserved to live and ordered that his house be set on fire, just like the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, TX and the SLA hideout in Los Angeles, CA and most recently, a cabin with former L.A. policeman Christopher Dorner inside. It seems the police reserve this special punishment for people they claim shot at them.

Newspaper reports regurgitating the police statements are stating that the “cause of the fire is still under investigation” as Deputy Bosques, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Spokesperson, claimed. Bosques said fumes from the gas canisters may have ignited the fire. However, the Fremont Fire Department already explained the cause as “coordinating an exterior fire attack” and that “This is a defensive fire. No firefighters going inside”. No need to investigate the cause of the fire is there? It was caused by a “coordinated fire attack”. Do police now have flame throwers like Marines used in the caves of Iwo Jima against Japanese soldiers?

“He told us he had a gun so we are not in any hurry,” said Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly after the fire started to engulf the home and firefighters stood nearby shooting water on adjacent homes, but not the one that was on fire. The body of the man was found huddled in the bottom of a charred closet.

Not long ago, the New York Post decried the burning alive of Jordanian pilot Muath al Kasasbeh and several others by ISIS as “the Return of the Dark Ages.” The horrific images were plastered all over the internet as the world condemned such inhuman acts. Well today, those dark ages returned to Fremont, California and the perpetrators weren’t foreign terrorists, they were American terrorists, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.

Americans will stand by and let this happen while at the same time declaring the ISIS rebels barbarians for doing the exact same thing. Is this what we have become? Is this what we allow police to do in the name of “protecting and serving.”

Most states have abolished the death penalty, but that doesn’t seem to stop police in America from skipping that messy court process and instituting their own form of death sentence; burning at the stake. American soldiers are not allowed to waterboard, but police burning someone alive is OK?

Can anyone please explain this to me?

– James McLynas
Candidate for Sheriff of Pinellas County 2016

2015 Was a Record Year For Exonerations of Wrongfully Convicted Prisoners

As originally reported by Mother Jones, a report from the University of Michigan Law School has declared that 2015 set a new record for the highest amount of people that have been freed after it was proven that they were wrongfully convicted. As detailed in the report, there were several reasons why innocent people ended up behind bars. that ranged from outright misconduct by prosecutors and police to those pressured into taking a plea bargain even though they were actually innocent.

Shockingly, there were actually 75 total cases in which no actual crime (even victimless ones) were even committed in the first place. Also, included within the 149 people released were five individuals awaiting the death penalty. Pointed out within the report is the fact that a combination of those two factors led to the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham in Texas, in spite of a wide range of evidence that the fire his three children died in was accidental and not a case of arson, for which he was convicted and subsequently killed.

It’s also worth noting that the vast majority of those wrongfully convicted resulted from the War On (Some) Drugs, many of which even if they had been valid would have involved non-violent victimless “crimes” in the first place.

Included below is the MotherJones.com article detailing the report and its conclusions:

Call it the Serial effect. According to a new report from the University of Michigan Law School’s National Registry of Exonerations, 2015 set a record for the number of wrongly convicted Americans who finally found justice. There were 149 people last year who were either declared innocent or otherwise cleared of the consequences of their convictions or guilty pleas. Many had served some lengthy prison time—the average exoneree had served nearly 15 years—for crimes they did not commit.

The data in the report paints a disturbing portrait of a criminal justice system riven with errors and official misconduct. Among the lowlights:

  • Innocent but pleaded guilty: An extraordinary number of the exonerations came in cases in which the defendants had pleaded guilty (65 out of 149), more than in any previous year since the registry started in 1989. These were mostly drug cases but also included eight homicides. Those who pleaded guilty to crimes they didn’t commit tended to be mentally ill, intellectually disabled, or under the threat of an even longer prison sentence should they try to go to trial.
  • No-crime crimes: Seventy-five exonerations came in cases where it turned out no crime had even been committed. A number of these were old murder cases involving arson. They brought to mind the sad story of Cameron Todd Willingham, whom Texas executed in 2004 for allegedly murdering his three children through arson, despite significant evidence that the forensic arson investigation that led to his conviction was mostly bogus. Those same sorts of bogus fire investigations played a role in five of six of the homicide cases that led to exonerations last year in cases where officials ruled that no crime had been committed. In those cases, the defendants were luckier than Willingham: The fires that led to their murder convictions were shown to be accidents, not arson, and their convictions were vacated.
  • False confessions: In 27 of the exonerations in 2015, including 22 homicide cases, the defendants confessed to crimes they hadn’t committed. Many of these people were juveniles, mentally ill, or intellectually disabled—precisely the folks currently overrepresented on death row.
  • Official misconduct: Prosecutors and cops don’t come out looking good in the new report. Official misconduct was a factor in 75 percent of the homicide exonerations, a number that’s even bigger in the cases where there were false confessions. Eighty-two percent of those were the product of misconduct by cops or prosecutors.
  • Death penalty errors: Five of the exonerees in 2015 were death row inmates, three of whom had been there more than 20 years—more evidence of serious flaws in the capital punishment system.

National Registry of Exonerations

The exonerations were clustered in jurisdictions where local prosecutors had made significant efforts to reform their practices to prevent wrongful convictions. The largest number came from Harris County, Texas, where a new assistant district attorney in the post-conviction review section discovered that a lot of the cases coming through her office involved defendants who’d pleaded guilty to a drug crime, only to have lab work come back months later showing that the stuff cops had seized from the defendants wasn’t actually a controlled substance.

Washington Post columnist Radley Balko has dug into this issue and found that Harris County isn’t the only place with the problem. The field tests cops use to test for drugs are notoriously unreliable, and they’ve mistaken everything from chocolate chip cookies to cheese and tortilla dough for drugs. Nonetheless, the false guilty pleas—usually made under pressure and the threat of even longer prison sentences from a jury trial—often aren’t thrown out when later testing finds an absence of drugs. In 2014, the Harris County district attorney’s office launched a Conviction Integrity Unit to try addressing such problems. The result is a startling number of drug crime exonerations just from that one office—73 of them so far.

Such units within prosecutors’ offices offer hope for reforms to the criminal justice system. But the new report suggests they have a mixed record that can depend largely on the drive of an individual prosecutor rather than systemic support. Harris County has shown lots of promise, as has a unit in Brooklyn, which has been responsible for the exoneration of 16 murder defendants in the past two years. A more discouraging example came in New Orleans, which launched a Conviction Integrity Unit during the district attorney’s reelection campaign, in partnership with the local Innocence Project. According to the report, the unit kicked off in January 2015, worked on a single exoneration, and gave it up a year later.

Media accounts and shows like Serial and Making a Murderer have raised awareness about the problems with the criminal justice system and the prevalence of wrongful convictions, but the report urges caution before declaring victory. “As with climate change, the significance of the issue of false convictions is now widely acknowledged, despite committed doubters,” the authors write. “In other respects, we are far behind. We have no measure of the magnitude of the problem, no general plan for how to address it, and certainly no general commitment to do so. We’ve made a start, but that’s all.”

Innocent Man Horribly Maimed by LAPD Has Filed Lawsuit

Walter Deleon, the unarmed and completely innocent man who was shot by LAPD officers on June 19th, filed a lawsuit against the city and police department last week. Deleon lost a quarter of his skull, as well as most of his eyesight and his ability to walk when he was shot by Officer Cairo Palacios.

At the time he was shot Deleon was trying to flag Palacios and his partner down in order to ask for help. The “justification” for (literally) blowing Deleon’s brains out was that he was “walking aggressively,” had a towel in his hand, and refused to drop a non-existent gun when ordered to.

Via Fox News:

Palacios’ attorney, Gary Fullerton, said the shooting was within departmental policy because Palacios was convinced that a towel wrapped around DeLeon’s hand was hiding a gun and that he and his partner were in imminent danger.

“He basically forced their hand to deal with him,” Fullerton said. “In the matter of a couple seconds they have to make a choice, and the choice is, ‘Do I let him shoot me first and then fire?’ or ‘Do I shoot first and defend myself?'”

Soon after DeLeon was shot, a police spokesman said Palacios and another officer were driving in stop-and-go traffic when they saw DeLeon walk aggressively toward them on a sidewalk.

Police Cmdr. Andrew Smith, a department spokesman, said DeLeon’s hands were clasped together and wrapped in a gray cloth, and that the officers believed he had a gun. Smith said DeLeon was shot after ignoring orders to drop the gun.

Walter Deleon LAPD Shooting Law SuitDeLeon’s attorney, Ben Meiselas, said DeLeon had a towel wrapped around his hand to wipe the sweat from his brow on a hot summer day, and that DeLeon had been flagging down the officers for help, though he said his client can’t remember why.

“The next thing he was shot, and the next thing he remembers is he was in the hospital,” Meiselas said. “This is the most catastrophic of catastrophic injuries and it affects every aspect of life — physical, economic, family. It’s a total destruction of self and self-worth, and the only way to rebuild is through this process we’re initiating.”

DeLeon lost a quarter of his skull, almost all his eyesight and the ability to walk. He still has his memory and most cognitive functions but has trouble speaking.

He spent five months in the hospital, underwent 10 surgeries and is completely dependent on his family’s care.

“My whole life was turned upside-down,” DeLeon told The Associated Press through tears.

His sister and primary caregiver, Yovanna DeLeon, said her brother has lost everything most people take for granted.

“We get up, we get ourselves dressed and ready to eat, we go about our day … My brother will never be able to do that again,” she said. “If this had been a normal citizen that had done this to Walter, that person would have never seen the light of day.”

The DeLeons are seeking unspecified damages. They also want Palacios to face criminal charges and for the department to make changes to ensure no similar shootings ever happen again.

Quite obviously, Deleon will get a huge payday out of this, but I have zero doubt that given the option he (nor anyone else) would choose to have a quarter of their skull shot off in exchange for however many millions the taxpayers of Los Angeles will be forced to pay him on Palacios’ behalf.

Beyond that, the bigger lesson here is that at this point police have permission to murder anybody they wish, with as little reasoning required than the mere presence of something in their hand. Regardless of how benign that object might be, there’s absolutely no chance that they might face any sort of repercussions for their actions.

Beating Of Black Woman By CHP Officer Deemed “Legal And Necessary”

On Thursday, the Los Angeles District Attorney completed his “investigation” of the vicious videotaped beating of a 51 year old black woman on the side of the I-10 freeway by CHP Officer Daniel Andrew. In what shouldn’t be a surprise, Dist. Atty. Jackie Laceydetermined that Andrew’s July 2014 assault on Marlene Pinnock as she was pinned on her back on the ground was both “legal and necessary.” In addition, the report from the LA District Attorney’s Office states, there is “insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the force he used was unreasonable or excessive.”

Via the LA Times:

“When looking at all of the evidence, and especially the medical reports and eyewitness accounts, it becomes exceedingly clear that the officer, who was alone and struggling with Ms. Pinnock precariously close to evening freeway traffic, acted within the law,” Lacey said. “In our analysis, his use of force was legal and necessary to protect not only his own life but also that of Ms. Pinnock.”

Lacey also noted that the officer also had a duty to protect freeway commuters from a potentially dangerous situation had Pinnock gotten away from him and walked onto the freeway. Prosecutors relied on medical records, eyewitness accounts, recordings of 911 calls and multiple patrol car dash camera videos of the incident as part of the investigation.

Several eyewitnesses were interviewed, including three who said they saw Pinnock strike the officer and four who said they thought Andrew was trying to save Pinnock from wandering into freeway traffic and being killed or injured.

One of the witnesses is quoted in the report saying, “at a point I agreed with what the cop did … you know, he had to get her. He had to apprehend her. He had to throw her on the floor. The part where it gets deceptive is when he starts punching. That’s when it felt like that it was unnecessary … after the first two, it was, it was, he should have stopped.”

Equally unsurprisingly, many within the LA area, as well as advocates against police brutality nationwide, weren’t quite so convinced that it was necessary or that it should be legal. They also questioned the timing of the announcement being so close to the San Bernardino shootings.

(Also via the LA Times)

“We believe it came by design,” civil rights activist Najee Ali said of the timing of Lacey’s announcement. “The whole nation’s eyes are on the … tragedy in San Bernardino. The fact she [Lacey] slid this in, the timing is very suspect and it demonstrates cowardice.”

Apparently, a video showing a 51 year old woman being repeatedly punched (at least 10 times) by a man, who is probably half her age and likely at least twice her size, after she’s already being held down just isn’t sufficient enough to indicate excessive force within the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. In fact, it obviously was necessary for her own safety.

Officer Andrew was forced to resign as part of a 1.5 million dollar settlement the California Highway Patrol forced the residents of California to pay Pinnock to make up for Andrew’s actions.

Video on Incident by Pete Eyre

Original Video