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Update: Two Years Later the TSA is STILL Keeping You Safe Five Percent of the Time

Transportation Security Administration TSA Failed 95 Percent

Once again, TSA inspectors have failed to find 95% of the mock weapons sent through checkpoints by Homeland Security agents working undercover.

Just over two years ago, in June of 2015, I posted about tests Homeland Security had run at airports across the country. In those tests, undercover agents were sent through pre-boarding checkpoints run by the Transportation Security Administration. (Video from that original post is embedded below.)

Those agents carried realistic looking weapons and explosive devices past TSA screeners in order to determine how often the “weapons” would be detected. This included replicas of pistols, knives, nunchucks, tasers, ammunition, and even defused hand grenades.

Out of 70 items that should have been stopped, TSA screeners found a grand total of three of them. As I noted, at the time that translates to a failure rate of 95%. Not exactly a number that will make you feel happy as you stand in the giant line at the security checkpoint next time you fly somewhere.

Surely they’ve addressed those issues in those 2+ years and improved dramatically, though. After all, you could seemingly stumble into a higher level of success just by randomly guessing which passengers have some sort of contraband in their luggage. Right?

Not so much, according to the Washington Times:

Undercover federal agents successfully snuck drugs and explosives past security screeners at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport last week, according to the local Fox affiliate.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) conducted the test last Thursday by sending agents disguised as ordinary passengers into the airport in order to see if screeners were up to snuff, KMSP reported.

The TSA “red team” attempted to smuggle 18 different items past airport security that should easily be detected but prevailed almost every time, the Fox affiliate reported.

“In most cases, they succeeded in getting the banned items through. 17 out of 18 tries by the undercover federal agents saw explosive materials, fake weapons or drugs pass through TSA screening undetected,” KMSP reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the operation.
In fact, it could have even been worse this time:

The security test was ultimately abandoned once the TSA’s failure rate reached 95 percent, the station reported.

So, before the Mercy Rule was invoked, the TSA screeners in Minneapolis had successfully found a weapon being smuggled onto a plane once. Which, like 2015, equates to just five percent of the time.

Basically, when you eliminate groping people; especially underage passengers, taking lewd photos of unsuspecting women, and stealing shit out of your luggage, they just aren’t very proficient at what they do. (To be fair, they do seem to be pretty good at finding spare change passengers being subjected to their ineffectual security theater leave behind.)

Truth be told, they actually couldn’t be much less useful (and would be quite a bit less annoying and exploitative) if they just slept through their shift, like the guy in the picture at the top of this post.

Minneapolis – St. Paul TSA Screeners Fail Yet Again

Successful Five Percent of the Time in 2015

Groping People to Keep You Safe Almost Never

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Nevada Cop Block Will Be Attending Freedom Fest 2017 and the Anthem Film Festival

Freedom Fest Las Vegas Nevada Cop Block CopBlockThis year, members of Nevada Cop Block will be attending Freedom Fest, which is held annually here in Las Vegas. Freedom Fest 2017, which will be hosted by the Paris Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, marks the tenth anniversary of the “world’s largest libertarian gathering.”

The theme for the Freedom Fest this year is, “Exploring New Frontiers.” A title that is no doubt inspired by the fact that Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, will be serving as a keynote speaker this year. Other notable speakers include John Stossel, Steve Forbes (whose 70th birthday will be incorporated into the events), Nick Gillespie, and John McAffee, along with many more. In addition, as always, there will be multiple panel discussions, debates, and breakout sessions devoted to libertarian ideas and theories.

The Police on Trial

What I expect to be one of the highlights will be the mock trial that this year features “the police on trial.” It is described this way on the event site:

What is the state of policing in America? Are the police overstepping their bounds and eroding the rights of citizens? What about the safety of the police officers who have promised to protect and serve? Fox Business host Kennedy, who hosts her own show on Fox Business, is back as the judge in our mock trial, the most popular event at FreedomFest.

This year we’ll put “The Police on Trial,” accused of violating property rights (through civil asset forfeitures), racial discrimination, and using excessive force with SWAT team and individual arrests. She’ll oversee prosecuting attorney Neill Franklin (Baltimore Police Department), defending attorney Larry Elder (popular radio talk show host), and star witnesses Adam Bates (Cato), Daniel Franklin (NAACP), Larry Burns (Las Vegas Police Department), and Dan Bongino (NYPD, Secret Service). Not to be missed.
FreedomFest Mock Trial Police Las Vegas Nevada Cop BlockThat should be interesting. (I say: Guilty as charged. Watch the video here and see what their verdict was: https://youtu.be/z3eftVK8rFE)

Anthem Film Festival

The other major attraction of Freedom Fest is the Anthem Film Festival, which has accompanied it for the past seven years. The stated goal of the film festival, which includes, documentaries, narrative films, and short features, is to provide a venue for filmmakers who care about individuality and libertarian ideals. In addition to the screenings, each film also features a panel discussion with those involved in making them afterwards.

Of course, if you’ve followed Nevada Cop Block recently you also know that the film festival has special relevance this year for Las Vegas and anti-police brutality activists working within the city. On Thursday, July 20th, at 3:20pm, the documentary “What Happened in Vegas,” by Ramsey Denison, will be screening inside the Versailles 3 Theater.

As I’ve already described several times on this site, “What Happened in Vegas” details the many crimes, corruption, and cover-ups of the LVMPD. Along with other local cases of abuse, racism, and police brutality, it focuses on the murders of Trevon Cole, Erik Scott, Stanley Gibson, and Tashii Farmer-Brown by Las Vegas police officers, as well as the cover-ups that followed them. (See below for the official movie trailer and links to related posts on NVCopBlock.org.)

The post screening panel will also include a press conference attended by the mother and other family members of Tashii Farmer-Brown. This will be the first public appearance by Brown’s family since he was murdered by LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera at the Venetian Hotel and Casino on May 14th. Lopera has since been charged with involuntary manslaughter, after the local community reacted with outrage at his actions.

Brown had approached Ofc. Lopera and another Metro officer requesting help. Instead of being treated like someone needing help he was instead treated like a criminal even though he was not suspected of or wanted in connection with any crime at the time. After he became afraid and tried to leave, he was chased, beaten, tased seven times, and eventually choked to death by Lopera.

Personally, I’m looking forward to Freedom Fest and especially to the screening of “What Happened in Vegas” during the Anthem Film Festival. Hopefully, you’re going to be there, too. If you see me or one of the other members of Nevada Cop Block out there say hello.

“What Happened in Vegas” Trailer

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Missouri Trooper Charged With Manslaughter in Drowning Of Handcuffed Man Pleas to “Boating Violation” (Update)

Brandon Ellingson Drowning Lake of the Ozarks Missouri Trooper Anthony Piercy

Shortly before his trial was set to begin, Missouri State Trooper Anthony Piercy was given a plea deal that reduces the charge he was facing for the May 2014 drowning of Brandon Ellingson from a felony charge to a low level misdemeanor. As a result, he will face a maximum sentence of just six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.

Also, as part of that deal, he can withdraw the plea if the prosecution recommends jail time. So, essentially it guarantees that the worst punishment he will possibly get is a short probation sentence and a small fine.

Piercy had originally been charged with involuntary manslaughter for his actions that led to the death of Ellingson. Witnesses also testified that he failed to make any attempt to rescue Brandon while he was drowning. Instead, the Trooper was allowed to plea down to a charge of “negligent operation of a vessel,” a minor boating violation that is essentially equivalent to a traffic ticket.

As has been reported previously here on Nevada Cop Block, Ellingson was arrested by Trooper Piercy for boating while intoxicated at the Lake of Ozarks. Prior to transporting him back to shore, Piercy handcuffed Ellingson’s hands behind his back and subsequently incorrectly placed a life vest over his arms. He also reportedly was traveling too fast in a State Water Patrol boat.

Due to that excessive speed, Ellingson was thrown out of the boat when it hit a large wake. The improperly secured life vest came off soon after Ellingson was knocked into the water. He was then unable to remain afloat and also unable to swim with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Later, Trooper Piercy told several lies in an effort to avoid responsibility for Brandon Ellingson’s preventable death. One of those lies was that Ellingson had intentionally jumped out of the boat. Also, during a phone call with his supervisor (embedded below), Piercy claimed that he attempted to save Ellingson once he went overboard. Among other things in that call, he claimed that he was sore from having “tread water” while trying to pull Ellingson out of the lake, implying that he had jumped in after him.

However, independent witnesses aboard a private boat that came upon the location where Ellingson drowned contradicted those claims. According to the occupants of that boat, Piercy only held a pole out toward him and never made any effort to jump in the water even when they screamed at him to do so. In addition, the captain of that boat, Jim Bascue, stated that none of them knew at the time that Ellingson was restrained by handcuffs. Bascue stated that had he known that he would have jumped in and saved Elllingson himself.

Ellingson’s father begrudgingly accepted the plea deal (see first video embedded below):

“This is the best we were going to get here,” said Craig Ellingson. “It would have been a hung jury, or he would have gotten off. I didn’t want to risk the chance we wouldn’t get the opportunity to see him face to face and say what we want to say. Now we get that. We know what he’s guilty of.”

The trial would have been held in Piercy’s hometown of Versailles, which has just over 2,000 residents, most of whom have some connection to him or his family.

Other family members, including Brandon’s mother, Sherry Ellingson, were more outspoken about the complete lack of justice this deal represents. (Via KansasCity.com):

For Sherry Ellingson, the plea Tuesday did nothing to ease her pain. A trial, she said, would have further exposed how Piercy did little to help her son before he sank in handcuffs to the bottom of the lake and how the patrol then tried to conceal the truth of what happened.

“I don’t really give a care what his punishment is, but I wanted his record to say ‘manslaughter,’ ” Sherry Ellingson told The Star. “If anyone says that justice has now been served, you have got to be kidding me. In what way?”

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Update: Second Mistrial Declared; Cincinnati Cop Ray Tensing Gets Away With Murder of Sam Dubose

For the second time, a jury has stated that it was deadlocked and unable to reach a decision on charges filed against University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing for the July 2015 murder of Sam Dubose. (See videos embedded below for body camera footage of that murder.) The jury initially indicated this morning that it was unable to reach a decision, but were told to go back and continue deliberating. Later this afternoon they returned and stated they were still deadlocked. As a result, Hamilton County Judge Leslie Ghiz has declared a mistrial.

Although it hasn’t been officially announced yet, there won’t be a third trial. So that effectively means Tensing has officially joined the ever expanding club of police officers who have gotten away with murder, including three just this week alone (Tensing, Milwaukee Police Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, and St. Paul Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez).

Of course, in order to have their killings declared justified all police officers need to do is state that they “feared for my life” and in order to get a mistrial they just need one of the twelve members of a jury to buy that rationalization. So that bar is incredibly low and that’s mostly by design. The system itself is tilted heavily in their favor and those running that system not only are their friends and co-workers, but have the further incentive of self preservation to push it even further in that direction.

In Tensing’s case, he claimed that he was in danger of being run over by Dubose as he attempted to drive away from a traffic stop the University of Cincinnati police officer had initiated because of a missing front license plate.

Via NBC News:

Tensing asked DuBose for his driver’s license and registration, which he failed to provide. The officer then ordered him to step out of his car and tried to open the door, but DuBose refused. The car began to pull away

With one hand still inside the car, Tensing yelled, “Stop! Stop!” before firing his gun at DuBose, striking him in the head. The car then began traveling out of control before coming to a stop.

Tensing’s bodycam captured the incident.

The men had a conversation for about one minute and 50 seconds before it escalated with Tensing and DuBose in a struggle. Within just a few seconds, Tensing fired his gun.

Two other officers were on scene, and their body cameras captured other angles of the shooting’s aftermath.

Those alternate angles captured by the other officers on the scene, as well as testimony from experts who examined those videos, contradicted Tensing’s claims that he was being dragged by, and in danger of being run over by, Dubose’s car.

It’s also been questioned whether the stop for something as trivial as a front license plate was merely an excuse used to justify a racially motivated profiling of Dubose. Officer Tensing’s unusually frequent history of traffic stops (when compared to other University of Cincinnati police officers) and the high percentage of minorities involved in those stops bolsters those claims.

Of course, the judges, prosecutors, and media are usually on the side of the cops and the general public is taught from the day they are born to believe cops are heroes that never lie or do anything bad. So it’s not that hard for them to at least find that one juror who will refuse to find a cop guilty, regardless of the actual facts presented during a trial. That’s a big part of why it’s almost impossible to convict a police officer regardless of the actual facts on the rare occasions when they get caught doing something outrageous enough to get charged in the first place.

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Update: Officer Jeronimo Yanez the Latest Cop to Get Away With Murder After Philando Castille Verdict

Earlier this afternoon, a jury in Minnesota reached a verdict in the trial of St. Anthony Police Officer Jeromino Yanez. Yanez had been charged with second degree manslaughter after he shot Philando Castille seven times in July of 2016. At the time Yanez decided to start shooting, Castille was reaching for his ID that Yanez had asked him for seconds earlier. Presumably, Officer Yanez was afraid that he was instead reaching for a (legally registered) gun that Castille had informed him of. Castille’s girlfriend, who was also in the car along with their four year old daughter, live-streamed, via Facebook Live, his final moments and her own treatment by the police after the shooting. (Video embedded below.) Philando Castille’s “crime” consisted of having a broken taillight.

Sadly, but not at all surprisingly, the verdict that was announced was “not guilty.” The glaring reality that cases like this and those of Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby, who was also issued a license to murder just last month, serve as grim reminders of is that, even on the rare occasions when cops are charged with a crime after unnecessarily killing someone, it’s close to impossible for them to be convicted. Of course, even beyond the basic pre-conditioning of society of the provably false notions that the police are always right and never lie, the deck is always stacked in their favor during these show trials.

A judge controls what evidence can be presented to the jury and what will instead be excluded because it is “inflammatory” or prejudicial. Meanwhile, the onus of presenting that evidence falls to the prosecutor’s office, who work with the police on a daily basis and are dependent on maintaining good relations with them for every other case they pursue. Most trials against police officers are as much a forfeit as they are a loss.

Not only that but the bar is set incredibly low for police officers, even when they kill people that were clearly innocent. All they have to do is wear their Magic Uniform (sometimes they don’t even have to do that) and use those Magic Words, “I feared for my life.” That fear doesn’t have to be justified or even in any way rational. A cop simply has to state that they were afraid and it’s up to the prosecution to somehow prove that this heroic, fearless defender of the public was not in fact afraid for no good reason.

Plus, the media always does their part for the home team helping to glorify the heroic cop and demonizing the victim. Regardless of the circumstances or what you can see with your lying eyes on a video it’s always portrayed as a “tragic mistake” or that victim’s fault. Then they build up sympathy for the killer cops by telling you how much they have already suffered by losing their job and feeling really bad about what they did (oftentimes in spite of evidence to the contrary).

Of course, anyone else charged with a crime generally also ends ups being fired and rarely has the unwavering support of a police union to cushion that blow. yet, nobody says they should just walk free based on that “hardship.” Not to mention the deadly consequences of those officers’ actions inflicted upon those they kill and their families afterwards.

I’ve warned cops and their cult of followers in the past, and in spite of the fact I know there’s pretty much zero chance they will listen, I’ll warn them again: accountability is something you should be seeking for your own sake, as well as for the sake of common decency and there are consequences when you actively work to prevent it.

No justice, no peace” isn’t always just a catchy little slogan to be chanted.

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