The Daily Signal: Inside the Push to Make It Harder for Government to ‘Steal’ Property, Cash in America’s Heartland

Michelle Alexander discusses the problems with forfeiture laws or, in other words, when the police take property from the public. Indeed, “A report from the Institute for Justice found that from 2000 to 2014, state law enforcement agencies reported nearly $99 million in forfeiture proceeds, of which 72 percent came from cash seizures. Current state law allows agencies to keep up to 100 percent of forfeiture proceeds.” Melissa Quinn published this beautifully written article about ‘policing for profit’ to which I share with you but can be viewed in its entirety here. Enjoy. Continue reading

WP: Judge weighs delaying Bland wrongful-death lawsuit trial

The Texas state trooper who pulled over Sandra Bland and now faces a perjury charge in the case remains on the payroll even as a federal judge heard arguments Thursday on whether a wrongful death lawsuit should be delayed until he’s tried in criminal court.

Brian Encinia deserves a fair criminal trial on the misdemeanor, said Seth Dennis, an assistant Texas attorney general.

“Let the criminal case play out,” Dennis urged the judge….

This and other cases are highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement. Time magazine covered a story where “[t]he nation’s first African American president convened a group of activists, both young and old, for a discussion on how he can spend his final year in office tackling issues that impact the black community—from criminal justice reform to police-community relations.” Although some say the movement is decentralized, certainly the case of Sandra Bland is not falling through the cracks as the officer was indicated for perjury:

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NPR: Judge Tosses Case Against Alabama Officer Accused Of Injuring Indian Man

 

NPR news reported this account of police misconduct, the video which clearly shows someone not resisting in any way….

A federal judge in Alabama has thrown out a civil rights case against a former Madison, Ala., police officer accused of using excessive force on an unarmed Indian man last February. Sureshbhai Patel, who was 57 years old at the time, suffered serious injuries.

Patel had been walking around his son’s neighborhood during a family visit to the United States. Police received a call about a “skinny black man” in the neighborhood. Parker said that Patel, who does not understand English, did not obey his commands. The confrontation, in which Parker is seen slamming Patel to the ground and falling on top of him, was caught on video.

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Wash. Post: Prosecutors will seek murder charges against Georgia officer who shot an unarmed, naked black man

The  Washington Post reported that a Police Officer killed a “Anthony Hill, an Afghanistan war veteran who was naked and unarmed when he was killed.” The article continued on stating that…

Prosecutors in DeKalb County, Ga., will seek a criminal indictment of the police officer who in March 2015 fatally shot Anthony Hill, an Afghanistan war veteran who was naked and unarmed when he was killed.

DeKalb District Attorney Robert James said Thursday that he will recommend a criminal grand jury indict Officer Robert Olsen on two counts of felony murder, two counts of violation of an officer’s oath, aggravated assault and making a false statement.

“Our decision is that we’re going forward on an indictment,” James said. “Ultimately it is going to be up to a grand jury as to whether or not Officer Robert Olsen is charged with felony murder.”….

//www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/7ccb1df6-9c7f-11e5-9ad2-568d814bbf3b

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Houston Chronicle: Grand jury indicts, DPS to fire trooper who arrested Sandra Bland

Although it often occurs without further scrutiny, police are rarely indicted for giving false testimony under oath.

The state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old African-American woman who was found dead three days later in her Waller County jail cell, has been indicted on perjury charges, a special prosecutor said.

Hours after the decision was announced, the Texas Department of Public Safety said it was initiating termination proceedings against Brian Encinia, the 30-year-old trooper who last July stopped Bland for failing to signal a lane change and arrested her.

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Wash. Post: Justice Dept. launches investigation into the Chicago Police Department’s use of force

The Justice Department will investigate the Chicago Police Department to see whether the force “has engaged in a pattern or practice of violation of the Constitution or federal law,” Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced Monday.

“Our investigation is focused on use of force and the accountability within the police department,” Lynch said.

The probe follows similar federal civil rights investigations that were launched in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, in the wake of unrest in both cities. In Chicago, federal investigators will look at how officers use deadly force and examine any racial or ethnic disparities in how force is employed, as well as how the department handles discipline and allegations of misconduct.

This investigation into the country’s second-largest local police department comes less than two weeks after the Chicago force came under the national spotlight because of recently released video footage showing a white police officer fatally shooting a black teenager. The Washington Postfirst reported Sunday that the Justice Department would open this investigation, putting Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s force under the microscope of his former colleagues in the Obama administration.

Read the rest of the article at the Washington Post; the Wall Street Journal also reported a similar story.

ABC News: Chicago Cops’ Versions of Teen’s Killing at Odds With Video

ABC News recently provided an update to the story of Laquan McDonald:

Police officers who watched a colleague shoot a black Chicago teenager 16 times filed reports depicting a very different version of events than what dashcam footage showed, portraying the teen as far more menacing than he appeared in the video.

The city released hundreds of pages of documents late Friday pertaining to the October 2014 killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Jason Van Dyke, a white police officer. Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder last month, only hours before the department released the video under a court order, sparking protests and accusations of a cover-up.

Chicago Sun-Times quoted the Mayor of Chicago, responding then to the investigation by the Federal Government: Continue reading

Chicago Shooting & NYT: The Real Problem with Police Video

The New York Times in a recent opinion page stated that “A CHICAGO police officer shot and killed a teenager named Laquan McDonald in October of last year, but most of us learned about Mr. McDonald only last week, after a judge ordered the release of police video footage of his death. That is also when prosecutors finally brought first-degree murder charges against the officer. Clearly, such footage has considerable power.”

Why did it take a year for the release of the video which prompted first-degree murder charges? Perhaps it is obvious but as the New York Times states, it is because the police own the video footage recorded by most of these camera programs and, as described in the article, the body cameras.

About a third of police departments in the United States have started to use body cameras, and they typically have almost complete control over the programs. Police departments decide when cameras should be rolling, how long the footage is stored, who gets to see it and how it can be used in the future. Individual officers operate the record button, and their supervisors decide what happens when those officers fail to comply with the department’s recording policy (usually, not much).

The author of the article, a staff attorney at the Bronx Defenders went on to write about the issues facing the New York Police Body Camera Program:

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Miami Herald: Amid a series of police-involved shootings in Miami-Dade, a search for patterns …

“Over one six-day stretch over the past two weeks, South Florida police officers shot seven people. Two of them died. Four who survived were teenagers. Three of the teens were inside a truck. One of those shot was a reputed gang member. The two who died suffered from mental illness.”

The Miami Herald published the above content on November 22, 2015.

NYT: Appeals Court Rules for Transcripts in Eric Garner Case to Remain Sealed…

The New York Times continues coverage on Eric Garner, the African American man who was choked to death by a New York City Police Office: “The decision by the Court of Appeals, in a six-word ruling published on its website, ended a yearlong legal effort to pry open records from the private proceeding. The grand jury declined to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo or other New York police officers involved in wrestling Mr. Garner to the ground during an arrest in July 2014 on Staten Island. Mr. Garner, who was suspected of selling loose cigarettes on a sidewalk near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, was declared dead about an hour later at a hospital.

The court’s ruling leaves in place another decision by an intermediate appellate court. In July, a four-judge panel of the Appellate Division in Brooklyn ruled unanimously against releasing the information, which was being sought by the city’s public advocate, the Legal Aid Society, the New York Civil Liberties Union and the N.A.A.C.P. The appellate judges cited the “dangers inherent in violating the secrecy of the grand jury process.”

The grand jury’s decision last December spurred protests across New York and beyond, and amplified national calls for changes in police practices and to the grand jury system. Grand juries, which by law operate in secret, have rarely brought charges against police officers for fatal on-duty actions. Continue reading