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Member since: Sat Jun 23, 2012, 05:03 PM
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Journal Archives

How and why you should record the police

*But civilians should not only record law enforcement while a serious incident is occurring, said Mary Angela Bock, an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism who researches photojournalism practice and ethics.

“All citizens should be in the habit of documenting the public work of police in public places,” she said, “It shouldn’t be only in times of crisis, and not just people in groups that are marginalized in society. Everyone needs to make it a respectful habit.”

So what should this kind of civilian monitoring look like? Simple, said Bock: “It would look like journalism.”

Documenting public officials at work, she said, is what journalists do every day.

“Now that everybody can be a journalist, everybody needs to learn the ethics and think like one,” Bock said.

Should you find yourself in the position to be a citizen journalist, heed these tips from Bock and the ACLU’s Stanley:

More: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/6-rules-follow-citizen-journalist/

Posted by damnedifIknow | Fri Apr 10, 2015, 09:22 PM (11 replies)

The police can’t police themselves. And now the public is too scared to cooperate with them.

When Feidin Santana recorded Walter Scott’s murder, his first thought was fear of reprisal from police. In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Santana said he was tempted to delete the video and move for his own safety. Though he ultimately gave the video to Scott’s family, who then turned it over to the press, he still fears reprisals. Like Scott’s family, Santana didn’t trust the police to do the right thing with the evidence, and why should he? He saw an officer, Michael Slager, shoot an unarmed man in the back, plant evidence on the body and stand calmly as fellow officers arrived at the scene and did nothing to help the dying man on the ground. "

*Whether the example is the Burge torture case in Chicago that spanned nine years of police brutality with 110 documented victims, the decision of Atlanta officers to posthumously frame 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston after she was killed during a botched “no knock” drug raid, or the bizarre attempt to frame Marcus Jeter for crimes he didn’t commit during a traffic stop in New Jersey, there’s no shortage of examples around the country that abuse of police power can happen anywhere. Factor in the Rampart scandal in Los Angeles, proof that officers with the New York Police Department planted drugs on suspects, recent Justice Department reports illustrating widespread problems with excessive force and biased policing in Ferguson, Mo., Cleveland and Seattle, and it becomes clear why Mr. Santana didn’t feel he could trust the police. "

*Despite the physical harm done to victims of police misconduct, and the high financial cost of lawsuits for taxpayers, there is very little being done to curb the problem.

Police unions have a long history of fighting against corrective measures in ways that range from near riots to work stoppages. As a result, investigations of misconduct are often conducted by members of the same police department. These internal units are theoretically separate from the rest of the force, but members went to the same police academy, served in the same precincts, and are not exactly the unbiased objective investigators that would be needed. "

Posted by damnedifIknow | Fri Apr 10, 2015, 05:59 PM (7 replies)

What We Know About the 2013 Excessive Force Complaint Against SC Police Officer

Two years before Police Officer Michael Slager was charged with murder this week for shooting an unarmed black man in North Charleston, South Carolina, Slager was the subject of an excessive force complaint by another unarmed black man.

One morning in September 2013, Mario Givens was asleep at his North Charleston home when Slager banged on his door and demanded to be let in, Givens said. Slager didn't identify himself as a police officer, Givens, 33, said at a news conference today.

Givens said he was then told to put his hands up. "I threw my hands up and he still tased me," Givens said.

An attorney for Givens said today they are planning to sue after a review of the complaint "exonerated" Slager.

"If they had even tried to listen to me and investigate him, [Walter Scott] would have been alive because [Slager] wouldn't have been an officer in the field," Givens said. "

* Givens said the electric shock from the Taser was painful and caused him to fall and injure his arm. He said he started yelling for his mother after the shock. "Thank God my mom had been there," Givens said, otherwise it would have been "a lot worse."

Givens was then dragged outside, handcuffed and put in a police car, according to an earlier interview he gave to the Associated Press.

The narrative from the police report obtained by ABC News says Givens "refused to exit the residence and tried to close the door because he is afraid of the police."

Givens was initially accused of resisting arrest, he told the AP, but was later released without being charged.

It turns out the police had been looking for Givens' brother,"

*Slager "was cocky," Brown told the AP. "It looked like he wanted to hurt him. There was no need to tase him. ... He was no threat -- and we told him he had the wrong man."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Thu Apr 9, 2015, 10:52 PM (0 replies)

Video of Walter Scott killing is but a glimpse of police misconduct

A generation ago, when someone complained of police misconduct, we would learn that a police spokesperson denied the accusation and that was that. Because we were not there and did not know those involved, it was impossible to draw any conclusions. There was also an understandable reluctance to believe that the local department would spread falsehoods. Now more and more incidents are captured in cellphone videos, and that means citizens can judge for themselves whether the police broke the law. Smartphones are providing us with a glimpse of the widespread abuse that policymakers have been ignoring for years and changing the world of American policing."

*The first thing to note is that Scott was about 20 feet from Slager and was running away, not toward him. To elude capture, lots of criminals run from the police. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that cops can only use deadly force against a fleeing suspect if that person poses a serious danger to the police or others. So, for example, if a criminal shoots at schoolchildren and then turns and runs in another direction, the police would be justified in firing their weapons. But a cop breaks the law if he shoots out of anger or frustration simply because his quarry is about to get away. And that's what seems to have happened with Slager."

*Policing in the United States is decentralized among thousands of cities and counties — so professional and ethical standards will vary. Still, it seems safe to say that too many officer-involved shootings receive little scrutiny. What occurred in South Carolina was not an anomaly, it just happened to be caught on video."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Thu Apr 9, 2015, 09:15 PM (4 replies)

Flood of US police shootings spurs action

Washington: The shaky phone video of a white police officer shooting an unarmed black man eight times in the back in South Carolina on Saturday is shocking, but not that surprising.

After a spate of high-profile killings, Americans are now confronting the ugly reality that its police kill its citizens far more often than those of other western nations."

Last week the left-leaning political blog Daily Kos noted that in March alone police in America shot 111 people, while UK police have killed 52 since 1900.

What is frustrating those trying to study the killings, is that no-one really knows how many people American police kill each year.

Though the FBI keeps a database of justifiable police homicides, it is based on reports volunteered by a tiny fraction of American police forces. There is no compulsion on the nation's estimated 18,000 police forces to report their justifiable killings."

Nor does the FBI database include any unjustified killings.

Still, the database reveals that in 2011 American police justifiably shot dead at least 404 people. Over the same period Australian police killed six people, German police killed six and English and Welsh killed two."

*I was rather surprised to find there are no statistics", a former FBI agent and criminal justice professor, Jim Fisher, told the Washington Post last year. "The answer to me is pretty obvious: the government just doesn't want us to know how many people are shot by the police every year".

In the face of this great void of information many groups have now begun projects to gather the data."

*In the end though, he believes American police officers kill more people than their colleagues in Britain and Australia because they can do so with almost complete impunity.

"They do it because they can", he says. "If more officers were indicted I think there would be fewer killings".

Posted by damnedifIknow | Thu Apr 9, 2015, 10:33 AM (8 replies)

Media Had Already Bought Police's Fantasy Version of Walter Scott Killing Before Video Surfaced

*Before this shocking video surfaced, however, most of the local press coverage, per usual, followed the police’s official narrative and amplified a storyline that, in retrospect, was entirely made up.

The Scott shooting, as Think Progress’s Judd Ledgum pointed out, provides unique insight into the way the police use inherent asymmetry of information to assert their narrative:

Between the time when he shot and killed Scott early Saturday morning and when charges were filed, Slager — using the both the police department and his attorney — was able to provide his “version” of the events.

He appeared well on his way to avoiding charges and pinning the blame on Scott.

Then a video, shot by an anonymous bystander, revealed exactly what happened.

In all police killings, one side–the victim–is, by definition, dead. So the “both sides” type of reporting we’re so often used to almost invariably becomes a one-sided airing of accounts, facts and selective details from the police side that the corporate media repeats without question. Indeed, Charleston’s local ABC affiliate would begin their report with, what turned out to be, an outright lie:

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A man involved in a traffic stop that turned into a physical altercation with a North Charleston police officer died Saturday after being shot by the officer."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Wed Apr 8, 2015, 10:27 PM (12 replies)

When can police use lethal force against a fleeing suspect?

Can Police Officers Shoot At Fleeing Individuals?
Only in very narrow circumstances. A seminal 1985 Supreme Court case, Tennessee vs. Garner, held that the police may not shoot at a fleeing person unless the officer reasonably believes that the individual poses a significant physical danger to the officer or others in the community. That means officers are expected to take other, less-deadly action during a foot or car pursuit unless the person being chased is seen as an immediate safety risk.

In other words, a police officer who fires at a fleeing man who a moment earlier murdered a convenience store clerk may have reasonable grounds to argue that the shooting was justified. But if that same robber never fired his own weapon, the officer would likely have a much harder argument.

"You don't shoot fleeing felons. You apprehend them unless there are exigent circumstances — emergencies — that require urgent police action to safeguard the community as a whole," said Greg Gilbertson, a police practices expert and criminal justice professor at Centralia College in Washington state.

Gilbertson said he thought the video of the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina, was "insane" given what he said was the apparent lack of justification."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Wed Apr 8, 2015, 08:10 PM (8 replies)

Illinoisans among least likely to use drugs to relax, Gallup finds

A recent Gallup-Healthways survey found Illinois residents are among the least likely in the nation to use mood-altering drugs or medications to help them relax.

Gallup interviewed more than 450 residents from each state between January and December 2014 and asked one question: “How often do you use drugs or medications, including prescription drugs, which affect your mood and help you relax — almost every day, sometimes, rarely or never?”

Sixteen percent of Illinoisans who responded said almost every day, which is the fourth-lowest percentage in the nation, trailing only California (15.8 percent), Wyoming (15.5 percent) and Alaska (13.5 percent). Conversely, West Virginians, at 28.1 percent, are most likely to use mood-altering drugs on a near-daily basis. And a few of our neighbors were among the top 10 states whose residents reported using such drugs almost every day, including Kentucky, Missouri and Indiana."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Mon Apr 6, 2015, 02:18 PM (1 replies)

Legislation aimed at curbing police brutality takes a beating in Annapolis.

Legislation sought by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other city leaders to deal with police brutality complaints has taken a beating in Annapolis.

One bill introduced at the mayor's behest has been killed, and the other is being quashed in committee. With a week left in the annual 90-day legislative session, only a handful of relatively minor bills remain alive in the General Assembly that would seek to hold police more accountable for how they treat citizens."

One of the surviving bills, which gained preliminary approval in the House on Friday, seeks to help reinvigorate the city's troubled civilian review board. Another passed by the House would require law enforcement agencies to report annually on each officer-involved death.

But advocates say they're bitterly disappointed by the meager results of their campaign to reform the system for disciplining police. They rallied in Annapolis and testified for multiple bills, including several seeking changes in the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights and spelling out how and when police should use body cameras to record their interactions with the public."

*One bill, which would have created a new felony "misconduct in office" charge for officers, was killed by the House Judiciary Committee

A third bill put in by several city lawmakers would have authorized Maryland's attorney general to prosecute police officers accused of excessive force. It was also killed in committee."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Fri Apr 3, 2015, 07:01 PM (4 replies)

Store Owner Sues Denver Police In Excessive Force Allegations

DENVER (CBS4)– The Denver Police Department is facing another lawsuit over excessive force allegations. A business owner claims officers used extreme force when they attacked him and now he’s filed a lawsuit.

The incident started as a customer complaint over a money order. The store owner said when officers arrived, they threatened to arrest him without a warrant and then attacked when he asked to speak to his lawyer.

In the surveillance video, Denver Police Officers Jason Duran and Michael Gunter are seen shoving Bill Dau into his officer, putting him into a headlock and forcing him to the ground before handcuffing him.

Dau maintains he did nothing wrong, “I say, ‘I’ll go to my office, call my lawyer and I’ll come back to you’ and then I go to the office… they follow me, they push me down.”

Even after the officers appear to have Dau subdued, near the end of the footage, one of the officers appears to punch Dau in the back. Before the punch the officer looks toward the door as if he is making sure no one is watching.

When asked what he thinks that means, Dau replied, “That means that he knows it’s wrong… totally wrong and he’s still doing it.”

Police told CBS4 the officers were not disciplined and would not comment on the pending lawsuit.

“Of course they’ve never been disciplined, of course they’ve never been prosecuted because that’s business as usual for the City and County of Denver,” said attorney David Lane. "

Video at link: http://denver.cbslocal.com/2015/04/02/store-owner-sues-denver-police-in-excessive-force-allegations/
Posted by damnedifIknow | Fri Apr 3, 2015, 12:40 PM (0 replies)
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