Friday, March 21, 2008

New PoLICE Un-Professionalism Roundup

From Radley Balko's The Agitator

  • On-duty cops in Nevada show up at a pool hall to rough up a guy who was arguing with one of their buddies. Unfortunately (for them), he wasn’t your typical out-of-town schmoe. He was a federal agent. And now he’s suing.
  • Police chief in small Wisconsin town asks on-duty detectives to find out the identity of a local anonymous blogger who was criticizing him, the town, and the department.
  • What do you do when your star witness insists there was no crime? Apparently you harass the hell out of him. Even if he’s a 13-year-old boy with developmental problems.
  • Another arrest of a man taking photos of a drug raid. If you’re wondering, yes, I think citizens should be free to record and photograph undercover police, too. To give one example, if David Ruttenberg hadn’t recorded the multiple attempts to frame him by undercover Manassas Park police, they’d likely have framed him into several felonies by now.
  • Using the “obstruction” arrest to cover police misbehavior.
  • Deputy drifts over center line on a hilly road, wipes out a group of bicyclists, killing two and critically wounding another. It’s a terrible story, but note what happens next. Other police show up and tell the deputy to “stop talking” before he further implicates himself. They then escort him from the accident scene before investigators arrive. How many other people would get that kind of treatment?
  • A California jury awarded a 72-year-old man $90,000 after California Highway Patrol officers entered his house and roughed him up while looking for a stolen motorcycle. They had the wrong house. Which would probably explain why he was described in the police report as “agitated” after they improperly and forcibly entered his home. Here’s the infuriating part: After the jury award, the judge cut the award to around $13,000, just enough to cover medical expenses related to the incident, which included two surgeries. The judge tossed out all punitive damages.

    Also, per the link above, note that the man was initially arrested for “obstruction,” even though police had the wrong house, and he wasn’t suspected of any crime.