Posts tagged Law and Orders

Cops are here to help you: Tacoma, Washington police Officer Ryan Koskovich and Officer Michael Young taser, handcuff and imprison a deaf assault victim for not obeying commands that she could not hear.

In Tacoma, a few months ago, a woman called 911 seeking protection when a fight with a guest turned violent. Unfortunately, when you call 911 they send the cops, and government police are not interested in protecting you; they are interested in controlling the situation. The victim in this case is a black woman who has been deaf since birth. The cops were told ahead of time that she was deaf, but what with a situation to control, when they showed up at the apartment they tortured her with a taser, handcuffed her, and hauled her off to jail for running at the police in an assaultive manner. She was running outside to meet the police, so that they could protect her from the person that was beating her up. Instead, a white police officer, Ryan Koskovich, screamed at her, whipped out his taser to drive her to the ground with a painful electrical shock, and then handcuffed her and arrested her, all because she didn’t stop running immediately when they bellowed commands at her that she could not hear. The police claimed, in reports that they wrote up after the fact, that they had also held a hand out. Other people in the neighborhood were watching and nobody else says they saw the cops hold a hand up. Of course, it’s possible that nobody saw it because it was 11:30 at night and dark; but then, that might be a reason for the police to think that someone might not necessarily be able to see their hands, and might not necessarily be able to hear their bellowed commands, and perhaps they ought to adopt a different strategy from maximal confrontation and Taser first, ask questions later. But that of course is only the sort of thing that you do if you give a damn about not torturing and imprisoning innocent people.

Officer Ryan Koskovich, Tacoma, Washington
Tasered, handcuffed and imprisoned deaf assault victim Lashonn White
Photo from NY Daily News

Police use Taser on deaf crime victim

TACOMA, Wash. — KIRO TV’s investigative unit has discovered Tacoma police used force to arrest and handcuff an innocent deaf woman after she called 911 for their help.

Instead of an apology, she ended up bloody and in jail for nearly three days without an interpreter before a prosecutor declined to press charges.

After months of digging, investigative reporter Chris Halsne found significant discrepancies in the official police version of events leading up to Lashonn White’s arrest.

Late in the evening on April 6, White said she called for police assistance after a guest reportedly attacked her in her own apartment.

. . . Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) logs show Tacoma police officer Ryan Koskovich and his partner, Michael Young, were outside White’s apartment complex in about six minutes.

It also reflects that officers received texts along the way stating, Person doing the hitting is a Sophia and Vict. is Lashonn White.

In addition, it appears from internal police records obtained by KIRO Team 7 Investigators, Koskovich and his partner were repeatedly given information that the victim could not hear a thing.

. . . To her, what happened next defies common sense — especially, for a woman with no criminal record, no arrests and just one minor driving violation on her record.

Within seconds of running outside to meet police, Officer Koskovich pulled his Taser and fired a two-barbed electric wire into White’s ribs and stomach.

All I’m doing is waving my hands in the air, and the next thing I know, I’m on the ground and then handcuffed. It was almost like I blacked out. I was so dizzy and disoriented, White said.

Witnesses said White began bleeding heavily from her knuckles and the right side of her face swelled up immediately after she hit the pavement following the Taser jolt.

Pictures acquired by Team 7 Investigators also show injuries to her cheek, chin, ribs, neck and arms.

Worse yet to White was the incredible confusion that came with suddenly being handcuffed, under arrest and without the ability to communicate with Tacoma officers, who had no sign language skills.

The next thing I know, they took me to jail. Told me to stand up, you’re going to jail. I said, What? What have I done? I couldn’t figure it out. I had no idea what was going on, said White.

. . . Margaret Sims’s apartment is right over the spot where White fell to the ground after being tased. She said it was around 11:30 at night and dark, but she heard Lashonn screaming in pain and ran to the balcony.

I hollered down and said, She’s deaf and can’t speak!

Sims says she went down to the street and spoke with officers while Lashonn was still in handcuffs. She told us during an on-camera interview that the police officers at the scene admitted there was a misunderstanding.

They had tased her because he thought she was coming at him, but what she was doing was running to him. But he said, stop and he didn’t put his hand up. He just said, stop and she couldn’t understand that, replied Sims.

Another apartment tenant, Geraldine Warren, said she also heard the commotion and talked to police.

They just told her to halt. She kept running, she can’t hear—she’s deaf. I said, Aren’t you supposed to say halt like that? asked Warren holding up her right hand.

Tacoma police arrested Lashonn on two criminal charges, simple assault and obstruction of a public servant (law enforcement officer). Then they carted her off to jail. She spent 60 hours there[1] – also without an interpreter- before a city prosecutor reviewed her case and asked that charges not be filed at all. . . . White said despite her repeated requests to police for a certified ASL interpreter, one was never provided.

— Police use Taser on deaf crime victim, by Chris Halsne, for KIRO TV 7 (5 August 2012)

The Incident Is Being Investigated. But Police Officer Naveed Benjamin has already said that the actions of the officers do not appear to be outside of policy. Probably not. And what does that tell you about the policy?

This is of course not the first time this sort of thing has happened. See for example GT 2007-12-07: Law and Orders #4: Wichita cops take control by shocking a deaf man for not following orders he couldn’t hear, GT 2007-11-11: Taser first, ask questions later, AP 2005-03-22: Autistic Teenager is Beaten by Deputies After Being Mistaken for a Prowler, GT 2008-02-05: Rapists in uniform, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam.

  1. [1] [In other words, a crime victim was imprisoned for nearly three days, because police could not speak her language and chose to respond to her with escalating brutality before they knew what was going on. —CJ.]

In Their Own Words: Master and Commander edition

The Los Angeles Police Protective League Board of Directors, on their understanding of Officer Safety:

This time it was a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel, essentially ruling that unless an officer is actually under physical attack, he/she cannot use a Taser to subdue a suspect. And, for good measure, these starry-eyed jurists, who probably have never been in a physical fight in their lives, opined that police officers should not fear irrational suspects defying officer commands as long as the suspect stays 15 feet from the officer.

As every street cop knows, any suspect within 15 feet who is actively resisting verbal commands is a threat to officer safety.

If a suspect complies with an officer’s commands, the use of force or a weapon is unnecessary. When a suspect fails to comply with verbal commands, it means the situation is rapidly escalating and some form of force will be required to gain compliance.

— Los Angeles Police Protective League Board of Directors, lapd.com: The Official Blog of the Los Angeles Police Protective League (2009-12-30): The Ninth Circuit’s year-end ‘gift’ to law enforcement

(Via William N. Grigg.)

See also:

Phil Sano v. the State in Occupied Portland

For background, see GT 2008-06-13: Law and Orders #7:

Government cops are here to protect you by shouting orders at passing strangers on bicycles, For Their Own Good, and then, if the biker should fail to immediately obey arbitrary commands to stop, bellowed by complete strangers on the street at 9:30 pm, who don’t make any effort to identify or explain themselves, and who are dressed all in black so that you can hardly even see who the hell is hollering at you, they’ll make sure you’re biking safely by tackling you, slamming you against a nearby wall, wrestling you to the ground, and then, when you say No and ask to know what you did wrong, declaring that you’re combative and torturing you with repeated high-voltage electric shocks, before they finally, in a remarkable act of circular practical reasoning, arrest you for resisting arrest.

. . .

Thus, in the latest news from Occupied Cascadia, here’s how Portland cops Erin Smith and Ron Hoesly made sure that Phil Sano, who was suspected of the terrible crime of biking without a headlight, would get home safely: [… by grabbing him off his bike, repeatedly tasering him even though he posed no physical threat, and then justifying it by saying that he had been biking without a headlight and disobeyed an order to stop …].

According to Jonathan Maus at BikePortland.org (2008-06-11), the Gangsters in Blue arrested Sano and laid five charges on him, one of which was a civil citation for not having the headlight, and all the rest of which were charges for crimes that consisted in nothing other than failing to let himself be arrested for something that he couldn’t have been rightfully arrested for to begin with.

— GT 2008-06-13: Law and Orders #7

Today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wendesday) are Phil Sano’s days in court. Supporters in Occupied Portland are welcome to come out in solidarity:

From: revphil
Date: Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 1:50 AM
Subject: the state v revphil

Hi there. Today and Tomorrow Im in court contesting the charge of Resisting Arrest. If you would like to go support me the trial will likely go from today though Wed afternoon. It might be easy to ignore this matter for a variety of reasons, however the the issue affects us all. Even if you never ride a bike you should be concerned with the power cops have over you. The resulting decision may set a precedent for what behavior is expected of police officers and how they interact with us, the public.

Here is a recent story about Revphil’s case:
http://bikeportland.org/2009/02/04/phil-sano-taser-incident-goes-to-trial-next-week/
http://bikeportland.org/2009/02/09/phil-sano-taser-trial-live-updates-from-day-one/
http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2009/02/09/rev_phil_sano_s_taser_trial_i
(I have a sweet pictures in this last one!)

For more specific info about the current way tazers are being used
http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/less-lethal-weapons/Content?oid=951762
http://www.loadedorygun.net/showDiary.do?diaryId=1509

If you are planning on coming to court please be respectful, and remove any hats, tools or contraband before coming to the courthouse.

Tuesday Feb 10th and Wed Feb 11th
Multnomah County Courthouse
1021 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR
Judge You ct 5XX (er on the 5th floor) take a left on top of the stairs.
8:30 am until 5pm

thanks for your support,

reverend phil

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