Posts tagged Oakland

Rapists on patrol (#6) / Men in Uniform (#4)

Trigger warning. This post includes narrative descriptions of sexual violence, sexual coercion, assaults, stalking, and harassment by police officers against women, men, and children, including several cases of extreme violence. It may be triggering for past experiences of sexual assault. It is certain to be extremely grim reading for anyone.

All of these news stories appeared in my feed reader at some point within the past month and a half. There are actually about four or five more on my list that I could have included (mostly domestic violence assaults), but I had to give up because I’ve been working on this for about twelve hours now and I cannot stand to type up even one more case tonight.

1. Officer Thomas Tolstoy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Cont’d.)

You may remember Officer Thomas Tolstoy, the serial rapist on Officer Jeffrey Cujdik’s elite narco-police shake-down squad, who, besides participating in repeated evidence-less paramilitary drug raids, also repeatedly took the opportunity to pull women aside during these hyperviolent home invasions and sexually assault them. The police department’s response to three independent complaints from April 2008 to February 2009 was to temporarily place Tolstoy on desk duty (from October 2008 to January 2009), then put him back on the street to do more drug raids with Cujdik. The other stories about Cujdik’s wolfpack appeared in local newspapers in March 2009; Tolstoy was finally put back on desk duty in May 2009. Meanwhile, while Tolstoy is rewarded for his sexual assaults with an easy desk job, he continues to receive not only his regular salary of $57,800, but also thousands of dollars in overtime pay for sitting his ass on a court-house bench while the DA extends subpoenas on tainted drug cases in which he will almost certainly never testify. The bill for maintaining Tolstoy in the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed will, of course, be sent along to Philadelphia taxpayers, including Tolstoy’s three known victims. Deputy District Attorney John Delaney explains that the D.A.’s office continues to issue these money-wasting subpoenas on dead-end cases because We want to maintain the status quo. No doubt.

2. Police Chief Michael Classey, Atlantic Beach, Florida.

The city government in Atlantic Beach, Florida hired a lawyer, allegedly to investigate charges that chief Michael Classey had forced unwanted sexual contact on a female officer, Renee Jackson, who works sex crimes for the department. Instead, the lawyer put together a legal brief to defend the city from a lawsuit for sexual harassment — a charge that Jackson never made. Both the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have refused to investigate the charges. Professional courtesy, I guess.

3. Deputy Gary C. Handley, Rogers County Sheriff’s Office, Rogers County, Oklahoma.

Earlier this month, Deputy Gary C. Handley turned himself in to face charges on one county of sexual battery for forcing unwanted inappropriate touching on a female courthouse employee.

4. Officer Jeffrey John Sung. San Francisco Police Department. San Francisco, California.

Earlier this month, veteran San Francisco motorcycle officer Jeffrey John Sung plead not guilty to charges for sexual battery and false imprisonment without violence [sic] for grabbing a female friend in her home, forcing unwanted groping on her while he talked about having sex with her, and refusing to let her leave when she tried to get away. When the victim managed to break free and call a relative for help, he ran away and left on his government-issue police motorcycle. Sung’s lawyer has told the media that it was a misunderstanding of sorts.

5. Officer Roberto Pagan. Staten Island, New York.

Roberto Pagan, a patrol cop working for city government police on Staten Island, was suspended without pay last week after he started choking his girlfriend and then punched her in the eye during an argument on a public street. He has been suspended without pay and is facing misdemeanor charges; since he is a cop, this batterer was released on his own recognizance pending trial.

6. Officer Johnnie K. Hicks. Newport News, Virginia.

Last week, Johnnie K. Hicks, a cop working for the Newport News city government’s police force on the South Preinct High Impact Patrol Unit, was arrested for assaulting a woman in her home around 2:00am and brandishing a gun. While the Incident is being Internally Investigated by his coworkers, Hicks is being given a paid vacation at taxpayer expense.

7. Deputy Brian Gillespie. Broward Sheriff’s Office. Oakland Park, Florida.

Last week, Deputy Brian Gillespie, a cop patrolling turf in Oakland Park, Florida for the Broward County government’s sheriff’s office, was arrested and charged with domestic violence battery after he grabbed his wife’s arm during an argument, in order to force her not to leave the house without his permission, and then punched her several times and threw her down two steps onto the floor. This dangerous batterer has been given a paid vacation, at taxpayer expense, while under investigation, and was released from jail on a $250 bond.

8. Chief Deputy David E. Gidley. Tucker County Sheriff’s Department. Tucker County, West Virginia.

Earlier this month, while he was on duty and in police uniform, Chief Deputy David E. Gidley, a cop working for the Tucker County government’s police force, drove out in his police car to confront his estranged wife; in the course of an argument, he grabbed her by the arm hard enough to leave marks, and then chased her around her car while waving his ASP tactical baton and beating on her car with it. Unhinged wife-beater Chief Deputy David Gidley has been arraigned on misdemeanor assault and domestic battery charges, and has been released on a $600 personal recognizance bond.

9. Police Chief Robert Peterson. Maysville Police Department, Maysville, Oklahoma.

Earlier this month, the Maysville city government decided to fire boss cop Robert Peterson, the chief of their government police force, after witnesses (including two fellow cops) saw him slap his girlfriend in the face during an argument outside of their apartment.

10. Police Chief Anthony Batts. Oakland Police Department. Oakland, California.

In California, on the other hand, city governments don’t even maintain those minimal standards. Anthony Batts, formerly a cop working for the Long Beach city government’s police department, had at least four crime reports taken against him for domestic violence charges in the cities of Long Beach, San Pedro, and San Diego. At one point he gave his then-wife, Laura Richardson-Batts, a black eye; she later sought refuge in a friend’s house to get away from him. That didn’t stop Batts from being promoted by the Long Beach city government to chief of police, and once he was, he put the domestic violence reports under lock and key in the police chief’s office and altered reports to conceal their contents. Other cops working under him kept copies of the originals and used the reports to blackmail Batts to insulate themselves from disciplinary actions during a scandal over unprofessional conduct and retaliation and vandalism against whistleblowers within the department. Batts’s domestic violence history has caused him problems in securing FBI security clearances and in maintaining his permit to carry a firearm. None of which, of course, has stopped the corrupt wife-beater Anthony Batts from being named chief of police for the city government in Oakland, California.

11. Officer Ronald Montgomery. Tulsa Police Department. Bixby, Oklahoma.

Officer Ronald Montgomery, a cop working for the Tulsa city government’s police force, was arrested earlier this month for allegedly beating his wife and pointing his government-issued gun at her during an argument in front of their infant son and 8-year-old daughter. His wife went to the hospital with bruising and swelling to her arm and wrist; Officer Ronald Montgomery claims that he had not touched her during the argument. This dangerous batterer, who beat a woman and pointed a loaded gun at her during an argument, is currently roaming free on $11,500 bond.

12. Police Officer Sam Parker. Lafayette Police Department. Lafayette, Georgia.

Sam Parker, a cop formerly working for the Lafayette city government’s police force, is currently on trial on charges he abducted and murdered his ex-wife, Theresa Parker. The story this past Friday was that a former coworker, a Lafayette cop named Stacey Meeks, testified that Officer Sam Parker spent years openly bragging about killing people while on the job, and kept trophies to show off from people he had killed, such as the lethal bullet and crime scene photos from the killing. According to Meeks, Officer Sam Parker also carried a loaded weapon to the Grand Jury and said he planned to go out in a hail of bullets rather than get arrested if the jury voted to indict. After another Incident in 2003 where Officer Sam Parker fired off his gun on the job, several shrinks ruled him homicidal; Officer Sam Parker bragged about that with his coworkers, too. He also repeatedly watch Officer Sam Parker use chokeholds to take people down while on the job. None of this deranged, attention-seeking, hyperviolent behavior seems to have endangered his position with the Lafayette city government’s Police Department, or to have caused any legal consequences whatsoever for Officer Sam Parker; I wouldn’t be surprised if he expected no more consequences when he went on to murder his wife.

13. Officer Jared Rohrig, Orange Police Department, Orange, Connecticut.

In Milford, Connecticut, Officer Jared Rohrig, a cop working for the Orange city government’s police force, posed as his twin brother Joe to deceive his girlfriend into having sex with him. She realized while they were having sex that he wasn’t Joe, and tried to get up and leave, so he grabbed her by the arms, threw her down, and forced her to continue having sex with him while she cried and struggled to push him off of her. The woman reported the rape to the government police three days later; Rohrig was given a paid vacation from his job starting the next day pending the result of an Internal Investigation.

14. Officer Matthew Raymond, Eliot, Maine.

In Maine, Officer Matthew Raymond was allowed to take a two-month-long paid vacation (to keep getting paid while using up vacation and sick time) before finally losing his job yesterday, so that he could continue to extract his $45,000/year regular salary from perfectly innocent Eliot taxpayers, while awaiting trial on charges of domestic violence stalking against his ex-lover. Besides common stalking behaviors like showing up constantly at her hous, tracking her whereabouts, and incessantly calling her wherever she went, Officer Matthew Raymond also specifically used his legal privileges as a police officer to intimidate her and facilitate the stalking. After she moved out and went to live in another town to get away from him, he parked his marked police cruiser outside her house at least 68 times within a two-month period. He also used his police car, and his legal powers of detention and arrest, to force her to pull her car over so that he could ask her to come back to him.

15. Officer Jeffrey Luff. Bakersfield Police Department. Bakersfield, California.

Last month, Officer Jeffrey Luff was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor sexual battery committed while in uniform and on duty. He went out on a call to break up a loud party, which turned out to be a lingerie party; he then drove out to an after-party later that night and picked up two women there who he offered to drive back to where the first party had been. Then he took opportunity to grab one of the women’s buttocks and genitals without her permission.

16. State Trooper Derek S. Snavely, West Virginia State Police, Jefferson West Virginia.

Last November, State Trooper Derek S. Snavely pulled a woman on a chickenshit traffic stop (the claim is that she was driving left of the center line). He used the threat of a bogus DUI arrest (which would have cost the woman her job) and getting her car towed to detain her, force her to kiss him and unbutton her blouse, and then take him back to her house, where he repeatedly raped her. The story’s in the news now because his victim recently filed a civil-rights lawsuit after State Police Internally Investigated the Incident and the government prosecutor decided — in spite of records from home surveillance cameras and text messages sent by Trooper Derek S. Snavely to his victim’s cell phone — not to press any criminal charges.

17. Unnamed officer. Dunbar Police Department, Dunbar, West Virginia.

A woman in her 20s has come forward, through a public statement from her lawyer, with allegations that a police officer working for the Dunbar city government’s police force used intimidation and the threat of legal charges to force her to have sex with him, after pulling her over on a routine traffic stop. (She had been caught driving on a suspended license before the stop. The cop threatened her with charges on the traffic violations unless she would have sex with him, and then drove her to a dark remote location, where she was afraid for her safety not to comply.) The city government refuses to confirm whether or not the police force is investigating the report. As it happens, Sergeant R. O. Conley is currently on administrative leave with pay for an indefinite period, which is to say a mandatory paid vacation, but the city government refuses to say in public whether or not Conley is the cop accused of the rape.

18. Unnamed deputy. Bexar County Sheriff’s Office. San Antonio, Texas.

Earlier this month, n unnamed Bexar County sheriff’s deputy used his uniform and gun to pull a woman aside while she was walking down the street on the south side of San Antonio. He claimed (falsely) that she had an outstanding warrant for her arrest, and ordered her to get into his patrol car. Then he drove back to her house and then he grabbed her by the neck and forced her to have sex with him. As of the most recent news reports I could find (from about a week ago), the survivor had bruises around her neck, had been hospitalized for her injuries, and was being treated in a hospital psych ward for post-traumatic stress. The deputy, who was caught naked on the survivor’s couch by the San Antonio city government’s police, claims that the sexual relationship was consensual. So far, the San Antonio city government has filed no charges against the rapist deputy, although his own bosses at the Bexar County government’s Sheriff’s Office have forced him to take a vacation from his job while he is under investigation.

19. Deputy Donald A. Harder III. Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, Edinburg, New York.

Last week, Deputy Donald A. Harder III, a cop working for the Saratoga County government’s Sheriff’s office, was released on $25,000 bond after being arrested for forcing sex on a 27-year-old woman in his patrol car while on duty on a patrol car, armed, and in full police uniform. According to the Sheriff’s office, his victim believed she had to comply [with his demands for sex] because she was in the vehicle and he was in uniform.. Before raping women on the Saratoga County government’s police force, Deputy Donald Harder was a Marine working for the United States in its invasion and occupation of Iraq.

20. Officer Cleveland Reynolds. Birmingham Police Department, Birmingham, Alabama.

Last month in Alabama, Cleveland Reynolds, a cop working the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. patrol shift for the Birmingham city government’s police force, was arrested for repeatedly raping a 23 year old woman while he was out on duty. Pending the outcome of the trial, Reynolds is being given a paid vacation at taxpayer expense.

21. Officer Perry Young. Birmingham Police Department, Birmingham, Alabama.

Also last month in Alabama, Officer Perry Young, a patrol cop who formerly worked for the Birmingham city government’s police force, finally went to jail for forcing a 19-year-old woman to have sex with him while he was on duty, armed, and in uniform, after he used his legal powers to force her into his custody and took her to a remote location to force sex on her.

22. Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss. Broward Sheriff’s Office, Oakland Park, Florida.

In addition to wife-beater Deputy Brian Gillespie, the town of Oakland Park, Florida is also patrolled by serial-rapist Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss, who repeatedly used his uniform and his legal privileges as a government police officer to target Latino men on routine traffic stops or bike stops, roust them out of their cars or off their bikes, force them to show identification, and then, if he found that they were undocumented immigrants — therefore legally vulnerable easy targets — threw them down against his patrol car, forced them to submit to frisking, grabbed their penises during the search, propositioned them in Spanish, and then forced them to have sex with him in his patrol car under the threat of being arrested or reported to ICE for imprisonment and deportation. He repeatedly demanded phone numbers after raping the men in his custody, which he would later use to stalk his victims and try to arrange future encounters. Bleiweiss is known to have assaulted at least eight different undocumented Mexican and Salvadorean immigrants ranging in age from 17 to 30 years old. The Internal Investigation into Bleiweiss’s targeting of legally vulnerable men for serial rape began in early April when the boss of one of the victims approached police with a report — but Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss was allowed to continue patrolling his regular turf for three more months while under investigation, during which time (beginning April 23) he repeatedly assaulted and later stalked at least one more undocumented Mexican immigrant who he had hunted down while out on patrol. Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss was finally moved to a desk job and then later suspended without pay in July. His boss, Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, says they were giving an accused serial rapist on active patrol duty the benefit of the doubt until they completed their investigation. The case is likely to be difficult for government lawyers to prosecute because Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss deliberately targeted undocumented Latino immigrants for his serial rapes; his lawyer has already used their undocumented status to smear the victims in court, and given that all of the victims face a standing threat of being arrested, imprisoned, and deported by the United States government’s federal immigration cops if they come into contact with the government criminal justice system, [many of the victims have been extremely reluctant to come forward to the government police or to testify in a government court]((,0,1484852.story).

23. Officer Billy Ray White. Louisville Metro Police Department, Louisville Kentucky.

In 2006, serial rapist Officer Billy Ray White, of the Louisville Metro Police Department, was found guilty of raping a woman at gunpoint in front of her 9 month old daughter of threatening to kill her if she reported it, and of using the threat of jail to coerce sex from another woman that he had arrested. The story is in the news again because an appeals court judge recently threw out Billy Ray White’s conviction and ordered a new trial, on the grounds (1) that the coerced sexual relationship with a woman he had arrested, conducted under the threat of imprisonment, was in some sense of the word consensual (?) and so different enough from the forcible rape that the joinder of the cases as impermissibly prejudicial, and (2) that the trial judge should not have allowed testimony from several women about Officer Billy Ray White’s repeated and insistent use of his badge and uniform to stalk and try coerce sex from them after an arrest. According to Honorable government judge Thomas B. Wine, evidence that the Officer Billy Ray White, a heavily-armed, legally-privileged enforcer for the state, while acting in uniform and under color of authority over women under his legal power, was constantly on the prowl to use his uniform in furtherance of his lust, has little probative value in determining whether or not the man had a propensity to force sex on unwilling women. As a result of the reversal of the conviction, the new trial judge, rather than scheduling a trial date, told the government prosecutor to cut a plea bargain with White; they eventually agreed that this serial-rapist would cop a plea, get sentenced to time served, and get back out on the street.

24. Officer Julian Steele, Cincinnati, Ohio.

In Ohio, Cincinnati city government cop Julian Steele falsely arrested and imprisoned a teenage boy while investigating a robbery. Then he used this bogus imprisonment to force the boy’s mother to have sex with him in order to get her boy released from jail. Remarkably, the county government is actually calling this exactly what it is by charging Steele with 10 felony counts including abduction, extortion, sexual battery and rape.

25. Officer Jesus Sanchez and the Lorain Police Department. Lorain, Ohio.

A woman named Sarah Long recently came forward with a lawsuit against the city government governing Lorain, Ohio after the city government and its hired police department repeatedly ignored complaints that Officer Jesus Sanchez, a 28-year veteran cop working for their police force, repeatedly forced kisses on her, groped her, stalked her, made phone calls every day threatening her safety, and used the power of his badge and his legal privileges as a police officer to force her to pull over her car and deal with him 15 to 20 times. When Long complained about this pattern of harassment and the use of legal power to facilitate sexual violence, nothing happened; when she finally forced the issue by talking to the federal government’s Department of Justice and filing a civil lawsuit, Sanchez was charged with menacing by stalking. After he was convicted, the penalty for singling out a woman for unwanted sexual contact, imprisoning her in her own home, and using police powers to make her constantly afraid for her safety was 60 days in jail. During his trial, Sanchez’s defense lawyer said that he had been disciplined … by Lorain police years ago for his stalking and sexual coercion — purely administrative discipline which, of course, resulted in no legal consequences whatosever for Sanchez for six years, until the lawsuit forced the issue. Sanchez was allowed to retire from the police force after his trial in spite of his conviction. The story is in the news again because Sanchez, and fellow retired cop Dennis Davis, recently filed statements in Long’s lawsuit stating that pervasive harassment, sexual abuse and rape against women had been well-known and tolerated by the boss cops for years. Sanchez himself stated in his affadavit that I have observed what I believe is a pervasive pattern of sexual misconduct by Lorain police officers committed while they are on duty. The Department persistently ignored these reports. I believed that nothing would happen to me as a result of my sexual advances …. The primary reason I made sexual advances …. while on duty was my knowledge of the City’s policy of tolerating such conduct and deliberate indifference toward such conduct by on-duty police officers. Retired cop Dennis Davis stated in his affadavit that other cops working for the Lorain city government’s police force repeatedly forced nonconsensual sexual misconduct on women while on duty and that It appeared to me that Lorain police officers engaged in this misconduct without receiving meaningful discipline to the best of my knowledge. Boss cop Cel Rivera admitted that he had handled 30 complaints relating to non-consensual sexual contact involving a police officer and a third-party since he took the job in 1994. Court documents list numerous other incidents of alleged misconduct by other officers, including stalking, forced sexual encounters, armed threats and other behavior he contends shows a pattern of ignoring misconduct by Lorain police over the years.

26. Officer Timothy Gerek, Jr. Lorain Police Department, Lorain, Ohio.

One of those cops working for the city government in Lorain was Timothy Gerek, Jr., who was indicted in 2002 for beating and then raping his estranged wife in December 2001. Gerek threatened to murder their children if his wife left him or if she called police. When she told government prosecutors that she was too afraid to testify against Officer Timothy Gerek Jr. in court — while he was violating the protection order that required him to stay away from her and her children — the prosecutors decided to offer Gerek a plea-bargain that dropped the rape charge and reduced the domestic violence charge to misdemeanor assault. When Gerek accepted the bargain and plead guilty, this rapist and wife-beater was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay a $500 fine to the county government. Some years later, Gerek tried to pull strings to try to get prior criminal charges expunged from his record, including getting the record of his misdemeanor assault charge from the beating and rape in 2002 sealed. If he had succeeded in getting the record sealed, it would have eliminated the public record of his agreement never to work in law enforcement again.

27. Officer Stanley Marrero. Lorain Police Department. Lorraine, Ohio.

Another cop working for the Lorain city government’s police force, who was frequenty mentioned in those complaints was Officer Stanley Marrero, was accused of raping a woman while responding to a call at her home in 1993. Then he was accused of using a routine traffic stop in 1995 to hit on the woman he was detaining, ask her personal questions and get her phone number, which he later called at 4:00 in the morning. The Incident was Internally Investigated and Marrero was exonerated. In 2003, another woman filed a complaint that Officer Stanley Marrero had followed her while on duty and in uniform and asked her personal questions. The Incident was Internally Investigated and he was ordered to leave her alone, with no further consequences. In 2000, when Officer Stanley Marrero was sent out to a woman’s house on a domestic violence call in 2000, allegedly to help keep her safe from an abusive husband, he took the opportunity to use his legal powers to order her husband to leave, then, once he had her alone, forced the traumatized domestic violence victim to have sex with him. When the woman filed a complaint with the police department, they Internally Investigated, pressed no charges against Officer Stanley Marrero, and gave him a 3 day suspension. In 2006, Officer Stanley Marrero was finally arrested and sentenced to 60 days in the county jail for public indecency, dereliction of duty, and intimidation of a witness after forcing sex on two different women while on duty and after forced his way into an acquaintance’s neighbor’s house under cover of an investigation, exposed himself to her and demanded oral sex from her, and then, after she refused and unleashed her dog to defend herself, threatened her with retaliation and arrest if she told anyone what happened. Officer Stanley Marrero is only now, finally, being investigated for the rape in 1993. When he was finally convicted in 2006, after years of acting with impunity as a stalker and serial rapist under color of legal authority, the judge in the case, Edward Zaleski, said The evidence appears overwhelming. Mr. Marrero, police scare the hell out of me. They sure scare the hell out of most people.

28. Deputy William Hatfield. Pike County Sheriff’s Office. Pike County, Kentucky.

In Kentucky, William Bill Hatfield, a volunteer sheriff’s deputy working for the Pike County government’s sheriff’s office in return for gas money, a gun, and power, used that power to sexually assault a woman he had forced to the side of the road and detained for a routine stop.

29. Officer Dewayne Curtis Hart. Pittsburgh Police Department. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Back in 2007, Dewayne Curtis Hart, a cop working for the Pittsburgh city government’s police force, went out on a burglary call at a woman’s house; a few minutes after he left, he came back, told the burglary victim that there was a warrant for her arrest on a robbery charge, threatened to arrest her, and then used the threat to forcibly undress and fondle her, then force her to fondle him. The story is in the news again because Officer Dewayne Curtis Hart’s trial on the sexual assault charges was recently delayed until October; meanwhile, while the charges are still pending, the Pittsburgh city government’s personnel refuses to say whether or not this accused rapist cop is still on the job.

30. Trooper Carlos Torres. Washington State Patrol.

Back in June 2005, a Washington State Trooper named Carlos Torres forced a woman to pull over on the highway on suspicion of drunk driving, placed her under arrest and forced her into his patrol car to give her a blood test, then drove her to a weigh station to be picked up by her fiance. (She wanted her fiance to pick her up at the jail; Trooper Carlos Torres refused, and forced her to go with him to the weigh station.) The whole time he asked her invasive personal questions about oral and anal sex; then, while keeping her locked in the back of his patrol car at the weigh station, he demanded her to undress and forcibly fondled her through the divider in his patrol car. The story is in the news again because Trooper Carlos Torres recently made an unsuccessful attempt to get a custodial sexual misconduct charge thrown out on the grounds that his victim was not in fact being detained by him while she was locked in the backseat of his patrol car with no ability to open the doors or windows and no way to get out without his permission, after he had already forced her to get into the car against her will.

31. Deputy Police Chief Jody Beaudry, Mulberry Police Department, Mulberry Florida.

Back in 2004, a 40-year-old man Jody Beaudry, a cop working for the Mulberry, Florida city government’s police force, used his position as a police officer to threaten to revoke a 16-year-old girl’s probation, and used this threat of arrest and jail to force her to have sex with him. By the time he was arrested in 2008, he had been promoted to Deputy Police Chief. The story’s in the news because he just recently plead guilty to unlawful sexual activity with a minor, a crime which may put him in jail for up to 7 years in prison. (The crime that he actually committed, by using the threat of retaliation and his powers of arrest to commit sexual battery, is, under Florida state law, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.)

32. Patrol Deputy Michael Jared Boulware, Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, Wedgefield, South Carolina.

26-year-old Deputy Michael Jared Boulware is out on bond awaiting trial for sexually assaulting a 14 year old girl. According to the government prosecutor, who asked the judge to deny bail, the victim is extremely upset and worried he will locate her. According to his defense attorney, the fact that Boulware is a former cop is supposed to provide a reason for lowering bond. Actually, I think it’s a reason for thinking that he’s potentially more dangerous to the victim.

33. Kevin Yuhas, Streator Police Department, Streator, Illinois.

Earlier this month, Kevin Yuhas, a 42-year-old 911 dispatcher working for the Streator, Illinois city government’s police force, was arrested in Wisconsin for inviting a 14-year-old boy into his home, plying the boy with 10 to 15 shots of hard liquor, and then raping him. Yuhas admits that he invited the boy over and got him drunk, but can’t remember anything that came after.

34. Officer James Stackhouse. Nashville Metro Police Department. Nashville, Tennessee.

Earlier this month, Officer James Stackhouse, a cop working for the Nashville local government’s Metro Police Department, was forced out of his job as a result of an ongoing investigation into allegations that he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 12-year-old girl in Clay County.

35. Donald Silcott. Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Jacksonville, Florida.

Earlier this month, veteran police officer Donald Silcott, an evidence technician working for the county government’s Sheriff’s office was arrested for sexually assaulting a teenage girl in his home. The victim was taken to the hospital after she was found crying on a doorstep holding a photo of Silcott and a note with his name, address, and the date of the incident. The girl, apparently distraught and terrified, hid in the bushes and asked the woman who found her to dial 911 so she could be taken to the hospital. According to the arrest report, they performed a rape kit and recovered DNA evidence at the hospital.

36. Officer Aaron L. Jones. Harrington Police Department, Harrington, Delaware.

Aaron L. Jones, a 40-year-old cop working for the Harrington city government’s police force, was arrested earlier this month for having sex with a minor female who was staying in his home. Jones was released on a $2,500 unsecured bond and the government police have put him on a paid vacation from his job while they investigate the charges.

37. Officer Todd Spikes. Florala, Alabama Police Department. Florala, Alabama.

After driving to Flagler Beach for what he thought was a meet-up for sex with a 13 year old girl he met on the Internet, Officer Todd Spikes, a cop working for the Florala, Alabama city government’s police force was exposed as a sexual predator on national television and arrested in December 2006. The case is in the news again because government prosecutors recently offered their former colleague Todd Spikes a plea bargain which would give him probation with no prison time. Spikes turned the offer down, because it would have required him to register as a sex offender.

38. Officer Todd Lengsfield, Newnan Police Deartment, Newnan, Georgia.

Earlier this month, Officer Todd Lengsfield, a 34-year-old cop working for the Newnan, Georgia city government’s police force, was arrested for having sex with a 15-year-old girl. His bosses were tipped off by inappropriate contact with the girl using a government-issued cell phone. A blogger at claims that the story is a reason why Parents have to be careful with children and technology. Actually, it sounds to me like a reason parents and children have to be careful around cops.

39. Officer Luke Morrison, Henderson Police Department, Henderson, Nevada.

You may remember Officer Luke Morrison of Henderson, Nevada for the time when he shot and killed a distraught Albanian ice-cream truck driver after she had already been knocked to the ground with a taser. Before lighting up Deshira Selimaj for the Henderson city government’s police force, Officer Luke Morrison was a former soldier who fought in the United States government’s army’s war and occupation in Iraq. Anyway, it turns out that when Officer Luke Morrison is not busy gunning down middle-aged women with no legal consequences, he also enjoys sleeping with 15 year old girls. Commenter lv2gen on the Las Vegas Sun website wants us to know that A few bad apples don’t mean every cop is dirty.

40. Officer Nathan Amosa. Hurricane Police Department, Hurricane, Utah.

Last year, Officer Nathan Amosa, a cop working for the Hurricane, Utah city government’s police force, responded to a call from a distraught mother and went to her house, allegedly to help her find her missing child, who had wandered away. Instead, he threatened to cite her for child neglect and have the government take her child away from her unless she would have sex with him. The victim says that she felt she had to do what he demanded because of the threat against her child and because Officer Nathan Amosa was in uniform and had a gun. After raping her, Officer Nathan Amosa later went on to intimidate his victim at a local grocery store. This rape is dignified by the news media as an on-duty sex episode; the story is in the news again because the government prosecutor and government judge agreed to let Officer Nathan Amosa — who had been charged with forcible sodomy and two counts of forcible sex abuse — plead no-contest to a charge of custodial sexual relations,, for which he will spend 60 days in county jail and get three years’ probation. According to the government prosecutor, this confessed rapist will get only 60 days in jail (and, because custodial sexual relations convictions don’t require it, will not be required to register as a sex offender) because he is a cop and (therefore?) because he believes that it would have been difficult to prove the victim did not consent. During sentencing, the government prosecutor told the government judge that If this was anyone other than a police officer, we would not even be here. No doubt. Over at the Desert News website, a commenter going by Cops wants us to know that There’s a lot of great cops out there and just a few high-profile incidents like this that can give them all a bad name.

41. Officer Anthony Rollins. Anchorage Police Department, Anchorage, Alaska.

Last month in Alaska, Officer Anthony Rollins, a 13 year veteran of the Anchorage city government’s police force was arrested on 10 charges of sexual assault for raping at least 6 women that he encountered while on patrol and lured into his police car, from March 2006 to April 2009. This serial rapist, who repeatedly used the power of his uniform and his legal privileges to force sex on unwilling women (including at least one rape committed at a police substation) was finally arrested after a local anti-rape group approached the police department in April, and during the investigation five more women came forward to report sexual assaults. The investigation is ongoing and more survivors may yet come forward. Meanwhile, although unwilling Anchorage taxpayers were forced to pay Anthony Rollins over $142,892 last year for his unrequested services as a patrol officer, and were forced to pay him $78,668 this year prior to his arrest, and have been forced to pay him and his wife (who also works for the city government’s police department) over $1,100,000 over the last five years, this millionaire government cop has been declared indigent by the government judge handling his trial, so that innocent Alaska taxpayers, including his six victims will be forced to pay for a government-appointed defense lawyer for his trial. Rollins’s former boss, Anchorage boss cop Rob Heun, issued an angry statement to the press in which he called Rollins’s career as a serial rapist aberrant and detestable. Well, I certainly agree with him about the latter.

42. Officer Kenneth Moreno and Officer Franklin Mata. New York Police Department. New York, New York.

Last December in New York, a pair of cops working for the city government’s police force responded to a 911 call from a cab driver about a woman he had driven home who had gotten sick from being extremely drunk. They showed up around 1:00am, allegedly to help her get home safely; instead they decided to make up a cover about their whereabouts, go back to the apartment, and rape her while she was half-conscious, violently sick, and physically helpless. (Apartment security cameras show them returning to the apartment; Officer Kenneth Moreno was recorded on the phone admitting to the victim that he had sex with her.) NYPD boss cop Ray Kelly — who knew about the case for months before any charges were filed or any allegations made public, and who didn’t even suspend the cops accused until the charges hit the newsmedia — claims that The allegations are so egregious here that its imperative that I speak out. This is a shocking aberration in stark contrast to the good work that the members of the New York City Police Department do every day.

Yeah, a huge fucking aberration. Just like all the others.

Back in Anchorage, when a reporter asked him how serial-rapist Anthony Rollins could get away with attacking at least six women while he was out on patrol over a period of three years before the police began an investigation, boss cop Rob Heun responded that there was nothing other police could have done about Rollins because No policy or procedure is going to preclude anybody who wants to break it to do just that … This is a matter of behavior — just like no law will preclude anyone from breaking the law. Of course it is true that any written law or policy can be broken, but the problem here is not just the laws that are being broken; it’s the laws that are being followed, government laws which create an institutional environment of entitled privilege, and which give any male cop who happens to be a sexual predator an arsenal of legally-sanctioned weapons and immense unaccountable power over any woman or man who he wants to place under his power while out on patrol. As I said in December 2007 about a case involving several male patrol cops in San Antonio:

What as at stake here has a lot to do with the individual crimes of three cops, and it’s good to know that the police department is taking that very seriously. But while excoriating these three cops for their personal wickedness, this kind of approach also marginalizes and dismisses any attempt at a serious discussion of the institutional context that made these crimes possible — the fact that each of these three men worked out of the same office on the same shift, the way that policing is organized, the internal culture of their own office and of the police department as a whole, and the way that the so-called criminal justice system gives cops immense power over, and minimal accountability towards, the people that they are professedly trying to protect. It strains belief to claim that when a rape gang is being run out of one shift at a single police station, there’s not something deeply and systematically wrong with that station. If it weren’t for the routine power of well-armed cops in uniform, it would have been much harder for Victor Gonzales, Anthony Munoz, or Raymond Ramos to force their victims into their custody or to credibly threaten them in order to extort sex. … And if it weren’t for the way in which they can all too often rely on buddies in the precinct or elsewhere in the force to back them up, no matter how egregiously violent they may be, it would have been much harder for any of them to believe that they were entitled to, or could get away with, sexually torturing women while on patrol, while in full uniform, using their coercive power as cops.

A serious effort to respond to these crimes doesn’t just require individual blame or personal accountability …. It also requires a demand for fundamental institutional and legal reform. If police serve a valuable social function, then they can serve it without paramilitary forms of organization, without special legal privileges to order peaceful people around and force innocent people into custody, and without government entitlements to use all kinds of violence without any accountability to their victims. What we have now is not civil policing, but rather a bunch of heavily armed, violently macho, institutionally privileged gangsters in blue.

— GT 2007-12-21: Rapists on patrol

See also:

The Police Beat

I recently mentioned a story that POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine ran a couple weeks ago, in which Dean Scoville was outraged by the outrage over an El Monte police kicking a prone Suspect Individual in the head after he’d already surrendered to police. (Scoville also openly praises extrajudicial punitive police beat-downs as an institutional practice, longing for a time when post pursuit ass-kickings were obligatory.)

Anyway, the week after they ran Scoville’s ill-tempered tirade in praise of police brutality, the POLICE magazine website decided to run this funny little web poll:

WEB POLL: Have you ever wanted to kick a suspect who was surrendering for endangering the public and being a total dirtbag?

a. Yes

b. No

c. To hell with kick, I wanted to shoot him

Here are the final results as of Monday:

“Yes” received 45.4% of the votes. “No” reeived 22.7% of the votes. “To hell with kick, I wanted to shoot him” received 31.9%.

You can see the results for yourself here. 45.4% of POLICE readers responding to the poll said that they have at some point wanted to kick suspect people after they’ve already surrendered to police. The cop editors of POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine thought they’d add a funny little joke option for their cop readers, To hell with kick, I wanted to shoot him. 31.9% of POLICE readers responding to the poll went with that one.

Ho, ho, ho.

Speaking of which, in Oakland, Officer Johannes Mehserle is now on trial for murder in the execution-style shooting of Oscar Grant. Here’s some recent testimony from the trial:

(05-27) 17:00 PDT OAKLAND — A colleague of the former BART police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man early New Year’s Day testified Wednesday that the victim would still be alive if he and his friends had cooperated with police.

If they would have followed orders, this wouldn’t have happened, said Officer Marysol Domenici at a preliminary hearing in Oakland for former Officer Johannes Mehserle, who is charged with murder.

— Demian Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle (2009-05-28): Cop: Had Grant cooperated, he would be alive

According to Officer Marysol Domenici, ordinary civilians like you and me are always under the command of the police, so that when a cop gives an order you’d damn well better follow, and if you don’t, well then, you’re resisting, and you have nobody to blame but yourself when they slam you into the wall, throw you to the ground and shoot you in the back while you’re prone and physically restrained.


Domenici said she did not see Mehserle shoot Grant because she had been facing the other direction. Immediately after the shot was fired, she said, some train riders were so angry that she started thinking about using her gun.

**I said to myself, Oh, Jesus Christ, if I have to, I’m going to have to kill somebody, Domenici said.

— Demian Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle (2009-05-28): Cop: Had Grant cooperated, he would be alive

Note that when her buddy-cop shot a man who was prone on the ground and physically restrained by the police, her first thought was not that she might have to defend the public from this killer cop; it was that she might have to open fire on the crowd of bystanders.

In Metro Detroit, the Warren city government’s police chased down Robert Mitchell — an unarmed, 16 year old black boy, weighing in at about 110 pounds — and killed him with non-lethal force in an abandoned house of Eight Mile. This extrajudicial electrocution of an unarmed young man was carried out in the attempt to arrest him; the reason the cops were chasing him down and trying to force him to surrender himself to them is that he jumped out of the passenger side of his cousin’s car during a traffic stop for an expired license plate. For, that is, trying to leave the scene in a situation where he himself was not suspected of any crime. Boss cop William Dwyer believes that his forces had no alternative to blasting an unarmed 16 year old with a 50,000-volt electric shock in order to force him to surrender to arrest. Of course they did have an alternative; they could have let him leave, since they had no probable cause to suspect him of any particular crime. But government cops in America aren’t actually interested in dealing with crimes; they are interested in targeting suspects, and are willing to summarily declare you a suspect sort of guy based solely on your failure to follow their arbitrary bellowed commands, or your decision to try to leave the scene when they are present. They are quite willing to say that running away from cops, just as such, without any evidence of any specific crime, is considered good enough grounds for chasing you down, beating, shooting, or electrocuting you first and asking questions later, and arresting you on suspicion of resisting arrest. Presumably because the sheep are supposed to stay where they’ve been herded.

The commissioner called Mitchell’s death a tragedy, but said police who watch someone run from them can only assume he committed a crime or is wanted for a crime.

— Abbie Boudreau and Scott Bronstein, (2009-05-28): ‘No excuse’ for teen’s Taser death, mother says

Boss cop William Dwyer adds that, since the cops have been trained by a bunch of other cops to use 50,000-volt electric shocks to torture anyone resisting arrest until they surrender, regardless of the risks involved and even if their chosen target is unarmed and poses no physical threat to anyone present, as a form of pain compliance, well, that makes it O.K. for them to do so. Just following orders, you know:

The officers had been trained to use Tasers on people resisting arrest, so there was nothing wrong with using that Taser, Dwyer said.

— Abbie Boudreau and Scott Bronstein, (2009-05-28): ‘No excuse’ for teen’s Taser death, mother says

Renea Mitchell, the mother of the victim, says They are here to protect us. There’s no reason for what they’ve done…. There’s no reason, no excuse. She also calls what happened to her son a murder at the hands of police. And that’s about the size of it. Her son was not suspected of any crime; he was not even on the scene for anything more serious than an expired license plate. He tried to leave because he doesn’t feel safe around cops — and, given that cops are the ones who eventually killed him, why should he have? — and the cops took this as good enough reason to treat him as presumptively criminal, and therefore to use any level of violence necessary to stop him from leaving — whether or not they have any knowledge of his having been involved in any specific crime, or even whether or not any specific crime has been committed, and regardless of the fact that he was completely unarmed and posed no threat to absolutely anyone’s person or property. They had no reason to use force at all, let alone the potentially lethal force of a taser.

Meanwhile, back over at POLICE magazine, editor David Griffith believes that political correctness is killing a lot of Americans because cops in some major cities can’t use suspicion of immigration violation as [Probable Cause] to roust any gang member. Apparently suspicion of immigration violation means looking Latino. Griffith asks and answers a few clarifying questions: Would that be profiling? Absolutely. Would some American citizens get hassled? Surely. Would there be a lot less violent crime in our cities if we deported many gang members who are probably illegal aliens [sic]? You tell me.

In other words, in the name of controlling crime by controlling entire populations, Griffith wants for cops to have unilateral authority to roust absolutely anyone based solely on their ethnic status, without any evidence of having committed any crime whatsoever, and so to bring them under the control of the police unless and until they can prove, to the police’s own satisfaction, that they have a permission slip from the government for existing in this country. Griffith asks, rhetorically, What is our priority? Do we want to make Americans safer? But which Americans does he have in mind, and what does he hope to make them safer from? Apparently not the Americans he explicitly expects to be hassled, that is, terrorized, manhandled or, if necessary, killed in order to put them under, and to keep them under, the physical control of those cops who Griffith would like to grant unlimited discretionary authority to detain anybody that they want, for absolutely any reason or for no reason at all, based solely on their ethnic status, and without any connection to any known crime.

In the same article, Griffith mentions an Atlanta cop, Scott Kreher of the local Fraternal Order of Pigs, who is pissed off about inadequate bennies for Atlanta city cops; so he told the city council that the situation made him want to beat Mayor Shirley Franklin in the head with a baseball bat. (Griffith doesn’t have anything worse to say about this than a weak joke about how he hopes that Kreher does not command the APD’s crisis negotiation team.)

Does a police state, staffed by men who deal with stress like Sergeant Scott Kreher does, with the powers that David Griffith wants to give them, make you feel safer? Probably depends on what side of the taser, or the baseball bat, you expect to end up on.

See also:

Saturday Lazy Linking

  • To-day in Anarchist history: The pacifist-Anarchist Gustav Landauer was martyred 90 years ago today, on 2 May 1919, when he was imprisoned and then stoned to death by soldiers sent on the orders of state socialist politician Gustav Noske, to crush the independent Bavarian worker’s councils and force the Bavarian Free State back under the political control of Germany.

    One can throw away a chair or destroy a pane of glass; but those are idle talkers and credulous idolators of words who regard the state as such a thing or a fetish that one can smash in order to destroy it. The state is a condition, a certain relationship among human beings, a mode of behavior between human beings; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another…. We are the state, and we shall continue to be the state until we have created institutions that form a real community and society of people.

    — Gustav Landauer, Schwache Stattsminner, Schwacheres Volk, in Der Sozialist (June, 1910).

  • To-day in Right to Keep and Bear Arms history: On May 2, 1967, 42 years ago today, the California State Assembly debated the Mulford Act, a bill to ban the open carrying of firearms. In response (since the bill was largely targeted at criminalizing their practice of openly carrying while on cop-watching patrols), the Black Panther Party staged a march to the state capital and walked onto the Assembly floor openly carrying rifles, shotguns, and holstered handguns. (The weapons were unloaded and were kept pointed either at the ceiling or at the floor.) Bobby Seale then read a declaration written by Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver, urging that The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense calls upon the American people in general and the black people in particular to take careful note of the racist California Legislature which is now considering legislation aimed at keeping the black people disarmed and powerless at the very same time that racist police agencies throughout the country are intensifying the terror, brutality, murder, and repression of black people. After they left the capitol building and began to head home, they were surrounded by a battalion of cops and arrested en masse for conspiracy to disrupt a legislative session.

    NRA-approved, anti-gun-control conservative politician-saint Ronald Wilson Reagan was governor of California at the time all of this went down. When the Panthers showed up, Reagan ran and hid inside the capitol building. Shortly thereafter, he showed his commitment to the right to keep and bear arms by signing the Mulford Act after the state legislature passed the bill.

  • On government-backed traditional marriage, women’s property rights, and conservative mythistory-as-justification: killjoy, wreckage found floating (2009-04-19): daily dose of stoopid

  • On bottom-line principles for a constructive secessionism: Carol Moore, Vermont Commons (2009-04-16): SECEDE & SURVIVE: Prepare to be Overwhelmed by Secession

  • On Leftist anti-statism and the class structure of the State: Chris Dillow, Stumbling and Mumbling (2009-04-17): Shrink the State: A Leftist Aim

  • On assumed audiences and gender politics in FLOSS and web development: Shelley Powers, Bb RealTech (2009-04-29): Open Arms

  • On the literacy monopolists and popular writing tools: BLDGBLOG (2009-04-22): How the Other Half Writes: In Defense of Twitter

  • On Enron, corporate privateers and deregulatory rhetoric: Jesse Walker, Hit & Run (2009-04-03): The Smartest Guys in the Tomb. Jesse mentions along the way:

    Leftists and liberals have a word for polluters who pose as careful environmental stewards: greenwashing. We need a similar word for times when the eager beneficiaries of the corporate state pose as free-market entrepreneurs. A word, that is, for propaganda like the Enron ad.

    Of course, I’ve promoted the use of the word privateering for something that’s roughly in the neighborhood, but privateering is really suited to a different purpose (it has to do with a critique of phony privatization, which is often bundled with, but not identical to, phony deregulation; and it focuses on the phenomenon, not the use of rhetoric around it). So, what’s your best suggestion for a left-libertarian counterpart to greenwashing, when state capitalist firms pose as free-market entrepreneurs?

    My own best effort, to date, is gold-plating. Thoughts? Comment away.

Cops are here to protect you. (#8)

Government cops protect you by dragging a bunch of unarmed young Black men out of a train and lining them up against the wall — in response to an alleged fistfight — and then forcing one of them down to the ground and shooting him in the back. While he is lying prone on the ground, surrounded, and physically restrained both by the shooter and by a gang of other heavily-armed uniformed cops.

Then government cops protect you from being tainted by knowledge of the incident by rounding up everyone in the crowd that they can get their hands on and seizing the cellphones they had been using to take videos. You have only seen these videos because some dastardly criminals hopped back on the train before the cops could grab them, and then set out to taint us all with the truth.

The cop in the video is a Bay Area Rapid Transit cop named Johannes Mehserle. His victim, Oscar Grant, was either shot in the back when he was already handcuffed, or handcuffed by Officer Johannes Mehserle after he had been shot in back, depending on which witness accounts you listen to. I’m not sure which is worse. In any case, no-one has produced any reason whatsoever why Oscar Grant — who was unarmed, who was clearly showing his hands just before he was forced down and shot, who was forced down on his back, who was being searched and held down by two cops, with a third standing by and a gang of other cops standing around only a few feet away — could pose any credible physical threat to anybody at all, let alone the sort of physical threat that would justify standing up and drawing a gun on him.

We are told that (of course, of course) it’s a terrible tragedy what happened, and we should feel in our hearts for all the people who suffered so much because of this incident, but Officer Johannes Mehserle didn’t really mean to shoot Oscar Grant in the back. Maybe he pulled his gun and pointed it directly at a completely helpless victim who was clearly unarmed and under the complete physical control of the police, and then — oops — slipped and fired his gun into an unarmed man’s back by accident. Maybe he meant to pull out his taser so that he could torture a completely helpless man lying prone on the ground who clearly posed no physical threat to anybody with powerful electric shocks, but — oops — he just got so freaked out by The Situation that he couldn’t tell his hay-foot from his straw-foot and he accidentally whipped out his handgun instead, from a holster on the opposite side of his belt, even though it’s a completely different size and shape and weight, and then pulled the trigger and shot an unarmed man with a bullet instead. And, of course, none of this means a goddamned thing.

As I have said, and at the risk of controversy I will repeat: it doesn’t matter if Mehserle meant to pull the trigger. He had already assumed the role of sole arbiter over the life or death of Oscar Grant. He had already decided that Grant, by virtue of his skin color and appearance, was worth less than other citizens. And rather than acquitting the officer, all of the psychological analyses and possible explanations of the shooting that have been trotted-out in the press, and all the discussion of the irrelevant elements of Grant’s criminal history, have only proven this fundamental point.

If a young black or Latino male pulls a gun and someone winds up dead, intention is never the issue, and first-degree murder charges are on the agenda, as well as likely murder charges for anyone of the wrong color standing nearby. If we reverse the current situation, and the gun is in Oscar Grant’s hand, then racist voices would be squealing for the death penalty regardless of intention. And yet when it’s a cop pulling the trigger, all the media and public opinion resources are deployed to justify, understand, and empathize with this unconscionable act. One side is automatically condemned; the other automatically excused.

— George Ciccariello-Maher, CounterPunch (2009-01-09): Oakland’s Not For Burning?

Of course, there are two kinds of privileges: sometimes the problem is that a select class of people get consideration that everybody ought to be getting, but other people, not in the privileged class, are unjustly denied. And sometimes the problem is that a select class of people get special consideration that nobody ought to be getting, no matter their social class. Ciccariello-Maher doesn’t make it clear which kind he means, but in this case, the handwringing and We’ll never know chanting and endless excuse-making in the effort to convert manslaughter or murder into nothing more than another Oops, our bad is an example of the second kind. Given the observable facts of the case, there is nothing that could possibly have been going through Officer Johannes Mehserle’s head that could justify this execution-style shooting. If he went drawing his gun on an unarmed and prone and physically helpless man, who posed absolutely no credible threat to him or anyone else in the vicinity, and then, in the course of swinging his gun around, ended up firing it off, somehow, by accident, then he is guilty of criminally negligent homicide. If he planned to shock the hell out of someone who he had no reason to shock and ended up shooting him instead, by accident, then he is guilty of committing felony murder in the course of committing assault and battery. If he shot Oscar Grant intentionally, then, whatever may have been going on in his head about combs in Oscar Grant’s pocket or the folks in the crowd who were booing him from several feet away behind a line of other cops, or the hard, stressful life of a transit cop, then he is guilty of murder in the first.

And then we are told by self-righteous cops and their sado-fascist enablers that (of course, of course) it’s terrible what happened, and maybe Officer Johannes Mehserle overreacted, and zigged when he should have zagged, but really, we shouldn’t rush to judgment, and really, it’s not his fault, because, after all, there was a crowd of unarmed people several feet away, behind a line of other heavily-armed cops, yelling unkind words at him and making allegations as to the character of the police and watching what they were doing; maybe he became so confused and terrified by all this that, consummate professional though he may have been, he just lost all control of his rational faculties, and — oops — it just seemed like a good idea at the time to stand up and draw on an unarmed man being held down face-first on the ground in front of him. So it’s really the crowd’s fault:

We can wait for the official report on the shots fired but the earlier parts of those amatuer [sic] videos are also chilling for the hate-filled crowd reactions to what was, prior to the gunshot, a routine police encounter. We cannot long continue to police in a nation full of antagonists toward law and order. You can find it in videos all over the internet - crowds taunting, jeering, threatening, and obstructing police officers who are engaged in taming disorder.

— profshults (2009-01-07 10:04pm), comment on Tragedy [sic] at Fruitvale Station, at POLICE: The Law Enforcement Magazine

Well, great. Then let government cops quit. Please. As if anybody ever asked them to go around policing like that in this nation. When government cops go around like this, protecting the hell out of us all, then they need to be taunted, jeered, threatened and obstructed until they stop.

It’s not entirely clear yet what happened during the incident, and it may never be. [Oscar Grant] was apparently not one of the initial group dragged off the train—one of the videos shows him unrestrained and standing up, trying to intercede with the police. According to witnesses, he was trying to de-escalate the situation between the cops and his friends. This is not an isolated incident, not by a long shot. This kind of thing happens all the time: out-of-control police violence in response to non-violent communication. It happens to people of color, and to queer folks too. It happened to me and Jack a little more than a year ago, along with a group of colleagues and friends, for asking the police why they were making an arrest. An officer decided to pepper spray our group, without any real provocation. We’re lucky, and privileged, that it wasn’t a gun.

Who knows what’s going through these cops’ heads? Are they freaking out, paranoid, fearful, are they untrained, do they have no idea what to do? What really matters to me is that they’ve been given weapons to use, and they’re wiling to use them at the slightest provocation, up to and including lethal force. What matters is that any questioning of their authority, whether you’re holding a camera or trying to de-escalate a situation, is seen as a challenge that has to be put down, by taking your stuff away, or crowd-controlling you, or killing you. We should all be scared. Especially if you’re part of a frequently-profiled community.

. . .

I want to stress one more thing. The news is reporting that the police felt outnumbered. This is exactly the same reason they gave for pepper-spraying the crowd that Jack and I were in. But let’s be clear — it doesn’t have anything to do with numbers. If it had been a quiet crowd ignoring the police and just sitting on the train, the numbers wouldn’t matter. They felt outnumbered because a lot of people watching were demanding to know what was going on, yelling, and refusing to just mind their own business. People who were demanding to know what was happening, because they know that abuses happen far too often and take far too many lives, and that someone has to watch the watchers.

Unfortunately, to police this makes you the enemy, especially if you’re making your voice heard, yelling, demanding to know what’s going on. The police, whether because of training or inculcated philosophy or temperament, see this as a potential riot, and they escalate the situation.

— Holly @ feministe (2009-01-07): Execution style

The plain fact is that what we have here is one of two things. Either we have a professionalized system of violent control which tacitly permits and encourages cops to handle any confusing or stressful situation with an attempt to dominate everyone in the vicinity by means of threats and overwhelming force, including attempts to retaliate or terrify people into submission by using violence — up to and including lethal violence — against powerless people under their physical control. Or else we have a system of government policing which has clearly demonstrated that it can do nothing effectual to prevent this from happening, over and over again. In either case, it is unfit to exist.