Posts tagged Rochester

Cops Are Here To Protect You (Cont’d)

Happy Ides of March! To-day is Tyrannicide Day (observed); to-day is also the International Day of Action Against Police Brutality. I don’t know why anyone would be so paranoid or anti-government or anti-cop as to call for protests against police brutality. Everyone knows that cops are here to protect you.

  • Unnamed 19-year-old single mother, Milwuakee, Wisconsin [t/w: sexual violence committed by a police officer]: a 19-year-old single mother, who has chosen to remain anonymous, had a brick thrown through her window, and someone trying to kick in her front door, so she called 911. When the police showed up to help, they took her brother outside and sent her boyfriend out of the house; then one of the cops, Police Officer Ladmarald Cates, rapist on patrol, took the opportunity to corner her while she was alone and repeatedly rape her. When she tried to get outside to tell other police about what happened to her, her rapist grabbed her, spun her around, and had her arrested for assaulting a police officer. She was held in jail for 12 hours while other police called her a liar until she was finally taken to a hospital to be tested with a rape kit. Then they sent her back to the county jail and imprisoned her for four days without any charges ever being filed against her. The police force eventually fired Cates for idling and loafing on duty [sic!] after they confronted him with DNA evidence of the rape, but the local DA declined to prosecute. The survivor was eventually able to find a lawyer who helped her take the case to the Feds for a civil-rights complaint; when they investigated, they found out that before he raped her, Police Officer Ladmarald Cates had already been investigated five times before for illegal behavior, including three previous allegations of sexual abuse. (The local DA had declined to prosecute in those cases, too.)

  • Bassil Abdelal of Chicago, Illinois: Abdelal, the owner of B&B Beauty Supply on the West Side of Chicago, was robbed at gunpoint last year while trying to close up his store. Somebody who saw what was going down called the police from a CTA station, so the robbers ran out of the store. He stepped out to see where they were going to, and picked up a gun they had dropped to protect himself. Then, when the police showed up to help, Abdelal dropped the gun, but they shot him 11 times while he screamed Don’t shoot; I am the store owner. Then they handcuffed him in the ambulance and denied him medical treatment while they questioned him. Then they came by the hospital again in the middle of the night and handcuffed him to the bed, and harassed and interrogated him in repeated visits for over a week.

  • Delma Towler of Altavista, Virginia: Towler, an 83-year-old woman, called 911 to report a burglary at her home. Then she went out into her own backyard, with her gun to protect herself; the police, showing up on the scene to help, gunned down Delma Towler — shooting her three times and killing her in her own backyard — for not responding to shouted orders that she could not hear without her hearing aid. According to the press report, The officer, who hasn’t been named, has been placed on administrative leave . . . . He is believed to be a veteran [sic] with more than 10 years’ experience in the force. . . . The Altavista Police Department chief Clay Hamilton said an internal investigation found the officer involved was not at fault as he followed department policy.

  • Kristen Walker and her boyfriend James, of Rochester, New York [t/w: traumatizing harassment, sexist language, physical violence against a rape survivor by police]: Walker (who is white) and her boyfriend (who is African-American) were harassed by a security guard while shopping in a convenience store late at night earlier this month; then after leaving the store found that they were being followed by police officers. It turns out they were being followed because the security guard — himself an off-duty RPD police officer — had called 911 to tell his buddies that he thought Walker and her boyfriend were suspicious because they were carrying a massive amount of cash on them (they had just gotten their tax return). So, hot on the scent of a possible drug seizure, two police cruisers pulled them over and multiple officers swarmed the car to demand ID and interrogate the two of them separately. When Kristen Walker asked why they pulled them over, the cop replied None of your fucking business, we don’t have to have a fucking reason to stop you. When she pointed out they need to have reasonable suspicion to justify a traffic stop, the police officer told her Yeah?, you smart ass little bitch, get the fuck out of the car. Then he grabbed her by the arm to pull her out of the car and wrenched it behind her back, marched her over to the police car and slammed her head on the trunk. Walker, a rape survivor, was alarmed and told the cops she suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the sexual assault; they ignored her and had both male officers conduct a pat-down search. One police officer told Walker I should beat the fuck out of you, and threatened to pepper-spray her in the face while she was hand-cuffed in the back of the police-cruiser. When she asked for the name and badge number of the police officer, he told her Blow me you little whore, and shut the car door. While she was in tears, a female officer came by, looked inside, and said Aw, look at the little baby crying. When the police failed to find anything in her car, and another police officer told told her they were going to release her and her boyfriend, she again asked for their names and badge numbers, and the cop told her If you get their names and badge numbers you’re either going to jail for disorderly conduct or they’ll take you to the hospital for a mental health arrest. When she got home, she dialed 911 and asked for a supervisor to get the names and badge numbers of the police officers who had pulled them over, interrogated her, harassed her, humiliated her in the most vulgar and violent ways, searched her, beat her, threatened her repeatedly with even more extreme physical violence, re-traumatized her and violated her civil rights in every way over carrying too much cash which is, as you may know, not actually against any law. The officer on the phone explained why they had been singled out for being stopped and searched but also refused to give her the names or the badge numbers of the officers who did it. When a local journalist put up a story about it on the Internet and contacted the city government in Rochester, he was told that they will not be releasing the names of the officers pending an internal affairs investigation.

  • All domestic violence victims, New York, New York: the New York Police Department recently issued an order to all police ordering them to run criminal checks on victims who call 911 to report domestic violence to the police. So now if your partner is beating you, and you call 911, when the police show up to help they will also be checking your name in all NYPD databases to determine whether they’ll be arresting you for anything including for minor offenses like unpaid tickets. According to the New York Post, A [police] source said that even if detectives wanted to take pity on someone who was battered by a spouse, they would feel pressure to make an arrest to avoid getting in trouble with superiors. We have every right to arrest that person at that moment, the source said.

  • All K-12 students, Pennsylvania: Bristol Township School District allows them. Neshaminy and Pennridge schools do not. And Palisades is discussing whether to permit them. But most local school districts have no specific policy on strip-searches of students. Without a policy, there are no guidelines, meaning students can be forced to take off all clothing if suspected of carrying prohibited contraband or material that could pose a threat [for example, dangerous substances like ibuprofen –R.G.]. Statewide, more than 100 school districts have adopted a policy example provided by the Pennsylvania School Board Association in 2009, which sets out the circumstances in which it believes a strip-search would be reasonable and necessary. Palisades introduced its proposed strip-search policy during the school board’s Feb. 6 meeting, leading several parents to speak out against such searches. It defines when administrators could legally strip-search students: a reasonable suspicion that something was being concealed that would be a threat to the health, safety and welfare of the school population and could be recovered only by the removal or searching of a student’s clothes. . . . There are no possible suspicions that could possibly make it reasonable for school administrators or resource-cops to ever have the power to force a student to undergo a strip-search.

  • Charlene Holly, six children, and the family dog, Samson, of Chicago, Illinois. Nine Chicago police officers, lead by Officer Patrick Kinney (the rest of the officers are not named in court documents), broke down the door and forced their way into Holly’s apartment, dressed in army fatigues and with guns drawn, screaming Get on the ground! and demanding at gunpoint that an 11 month old child show his hands. They killed the family dog by choke-dragging him up from the basement and then left him in the upstairs laundry room, where he died. When the police finally showed their warrant, the warrant said that it was for a man named Sedgwick M. Reavers and it was made out for the second-floor apartment at 10640 S. Prairie Street. The apartment that this paramilitary squad had broken into, with guns drawn, was the first floor apartment. When Samuel Holly, Charlene Holly’s husband, tried to make a complaint about the wrong-address storm-trooper raid, the warrantless search and the killing of their dog, the police would not take his complaint over the phone; when he showed up at the police station the next day, they refused to take the complaint, and told him that he should have made a complaint last night.

  • Deborah Braillard, of Maricopa County, Arizona: Braillard, a diabetic, was arrested on minor drug charges and thrown into the Maricopa County jail. She died in jail because the sheriff’s office denied her medical care for three days, even after other inmates warned the jailers that she needed help. This was back in 2005; the story is in the news again because the Maricopa County sheriff’s office has just agreed to make Maricopa taxpayers pay $3,250,000 to Braillard’s family in order to settle the case, after a judge ruled that jurors could be told that key evidence in the case had been destroyed by the sheriff’s department. Of course the people who personally decided to imprison Deborah Braillard and to kill her by denying her access to needed medical care will never pay a cent out of their own pockets.

  • Ferdinand Hunt and Sidney Newman, of New Orleans, Louisiana. Hunt and Newman, two black teenagers, were hanging out on Conti Street after a Mardi Gras parade, waiting for Hunt’s mother to come back from getting some food. Nine plainclothes State Police officers and a NOPD cop then rushed them, surrounded them, and then — in spite of neither young man posing any physical threat at all — were caught on video throwing them across the sidewalk into a wall and beat them. The state troopers claimed that while they were patrolling the French Quarter, they noticed two individuals who appeared to be juveniles and decided to ID them; this is, apparently, how they go about finding out who’s who in New Orleans.

  • Kimani Gray of East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York: plainclothes cops swarmed Kimani Gray, a 16 year old boy, late at night, claiming that he adjusted his waistband and attempted to leave when he saw them. So instead of letting him leave peacefully, they pulled him aside and confronted him. Then they shot at him 11 times, killing him. They claim he was pointing a gun at them. Gray was hit with seven of the 11 shots fired; three shots hit him in the back. Less than a year before, plainclothes NYPD drug cops shot and killed an unarmed 23-year-old woman, Shantel Davis, only blocks away. After vigils and protests against police violence in Brooklyn in the wake of the most recent shooting, riot cops set up roadblocks on Church Avenue, grabbed Gray’s sister Mahnefah off the street, kettled protesters and arrested 46 people, mostly for disorderly conduct..

  • Jabbar Campbell of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York [t/w: homophobic language, graphic photo of injuries inflicted by police against a gay man]: Jabbar Campbell, a gay African-American man living in Brooklyn, threw a gay-pride party at his apartment. Police got an excessive-noise complaint related to the party; but when a squad of police showed up at the apartment, they claim that he ignored their demands to discontinue a party and then pushed Sergeant Juan Morero, attempted to flee and flailed his arms at cops and behaved belligerently. Campbell denies that that’s true — but whether it is or not, what happened next is that a gang of nine cops forced their way into the building, deliberately turned off a surveillance camera in the building, and then proceeded to hold him down and beat him repeatedly, punching him in the face and striking him with clubs and flashlights until he lost consciousness, all the while screaming You fucking fag and homo. He was taken to Kings County Hospital with a black eye, a split lip and a bloodied mouth, needing 9 stitches and then taken to jail for 24 hours on charges of resisting arrest, attempted assault and marijuana possession. Police questioned party-goers about whether they were having gay orgies or screwing each other. When Campbell filed a lawsuit against the NYPD over the beating, more armed men, wearing police jackets, broke into his house without a warrant and with their badges hidden from view, refusing to give their names, demanding ID from the gusts at Campbell’s house and searching everyone there. According to Jabbar Campbell, the officers who attacked him are still on the job, although they are being investigated by IAB (internal affairs bureau) and the ADA.

  • Stanley Gibson of Las Vegas, Nevada: Gibson, a 43-year-old US Army veteran suffering from severe anxiety and depression, had a series of run-ins with police over the course of two days and was acting increasingly erratic and disoriented. Police boxed in Gibson’s car on the road; when he refused to come out after an hour, the cops decided to force him out by breaking his windows with beanbag rounds and then filling the car with pepper-spray. Instead, Police Officer Jesus Arevalo fired seven live rounds from his rifle, killing Gibson, who was disoriented, completely unarmed, and had made no attempt either to come out of the car or to attack the police. Back in December, a government grand jury declined to indict Arevalo on murder charges after evidence was presented during hearings closed to the public and Gibson’s family. Now that the case has already been decided using secret evidence, Metro is using Gibson’s case as the first case for their new Police Fatality Public Factfinding Review, a public process created by Las Vegas Metro Police Department’s Sheriff Douglas Gillespie and the Las Vegas Police Protective Association’s Chris Collins to replace the previous Coroner’s Inquest system for police shootings with a new system intended to make the hearings less adversarial and promote the dissemination of information to the public. (To the public, natch; this only goes one way. In the new dissemination-system there is no opportunity for testimony from witnesses, no power to compel police to testify under oath, and no representation from the victim’s family or non-police witnesses.)

  • Alex Landau of Denver, Colorado [t/w: reporting of racist language and extremely graphic photos of injuries from the beating]: Landau, a 19-year-old Community College of Denver student, was pulled over by police, allegedly for an illegal left turn. Cops escalated the traffic stop into a drug search; when they asked to search the trunk of his car, Landau refused, and asked whether they had a warrant — so a group of cops punched him in the face, then beat him for several minutes, after he fell to the ground, with fists, a radio, and a flashlight. They pressed a service revolver to his head and threatened his life. The cops claim they thought they saw a gun, but Landau was in fact completely unarmed. After they stopped beating him the cops laughed at him and said, Where’s that warrant now you fucking nigger? [sic] Then they dragged him across the grass and left him to bleed; they denied him medical treatment for so long, while getting photos taken for their paperwork, that he went into shock on the way to the hospital. He needed 45 stitches and suffered a broken nose, a concussion, and brain injuries from his severe beating at the hands of the police.

Rapists on patrol (#3). Officer Gary Pignato, Greece, New York

(Via Drug War Chronicle Issue #584, 8 May 2009: This Week’s Corrupt Cop Stories.)

A week ago, in Greece, New York, Officer Gary Pignato, stalker, home invader, and serial rapist, was arraigned on charges that, acting under the color of law and with the extensive legally-backed powers that his badge affords, he used the threat of violent force to coerce sex from at least two unwilling women. In at least one of those cases, before he used the threat of arrest to rape her, he first picked her out, followed her back to her home in his police car, took the opportunity to get her phone number, and then, a few days later, invaded her house without permission. After raping her he kept calling her, over and over again, until she said she would expose what he was doing.

A second woman has accused a Greece police officer of using his authority to coerce her into sex.

Gary Pignato of Hilton was arraigned Tuesday on charges of third-degree bribery of a public servant, a felony; second-degree coercion, third-degree criminal trespass and official misconduct, all misdemeanors. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Pignato goes to trial June 1 on an earlier felony count of accepting a bribe and misdemeanor counts of coercion and official misconduct stemming from allegations that he went to a Greece woman’s home in August, then later coerced her into a sexual encounter.

According to documents filed in Greece Town Court on Tuesday, a different woman accuses Pignato of similar acts.

The woman’s name was redacted in the documents and it is the Democrat and Chronicle’s policy not to name victims of sexual crimes.

In a deposition dated April 28, the victim alleges she first met Pignato during the summer of 2005 when he followed her in his marked car as she drove into her apartment complex. She alleges he introduced himself that night, gave her his card and asked for her phone number.

Then, she alleges, a few days later she was smoking marijuana at her dining room table when Pignato walked in unannounced, told her she could be arrested and lose her children for what she was doing and said we can make this go away.

She alleges Pignato said having sex with him would take care of it.

The victim alleges they made arrangements to meet the next night. She said she drove to his house in Hilton where they engaged in sex.

She alleges Pignato continued to call her seeking sex over the next few days and finally stopped calling when she threatened to find his girlfriend and tell her what he did.

In her statement, the victim said a friend convinced her to contact authorities after news broke about Pignato’s other arrest and criminal charges.

In the August case, the victim alleges Pignato visited her home during a domestic dispute, then threatened to arrest her for violating her probation if she didn’t have sex with him.

Pignato has admitted to State Police that he had sex with that woman, but said it was consensual.

. . . Pignato, who has been suspended without pay, turned himself in to State Police Tuesday afternoon. He was released from court on his own recognizance. A court date was set for June 17, but Assistant District Attorney William Gargan said the case could go to a grand jury.

— Meaghan M. McDermott, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (2009-05-06): Greece officer faces additional charges

Please note that if you, or I, or anyone else without a badge and a government uniform were to follow women around, picking out victims for their special attentions, then busted into that woman’s house without permission, threatened to harm her children, threatened to draw a gun and force her into a car and carry her off to some hellhole far away where she would be locked up against their will — if you, or I, or anyone else, I say, did all these things several times, as a threat used to coerce sex from unwilling victims, then we would be treated, by the media and by the law, as rapists of the most dangerous sort and an immediate threat to everyone in the community. You or I would be jailed with an astronomical bail or no bail at all; you or I would hit with multiple aggravated felony charges and if convicted we would spend years of our lives in maximum security prisons. But because Officer Gary Pignato of Hilton, New York happens to be a police officer — because the violence he uses is violence under color of law, and because the threats he makes against his chosen targets are threats backed up by the armed force of the State, and because the women who uses those threats of violence against are suspect women, under the special scrutiny of the police, this dangerous, heavily-armed sexual predator has been released into the community on his own recognizance, and he has been charged with nothing more than a handful of misdemeanors for the rapes and the home invasion he committed. The only felonies he’s been charged with are bribery charges; only his betrayal of the police department, not his repeated use of his government-backed authority to coerce sex from unwilling women, is treated as serious enough to merit a felony charge.

Here’s what I said about a case with several male cops in San Antonio back in December; just replace the comments about the government’s war on sex workers with comments about the government’s war on drug users.

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. If it weren’t for the regime of State violence that late-night patrol officers exercise, as part and parcel of their legal duties, against women in prostitution, it would have been that much harder for Gonzales and Munoz to imagine that they could use their patrol as an opportunity to stalk young women, or to then try to make their victim complicit in the rape by forcing her to pretend that the rape was in fact consensual sex for money. 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 — although it certainly does require that. 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

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