National scrutiny grows in trooper’s shooting of deaf Charlotte motorist
Growing national scrutiny of an N.C. state trooper’s killing of a deaf Charlotte motorist last week has prompted the State Department of Public Safety to issue a statement asking the public not to rush to judgment in the case.
The State Bureau of Investigation, a separate agency, is conducting a criminal investigation into the shooting of motorist Daniel Harris, 29, but the agency has been reluctant to release details, including whether or not Harris was armed or threatened the trooper in some way.
“Any loss of life regardless of the circumstances is truly a tragic and sad event for all involved. Let us all refrain from making assumptions or drawing conclusions prior to the internal and independent reviews,” said Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry in a statement issued Tuesday.
The State Bureau of Investigation has said little about what led Harris to be shot by Trooper Jermaine Saunders of the North Carolina Highway Patrol during a traffic stop Thursday on Seven Oaks Drive. The SBI has said it is seeking witnesses to the chase as part of its investigation.
Harris was driving on Interstate 485 when Saunders tried to pull him over for speeding, the highway patrol said. He fled and led the trooper on a seven-mile chase, the patrol said.
Troopers said the driver, later identified as Harris, got out of the vehicle, and that led to an “encounter” where a shot was fired. Harris died at the scene.
Trooper Saunders was placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting.
Some accounts say Harris may have been gesturing in sign language when he “jumped” out of the car, fueling suspicions Saunders was either taken off guard by the gestures or was simply not trained in dealing with deaf motorists.
State Highway Patrol officials say their basic law enforcement training includes lessons on how to recognize and deal with suspects and victims who have hearing impairments, as well as autism, visual impairments, mobility issues and Alzheimer’s disease. That training was developed by the state Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission and is mandated statewide for every sworn law enforcement officer while in training, officials said.
“Keep your eyes on the person’s hands,” says the training guide, which the Highway Patrol provided to the Observer Tuesday. “Deaf people have been stopped by an officer and then shot and killed because the deaf person made a quick move for a pen and pad in his or her coat pocket or glove compartment. These unfortunate incidents can be prevented by mutual awareness which overcomes the lack of communication.”
Harris’ family issued a statement earlier this week asking for more specialized training in dealing with the deaf drivers. That call is being echoed by other advocates for the deaf, including the Ruderman Family Foundation, a national leader in disability inclusion.
“The growing unaddressed problem with policing across the United States is the lack of training police receive in how to interact with people with disabilities in high stress encounters,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation.
“People with disabilities will be safer the more the police are properly trained in this regard, and it needs to happen now before more tragedies occur.”
When Caroline Burley, now 51, first heard the boom around 5:30 on the evening of June 13,  it sounded like it had come from outside her bedroom window. She rushed to investigate, and as she came out of the room, a man with a gun confronted her, threw her into a wall and then hurled her to the floor. A SWAT team had burst through her front door. Wearing only her nightgown, she asked for mercy. She recently had back surgery, she explained. Instead, one officer, then another kept her close to the floor by putting a boot in her back, according to court filings.
Caroline’s mother, Geraldine Burley, was sitting at her computer in the basement when she heard a loud thud overhead, followed by a scream from her daughter and a man’s voice ordering Caroline Burley to the floor. When she ascended the stairs, she too found a gun pointed at her head, and a man ordered her to get on the floor as well. She thought at first that she was being robbed.
Geraldine, now 70, pleaded with the man to let her move to the floor slowly, explaining to him that she’d had both of her knees replaced. Instead, another officer approached, grabbed her by the face, demanded that she “get the [f–––] on the floor,” then threw her into a table. She tumbled to the ground. At that point, she said later in a deposition, everything turned to “a fire, white and ringing in my ear.” Another officer came up from the basement with her grandson, stepping on her knees in the process. She cried out again in pain.
This was part of Operation Eight Mile, a three-day period in 2007 in which drug cops from 21 federal, state and local police agencies conducted hundreds of raids on the famously crime-ridden road. (For all that manpower, the raids didn’t turn up much: 50 ounces of marijuana, 6.5 ounces of cocaine and 19 guns.) The Burleys tried to get the officers’ names and badge numbers to file a complaint. This presented a problem:
According to the Burleys’ accounts, the officers who raided their home were clad in black. Some wore balaclava masks or face shields that hid all but their eyes. Others pulled their hats down low to shield their identities. They had also obscured their names and badge numbers. Once the Burleys’ house had been thoroughly searched, both women asked the officers for their names. After holding an impromptu meeting, the officers told the Burleys that they wouldn’t divulge any information that could identify them individually. Instead, they told the women that they had just been raided by “Team 11.” The women weren’t given a search warrant.
“Team 11″ didn’t actually exist. It was part of a Drug Enforcement Administration squad called “Team 6.” But for the Eight Mile operation, the team was partially split up and reorganized with members of state and local police agencies, then renamed just for that particular operation.
The whole affair was coordinated by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. When the Burleys asked the office for the names of the officers who raided their home, the office said it had no record of that raid, directing them instead to the DEA. The DEA told the Burleys that the agency was transitioning to a new administration and couldn’t respond, but that it would eventually get back to them. It never did. The Burleys finally filed a lawsuit in state court, which forced the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department to give them the records of the raid that the office previously said didn’t exist. Included in those records was a DEA report with the names of the agents who participated in the raid.
For their lawsuit, the Burleys sent the named agents questionnaires. The agents filled them out, denying that they ever violated the women’s civil rights. But notably, none of the agents denied that they had participated in the raid.
That all changed during depositions for the lawsuit. In what came as a complete surprise to the Burleys’ attorneys, every agent named in the report denied participating in the raid. Instead, they claimed that “Team 11″ had actually been split into two on that particular day. One team raided the Burleys, while the other raided a home nearby. The agents claimed that the DEA report must have included the names of the wrong half of “Team 11″ by mistake. They were all in the other house.
So the Burleys’ attorneys did what you’d expect them to do: They deposed the other half of the team. You probably know where this is going. All of those agents also claimed to have been in the other house. No one denies that the Burleys were raided. No one denies that one half of “Team 11″ conducted that raid. But both halves of “Team 11″ insist it was the other half that was in in the Burleys’ home. Deputies from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department were also on the raid, but apparently stood outside the home while the DEA agents did the dirty work. Yet none of the deputies on the Burley raid could remember which DEA agents were with them.
“It’s one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen,” Burley attorney Stanley Okoli told me a few years ago. “I asked, ‘which amongst you went to one address?’ and they said they couldn’t remember. So I asked, ‘which amongst you went to the other address?’ and they said they couldn’t remember.”
To file a civil rights lawsuit against law enforcement officers, you need to know the names of the actual officers. The courts won’t allow you to file a civil rights claim against a police or government agency in general. By the time the DEA agents sprang their surprise on the Burleys, the statute of limitations on their lawsuit had nearly run out.
The Burleys filed their lawsuit anyway, hoping they could persuade a court to compel the DEA to name the officers who participated in the raid. It just got worse from there:
In June 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman first dismissed the Burleys’ claims against Wayne County, then preempted a jury verdict in the trial against the federal agents. He ruled that, given the evidence, no reasonable jury could find in the plaintiffs’ favor, and in addition ordered the Burleys to pay the DEA agents $5,000 to compensate them for court costs.
“These women are destitute,” Okoli told HuffPost. “That was completely discretionary. He didn’t have to do that.” Because the women couldn’t pay, the government moved to garnish their Social Security disability checks to cover the fine.
The following year, a panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the dismissal of the sheriff’s deputies from the lawsuit, but reinstated the claims against the federal agents and vacated the order for the Burleys to pay court costs. The panel found that “the agents’ intent to conceal contributed to the plaintiffs’ impaired ability to identify them.”
The problem: The appeals court did not require the DEA to produce a definite list of names of the agents who participated in the raid. The Burleys’ lawsuit was reinstated, but they were also right back where they started.
Okoli welcomes the Sixth Circuit’s decision. But he said that, in addition to having to go before Friedman — who appeared hostile to his clients’ case — again, the Burleys are at even more of a disadvantage than they were in the first trial. The agents and their attorneys are now aware of inconsistencies the first trial exposed in their stories, and can attempt to explain them away. “We lost that element of surprise,” Okoli said.
Back before Judge Friedman, the Burleys argued the second time around that the burden of producing the real officers’ identity should fall on the officers named in the report, not the Burleys. They cited a case in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had taken that approach in ruling on an unlawful arrest lawsuit. In that case, police in San Francisco arrested a woman at a protest but refused to give their names or badge numbers. In her lawsuit, she named all the officers on the arrest report (in San Francisco, police policy is apparently to name all the officers on the scene in an arrest report). Because neither the officers nor the city would name the officers involved in the arrest, the court shifted the burden to the city to prove that the arrest was lawful.
“This minimal burden shifting forces the police department, which is in the better position to gather information about the arrest, to come forward with some evidence of probable cause. . . . By shifting the burden of production to the defendants, we prevent this exact scenario where police officers can hide behind a shield of anonymity and force plaintiffs to produce evidence that they cannot possibly acquire.”
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, of course, has no authority over a district court in the Sixth Circuit. Judge Friedman rejected the burden-shifting argument. So the Burleys had to argue that the police officers named in their lawsuit violated their rights based only on a DEA report that the officers themselves claim was in error. Because the women themselves never saw faces, name tags or badge numbers, it was a hopeless fight. Friedman did at least let this trial go to the jury, but the jury acquitted, finding that the Burleys hadn’t proved that the agents named in their lawsuit were the agents who conducted the raid.
The Burleys appealed again. Last week — nearly nine years after the raid — a panel of Sixth Circuit appellate judges shot them down. Like Friedman, the panel rejected the burden-shifting argument. Here was their reasoning:
Under plaintiffs’ proposal, a law officer who raises an “I wasn’t there defense” can only avoid constitutional liability by mustering evidence of who was there instead, and by implication, who was responsible for the alleged excessive force. In other words, once a plaintiff has put forth some evidence of an officer being present at a raid in which a constitutional violation has allegedly occurred, that officer is presumed to be liable if he claims he was not there, unless he proves who was and who did it.
That’s a fair point. But the Burleys didn’t create this problem; the DEA did. In a criminal context, it makes sense to put the burden of proof on the prosecution. But this is a civil case, and the defendant is basically the government. These women were wrongly raided by federal cops. The women’s inability to name the federal cops involved is due to those agents concealing their identities after the raid, then what was either gross incompetence or — more likely — corruption and cover-up by those federal cops and/or the agency that employs them. The law requires the Burleys to identify the cops by name. The government refuses to do so. The panel is right that this presents a legal conundrum. Someone was going to get a raw deal in this ruling. But why should it be the Burleys?
It’s worth noting that there are some fictions at work here, too. The Burleys are required to identify the police officers individually, but it’s almost certain that if they were identified and found to have violated the Burleys’ constitutional rights, they’d be indemnified by the DEA. Any award would be paid by taxpayers. Treating the officers as individuals requires the plaintiff to find their identities and assign and prove each violation. You can’t simply sue the DEA or your local police agency after a botched raid and say, “My rights were violated by your officers.” It’s not an insignificant task, given that these raids are often done at night and are designed to confuse and disorient their targets. Yet in the rare event that a plaintiff wins, the officers are treated not as individuals, but as agents of the agency that employs them. (This does make it easier for plaintiffs to collect. But the dichotomy is interesting.)
The Sixth Circuit panel did express at least a little sympathy for the Burleys:
We do not condone the behavior of those individuals who perpetrated the alleged excessive force. We are cognizant of the fact that at this juncture our decision leaves plaintiffs without a remedy because all other defendants (state, county, and local) have been dismissed. However, at the second trial, plaintiffs had the opportunity to present evidence as to why they believed these federal defendants participated in the raid and committed excessive force. The jury simply did not credit their evidence when they found to the contrary.
But the reason the Burleys proceeded with those agents is because those were the only names they weregiven. Not only was time running out for them to find the real names, but there’s also no indication that the DEA would ever have produced them, no matter how long the statute of limitations. (This, of course, assumes that the agents named in the lawsuits were telling the truth about not participating in the raid — not at all a given.)
These kinds of raids are inherently violent, dangerous and volatile. The drug war also operates on dirty information — tips collected from informants, anonymous sources, even rival drug dealers. The rewards for drug cops who bust major drug operations can be significant — prestige, career advancement, seizure of money and property that goes back to the police department. Massive undertakings like Operation Eight Mile are particularly fraught with the potential for mistakes. When you’re conducting hundreds of raids at once, there’s less time to do the necessary follow-up, corroborating investigation and double-checking to make sure there’s probable cause for each raid and that each raid is carried out at the correct address.
It’s critical that there be some pushback to ensure quality control — to give police an incentive to go out of their way to make sure innocents aren’t subjected to these tactics. (I’d argue that these tactics are inappropriate for drug searches in general, but that’s another matter.) The Exclusionary Rule is a (somewhat weak) incentive to make sure that there’s real probable cause and that searches are conducted legally. But that rule doesn’t protect innocent people. The only policy protecting them is a civil rights lawsuit. You could make a good argument that this Sixth Circuit panel just gave police a pretty good template to avoid these sorts of lawsuits, at least in raids involving multiple police agencies: Conceal your identity from everyone, then create a bureaucratic morass that makes it nearly impossible for any potential litigants to figure out who you are.
The beef here isn’t only with the Sixth Circuit panel. (As if often the case, from my reading, the ruling was probably correct under the law, although one can envision a legally justifiable ruling for the Burleys as well.) What about the DEA? It’s been nine years now. Why hasn’t the DEA made an effort to identify the agents who raided the Burleys? Why is the agency ducking accountability and denying the Burleys a real day in court? Is the DEA’s official position here that the Burleys are lying about ever being raided? That’s certainly the implication — if none of the “Team 11″ agents admit to participating in the raid, then they’re basically claiming that the raid never happened. What about U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade? Is she comfortable allowing the DEA to operate in her district this way?
As for the rest of us, are we really ready to just be okay with the idea that masked, heavily armed agents of the government can break down a door, terrify two innocent women, leave without presenting a warrant, their names, their badge numbers or revealing their faces … and get away with it?
The same year the Burleys were raided, the conservative pundit Michael Ledeen put up a short post on the Pajamas Media site that has always stuck with me. (The post is no longer up, but I excerpted it at the time.) A news agency had just released a series of photos about a drug bust in Tehran. Ledeen, who was agitating for war with Iran at the time, wrote:
Terrifying pictures, to be sure. For me, the most revealing thing about them is that the police feel obliged to wear masks while conducting a drug bust in the capital. tells you something about the relationship between the people and the state.
FYI, intelligence led my troop to an alqueda safehouse in Iraq and we captured them alive sometime around two in the morning. I remember clearly providing an overwatch after they were captured from the roof of the safe house they were in. There were so many stars in the sky it appeared like it was a dream. There were AK-47s everywhere because we were working closely with the Iraqi police. They cleared the building for us while we setup a perimeter. I thought I was going to be the pointman in the room clearing, but the policies at the time changed the way we executed the missions. The Iraqi police captured the members of the alqueda cell alive, yet somehow these police freak out over an unarmed dude with his hands in the air.
It kind of figures that the shooter sounds like Mickey Mouse.
then read this to understand that this is why nothing will ever change
The trial took place last week in Los Angeles September 13 through September 15 before the Honorable S. James Otero. After hearing the evidence and viewing a small portion of the video evidence provided by Mr. Sheppard, a jury of 8 persons found in favor of the sheriff’s department.
The haunting thing about the new policing documentary “Do Not Resist” is what it doesn’t show. There are no images of cops beating people. No viral videos of horrifying shootings. Sure, there are scenes from the Ferguson protests in which riot cops deploy tear gas. But there’s no blood, no Tasings, no death. Yet when it was over, I had to force myself to exhale.
What makes this movie so powerful is its terrifying portrayal of the mundanities of modern policing. I watched the movie weeks ago, but there are scenes that still flicker in my head. We all remember the clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson. We’ve seen the photos. We saw the anger and the animus exchanged across the protest lines. What we didn’t see were the hours and hours before and after those moments. We didn’t see the MRAPs and other armored vehicles roll in, one at a time, slowly transforming an American town into a war zone. We didn’t hear the clomp of combat boots on asphalt in the quiet hours of the early morning, interrupted only by fuzzy dispatches over police radio.
It’s one thing to show an MRAP — a vehicle built for war, and for a very specific purpose in a very specific type of war — being misused after a small-town police agency obtained it from the Defense Department. “Do Not Resist” takes you to the base where those vehicles are stored. A camera trained on the window captures hundreds of MRAPs — rows and rows and rows of them — scrolling by, all destined for a police agency somewhere in America. Meanwhile, an Army specialist explains how the troops who use the vehicles get hours and hours of training before they’re entrusted to drive the trucks on a battlefield. The Pentagon then gives the trucks to police agencies to use on U.S. streets with no accompanying training at all. Sometimes, the specialist says, a police agency will find a body part in one of the trucks. They try to avoid that. But after all, these are machines of war.
The film crew then takes a ride with a small-town sheriff as he drives his hulking new MRAP through business districts and quiet neighborhoods — that is, once he figures out how to operate it. The most disturbing thing about this scene isn’t the truck itself, or the striking images of the truck in the town, or even the sheriff’s statement that it will probably mostly be used for drug raids. The most disturbing thing is that it simply doesn’t occur to the sheriff that the footage might be disturbing. He has no problem letting a film crew show this massive contraption built to withstand roadside bombs in a military convoy lumbering through his small town, because the notion that military vehicles aren’t appropriate for domestic policing is foreign to him.
Then there’s the drug raid. It’s one thing to read about a “dynamic entry” drug raid in which the police mistakenly or intentionally kill someone, or in which someone mistakenly or intentionally kills a police officer. It’s awful and tragic and unnecessary. “Do Not Resist” doesn’t show one of those. It instead shows the sort of drug raid that’s far more common. The movie depicts the raid from the beginning, as the officers from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department tactical team are meeting to discuss strategy. Some are wearing T-shirts with the tactical team’s logo. It’s a human skull imposed over two crossed AR-15s.
There are no children at the residence, the lead officer assures his colleagues. (There were.) There would be a significant quantity of illegal drugs at the house, another says. (There weren’t.) The tactical team then proceeds to raid the home of a black family in Richland County. Most officers storm the front door with their guns while one shatters some side windows as a distraction. Minutes go by. The officers’ body language eventually shows signs of frustration as their search for contraband continues to come up empty. Finally, someone finds a book bag with traces of marijuana at the bottom — not enough to smoke, much less sell. They arrest a young black man with long braids for possession.
“I never one time said you’re a bad person,” the lead officer tells his arrestee, with an odd cordiality. “I just have a job to do, and you happen to be in the middle of it.”
The officer also seems to know that the man is a student at a local technical college. He’s working toward a degree in construction. The man also runs a landscaping company to help pay for his education. The man later tells the officer that he was on his way to pick up some lawnmowers that morning. Knowing that he’s about to be arrested, he asks the officer if he could tell his employee that he was arrested and won’t be able to pick up the lawnmowers. He then gives the officer $876 in cash and asks it to give it to his employee to go pick up the mowers, along with a weed-eater.
Instead, the officer confiscates the money under civil asset forfeiture laws. There is no obvious connection between the money and the pot residue. The man volunteered the cash, mostly because he didn’t want his arrest to hurt his business. In doing so, he provided ample evidence that the cash had nothing to do with illegal activity. Still, if unchallenged, the $876 will go back to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, even if the man is never charged with a crime. The cost of hiring an attorney for such a challenge would likely exceed $876.
Meanwhile, the man’s father asks the officers whether the police would pay for the windows they just shattered. The lead officer tells him that breaking the windows was a tactic, then adds, “The moral of the story is, don’t sell drugs from your residence.” Perhaps realizing that he had no evidence for what he had just accused the man of doing, he tried to correct himself. “I didn’t say you were actually doing it, I just said — said you were associated with … ” and then there’s some mumbling.
The striking thing about the footage is, again, the utter mundanity of the raid. A family was just violently raided over an immeasurable amount of pot. A man was arrested over that pot. The money he needed for his business was taken from him. Yet there’s no shame or embarrassment from the officers. There’s no panic that the whole thing was captured on video. That’s when it hits you. They don’t think they’ve made a mistake. This is what they do. The lead officers later tells the camera, matter-of-factly, that the raid turned up “a personal use amount of marijuana.” Perhaps realizing that he was also on camera back at the police station promising a much larger stash of drugs, he adds, “It happens. Drug warrants are, you know, 50-50.”
The documentary also eschews voice-overs and talking heads and simply lets law enforcement officers speak for themselves. You don’t need a civil rights activist or ACLU attorney to tell you about the threats posed by militaristic, aggressive policing when law enforcement officers can make the point unintentionally — and thus more powerfully and persuasive — when they’re speaking freely.
For example, the directors attended one of the many SWAT competitions across the country. One SWAT cop officer reflected on his first raid. “I was just trying not to smile. I thought it was so fun. I thought it was so cool,” he says. Since then, he says, he always loves to watch the “SWAT pups” (his term for first-year SWAT officers) on their first raid. “They’re always just smiling from ear to ear. They’re just on top of the world.” At risk of stating the obvious, the officers he’s describing are about to stage an armed, potentially lethal invasion of a private residence.
Fittingly, the most chilling scene in the movie doesn’t take place on a city street, or at a protest, or during a drug raid. It takes place in a conference room. It’s from a police training conference with Dave Grossman, one of the most prolific police trainers in the country. Grossman’s classes teach officers to be less hesitant to use lethal force, urge them to be willing to do it more quickly and teach them how to adopt the mentality of a warrior. Jeronimo Yanez, the Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Philando Castille in July, had attended one of Grossman’s classes called “The Bulletproof Warrior” (though that particular class was taught by Grossman’s business partner, Jim Glennon).
In the class recorded for “Do Not Resist,” Grossman at one point tells his students that the sex they have after they kill another human being will be the best sex of their lives. The room chuckles. But he’s clearly serious. “Both partners are very invested in some very intense sex,” he says. “There’s not a whole lot of perks that come with this job. You find one, relax and enjoy it.”
Grossman closes the class with a (literal) chest-pounding motivational speech that climaxes with Grossman telling the officers to find an overpass overlooking the city they serve. He urges them to look down on their city and know that they’ve made the world a better place. He then urges them to grip the overpass railing, lean forward and “let your cape blow in the wind.” The room gives him a standing ovation.
Later, the documentary crew returns to the home of the South Carolina family that had been raided. The man the police arrested has been released from custody. “I thought they were looking for a terrorist,” says the man’s mother. “They tore down my house, my son went to jail, for a gram-and-a-half of marijuana that they shook out the bottom of a book bag.” In the background, a TV is tuned to live coverage of the funeral of South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, one of nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church whom Dylann Roof was charged with murdering in 2015.
Horrific as that South Carolina crime was, such incidents are thankfully rare. Crimes like that, the vicious beatings caught on viral videos and shootings by police officers get most of the attention — and they ought to get more. But it’s the mundanities of the drug war, the criminal-justice system and everyday policing that are far more destructive, pervasive and pernicious. And that’s what makes this movie so important.
FBI agents and local police apparently just conducted a violent and fruitless drug raid on a home in Quincy, Mass. But none of the agencies involved will talk about it.
A Quarry Street couple says they have no idea why FBI agents rammed down their door and ransacked their townhouse in a surprise raid Tuesday evening.
The couple, who were not arrested and asked that their name not be published, said around 18 FBI agents and Quincy police officers rushed into their house around 6 p.m. and rummaged through their belongings for several hours with little explanation. Kristen Setera, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Boston office, confirmed that FBI agents were at 48 Quarry St. Tuesday night but would only say that agents were “conducting court authorized activity in connection with an ongoing federal investigation.”
One of the men who live in the townhouse, which he said they’d rented since December, said he was watching TV in the living room when he heard a crash as several agents with a battering ram burst through the door. He said some of the agents threw him to the ground and handcuffed him while others dragged his partner from an upstairs bathroom.
The man said the agents repeatedly ordered him to tell them where they were keeping their drugs, saying that two people had told them that drugs were being dealt out of the home. That man denied that he and his partner were dealing drugs and said the agents never found any in the home.
The man said the agents spent about three and half hours at the apartment, ripping their belongings out of drawers and closets, pulling paintings from walls and slicing open envelopes and luggage.
The local police department isn’t talking either. Apparently, the FBI left behind a search warrant that included the home’s address, but almost nothing else. For specifics, the warrant referred to attachments that the FBI didn’t provide to the home’s occupants. No word on whether the agents were wearing masks.
In other Massachusetts drug raid news, the family of Eurie Stamps has settled with the town of Framingham for $3.75 million. In 2011, Stampswas killed in his own home when a drug raid team broke down his door. They actually found the suspect they were looking for outside the home — Stamps’s 20-year-old stepson. They raided the place anyway. During the course of the raid, one officer later said he inadvertently fired his gun while pointing it at Stamps’s head as Stamps was lying on his floor with his hands over his head. Stamps was unarmed, and wasn’t suspected of any crime.
Eighty-one-year-old grandmother Margaret “Peg” Holcomb is still in a huff after state police and the National Guard deployed ground troops and a helicopter at her Amherst home and chopped down the 6-foot-tall marijuana plant growing out back with her raspberries.
“It’s ridiculous,” Holcomb told me yesterday. “This is not what happens in a democratic society. We don’t have people flying over us and watching us, then coming and invading our property. It’s a violation of the Fourth Amendment and not speaking out would be a violation of the First Amendment, as far as I’m concerned.”
Peg has grown a single pot plant in her backyard for years to keep her glaucoma under control. But two weeks ago, she and her plant were the targets of an annual “marijuana eradication operation” the staties and the guard conduct in western Massachusetts.
“I’ve grown marijuana for many years — one plant. I don’t sell it. I don’t talk about it. Some people drink wine at night, occasionally I’ll have a little smoke,” the retired homemaker said at her kitchen table, covered in a red and white checked tablecloth.
I know I’ll sleep better tonight knowing that this monster is off the streets.
The U.S police seem really brutal and heavy handed in many cases, they seem to have a no tolerance rule. The aussie police are not near so rough, but they are starting to head more in the U.S direction. Why are the police becoming so brutal these days?...l hear they are now employing more police with impaired empathy and remorse these days, they seem to be far from the old days when police were more tolerant.
Is the brutality and extreme stand over tactics really necessary, or is it becoming a police state?? Even the police uniforms have gone from gentleman's attire to more combat uniforms. Something doesn't seem right with all of this, the role of the police seems to have changed for the worse.
A Texas student used a two dollar bill to pay for her lunch at school recently and it sparked a criminal investigation into forgery.
An eighth grade student at Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Houston Texas became the subject of a police investigation after officials at the school accused her of using bogus currency to pay for her school lunch.
Fourteen year old Danesiah Neal sets the scene for us by explaining how the whole affair started, ””I went to the lunch line, and they said my $2 bill was fake. They gave it to the police. Then they sent me to the police office. A police officer said I could be in big trouble.”
Sharon Kay Joseph, Danesiah’s grandmother was called by officials from the school immediately after the exchange, “’Did you give Danesiah a $2 bill for lunch? He told me it was fake,” recalls of the conversation.
After investigating the alleged forgery, authorities from the Fort Bend School District Police determined the two dollar bill was, in fact, legal tender. They tracked the bill’s journey from a convenience store that had given it to Joseph as change for a transaction. They then took the bill to a local bank and had it examined. The uncommon, yet legal bill was issued in 1953 and has remained in circulation since.
Speaking of how the officer handled the situation, Joseph continues, “He brought me my $2 bill back. He didn’t apologize. He should have, and the school should have because they pulled Danesiah out of lunch, and she didn’t eat lunch that day because they took her money.”
She added,”It was very outrageous for them to do it,” Joseph added. “There was no need for police involvement. They’re charging kids like they’re adults now.”
In an interesting aside, the Houston School District admits that during the 2013- 2014 school year about forty similar cases were reported.
Additionally, district officials admit that their records show that all of the forty students investigated for attempting to pass counterfeit currency were minority students, mostly African American or Latino.
Mani Nezami, a Houston Attorney, says, “We see a disproportionate impact on minority youth when it comes to these charges. African-American and Hispanic boys in particular, but girls as well, tend to be overcriminalized for offenses that one might speculate if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be seeing a criminal charge.”
Many people have responded with incredulity at the school employees’ lack of knowledge of United States legal currency saying:
“The police and cashiers in the school need to go back to school and educate themselves on the U.S. money. And after that they should go to school for manners so they could apologize to this young lady and then buy her lunch!!”
“Shame to treat a child that way. Not her fault they are so dumb.”
“What is even sadder is that there is no excuse for the ignorance or stupidity of the school employee or the school police. I live in Houston and there is a recycling business that has been in Houston for at least 30 years that they pay in two dollar bills…”
Have you ever been denied the opportunity to use a two dollar bill because someone thought it was fake? Please share your stories with us here.
Trump doesn’t support cops. He supports cops who agree with him.
By Radley Balko March 27 at 4:02 PM posted the names of police agencies that refused to detain suspected undocumented immigrants long enough for federal officials to take custody of them. This will apparently be a weekly endeavor, an effort to shame local authorities for not sufficiently aiding in deportations. Like the threat to cut federal funding to sanctuary cities, President Trump’s aim here is to punish municipalities for not sufficiently contributing to his deportation goals.
It’s also a direct attack on policing and federalism, two institutions Trump and his administration claim to hold in high esteem. Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump and his supporters painted him as the candidate who will support cops, who would give police officers the tools they need to do their jobs. Trump would be a stark contrast to the Obama administration, which Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and campaign surrogates reprimanded as too critical of law enforcement and too eager to impose federal authority on local police agencies.
Sessions, for example, called the use of consent decrees between the federal government and police agencies in which the Justice Department has found a pattern of civil rights violations — which increased significantly under the Obama administration — “one of the most dangerous . . . exercises of raw power.” Trump himself has repeatedly argued that the administration’s federal oversight has made police officers afraid to do their jobs, and has blamed President Barack Obama’s Justice Department at least in part for the rise in crime in some American cities.
But the decision among some police agencies to refuse to hunt down or hold undocumented immigrants for federal authorities isn’t a protest for open immigration or a way of undermining Trump. It’s about good policing. First, there’s the problem of complying with the law. As the New York Times argued in a recent editorial, complying with White House demands would likely violate the Constitution:
If a police department is about to release someone who posts bail, it can’t prolong the detention — in essence, arrest that person again — just because ICE asks it to. Federal courts have repeatedly ruled that the local police cannot be forced to honor a detainer in violation of the Constitution. That is, without an arrest warrant from a judge. Which an ICE detainer is not.
The list appears to have been pretty ad hoc and sloppily assembled. It was clearly designed more to shame agencies that have publicly opposed Trump than to be a comprehensive list of those that haven’t complied. For example, more than 60 percent of the ignored detainers listed for the first week were in Travis County, Tex. That county’s sheriff’s department instituted a new policy last month restricting its cooperation with ICE. But there’s a good reason the sheriff’s department there wants to make its own decisions about when to ask for deportations:
Maj. Wes Priddy, of the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, said the agency does detain criminals convicted of serious crimes for immigration officials.
But he said his department does not turn over people awaiting trial.
“We do honor ICE detainers. But we do it selectively and in a manner which we can abide by our policy,” Priddy said, adding that in the past, immigration officials have deported people before trial, depriving defendants of their day in court and, in some cases, denying closure to crime victims. “We want to make sure that justice is served on the local level as well.”
In other words, local officials have determined that in some instances, trying serious crimes in court is more important to the local community than deporting an accused undocumented immigrant. That’s precisely the sort of decision a true federalist would let states and municipalities decide on their own. Instead, Trump wants a one-size-fits-all immigration policy — his policy — for every police agency in the United States.
But it’s worse even than that. Trump also made crime a key part of his campaign. He demagogued and exaggerated the rise in violent crime in some cities. Police officials, especially those in large cities with large populations of undocumented immigrants, aren’t opposing Trump’s immigration policies out of spite or distaste for him. They’re opposing them because they fear those policies will lead to more crime, not less. Over and over, in city after city, law enforcement officials have stated that when you create a climate of fear in immigrant communities, it makes undocumented people, their friends and their families less willing to report crimes, and less likely to cooperate with police investigations. This is why groups such as the Major Cities Chiefs Association have expressed concernabout Trump’s threats to sanctuary cities, and why police officers in those cities say Trump is making their jobs more difficult. From the L.A. Times:
“It is my job to investigate crimes,” said [Det. Brent] Hopkins of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Division, who also serves on the police union’s communications committee. “And if I can’t do that, I can’t get justice for people, because all of a sudden, I’m losing my witnesses or my victims because they’re afraid that talking to me is going to lead to them getting deported.”
After Trump’s unveiling last week of two executive orders that called for empowering local law enforcement officers to take on the duties of immigration agents, police officers and sheriff’s deputies across the Los Angeles area said in interviews that enforcing immigration laws is not in their job descriptions. Many expressed concerns that immigrants already wary of reporting crimes or being interviewed as witnesses will retreat further into the shadows.
“They should be running to us, not away from us,” said LAPD Deputy Chief Robert Arcos of Central Bureau, which includes Boyle Heights, MacArthur Park, Chinatown and other areas with many immigrant residents. “We are here to be their protectors.”
Besides, some officers said, they are too busy answering 911 calls, arresting robbers, stopping erratic drivers and solving homicides to add federal immigration enforcement to their to-do lists.
“We have enough issues just trying to keep the peace anyway,” said J.C. Duarte, a veteran LAPD officer in Northeast Division. “It’s just going to create a wedge between immigrants and law enforcement. Whether they’re here legally or not, there’s going to be a fear generated.”
The passage above is from an article published in January. The sentiments expressed in that article appear to have been confirmed last week when the Los Angeles Police Department announced in a press release that reports from Hispanics of rape in Los Angeles have fallen 25 percent from last year; reports of domestic abuse are down 10 percent. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said he believes fear of deportation is behind the drop in reported crimes.
Law enforcement officials from across the country have expressed similar concerns. The police commissioner in Suffolk County, New York, told the New York Times that Trump’s orders will also make it more difficult to fight gang crime. “We solve crimes based on people coming to us,” he told the paper. “It’s that simple. If people think they’re going to get deported every time they speak to a police officer, it’s not helpful.”
Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said in November that Trump’s effort to enlist local police agencies for immigration enforcement would “seriously compromise” trust between police and the community, adding, “We will not compromise our commitment to community policing and public safety by taking on immigration enforcement responsibilities that appropriately rest with federal authorities.”
That sentiment was echoed by police and elected officials in border cities and cities with large immigrant populations across the country:
Citing concerns expressed by police, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that San Diego’s mayor announced earlier this month that police would not take part in federal immigration-enforcement efforts.
When asked last month about whether city police would aid Immigration and Customs Enforcement efforts to find undocumented immigrants, Albuquerque’s mayor replied, “we simply don’t have the resources or plans to do that.”
In El Paso, a county judge called Trump’s plan to enlist local law enforcement “frightening,” and “terrible, absolutely terrible.” Sheriff Richard Wiles added, “Quite frankly, local and county law enforcement are very busy doing the work we are responsible for, which is providing public safety to our community, and there is no reason for us to take on another agency’s responsibility.”
A Phoenix police spokesman told the Arizona Republic, “We want our victims and witnesses to feel comfortable reporting to police without fear of undue scrutiny. We will continue to follow state law as it pertains to immigration status verification of all arrested people.” The headline for that article: “Help immigration agents with Trump’s new orders? Arizona police not volunteering”
In its own statement in response to Trump’s executive orders on immigration, the International Association of Chiefs of Police also emphasized local control:
There have also been recent reports that the Trump Administration is considering using state and local law enforcement agencies in the apprehension and removal of illegal aliens in the United States. To be clear, President Trump’s January 25th Executive Order (Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States) only directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to use his existing authority under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to enter into voluntary agreements with state and local agencies to perform immigration enforcement duties. This approach is consistent with the efforts of previous administrations and is dependent upon the consent of the state or local entity.
However, the IACP has, and will continue to strongly oppose any initiative that would mandate that state and local law enforcement agencies play a role in the enforcement of federal immigration law. The IACP believes that the issue of state, tribal, or local law enforcement’s participation in immigration enforcement is an inherently local decision that must be made by law enforcement executives, working with their elected officials, community leaders, and citizens.
These police officials believe that complying with Trump’s request for local assistance will divert scarce resources away from real crime and toward apprehending people who aren’t a threat to public safety (despite Trump’s fear-mongering, there’s zero evidence that undocumented immigrants commit crimes at a higher rate than the general population), and will cause immigrant communities to fear the police and make them less likely to report crimes and cooperate with police. And this will make their cities and counties less safe.
If Trump truly trusted local police, if he truly wanted to support them and give them the tools they need to fight crime, he’d take their word on this. But Trump is certain that immigrants cause crime. Again, all the evidence says otherwise. But he himself is certain of it. So Trump’s administration is publicly shaming police departments who think otherwise, and threatening to cut funding to any agency or city that doesn’t bend to his will. This isn’t supporting law enforcement. It’s open hostility toward law enforcement.
The Trump administration’s hypocrisy in threatening local police over immigration while excoriating the Obama administration for its oversight efforts is only compounded when you consider the legal authority behind each policy. Trump and his supporters relentlessly chastised the Obama administration for its consent decrees and reports on police agencies in places such as Ferguson, Baltimore and Chicago. But Obama’s Justice Department was attempting to enforce the 14th Amendment rights of the citizens in those cities. One can disagree with the Justice reports’ claims about how often such violations occurred in those cities, or with the effectiveness of consent decrees, but there’s no question that the federal government is authorized — obligated, in fact — to enforce the 14th Amendment when states and cities refuse or neglect to do so.
Trump, on the other hand, is attempting to shame and coerce local police departments into enforcing immigration law, a power that the Constitution, the Supreme Court and the federal code clearly delegate to the federal government.
Sessions was among the most vociferous critics of the Obama administration’s relationship with law enforcement. “I’m already hearing from state and local people that they’re concerned about a lack of federal support and leadership,” he said last month. “My judgment is this is not a blip and we’re seeing, I’m afraid, a longer term trend of violent crime going up, which is not what we want in America.” NPR also reported that Sessions “worried about poor morale and a lack of community engagement” with police.
Here’s another Sessions quote from a Huffington Post article: “It’s a difficult thing for a city to be sued by the Department of Justice and to be told that your police department is systemically failing to serve the people of the state or the city.”
Don’t Be a United Airlines Passenger
Posted on April 10, 2017 by DavidSwanson
Do not sit still like a United Airlines passenger in a video when an injustice is happening. If the other passengers had simply blocked the aisles, corporate thugs could not have dragged their fellow passenger away. If everyone on board had demanded that the airline offer higher compensation until someone volunteered to take a later flight, rather than being violently “reaccommodated,” then it would have done so.
Passivity in the face of injustice is the greatest danger we face. This fact does not mean I’m “blaming the victims.” Of course United Airlines should be shamed, sued, boycotted, and compelled to reform or “reaccommodate” itself out of our lives entirely. So should the government that has deregulated the industry. So should every police department that has come to view the public as an enemy in a war.
But one should expect corporations and their thugs to behave barbarically. They are designed to do so. One should expect corrupt governments that lack popular influence or control to abuse power. The question is whether people will sit back and take it, resist with some nonviolent skills, or disastrously resort to violence themselves. (I’ve not searched yet for proposals to arm airline passengers, because I really don’t look forward to reading them.)
The one nonviolent skill that seems to be advancing most encouragingly is videotaping and livestreaming. People have got that down. When police blatantly lie, such as by claiming to have carried a passenger who fell, rather than dragging a passenger whom they assaulted, video sets the record straight. But we often lack video of events far away that the U.S. military blatantly lies about, events locked out of sight that prison guards blatantly lie about, and events that happen over long periods — such as the willful destruction of the earth’s climate.
When it comes to those injustices that can’t be videotaped or sued in court, too often people fail to act entirely. This is extremely dangerous behavior. We’re collectively being dragged down an airplane aisle, and we’re failing to act. A U.S.-Saudi war is threatening millions with starvation in Yemen. In Syria, the U.S. is risking a nuclear confrontation with Russia. The Pentagon is considering attacking North Korea. Baby steps toward slowing down the destruction if the earth’s climate are being reversed. Warrantless spying, lawless imprisonment, and presidential drone murder have been normalized.
What can we do?
We can educate and organize. We can confront Congress members while they’re home. We can pass local resolutions. We can divest from horrible businesses. We can build global alliances. We can go and stand in the way of deportations, of weapons shipments, or of the broadcasting of corporate “news.” We can put a stop to injustice wherever we see it and require diplomatic negotiation and resolution from dying domestic industries and killing foreign service officials alike.
Civil disobedience is not something we should shy away from.
Civil obedience should horrify us. There is an epidemic.
The mistake that United made was allowing passengers to board before the last passenger agreed to be reassigned. If the ticketing agent said no one boards unless we have all 4 passengers required, this would not have happened.
Also the other passengers were such jackasses. Instead of video taping, someone could have voluntarily deplaned. Age of social media at its worst.
Not really, too many hicks. Also everybody seems to blame it on the jews for anything. Its like Pakis at work, they blame their own problems on the white men and anyone that is better than them. Tiresome and very annoying.
"White people are always opressing minorities" sorry, you are 37 and broke is not anyones fault but yours for having 4 kids. You stupid fucking hindu.
Not really, too many hicks. Also everybody seems to blame it on the jews for anything. Its like Pakis at work, they blame their own problems on the white men and anyone that is better than them. Tiresome and very annoying.
"White people are always opressing minorities" sorry, you are 37 and broke not anyones fault but yours for having 4 kids. You stupid fucking hindu.