Thursday, December 31, 2009

Important Taser Case is Must-Read for Taser Opponents

It's new Year's Eve and now New Years, but I can't do anything but stay home, blog, read, and wait for my stitches and muscles to heal from the accident I had three days ago.

Fortunately, I have a great "Taser" legal case to read, addressed in the San Diego Bee, and published by the Court, was announced on December 29, 2009, by the 9°th Circuit Court of Appeals, with direct legal effect in California, Alaska, Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, Hawaii and Guam, and influential in other parts of the country.

Plaintiff Bryan was stopped police twice in one day, and on the second stop he was shocked twice with a Taser device, falling face down in the roadway and "fracturing" four teeth in addition to facial injuries. The shocking officer said that even though Bryan was twenty feet away and there were no other cars or persons on the road, the officer testified that he was afraid of a man who was dressed only in boxer shorts and tennis shoes while yelling at himself between the car door and the car, twenty or twenty-one feet away. Bryan, the plaintiff had been stopped by the officer only to enforce a seat belt law.

The 9°th Circuit Court of Appeals Court found that:
. . . in the light most favorable to Bryan, Officer McPherson’s use of the taser was unconstitutionally excessive and a violation of Bryan’s clearly established rights.
( . . . )

Bryan sued Officer McPherson and the Coronado Police
Department, its police chief, and the City of Coronado for
excessive force in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, assault and
battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, a violation
of California Civil Code § 52.1, as well as failure to train and
related causes of action.

( . . . )

Allegations of excessive force are examined under the
Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable seizures.
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394 (1989); Deorle v. Rutherford,
272 F.3d 1272, 1279 (9th Cir. 2001). We ask “whether
the officers’ actions are ‘objectively reasonable’ in light of the
facts and circumstances confronting them.” Graham, 490 U.S.
at 397. We must balance “ ‘the nature and quality of the intrusion
on the individual’s Fourth Amendment interests’ against
the countervailing governmental interests at stake.” Id. at 396
(quoting Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 8 (1985)); see also
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 383 (2007). Stated another way,
we must “balance the amount of force applied against the
need for that force.” Meredith v. Erath, 342 F.3d 1057, 1061
(9th Cir. 2003).

( . . . )

Officer McPherson’s use of the X26 physically
injured Bryan. As a result of the taser, Bryan lost muscular
control and fell, uncontrolled, face first into the pavement.
This fall shattered four of his front teeth and caused facial
abrasions and swelling. Additionally, a barbed probe lodged
in his flesh, requiring hospitalization so that a doctor could
remove the probe with a scalpel. A reasonable police officer
with Officer McPherson’s training on the X26 would have
foreseen these physical injuries when confronting a shirtless
individual standing on asphalt.

( . . . )

We, along with our sister circuits, have held that tasers
and stun guns fall into the category of non-lethal force.6 See,
e.g., Lewis, 581 F.3d at 476; United States v. Fore, 507 F.3d
412, 413 (6th Cir. 2007); San Jose Charter of Hells Angels
Motorcycle Club v. City of San Jose, 402 F.3d 962, 969 n.8
(9th Cir. 2005).7 Non-lethal, however, is not synonymous with
non-excessive; all force—lethal and non-lethal—must be justified
by the need for the specific level of force employed.
Graham, 490 U.S. at 395; see also Deorle, 272 F.3d at 1285
(“Less than deadly force, like deadly force, may not be used
without sufficient reason; rather, it is subject to the Graham
balancing test.”). Nor is “non-lethal” a monolithic category of

( . . . )

We similarly reject any contention that, because the taser results only
in the “temporary” infliction of pain, it constitutes a nonintrusive
level of force. The pain is intense, is felt throughout
the body, and is administered by effectively commandeering
the victim’s muscles and nerves. Beyond the experience of
pain, tasers result in “immobilization, disorientation, loss of
balance, and weakness,” even after the electrical current has
ended. Matta-Ballesteros v. Henman, 896 F.2d 255, 256 n.2
(7th Cir. 1990); see also Beaver v. City of Federal Way, 507
F. Supp. 2d 1137, 1144 (W.D. Wash. 2007) (“[A]fter being
tased, a suspect may be dazed, disoriented, and experience
vertigo.”). Moreover, tasering a person may result in serious
injuries when intense pain and loss of muscle control cause a
sudden and uncontrolled fall.[5]

The X26 thus intrudes upon the victim’s physiological
functions and physical integrity in a way that other non-lethal
uses of force do not.

( . . . )

In light of these facts, we agree with the Fourth and Eighth
Circuit’s characterization of a taser shot as a “painful and
frightening blow.” Orem v. Rephann, 523 F.3d 442, 448 (4th
Cir. 2008) (quoting Hickey, 12 F.3d at 757). We therefore
conclude that tasers like the X26 constitute an “intermediate
or medium, though not insignificant, quantum of force,”
Sanders v. City of Fresno, 551 F. Supp. 2d 1149, 1168 (E.D.
Cal. 2008); Beaver, 507 F. Supp. 2d at 1144 (“[T]he Court
first finds that the use of a Taser constituted significant

( . . . )

The “most important” factor under Graham is whether
the suspect posed an “immediate threat to the safety of the
officers or others.” Smith v. City of Hemet, 394 F.3d 689, 702
(9th Cir. 2005) (en banc) (quoting Chew, 27 F.3d at 1441). “A
simple statement by an officer that he fears for his safety or
the safety of others is not enough; there must be objective factors
to justify such a concern.” Deorle, 272 F.3d at 1281. The
district court correctly concluded that Bryan’s volatile, erratic
conduct could lead an officer to be wary. While Bryan’s
behavior created something of an unusual situation, this does
not, by itself, justify the use of significant force. “A desire to
resolve quickly a potentially dangerous situation is not the
type of governmental interest that, standing alone, justifies the
use of force that may cause serious injury.” Id. Rather, the
objective facts must indicate that the suspect poses an immediate
threat to the officer or a member of the public.

( . . . )

The severity of Bryan’s purported offenses “provide[ ]
little, if any, basis for [Officer McPherson’s] use of physical
force.” Smith, 394 F.3d at 702. It is undisputed that Bryan’s
initial “crime” was a mere traffic infraction—failing to wear
a seatbelt—punishable by a fine. Traffic violations generally
will not support the use of a significant level of force. See
Deville v. Marcantel, 567 F.3d 156, 167 (5th Cir. 2009)
(“Deville was stopped for a minor traffic violation . . . making
the need for force substantially lower than if she had been
suspected of a serious crime.”).
Opponents of taser use should read the entire case, since it is chock full of the arguments we've made over the last two years. It also addresses the continuum of force question, without using that specific term, and it makes application of appropriate and measured use of force a matter of law, rather than a mere matter of whether police followed their own lax guidelines or not.

9th Circuit Federal Appeals Court Sets Limits on Police Use of "Tasers"

Why did police Taser wheelchair-bound Merced, Calif., resident Greg Williams?

Zimbel, a regular reader of my Francis L. Holland Blog, points to an important case from the 9th Circuit Federal Appeals Court, reported in the Sacramento Bee, which case limits the situations under which police officers can use hand-held electrocution devices, in particular saying that using shock devices against mentally ill people who pose no threat to officers violates the victims rights:

A federal appeals court on Monday issued one of the most comprehensive rulings yet limiting police use of Tasers against low-level offenders who seem to pose little threat and may be mentally ill.

In a case out of San Diego County, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals criticized an officer who, without warning, shot an emotionally troubled man with a Taser when he was unarmed, yards away, and neither fleeing nor advancing on the officer.

Sold as a nonlethal alternative to guns, Tasers deliver an electrical jolt meant to subdue a subject. The stun guns have become a common and increasingly controversial tool used by law enforcement.

There have been at least nine Taser-related fatalities in the Sacramento region, including the death earlier this month of Paul Martinez Jr., an inmate shot with a stun gun while allegedly resisting officers at the Roseville jail.

As lawsuits have proliferated against police and Taser International, which manufactures the weaons, the nation's appellate courts have been trying to define what constitutes appropriate Taser use.

The San Diego County case is the latest ruling to address the issue.

The court recounted the facts of the case:

In the summer of 2005, Carl Bryan, 21, was pulled over for a seat-belt violation and did not follow an officer's order to stay in the car.

Earlier, he had received a speeding ticket and had taken off his T-shirt to wipe away tears. He was wearing only the underwear he'd slept in because a woman had taken his keys, the court said without further explanation.

During his second traffic stop in Coronado, he got out of the car. He was "agitated … yelling gibberish and hitting his thighs, clad only in his boxer shorts and tennis shoes" but did not threaten the officer verbally or physically, the judges wrote.

That's when Coronado Police Officer Brian McPherson, who was standing about 20 feet away watching Bryan's "bizarre tantrum," fired his Taser, the court said.

Without a word of warning, he hit Bryan in the arm with two metal darts, delivering a 1,200-volt jolt.

Temporarily paralyzed and in intense pain, Bryan fell face-first on the pavement. The fall shattered four of his front teeth and left him with facial abrasions and swelling. Later, a doctor had to use a scalpel to remove one of the darts.

Bryan sued McPherson, the Coronado Police Department and the city of Coronado, alleging excessive force in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

The officer moved to have the claim dismissed, but a federal trial judge ruled in Bryan's favor.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit affirmed the trial judge's ruling on Monday, concluding that the level of force used by the officer was excessive.

McPherson could have waited for backup or tried to talk the man down, the judges said. If Bryan was mentally ill, as the officer contended, then there was even more reason to use "less intrusive means," the judges said.

"Officer McPherson's desire to quickly and decisively end an unusual and tense situation is understandable," Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote for the court. "His chosen method for doing so violated Bryan's constitutional right to be free from excessive force."

Some lawyers called it a landmark decision.

Eugene Iredale, a San Diego lawyer who argued the case, said it was one of the clearest and most complete statements yet from an appellate court about the limits of Taser use.

He said after Monday's decision that courts will consider all circumstances, including whether someone poses a threat, has committed a serious crime or is mentally troubled.

"In an era where everybody understands 'don't tase me, bro,' courts are going to look more closely at the use of Tasers, and they're going to try to deter the promiscuous oversue of that tool," he said.

That's especially true in the context of those who appear to be emotionally disturbed or mentally ill, said Johnny Griffin III, a Sacramento plaintiffs lawyer.

Griffin represented the family of a troubled Woodland man who died under police restraint after being struck multiple times with Tasers.

In May 2008, Ricardo Abrahams walked away from a voluntary care facility and disobeyed the orders of officers called to check on his well-being. They shot him repeatedly with stun guns.

The case against the city of Woodland and its officers was settled in June for $300,000.

"I think it confirms what I and other lawyers in this area have been saying: You can't treat a person with mental illness the same as someone without mental illness," Griffin said.

Law enforcement authorities in Sacramento said they don't expect Monday's ruling to prompt much change.

Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento County Sheriff's Department policies permit the use of force to gain control of a suspect or prevent harm to others.

"Certainly the officer should be able to articulate the reason the force (was used), and a mere resistance to comply may not be enough," said Sheriff John McGinness.

Sgt. Norm Leong, spokesman for the Police Department, said his agency's policy on the use of stun guns mainly covers safety considerations. It doesn't list behaviors or situations that warrant using the devices, he said.

"Ideally, in every circumstance, we try to gain compliance verbally, and force is the last option we ever want to use," he said.

Friday, December 25, 2009

White Youths Attack Black Police Officer's Car, Assault Officer w/Snowballs and w/the White Privilege of Impunity

Hat Tip to Rippa.

Here's another lesson in white supremacist privilege. If your skin is white, you can throw snowballs at a Black police officer's car and then chant and pelt him with snowballs even after he identifies himself as a police officer.

If your skin is brown, and you realize that you have pelted a white officer's car with snowballs, you will run when you realize that the man in the Hummer is a police officer. Even as you run, you will hope not to be shot in the back.

If your skin is brown, you'll understand that someone has to go to jail when there is a confrontation between Blacks and police officers. That's just the way it is.

So, what made these white college-student-aged youths in the video above believe they could throw snowballs at a Black officer who had his gun out, and continue to argue even as a second back-up police car arrived?

Their skin is white, pure and simple. The object lesson here about unequal justice in the United States is that police clearly have a different posture toward whites than Blacks. Whites are perfectly aware of this and that's why white youths can stand and argue with police and even through snowballs at them, while Blacks must turn and run.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is There More To Dolton, IL Than Meets The Eye?

There is so much going on in US police departments, large and small, that stinks to high heavens:

By Packratt, on October 11th, 2009

Members of a militaristic looking Dolton Illinois police department using
an armored personnel carrier during a standoff in 2008

There’s trouble in Dolton Illinois, and it may go beyond the highly publicized videotaped beating of a special needs student by a Dolton police officer with a worrisome past.

By now, most people are aware of the video showing Dolton police officer Christopher Lloyd assaulting 15-year-old Marshawn Pitts, a learning disabled student at the Academy for Learning school for special needs students, for nothing more than mouthing off about a dress code violation in May 2009.

Most are also now aware of officer Lloyd’s questionable past with the Robbins Illinois police department where he was involved with the questionable shooting death of his ex-wife’s husband and that he is currently sitting in a Lake County Indiana jail on charges of sexual assault.

However, the question people are still asking is how an officer like Lloyd was hired and placed in a high school with learning disabled students while he was still on unpaid leave from the Robbins Illinois PD over the the shooting death of his ex-wife’s husband when he was hired by Dolton in January of 2009?

( . . . )

Read the full article here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

(Black) D.C. Detective Admits to Pulling Gun at Snowball Fight

According to the Washington Post, a Black "D.C. police detective angrily confronted a group of (some white) snowball fighters, at one point even drawing his weapon, after they pelted him and his Hummer with snowballs near the intersection of 14th and U Streets NW Saturday, witnesses said." Responding in part to this and other videos, D.C. police said the detective, who they have declined to identify, has been assigned to desk duty pending the outcome of an investigation into the matter.

Are police officers as intelligent as they should be, and do they show good judgment?

When someone with a camera and a microphone asked the detective whether he had pulled his gun at the snowball fight, the detective responded, "Yes, because I got hit with snowballs."

Asked twice, "What's your badge number, Sir? What's your badge number?" the detective asked in response, "For what?!"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Are Game Wardens More Intelligent and Responsible than Police Officers?

Why do game wardens appear to be so much more intelligent and caring than police officers? When game wardens become aware that a bear or a large alligator is walking through the middle of a small rural town, they engage in all sorts of careful and artful maneuvering to convince the animal to go back into the woods or swamp, or to get him into the back of a truck so that he can be let loose in the wild. If necessary, they shoot the bears and moose with a tranquilizer dart.

Police, on the other hand, have an entirely different ethic: all force, all the time. Rather than understand, as game wardens do, that the animal is just going about his business as he sees it, or hunting, because that's what animals do, police see all but the most submissive human behavior as a direct threat to their authority, which in most officer's minds seems to be absolute. Even to the extent of attempted murder, or electrocuting and executing human beings on the street, without the benefit of trial, police seem to believe that they can do as they please, with virtually boundless impunity.

In Oakland this week a police officer concluded that the best way to handle a shouting bipolar patient was to throw the patient, and the officer himself, through a plate glass window. Congratulations, officer! You have just proved once again, that those professionals who corral thousand-pound bears and alligators -- at least the ones who get the most publicity -- are considerably more intelligent and reasonable than those who corral surly human beings.

Another BART police officer is on YouTube and it has triggered more controversy about the BART police force. Once again, use of force is the issue.

A video of the arrest of a BART passenger over the weekend shows the officer and suspect both crash into a plate glass window at the West Oakland station, shattering it on impact.

BART is once again defending itself.

BART is expected to hold a news conference some time Monday evening. The agency is also trying to track down witnesses so they can be interviewed on what happened at the West Oakland station platform that evening.

The officer involved in this case is very new to the BART police force. He just transferred there six months ago from the Contra Costa Sheriff's Department.

Attorney John Burris is calling the officer's arrest of a mentally-ill man "excessive force." He has already got a $50 million wrongful death suit against BART for the New Year's Day shooting death of an unarmed passenger. Now, he plans to sue again for this case.

"You would have thought that this officer would have learned from the Oscar Grant case that you don't immediately rush in," Burris told ABC7. "You try to calm the situation down."

Maybe game warden are not aroused by the brown or black color of bears to hate, fear and attempt to murder them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Blog Follows Police Pre-trial Extra-judicial Attempted Murders, Electrocutions and Executions of Latinos

There's a new blog that's following the police pre-trail, extrajudicial shocking and electrocution deaths of Latinos, called Tasered While Latino. Although the scientific word for death by electrical shock is "electrocution", the blog uses the name "Tasered" because Taser International is the largest supplier of these portable waist-holstered electric chairs to police departments and others.

Today, Tasered While Latino reports:

Luis Ramirez - Beat To Death While Latino - By Shenandoah Police Department

Washington (CNN) -- Six people, including four police officers, were indicted in the fatal race-related beating of a Latino man in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

The three indictments include federal hate crime charges, as well as obstruction of justice, conspiracy, official misconduct and extortion charges, authorities said. A federal grand jury handed up the indictments last week, and they were unsealed Tuesday.

Luis Ramirez was in a coma on life support before he died two days after he was beaten.

Luis Ramirez was in a coma on life support before he died two days after he was beaten

Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky are charged with a hate crime for beating Luis Ramirez in July 2008 while shouting racial epithets at him, prosecutors said. Ramirez died two days later.

"Following the beating, Donchak, Piekarsky and others, including members of the Shenandoah Police Department, participated in a scheme to obstruct the investigation of the fatal assault," the Justice Department said.

Shenandoah Police Chief Matthew Nestor is charged in two separate indictments with conspiring to obstruct justice, multiple counts of extortion and civil rights violations, authorities said. Tasered While Latino
This is but one example of the lawlessness of some police officers in all of the police departments of the United States of America. In this case, it seems as though the US Justice Department may try to bring a measure of justice to the dead, as well as retribution and deterrence to the living police officers.

All-too-often, when the initial shock and outrage wears off, police plead murder charges down to disorderly conduct and are allowed to resign with pensions from one police department, only to begin working for another, like the pedophile priests who were shuffled from abusing children in one congregation to abusing different children in another.

With the advent of the Tasered While Latino blog, the pre-trial, extra-judicial attempted murders and executions of Latinos may receive the attention that the same lawless police behavior has received when it is directed toward Blacks.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Teacher punishes 7yr old Black child by cutting off one of her braids in class.

This comes from Rippa, who has a keen sense of injustice and absurdity, at the Intersection of Madness and Reality Blog. Although this blog focuses on police brutality (and atrocity), it's really about manifestly unequal justice in the United States of America. A black person would be burned at the stake (charged with assault and battery and spend three or four years in jail) for cutting off a white child's blond locks, but the teacher in this case was merely given a ticket for "disorderly conduct," says Rippa. That's unequal justice in the law enforcement system and that concerns the Police Brutality Blog.

The worst thing in the world is the possible loss of innocence of a child at the hand of an adult. I just read the story of 7 year-old Lamya Cammon in Milwaukee, WI and now I'm left to wonder just how this would impact her life as she moves forward from this incident:

OK, first off, I watched another video on the story and Lamya said the teacher told her to come to her desk to get some candy and then cut her braid. I'm sorry, but that negates the whole "I'm sorry, but I was stressed out," bullshit claim. Sure she may have been bothered by what this kid was doing with her hair. But it's quite apparent that she put some thought into just how she was going to "punish" Lamaya, so miss me with that bullshit teacher lady. Yes I understand that the teaching profession is a thankless job. But damn maybe this woman needs to re-evaluate her career choice and go to barber school instead.

Secondly, what the fuck is up with the District Attorney not filing charges on this teacher? Yep, why did it take the police the department to hold her accountable via a ticket for disorderly conduct? And further, why in the hell does this teacher still employed? Why not at least paid administrative leave? What's next? Does she have to put a gun to a students head before someone decides to take action or lord forbid hold her accountable for her actions? I don't know what in the world is going on in Milwaukee and these District Attorneys. Apparently this is no big deal to them as is being a state social worker and tricking your client into having sex just so that she can keep her kids. Intersection of Madness and Reality Blog.
As I said over the The Intersection of Madness and Reality

If this were my child, I'd circulate a petition demanding the teacher's dismissal to get the community involved.

Legally, I'd file civil claims against the teacher for assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress, not only on behalf of my child, but joining all of the willing Black and white children in the class as plaintiffs, and with the school principal, the superintendent and the city as defendants.

It seems to me that this teacher also may have committed the crime of false imprisonment, since she had to hold the child against her will, with no legal authority or justification for doing so, while the teacher was cutting off the child's braid. This is also assault with a deadly weapon, since a foot, a boot and a pair of scissors can all constitute deadly weapons in some US jurisdictions.

I agree (without knowing) that this was most likely a white teacher; cutting of one of her braids was an act of color-aroused violence. Even if the teacher had brown skin, cutting of the child's braid could be an act of color-aroused violence, since no Black teacher would ever, ever, dare to cut off a white child's blond hair. The teacher engaged in this behavior with a Black child because she thought she could get away with it with little or no punishment. She might ultimately prove to be right, depending on the determination of the parents and the community, as well as the police, district attorney, judges and others.

To put pressure on the city, the school system, the principal and the teacher, I would request that police pursue assault and battery charges. Did the teacher take the braid from the child? If so, then she also may have committed the crime of robbery, taking a belonging from the child by force without the intention of returning it to her. In fact, this could easily be characterized as "assault with a deadly weapon" (the scissors) and armed robbery, since the teacher was armed with scissors when she took the child's braid.

So, even if the teacher was Black the crime may have been motivated, at least in part, by the knowledge that the teacher could act this way with impunity when dealing with a Black child. Even if the skin colors of the teacher and child were similar, that might not necessarily preclude a discrimination claim, since Black people can discriminate against other Blacks.

I would file a police report about an armed (the scissors) assault and battery and robbery (the braid cut off) with my child as the victim, and I would include the names of all of the children in the class as potential witnesses.

The police must at least accept and process the request that charges be filed, even if the DA does not ultimately seek charges.

When the principal, the superintendent and the city fail to fire the teacher and allow her to potentially continue such behavior, they become complicit in and ratify, in my opinion, the color-aroused treatment of Black children in this school.

I would also be willing to bet that there is statistical evidence that Black children in this teacher's classroom don't do as well as whites. That's not an argument that federal courts have been interested in over the past twenty years, but nonetheless such evidence would put added pressure on the school system.

It seems to me that the parents of this child would have to exhaust their administrative remedies before filing a discrimination and assault and battery case in federal court, so they should immediately file formal complaints with the school system, the city and/or Human Relations/Equal Opportunity commission, otherwise the doors to federal court may be closed to them. Nonetheless, they might get a quick and symbolic win in Federal Court by requesting a restraining order requiring that the child be placed in a different class, receive child psychological intervention, and new braids that would rectify, to the extent possible, the damage done to the child's hairstyle and her self-esteem.

Is this an example of the USA's antagonism toward Black people's natural hair styles? Would the teacher have cut off this girl's hair if it were long and straight? Was the teacher antagonistically color-aroused by the beads in the child's hair, in the way that whites reacted negatively at first to Venus and Serena Williams' braids and beads?

Even if the teacher was Black, I would be interested to know if she had cut off the long straight hair of white students in the past.

Since seeing a child brutalized in this way by a teacher who has control over ALL of the children is an inherently emotionally distressful event.

I'm not a practicing lawyer, but this question could easily appear on a law school torts final exam (bad, unlawful acts). The exam would ask law students what the various causes of action were, who the potential plaintiffs were and who the potential defendants were. In Civil Procedure, they would ask where the potential causes of action should be filed (what the forum court would be, whether state, federal, or both, and against whom, and what filings would be required within the next months in order to maintain the child plaintiff's right to file.

The parents are also potential plaintiffs with intentional infliction of emotional distress claims, since it was certainly foreseeable that the child would return home, tell her account to her parents, and her parents would become sick to their stomachs.

I would advise that the child be taken immediately to a child psychiatrist (psychiatrists are doctors with more training than psychologists, so they serve as better expert witnesses) and the psychiatrist would provide treatment for the child as necessary and write an analysis for the courts of the psychological effect(s) this has had, is having, and will have on this child in the future.

In order to have a chance at success with intentional infliction of emotional distress claims with the parents as the victims, the parents should also immediately see psychiatrists and continue to do so as this case works it way through courts, since their visits to a psychiatrist are an indication of the seriousness of the psychiatric harm and also prepare for expert testimony by their psychiatrist.

I'm not practicing law anymore, but this is what I would do if it were my child.

To put additional pressure on the school system, I would seek to depose every child in the class as a potential witness. That would get parents involved and furious at the school system.

City of Columbia, MO Settles w/ Suicidal Man Whom Police Tasered Off Bridge to Highway Below

Phillip McDuffy Agrees to settlement after 2008 Columbia, MO police pre-trial, extra-judicial death penalty attempt.

In July of 2008, a suicidal Black man, Phillip McDuffy, was out on the ledge of a bridge threatening to jump off. Little did he know, it was not necessary to jump, since the police were more than happy to push him with two or more electrical shocks from a 50,000 volt pre-trial, extra-judicial death penalty electrocution and execution gun. At the time, the Police Brutality Blog called it a "death penalty attempt" by the Columbia, MO police.

Now, according to the Columbia Tribune, the city has made a rare admission that police were wrong to shock the Mr. McDuffy under the circumstances:

City Finance Director Lori Fleming said that avoiding a potentially lengthy and expensive jury trial merited the outlay of taxpayer dollars.

“We obviously believe it is in the best interest of the city in the long run,” Fleming said.

“Given the courts and what can happen, it was best to just get this issue behind us, ” the finance director said.

Hopefully, this settlement will show other cities the financial risks involved with electrically shocking members of the public under circumstances that would also shock a jury. The Columbia Tribune reports:

Claim is settled in ’08 incident.

The man injured after falling 15 feet from a highway overpass when police shocked him with two Tasers has reached a cash settlement with the city of Columbia.

The city Finance Department agreed last month to pay $300,000 to 46-year-old Phillip McDuffy to settle a claim he made out of court. About $66,450 of that settlement will go to the Family Support Payment Center to cover back child support that McDuffy owes.

McDuffy’s attorney, Todd Johnson of Kansas City, had proposed a $500,000 settlement to close the matter, indicating in a December 2008 letter to the city that Johnson would receive 40 percent of the settlement for his work. Neither Johnson nor McDuffy could be reached this morning for comment.

City Finance Director Lori Fleming said that avoiding a potentially lengthy and expensive jury trial merited the outlay of taxpayer dollars.

“We obviously believe it is in the best interest of the city in the long run,” Fleming said.

“Given the courts and what can happen, it was best to just get this issue behind us, ” the finance director said.

On July 25, 2008, McDuffy walked along the outside ledge of a pedestrian overpass on Providence Road and threatened suicide by jumping to the Interstate 70 pavement below.

Standing outside the fenced-in walkway, McDuffy refused to leave his perch during a 90-minute confrontation with police. The episode brought traffic on Providence Road and I-70 to a halt in both directions, drawing a large crowd of onlookers.

In an attempt to end the incident, two Columbia police officers fired Taser devices at McDuffy, who was shocked and fell limply to the ground. McDuffy spent eight days in intensive care at University Hospital and had three surgeries, including two that required pins to repair broken bones.

Last year, Johnson said, McDuffy’s medical bills totaled about $167,000, but the lawyer said that total did not include physical therapy. Johnson also claimed McDuffy was experiencing stress headaches and double vision.

An internal investigation by Columbia police found the Taser use was proper.

However, the incident and others in the region prompted Columbia police to adopt new, more restrictive guidelines for Taser use. Still, critics say, the settlement should be a warning that the devices are more trouble than they are worth.

“How much more money is the taxpayer going to have to pay before they realize that when we weigh the pros and cons of this weapon, it’s just not worth it,” said Mary Hussman of Grass Roots Organizing, which has been critical of Columbia police Taser use. “We’re accepting a tremendous liability when we allow these weapons in the hands of our police officers.”

Hussman said McDuffy is disabled and unable to work. He previously held a job at a fast-food restaurant.

Reach T.J. Greaney at 573-815-1719 or e-mail

This article was published on page A1 of the Thursday, December 10, 2009 edition of The Columbia Daily.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Worst Police Misconduct Videos of 2009 - Reader Poll

As the year closes I thought that one way to look back at the year in police misconduct would be too review some of the videos of police misconduct we’ve seen in the news… and let you tell us which ones you thought were the worst.

You can vote for up to 3 videos, the results will be published in January. Each has a link, name of victim, age, location, date, officers involved, and last known status. If you think we missed one, let us know.

*NOTE – These are not all the police misconduct videos released in 2009, just the ones we could embed here, in random order.

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VIDEO 1 – Man dragged from car & beaten during DUI traffic stop

Robert Waits – Age 29 – Dickson County TN – February 2009 – TN State Trooper Julio Lasalle, Dickson Co Deputies Jason Thompson and Baker – No Disciplinary Action, Civil Suit Filed

VIDEO 2 – Innocent man put on life support in coma after tackled by deputy

Christopher Harris – Age 29 – Seattle WA – May 2009 – King County Deputy Matthew Paul – No Disciplinary Action, Civil Suit Pending

VIDEO 3 – Officer assaults woman in dispute with his son, then tries to destroy video

Agnes Lawless – Age 22 – Philadelphia PA – August 2008 – Philadelphia PD Officer Albert Lopez Sr. – Unspecified Disciplinary Action, Civil Suit Pending

VIDEO 4 – Officer attacks man during traffic stop

Skee Katlun – Age Unspecified – South Bend IN – February 2009 – South Bend Police Cpl Jason King – Demoted and suspended w/o pay for 30 days, not charged, resigned on disability.

VIDEO 5 – Officers beat cooperative passenger during traffic stop

Derrick Newman – Age Unspecified – Beaumont TX – August 2007 – Beaumont Police Officer Burke – Civil Suit Awarded $160k, Suspended 2 days w/o pay.

VIDEO 6 – Officer beats 15yr-old girl for kicking off tennis shoe

Malika Calhoon – Age 15 – King County WA – November 28, 2008 – KCSO Deputy Paul Schene – Fired, Pending Criminal Trial, civil suit settled for $125k.

VIDEO 7 – Officers attack man then falsely report he attacked them

Joshua Ortiz – Age – Ft. Lauderdale FL – December 2008 – 3 Unspecified Ft. Lauderdale Officers – Internal Affairs Cleared Officers.

VIDEO 8 – Officer attacks man during traffic stop for just wanting his ticket

Raphael Rodriquez – Age 30 – Prince George’s County MD – October 2008 – PGSO Officer John Wynkoop, Officer Scott Wilson – Suspended Pending Internal Investigation Monitored by FBI.

VIDEO 9 – Man beaten by cops at night after chase, recorded by witnesses

Leroy Allen – Age 26 – New Orleans LA – February 2009 – Unspecified number of NOPD officers – Under Investigation by FBI

Video: NOPD arrest

VIDEO 10 – Cops beat man at side of road after traffic stop

Derryl Jenkins – Age 42 – Minneapolis MN – February 2009 – Unspecified Minneapolis Police Officers – No known disciplinary action.

VIDEO 11 – Oscar Grant shot in back during arrest while face down on ground

Oscar Grant – Age 22 – Oakland CA – January 2009 – Oakland CA BART Officer Johannes Mehserle and Officer Tony Pirone – Mehserle trial for murder pending, Pirone under possible internal investigation.

VIDEO 12 – Man hit with flashlight & kicked while under control by other cops

Luis Mendonca – Age 20 – Providence RI – October 2009 – Providence RI Detective Robert DeCarlo – Outside Investigation in progress.

VIDEO 13 – 12yr old girl shot at point blank range by shotgun with beanbag round

Unnamed minor – Age 12 – Portland OR – November 2009 – Portland OR Officer Christopher Humphreys – Under internal investigation

Portland Police officer shoots 12-year-old with beanbag gun.

VIDEO 14 – Man beaten and tasered by cops while trying to find his glasses

Phoung Ho – Age 20 – San Jose CA – October 2009 – San Jose CA Officer Steven Payne and Officer Kenneth Siegel – Currently under internal investigation

VIDEO 15 – Cops drag racing kill two teens in 90mph+ accident

Ashlie Krakowski and David Servin – Age 19 – Milford CT – June 2009 – Milford CT Officer Jason Anderson – Facing trial for 2nd degree manslaughter

VIDEO 16 – Cop tasers handcuffed man, fall breaks his teeth and jaw

Rocky Allred – Age 43 – Lansing MI – August 2009 – Lansing MI Officer Ryan Smith – Disciplinary 2 Week Suspension Without Pay

VIDEO 17 – Cops beat up man accidentally released from jail early

Daniel Saunders – Age 46 – Seattle WA – June 2009 – Seattle PD Officers Domingo Ortiz, Scott Schenck, Albert Elliott – Under Internal Investigation

VIDEO 18 – Cop sneaks up behind cooperative suspect and tasers him for several seconds

Rolando Ruiz – Age 18 – Minneapolis MN – April 2009 – Minneapolis MN Officer Todd Lappegaard – Civil Lawsuit Filed

VIDEO 19 – Man repeatedly tasered and kicked by cops outside club he worked at

Marcus Swiat – Age 27 – Fort Worth TX – May 2008 – 4 Unspecified FT Worth TX Officers – No disciplinary action, civil suit filed.

VIDEO 20 – Man forced to pose for trophy photo at G-20 summit

Kyle Kramer – Age 21 – Pittsburgh PA – September 2009 – Approx 14 Unidentified Chicago IL Police Officers – 2 Supervising officers recieve written reprimands

VIDEO 21 – 15yr old special needs student beaten over dress code violation

Marshawn Pitts – Age 15 – Dolton IL – May 2009 – Dolton Police Officer Christopher Lloyd – Unemployed, Currently facing charges for Sexual Assault in seperate case

VIDEO 22 – Cop kicks suspect in face after he surrendered during car chase

Richard Rodriquez – Age Unspecified – El Monte CA – May 2009 – El Monte Police officer George Fierro – Under Investigation

VIDEO 23 – Police officer arrests reporter & cameraman covering accident scene

Darren White – Age Unspecified – El Paso TX – April 2009 – El Paso Sgt Raul Ramirez – Demoted to patrol officer on excessive force finding, discipline then overturned by appeal panel.

VIDEO 24 – Police officer attacks mentally ill man for not having his jacket zipped up.

Ronnie Halloway – Age 50 – Passaic NJ – May 2009 – Passaic Police Officer Joseph Rios III – Facing trial for aggravated assault and official misconduct, suspended w/o pay.

15 comments to Worst Police Misconduct Videos of 2009 – Reader Poll

  • MacK

    Many pretty sickening to watch and even worse to see nothing down to cops on many. I went with the Oscar Grant video even though it does appear something is being done so far. It takes unbelievable hubris to shoot a man point blank with that many cameras pointed at you. Number 2 was a close second, but I could not go with it because shoving a person is not usually as deadly as a bullet.

  • Juliet

    these videos make me so sick and so sad. i do NOT understand-how is it possible that almost ALL of these officers saw NO disciplinary action whatsoever?? and if they did, half of it was paid??i understand that cops as a brotherhood are capable of getting away with murder, but when there is a FILMED VIDEO of what happened, how is this possible?? WHY IS THIS SLIPPING THROUGH THE CRACKS–what can we do to make sure that all acts of violence and unnecessary force that have physical evidence, aka video, are fully punished as thy would be with ANY NORMAL CITIZEN??? what can i do, as a person? please help me understand how we can right these wrongs, i am so disgusted!!!!

  • Mack,

    Yes, they’re all bad, as are the cases we never see or never even know about.


    Thank you for asking… It’s pretty complex and depends on what the situation is in the area that you live in.

    In some places, departments have little leeway in how they can discipline officers due to state laws so pressure needs to be put on state lawmakers to change the way things are done on that level to address the problem.

    In others, the problems stem from leaders unwilling to discipline officers due to any number of reasons, and yet other departments are controlled by government officials who prefer to cover up abuses to prevent liability instead of address the problems to prevent liability.

    There are so many root causes that one single approach to solve the problem… But, in any case, the first step is just to convince people that it happens, that it can really happen to anyone, and that it’s something that they should be concerned enough to do something about it. According to the polls I’ve cited previously, a majority of Americans don’t even believe that it happens.

    Thank you for being willing to see it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

  • [...] This post was Twitted by donkeyrock [...]

  • Sadist cops

    The sadistic persons threatening behavior will often escalate to interpersonal violence if he or she thinks that the person being subordinated is resisting control or is no longer intimidated.

    Explosive sadistics react suddenly with verbal abuse and violence. It appears as if they reach a threshold of tolerance and then respond rapidly and violently against what they consider “safe” targets, that is, ones that cannot retaliate. Explosive sadistic types are hypersensitive to any hint of betrayal by those with whom they have relationships and they explode with rage when their feelings of shame reach intolerable levels.

    In contrast spineless sadistics have predominately avoidant personality disorder features. These individuals are essentially highly insecure and they have a “strike first” attitude to counter their insecurities and feelings of powerlessness. They also hypothesize that spineless types take out their aggression and hostility on especially defenseless or helpless targets.

    According to Million and Davis, the enforcing Sadistic Personality Disorder type has obsessive-compulsive features. They sublimate their hostility by enforcing rules, often in a demanding and authoritarian manner that allows no dissent or even rational objection. They may see themselves as defenders of justice or correctness, but it often is a mask to hide their basically cruel and hostile nature. They may be typified by the “hanging” judge and the “mean” cop.

    Tyrannical sadistic types have depressive and paranoid personality disorder features. Million and Davis propose that they are perhaps the most frightening and pathological of all four types. Tyrannical types are cruel and absolutely inhumane. The often instigate and carry out the most verbally and physically abusive sadistic acts on other people and animals and will also direct others to carry out these acts.

    Like most other personality disorders, personas with Sadistic Personality Disorder typically do not see any problems with their behavior and in fact usually see the positive outcomes of getting what they want.

  • Catinthewall

    This may seem like a minor thing, but embedding TWENTY FOUR flash videos on the front page may seem convenient for some, those without the memory to handle them all will find their browser screech to a halt, if not crash.

  • Cat,


    What do you suggest as a solution to that?

  • Juliet


    I live in Seattle, WA-which as you know has been a central area of police misconduct and unhappy citizens as of late. I’m not sure where the dealings with misconduct take place within our state system but I also simply don’t know where to find this information..

    I worry that because of the recent murders of Police officers, law makers will be even more weary of putting any pressure or limitation on police behavior.

  • Catinthewall

    make a few seperate pages each with 4-6 videos, Maybe even make the whole thing tournament-tree voting out of each group.

  • Juliet,

    I’ve actually discussed Seattle’s problem in depth in the past. It’s a complex problem that is primarily caused by the police union having too much influence over the way the city and department can discipline officers. This came about via a combination of the city giving the union that kind of authority in past contract negotiations. However, the city is now powerless to turn back that clock due to state laws and processes that heavily favor police officers and their unions.

    So, you’re not going to convince the union to agree to reforms without paying through the nose and even when it does agree, it modifies those reforms in a way to make it so they don’t work as intended. You can convince city officials to do something about it, but they’ve found there’s little they can actually do about it other than put up a good show with a powerless civilian oversight mechanism that was neutered by the police union… so the only place to start is at the state level to decrease the influence unions have on their disciplinary processes and then go back to the city-level and argue for changes locally.

    But, the problem there is, as you say, the recent violence against police puts any effort to argue for reforms in a very bad position as politicians are now begging for chances to show police unions that they are siding with them in any way possible. So, for now, the best thing to do is just organize at a grass roots level so that when the climate becomes favorable for change again, after some more high-profile cases, you’ll have the support all ready to lobby for changes.

    Sorry, but that’s how I see Seattle’s situation at the current moment.

  • Cat,

    I’ll see what I can do when I have some time… the problem is that there are some sites directly linking to the article at the moment and it took me a long time to format it correctly. I don’t have time to redo it now and I don’t want to break those links too quickly. So sometime this weekend I may switch it to a page with a redirect… If I get the time.

    Hope that doesn’t cause too many problems, sorry for the inconvenience.

  • no bad cops

    Cat, you are correct that it does make the site really slow loading even for those of us that have the memory. But it’s worth it because this is an important and interesting topic. A possible solution is in a couple of weeks maybe he can take them down and replace them with a still photo from each case?

    All the videos are so bad I had a hard time trying to pick only three. Even more sickening then the videos themselves is the lack of any justice on over half of them! I just cannot believe that, I mean they’re caught on tape what more do you want!!

    I guess it just goes to prove the point this site has made time and time again; that cops not only need more accountability, but ANY accountability would be a good place to start!

  • no bad cops

    Make no mistake, as long as they feel they are above the law this will not only continue but it will get WORSE.

    Had this site been around five years ago I think we’d already have proof of that!

    Don’t get too bogged down in the details of city governments. Any progress is good progress, especially when it’s so desperately needed. Of course the laws are in their favor, nobody has ever really stood up to them. If the politicians are too cowardly to act then don’t forget that there is always strength in numbers. Just ask the cops, that’s how they work.

    ANY person in a position of power who stands up against some of these cops actions CAN make a difference just by saying “your badge doesn’t allow you to do whatever you want, the buck stops here”. The domino effect of one’s persons actions could at least curb the abuse for awhile and maybe even save the next person. Which is the real goal here.

    So even if the system works for the wrong people it doesn’t hurt to point that out to our ELECTED representatives . After all, we can vote them out. They should keep that in mind.

  • no bad cops

    Juliet, you are absolutely correct that the police unions will exploit the senseless murder of those four cops for everything it’s worth, and then some. How pathetic that the lives of those people will be used as a bargaining chip for megalomaniac cops to get their way and cover up their misdeeds. The author of this site has pointed out some of the specific problems with Seattle but please don’t let that deter you.

    Remember that the truth is not only the best defense it’s also a pretty good offence!!

    The fact that some of us here who are educated on the issue are STILL shocked at the lack of accountability for these beatings speaks to the fact that ignorance of the problem is still a big part of the problem!

    Get the message out to everyone you know and encourage them to do the same. I would suggest handing this one out for starters-

    and putting it in every coffee shop, student lounge, telephone pole, anywhere you are allowed to post something. Mail it to your humanities professors and maybe they will in turn educate others.

    Each incident of police abuse by itself no longer stands out —and it’s too easy for cop supporters to defend ONE isolated case— but when you take a step back and look at the whole picture you see how corrupt police as a whole truly are.

    Knowledge is power, education is the key, and the game is won two points at a time.

    So please everyone, forward these articles to all of your friends, family and acquaintances and encourage them to do the same. You never know, you just might be saving them from something horrible. Because think about it, some of these people probably didn’t expect THIS from those who are paid to protect them.

  • no bad cops

    Another good one to hand out and publicize is about all of the cops who beat the hell out of and terrorize their own families:

    Some estimates put police officer domestic violence rates at four times higher then the general population. Some “heroes” they are.

    And when they’re not out beating their wives or molesting kids they are stealing from even their own organizations!, as this article points out:

    These are the types of cases that if people read them, they WILL help change any misconceptions they have about police abuse. Because,

    “If that doesn’t convince you to worry about these kinds of misconduct, then consider that if an officer can get away with theft, what else might that officer do when nobody is watching?”