Thursday, December 2, 2010

Is Ex-Bart Cop Johannes Mehserle a Murderer?



A judge sentenced ex-BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle to the minimum term of two years in prison Friday for fatally shooting unarmed train rider Oscar Grant, saying he believed the former officer's testimony that he had confused his pistol for a Taser.

Mehserle, 28, faced as many as 14 years in prison after he was convicted in July of involuntary manslaughter and a separate charge of intentionally firing a gun at Grant at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland early on Jan. 1, 2009. But Judge Robert Perry threw out the firearm conviction before sentencing Mehserle in Los Angeles County Superior Court, saying there was no evidence to support it.

His decision infuriated members of Grant's family, some of whom stalked out of the courtroom before the judge had even finished speaking. Grant's sister, Chantay Moore, exclaimed from the gallery, "Oh, my!"

Afterward, they said the outcome showed that the justice system was stacked against African Americans such as Grant, especially in dealing with white police officers such as Mehserle.
Eligible in 7 months

With credit for time he has already served behind bars, Mehserle will be eligible for release in about seven months. His attorney, Michael Rains, said he will appeal the involuntary manslaughter conviction and in the meantime will try to win Mehserle's release on bail.

Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and manacles, Mehserle showed little reaction to the sentence, but his family members burst into tears. Rains said Mehserle "told me he felt closer to maybe getting out and seeing his son," who was born a day after the shooting.

The events that led to Friday's sentencing were set in motion by a fight aboard a Dublin-Pleasanton train involving the 22-year-old Grant. BART police who responded to the Fruitvale Station decided to arrest Grant for allegedly resisting officers.

Mehserle testified that he had meant to pull his Taser shock weapon as he sought to handcuff the prone Grant, but instead drew his pistol and shot the Hayward resident once in the back. Several cell phone videos taken by other passengers ensured that the incident would receive national attention.
Judge sympathizes

Modesto Police Used Force More Often



Though the number of arrests and contacts with the public were at the lowest level in years, Modesto police officers used force more often in 2008 and 2009 than in previous years, and the department saw a 22 percent increase in citizen complaints alleging police misconduct.
Officers resorted to using take-down moves, batons, Tasers, pepper spray or firearms 250 times in 2009, when 15,023 arrests were made, a rate of 1.7 percent.
The use-of-force rate, which tells how often officers use pain or weaponry during an arrest, was 1.5 percent in 2008-09 period, compared with 1.2 percent from 2004 to 2007.

The Police Department also received an increased number of complaints alleging misconduct in 2008 and 2009. Of the 151 complaints, 37 people complained that officers used unreasonable force.
There were 124 citizen complaints in 2006 and 2007, including 30 complaints regarding the force used by officers.
The numbers, though far from conclusive, could fuel public sentiment that the city needs to look closely at how Modesto officers are using force when making arrests or controlling a crowd.
Friday, the city is expected to announce the hiring of a law firm to conduct an administrative investigation of the Police Department.
City management called for the probe based on a letter sent to Police Chief Mike Harden and top city officials a month ago. The unsigned letter, purportedly written by an MPD employee, names officers who are allegedly committing acts of brutality and claims department managers are looking the other way.
City officials have said that details in the letter warrant investigation.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Seattle Police Officer Ian D Birk Murders Native Woodcarver

The police shooting of a talented, aging Native totem carver has sparked anger and outrage in Seattle’s Native community, and beyond.

John T. Williams, long time Seattle resident and a
Ditidaht member of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations of Canada’s Vancouver Island, was shot four times and killed Aug. 30 by police officer Ian D Birk, a two-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department.

Police said Birk spotted him sitting on a ledge with a knife and shouted three commands at him to drop it.

As eyewitnesses came forward with a different version of events police then said Williams was crossing an intersection with a knife and piece of wood in his hands, refused to drop the knife and advanced towards the officer.

“His body stance did not look threatening at all,” an eyewitness told The Seattle Times. “I could only see the gentleman’s back, and he didn’t look aggressive at all. He didn’t even look up at the officer.”

Williams died between 1811 Eastlake, a private nonprofit home for chronic drinkers where he’d lived off and on, and the Pike Street Market in downtown Seattle, where he sold his carvings.

Williams was crippled with arthritis and hobbled more than he walked, Randy Lewis, a leader of the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation said. He was capable at most of turning towards the officer when he heard him shouting, to show him what he had in his hands.

That’s if he heard him shouting. Williams’ friends say he was deaf in his left ear from an infection eight years ago.

Seattle police now say they don’t know exactly what happened. Seattle Police Chief John Diaz told reporters he has “a lot more questions than answers.”

What is known is that Birk exited his patrol car, shouted out commands and then fatally shot Williams in the span of a minute. The officer’s in-car video caught part of the incident. The tape has not been released to the public.

The folding carving knife carried by Williams had a less than three-inch blade, legal to carry in Seattle. The city’s code states a dangerous knife is one having a blade three and one-half inches or more.

Locals have honored the Williams family for more than 100 years for their traditional carvings, and for making and selling them at the street level and in galleries. He was a seventh generation master carver who carried his carving tools with him, and carved in public.

“It’s a great cultural ignorance for (the police department) even to admit they weren’t familiar with their carving with knives on the street (because it’s) not unusual,” said family friend Storme Webber, Aleut.

Diaz pledged a complete and transparent investigation by homicide detectives, as well as a firearms review board to determine whether Birk followed department policy.

Even so, “a whole lot of governmental process doesn’t bring a loved one back, we do recognize that,” Sean Whitcomb, SPD spokesperson said. The shooting “is not the outcome that anyone wanted, this entire event is very tragic.

“We recognize that as difficult as it is we ask that concerned citizens place some faith in this process that will unfold, Whitcomb said. “That process is the investigation process of our own department, as well as the inquest by the prosecuting attorney’s office.”

The Chief Seattle Club called on Deputy Chief Nick Metz, in particular, to apologize for comments he made about Williams at a press briefing Aug. 31.

“Metz was trying to paint a picture of him in a negative light, like he was trying to rationalize or justify what happened,” said Jenine Grey, Tlingit, of the Chief Seattle Club, a private nonprofit service agency for Native American and First Nations people, where Williams was a member. “Those are very common charges that homeless people face.”

Grey said finding a place to urinate other than a gutter is a complicated thing for the homeless. “No one, restaurants or other public places, wants to let homeless people in to use their bathrooms. Nor can they afford to sit in a restaurant or bar when they want to have a drink.

Fern Renville, Sisseton Wahpeton, managing director of Native youth theater group Red Eagle Soaring said the pitiful language coming from the police department “doesn’t describe the man that I knew – kind, compassionate, and a great artist.”

On Sept. 2, 300 people with candles and drums turned out at the Chief Seattle Club to affirm the value of the woodcarver’s life and his place in the community. They expressed their outrage at the senseless death of a harmless man.

“An elder said this wasn’t the time and place for that,” said Penny Octuck Cole, of Tacoma. “He said tonight we’re remembering who John was, in a quiet respectful way. After that, everyone settled down. But they were quietly making plans for protests.”

Seattle’s mayor Mike McGinn was at the vigil with a lit candle. “His attendance spoke miles,” Lewis said. The mayor told those around him that actions, speaking louder than words, would be forthcoming.

At a press conference called by community leaders Sept. 3, speakers demanded an inquest panel with at least one Native member approved by the community. Grey said they were holding the Seattle Police Department and the City of Seattle accountable for William’s death.

“This tragedy never should have happened,” Grey said. “We are angry and outraged that his life was interrupted for seemingly no reason, and so callously disregarded.”

Grey said they’re worried about their most vulnerable community members who suffer regular harassment and abuse on the streets of Seattle, and added that it is incredible that in a city named for an Indian chief, a police officer would not recognize that an Indian carrying carving tools was no threat.

“It’s really appalling what happened to my relative,” said Chief Jack Thompson of the Ditidaht First Nation, who traveled to Seattle from Canada’s Vancouver Island. He said Williams was just trying to make a living as he walked the streets of Seattle. “I hope the police would find it in their hearts to do the right thing.”

Lewis, an art framer said Williams used to come by his shop for wood scraps. “He’d carve on the front porch and we’d talk. He was probably one of the gentlest people I know. For them to trivialize his life riles me to no end.

“We are not a people of a romantic past, nor are we a people of an irrelevant present and we are not going to allow this to be swept under the rug. We want the police department to own the responsibility of their actions, then get on with the job of asking, is this person culpable?”

Several British Columbia newspapers reported that Williams’ death had left Native communities in Canada reeling. First Nations leaders held a news conference Sept. 3 to demand a full investigation.

“I’m deeply angered and outraged to hear once again the police shooting down one of our people in a clearly unprovoked situation,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. Philip said he does not accept the police version of the incident.

A demonstration and community memorial service is pending discussions between the family and various Native organizations. Williams has at least two brothers and one sister living in the Seattle area.


Matthew Spurlock Of Modesto Police Is A Rapist




A Stanislaus County judge today said a Modesto police officer must stand trial for allegedly assaulting and injuring his wife.

Matthew Spurlock, 39, of Modesto faces charges of spousal abuse, assault with a semiautomatic weapon and assault with the intent to commit rape.

He was arrested July 15 and put on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation, Modesto police Sgt. Rick Armendariz said.

According to testimony, Spurlock pointed a Glock .45-caliber gun at his wife's torso. Spurlock's wife suffered visible injuries but was not hospitalized.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Officer Smith Harassing Citizens of Ahwatukee AZ

This is a comment from a concerned citizen of Ahwatukee.

I'm not sure if you can help, but hopefully you can direct me in the right
direction. My son was arrested last year; charged with aggravated assault for
calling a police officer an "asshole." While this is disrespectful, it is not
against the law.

In addition, the day after we bailed him out, we were contacted by an officer
"Smith" with the drug division in the Ahwatukee branch. He wanted my son to
inform on any and all drug offenders in the area to have his charges dropped. I
got involved and said we would meet with him as soon as I could arrange to have
a lawyer present. He stated if we sought legal counsel then all bets were off.

My son went to court 2 weeks later and the charges were dropped. Now all of a
sudden these charges have reappeared.

What are your thoughts? This whole thing seems dirty to me and I do not trust
our law enforcement officials nor do I trust the judges on our benches.

Please advise if you can.

Thanks,

Brandi

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Whitehall Police Brutality - Cop Slams Elderly Woman's Head On The Cement





On August 1, at a Whitehall, Ohio Wal-mart, Virginia Dodson could not remember why she was sitting alone in a car. Coming to grips with her enclosed environment, it dawned on her that she did not know how to unbuckle her seat belt either. Panic began to take hold.

Her solution was to scrounge up a steak knife and cut through the straps, eventually finding her way into the confusing world of the parking lot, still holding the blade.

Virginia, an 84-year-old African American, has Alzheimer's disease. Like many other sufferers, the responsibility for her care fell to her adult child. Her daughter, however, was inside the store.

It was only a short matter of time before the police were called.

A witness to the scene, one Tomya Beatty, said: "She didn’t even ask her to drop the knife. The woman told her when the cop came charging at her. She said, 'I’m not going to cut you. I’m not going to cut you.' She was just calling her daughter’s name out."

The use of force against an obviously frail woman is apparent. As the video progresses, a noisy scene develops around the officers as the confused old woman lays on the ground, bleeding. "Dotson’s daughter said her mother needed stitches to close the wounds and her hand may have been broken,"

Police declined to press charges against the woman, who was released back into her daughter's custody.

"What's got me is that since it's obvious the female officer was strong enough to take her down with ease, why not just grab the knife from her instead?"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Seattle Police Brutality - Ian Walsh Punches Teenage Girl



Seattle police officials said Tuesday that their officers are trained to throw a punch in certain situations, but said they have a "number of concerns" regarding the tactics an officer used in dealing with a 17-year-old girl he punched in the face while trying to cite a group of women for jaywalking.

"The issue we have to investigate is whether the force he used is reasonable given the combative resistance he was facing... and we're not going to pass judgment on that until the matter has been thoroughly investigated," said Assistant Seattle Police Chief Nick Metz.

Seattle police have directed a review of Seattle police tactics and training to ensure the training and implementation of those tactics are appropriate and consistent, Metz said.

The review comes in the wake of an altercation captured on video that shows Officer Ian Walsh punching the teenage girl in the face while struggling to get her and another teen under control in South Seattle.

The incident began when Walsh spotted four young women jaywalking the 3100 block of Martin Luther King, Jr. Way S. Walsh asked the group to step over to his patrol car, but the women were being "verbally antagonistic toward the officer," according to officials.


Walsh pushed the 17 year old girl, but the girl came back at him. Walsh then punched her, police said.

Metz said Walsh will be transferred to a training section and the department will conduct an internal review.

"The officer is going to be transferred to the training section for a few days to review the tactics that he's been taught," Metz said. "The issue we have to investigate is whether the force he used is reasonable given the combative resistance he was facing. We're not going to pass judgment on that until the matter has been thoroughly investigated."