Friday, February 02, 2007

The "Teflon Badge"


Hartford Connecticut Police Officer Robert Lawlor aka "The Teflon Badge"

Are White Officers that execute blacks in Connecticut able to get away with murder? The past policy seems to be for the prosecutor to purposely botch a criminal case involving an officer, so the racist officer skates on appeal.

Should an officer such as Lawlor, a White, shoot Blacks in the back, and then post his picture in front of a badge and an American Flag asking for donations on a website?


CONNECTICUT NEWS
Conflict Seen In Account Of Key Figure In Officer's Trial
February 2, 2007
By TINA A. BROWN, Courant Staff Writer

Significant details about a fatal police shooting that a federal agent reported to his supervisor seem to contradict testimony he later gave to a special grand jury that indicted a Hartford police detective, according to a report released Thursday.

And the special prosecutor who obtained a manslaughter indictment against Hartford Police Det. Robert Lawlor said Thursday that he had never seen the report written by the agent's supervisor at the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Lawlor is awaiting trial in the May 2007 shooting death of Jashon Bryant. Lawlor was working that night with ATF Special Agent Daniel Prather on a joint anti-violence team. The two were questioning Bryant and a companion as they sat in a car outside a Hartford convenience store.

The apparent discrepancies involve whether Prather felt his life was in danger and where he was standing when the car began to pull away and Lawlor opened fire.

Prather told the grand jury he was standing at the side of the car and never felt his life was in danger when Lawlor fired into the passenger side of the car, according to the special prosecutor's report.

But in an ATF report released Thursday, supervisor Dennis Turman wrote that Prather said he was standing in front of the car, and when it accelerated, he dived out of the way, "fearing imminent serious injury or death." That statement on ATF letterhead was filed May 8, 2005 - the day after the shooting.

It was not made public until Thursday when Lawlor's attorney, Michael Georgetti, asked Superior Court Judge Thomas P. Miano for permission to interview Turman under oath.

New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington, who is prosecuting Lawlor, did not object to Georgetti's request. Neither attorney discussed the contents of Turman's report in open court. But its substance appears to be at odds with other officials statements attributed to Prather and his testimony last year before the special state grand jury.

According to a summary of Prather's grand jury testimony, he said, "at no time while he was at the car with Officer Lawlor did he believe his life was in danger, nor was Officer Lawlor's." That summary was written by Waterbury State's Attorney John A. Connelly, who served as a special prosecutor in the criminal investigation and oversaw evidence presented to the grand jury.

Connelly said Thursday that he had never seen the Turman report and was not familiar with any statements made by Prather that indicate that he was in danger at the time of the shooting.

"He gave a statement to Hartford Police," Connelly said of Prather. "We asked for all the statements from Prather from Hartford Police and the ATF. All the reports that were given to us were turned over to the grand jury," he said.

Connelly emphasized that Prather had never said he was in danger. "He said the opposite," the prosecutor said. "That's not what Prather testified to. That's not what Prather said to the grand jury. I never saw that statement."

Georgetti said he asked for permission to depose Turman because he wants "to know what Prather told him. ... Prather's testimony before the grand jury and this statement are diametrically opposites. One of them is the truth," he said.

"This evidence will establish that my client was justified in using deadly force," Georgetti said, adding that the contradictory statements will "impeach the testimony of Dan Prather."

After the hearing, Keith Thomas, Jashon Bryant's father, said he doubts Prather lied to the grand jury. "I believe what Prather said in the grand jury was true. [The Turman report] has been around since May. Why did they wait until now?"

Thomas added that he also hopes the trial jury in Superior Court in Hartford will believe Brandon Henry, who was driving the car and survived the shooting.

"I believe what Brandon said, regardless to what the agent has said," Thomas said. "He wasn't going to lie when his life was on the line."

Contact Tina A. Brown at tabrown@courant.com.

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The below is from "The BrownWatch" website:

Judge Orders Release of Report: Chicago Police Tortured Over 192 Black Men

May 20, 2006

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Jon Burge began his "house of torture" in 1973 and did not stop until he was 'fired' in Feb. 1993. [MORE]
A report from a four-year, multimillion-dollar investigation into allegations that Chicago police tortured black suspects should be released to the public, a judge ruled Friday. Attorneys for several officers involved in the case had argued against the release of the report, which addresses accusations that police tortured 192 black men in interrogation rooms during the 1970s and 1980s. But in authorizing special prosecutors to release the document, Chief Criminal Court Judge Paul Biebel wrote that "the public's right to be informed of the results of this exhaustive investigation outweighs the privacy rights of the individual officers." Allegations include officers using suffocation techniques, such as placing a typewriter cover over a suspect's head, electric shocks, beatings and mock Russian roulette to elicit confessions. Many of the accusers have pointed to officers who were overseen by Commander Jon Burge, who was fired from the Chicago Police Department in 1993. "After the third torture session, I understood that these guys weren't going to let me out of there alive if I didn't say what they wanted," said David Bates, who was among the people whose cases were investigated by the special prosecutor. Mr. Bates said police beat him and covered his head with a typewriter cover in 1983 until he confessed to a crime he says he did not commit. One of the prosecutors, Edward J. Egan, said the report would be reviewed for accuracy and not released before June 2. It is unclear whether the investigation will lead to indictments. Statutes of limitations could be an issue. [MORE] and [MORE]

  • Pictured above: Jon Burge and Aaron Patterson. Patterson was sentenced to death in 1989 for the murder of an elderly couple. Patterson's conviction rested primarily on a confession obtained by a group of south side police officers later shown to have engaged in systematic torture of suspects in scores of criminal cases. Immediately after signing the confession, Patterson used a paper clip he found to scratch into a metal bench: "Police threaten me with violence . . . Slapped and suffocated me with plastic . . . Signed false statement to murders." He was pardoned by Illinois Governor George Ryan in January, 2003. [MORE] and [MORE]
  • burgehearing.jpgPictured: David Bates talks with reporters after a Chicago judge ruled Friday, May 19, 2006. Bates has said he was convicted of murder and other charges in the mid-1980s due to a false confession he gave after being tortured by Chicago police, but he was eventually freed on appeal.

Posted on Friday, May 19, 2006 at 11:59PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | Comments1 Comment | References2 References | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

UN Asks What are You Going to do About it? Chicago Police Torture Probe doesn't go far enough

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A four-year investigation into allegations of torture at the Chicago Police Department needs to go further, a UN anti-torture panel said today, calling on the United States to ensure punishment for law enforcement officials who mistreated suspects. A report by the UN Committee Against Torture said the multimillion-dollar investigation into the alleged torture of 192 black men in interrogation rooms during the 1970s and 1980s was "limited" and not yet led to any prosecutions. The UN committee says the United States "should promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigate all allegations of acts of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by law enforcement personnel and bring perpetrators to justice." The committee is a panel of 10 independent experts who review nations' compliance with a 1984 global convention establishing a broad ban on prisoner mistreatment. Fernando Marino Menendez, an expert from Spain who chairs the committee, said the U.S. government needed to provide more information on what it was doing to ensure justice for people claiming to have been tortured by Chicago police. [MORE] and [MORE]

  • Pictured above: Fred Hampton Jr., right, son of slain black panther leader Fred Hampton, listens to Joe Roddy, attorney for police officers, talk about a Chicago judges decision Friday, May 12, 2006, to delay the release of a report into allegations of torture by the Chicago police department.
Posted on Friday, May 19, 2006 at 11:59PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Mother's plea: ‘I want to know why’ - Family of Black Man killed by Glen Ellyn Police Files Federal Lawsuit

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Black College Student- Unarmed & Naked Shot in the Face by Frightened Police
Portia Uwumarogie said she sent her son, Benjamin, to Glen Ellyn to get a college degree. Instead, the 22-year-old College of DuPage student died in a police shooting. Colleagues of Glen Ellyn officer Jason Bradley say he is a hero who risked his life to save a child, but the outraged Uwumarogie family isn’t so easily convinced. They filed a federal lawsuit Thursday alleging discrimination, undue deadly force, inadequate police training and that conspiring authorities are hiding the truth about the April 26 shooting. “Whatever happened that day, I do know my son well enough to know he would not harm anyone and was just trying to defend himself,” his mother said. “He was not the type of person to fear.” His father, Sunday, added: “I want to know why, why, why. How could he be shot in the face, in his own bedroom, while unarmed and naked?” As their lawyers filed the lawsuit, the parents, siblings and friends toted signs such as “Don’t cover up the truth” and “Justice for Benjamin” during a protest in downtown Chicago. They called upon DuPage County State’s Attorney Joseph Birkett to prosecute the police officer. Detectives who interviewed the officer and Uwumarogie’s friends and neighbors report a far more violent and bizarre portrayal of Uwumarogie than his family said is possible of the south suburban native. He did not have a history of criminal or mental problems, but officials suspect Uwumarogie suffered an emotional breakdown that day. Authorities said he attacked a girlfriend, performed naked cartwheels, shouted religious rantings and tried to drown his own baby before attacking Bradley. Authorities described a violent struggle that led to a bedroom in which the officer was beaten, his uniform torn. The men were alone in the room when the gun discharged, fatally striking the man once in the head. Attorneys Douglas Hopson and Benjamin Nwoye said the unarmed, nude man did not pose a danger and called the notion that Uwumarogie was trying to kill his son “ludicrous.” “There’s no history of such conduct and, more importantly, we have an eyewitness who disputes that claim,” Hopson said. The lawsuit alleges police did nothing to try to save the man’s life, allowing him to bleed to death while denying medical care. It also seeks an unspecified amount in damages and for a judge to order the Glen Ellyn police department to better train members on racial sensitivity and use of deadly force. [MORE] and [MORE] and [MORE] and [MORE]

Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:59PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

NAACP, FBI, ACLU Seek Info On Salt Lake Police Stun-Gun Beating Death of Somoan Man

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The Salt Lake City branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the FBI and the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union all have interest in the death of a man whom police purportedly wrestled to the ground, hit with clubs, and pepper sprayed all before being shocked with a TASER electronic control device. The Salt Lake NAACP branch called for a “full investigation” into the death Friday night of Alvin Itula, 35. Jeanetta Williams, president of the branch, said the organization will ask officials to determine whether Itula’s civil rights were violated. Itula, who was Samoan, may have been treated harshly because of his race, she said. Williams said she already has spoken with police Chief Chris Burbank and plans to ask the U.S. attorney’s office to review the case after the Salt Lake County district attorney completes his investigation. The FBI is “evaluating the situation now,” spokesman Patrick Kiernan said. “I can’t say we’ve formally opened a case yet.” The Utah ACLU chapter wants the mayor and police chief to review the guidelines governing the use of a TASER device. Police approached Itula after mistakenly believing he still was wanted on an arrest warrant. Police said Itula tried to flee and began to fight with the officers. The four officers involved in the incident are on paid administrative leave while the case is investigated by the police department and district attorney. [MORE]

Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:59PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Prosecutor recommends Arrest of Hartford Police in Fatal Shooting of Black Man: Jashon Bryant was Unarmed & Shot from Behind

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The Waterbury state's attorney on Tuesday recommended that an arrest warrant be sought for a Hartford police officer who shot a city man to death last year. Officer Robert Lawlor should be charged with manslaughter in the death of 18-year-old Jashon Bryant, prosecutor John Connelly said. The report found the shooting of 18-year-old Jashon Bryant -- who is black -- by Robert Lawlor -- a white police officer -- was not justified. The report was completed after an investigation by a grand juror in which 48 witnesses were questioned and more than 200 exhibits reviewed. He made his recommendation to Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano. Lawlor also should be charged with assault in the wounding of 20-year-old Brandon Henry in the same incident, Connelly said. An arrest warrant was not issued by late Tuesday and Lawlor remained on administrative duty, police said. Bryant was sitting in the passenger seat of the car when Lawlor and his partner, Dan Prather, an agent from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, approached the vehicle with the belief that Bryant and Henry had a gun. Lawlor and Prather, who were part of a task force aimed at removing illegal guns from the streets, ordered Bryant and Henry to get out, but Henry started the car. Lawlor opened fire when Henry drove directly toward Prather and Bryant reached down in front of the seat and pulled up what the officer believed to be a gun, Georgetti has said. Bryant was killed instantly from a gunshot wound to the head, and Henry drove off despite being shot once in the chest. He continued for several blocks, eluding police before crashing into a parked car. But the suspected weapon was never found, despite an extensive search of the car and surrounding neighborhood. The ATF agent assigned to work with Lawlor that day testified he never saw Bryant reaching for a gun, and never considered himself in danger at any point. An analysis of the five shots fired from Lawlor's gun showed they were all fired as the car was driving away from him. The two shots that struck Bryant were both fired from behind him, including one that passed through the passenger seat headrest and struck him in the head. Forensic experts, including Dr. Henry Lee, found the tip of Bryant's right thumb had been grazed by one of the shots, suggesting at least one of his hands had been in clear view at the time of the shooting, and may have been raised as a defensive gesture. [MORE] and [MORE]

  • Gathering, Memorial Is Dedicated To Teen Slain By Police Officer Year Ago Today [MORE]
Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:59PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | Comments2 Comments | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

What a Surprise. Racist Milwaukee Cop Exonerated in Jude Beating Also Gets Off in Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Black Man

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A federal jury has found a former Milwaukee police officer did not use excessive force when he shot and killed man in 2002.Jon Bartlett testified that he shot in self-defense after he saw 31-year-old Larry Jenkins behind the wheel of a car accelerating toward him. He said he thought Jenkins was trying to kill him.But Jenkins' family testified he wasn't even behind the wheel when Bartlett shot him seven times.Bartlett was fired from the police department after he and two other officers were charged in the 2004 beating of Frank Jude Jr.Last month Bartlett was acquitted of charges in that beating. [MORE] and [MORE]

  • Racist Milwaukee Police work to build relations with Hmong Community in Aftermath of Police Killing of Mentally Ill Man [MORE]
Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:59PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | Comments1 Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

All in the Family with White Milwaukee Cops: Judge says Contact between Bartlett, union head ruled confidential

On Thursday (before the verdict), U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon ruled that Jenkins' family could not present testimony regarding their theory that Bartlett was coached by his attorney and the Milwaukee Police Association president about what to say to justify his use of force. After several hours of argument, Herndon ruled that Bartlett's conversations with attorney Jonathan Cermele and with former union President Bradley DeBraska must remain confidential. In the case of Cermele, the ruling was not a surprise, because conversations between attorneys and their clients must be kept private. Herndon went a step further, however, extending the attorney-client privilege to DeBraska, who is not a lawyer. On the night Bartlett shot Jenkins, DeBraska conferred with both Bartlett and Cermele regarding Bartlett's best interest, DeBraska testified Thursday outside the presence of the jury. Because of those actions, Herndon ruled that DeBraska was an agent of the attorney and therefore protected. [MORE]

Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:59PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Redneck Milwaukee Cops Don't Snitch on Each Other & Weak Prosecutors Don't Charge Them

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Why Wasn't Officer Packard Charged in Jude Beating?
One of the lingering questions in the beating of Frank Jude Jr. was raised last week by a juror who voted to clear the three police officers: Why wasn't Ryan Packard charged? Packard, an off-duty officer and early suspect, was suspended along with defendants Jon Bartlett, Andrew Spengler and Daniel Masarik. By his own account, Packard took down Jude but said he left before the beating. Testimony on what he did was mixed. Two off-duty officers said Packard punched Jude. Two others said he wasn't there. District Attorney E. Michael McCann said that wasn't enough to charge Packard. Packard not only wasn't charged, he got the lightest punishment of 13 officers disciplined. Packard was given 23 days without pay - far less than two on-duty officers who have been praised by Chief Nannette Hegerty for testifying. They each got 76 days, unpaid. Hegerty fired nine officers, including three who had no contact with Jude. They were fired for not stopping the beating. Two ultimately got their jobs back. Hegerty declined to comment about Packard as federal agencies investigate the beating. She has testified that Packard hit Jude but acted appropriately. Possible federal charges include civil rights violations by off-duty officers, such as Packard, who claimed to be on duty. Packard, in fact, filed 9.7 hours of overtime for what he did on Oct. 24, 2004, but he didn't cooperate with investigators. It took five months before he told anyone from the department that he used force against Jude. Off-duty officers Michelle Grutza and Ryan Lemke, a couple who had also come to the party, backed Packard's story and denied seeing the beating. Other officers gave different accounts. Jodi Kamermayer, who worked with Packard, testified that he hit Jude. Bradley Blum said he "believed" he saw Packard hit Jude, according to an internal investigation. Bartlett testified that Packard hit Jude twice in the face. On-duty officer Joseph Schabel said Packard - along with the defendants - was on Jude when he arrived, but he didn't see him hit Jude. Another on-duty officer, Nicole Belmore, didn't see Packard on Jude. While the criminal complaint included allegations against Packard, McCann said there were too many different accounts to charge him.
[MORE]

Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:59PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Autopsy Confirms Black Teenager was Suffocated & Murdered by Florida Boot Camp

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NO GUARDS INVOLVED ARRESTED
Martin Lee Anderson, the 14-year-old boy whose death last January at a Panama City boot camp sent shock waves through the state's juvenile justice system, was suffocated by guards who held his mouth shut and forced him to inhale a fatal amount of ammonia, a medical examiner said Friday. The conclusion that the guards' actions killed the teen repudiated an earlier autopsy that found Martin had died of natural causes, a ruling that outraged family members and their supporters. ''Martin Anderson's death was caused by suffocation due to the actions of the guards at the boot camp,'' Dr. Vernard Adams, Tampa's chief medical examiner, wrote Friday. Adams performed an autopsy March 13 at the request of special prosecutor Mark Ober, who will decide if criminal charges will be filed in the case. 'The suffocation was caused by manual [blockage] of the mouth, in concert with forced inhalation of ammonia fumes that caused spasm of the vocal cords resulting in internal blockage of the upper airway,'' Adams said. None of the seven or eight guards seen manhandling Martin in a videotape shot by a security camera have been arrested. Adams' conclusion ends a bitter chapter in the tragic case, which began Jan. 5 when a group of guards at the Bay County Sheriff's Office Boot Camp punched, kneed and choked Martin hours after he arrived on his first day a the facility. The guards took control of the teen after he complained he was unable to continue running laps. Hours later, the youth was dead. The news Friday afternoon rippled through the state Capitol, where the Legislature was wrapping up a contentious session before going home. Before leaving, the Legislature passed the Martin Lee Anderson Act, to shut down the state's four remaining boot camps and replace them with a less militaristic approach. [MORE] and [MORE] and [MORE]

  • Video | Boot camp beating (edited version) [MORE]
  • Video | Boot camp beating (full unedited version) [MORE]
  • COVER UP: Secretary Anthony Schembri told the Miami Herald that he was unaware of 180 use-of-force reports from the Panama City boot camp - including manhandling of teens for shrugging or smiling - and that he could not have done anything if he had known. Just why is he still on the job? [MORE]
Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:58PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Florida AG Seeks Inquiry of Boot Camp Death Medical Examiner

Florida Attorney General, vying to be the state's next Governor, has asked the Florida Medical Examiners Commission to investigate autopsies conducted by Bay County Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Siebert that may have contained "fundamental flaws".

Siebert conducted the first autopsy in the death of Martin Lee Anderson, the 14-year-old boy who died in January at the Bay County Boot Camp. On Jan. 6, Siebert had made a determination that Anderson had died of complications from sickle cell trait which had not been previously diagnosed.

Anderson's family has charged that a cover up existed in boy's death and had the boy's body exhumed for a second autopsy after seeing a videotape showing guards kicking and beating the boy while he was being restrained, hiring renowned pathologist Dr. Michael Baden to participate.

Click to read more ...

Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:58PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | References4 References | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

7 Months Later: Austin Police Officers Caught on Video Beating Unarmed, Handcuffed Latino Man Given Light Punishment

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An Austin police officer caught on tape beating a handcuffed suspect will face disciplinary action starting Thursday. This comes after a jury cleared him of any wrongdoing last month. It might sound like an about face situation, but starting Thursday, 28-year-old Officer Christopher Gray starts a 70-day suspension for his use of force. A police car dash cam captured video of three officers arresting and beating 25-year-old Ramon Hernandez after he left the scene of an accident, resisted arrest and reached for an officer's gun. In the video, you can see Gray punch Hernandez 14 times in the lower back while he's handcuffed. Just last month, a jury cleared him and a second officer of official oppression. Late Wednesday, the department's disciplinary review board took its own action, suspending Gray without pay for 70 days. Hernandez's attorney, Amber Vasquez Bode, said that Wednesday's disciplinary action is late. "I find it disturbing that it took seven months before APD took any measures at all," Bode said. She argues the system is plagued by accountability problems and that few knew the videotape existed. She also argues no Austin police officer has ever been convicted under the official oppression statute. "I don't think there is one solution for this. I think we're going to have to come together as a community and lay down the standards. This is how we're going to hold officers accountable in Austin," Bode said. After the suspension, Gray will be able to return to the force. Travis County prosecutors also dismissed the official oppression charge against rookie Austin police officer Joel Follmer, who had been indicted in the videotaped beating of a handcuffed suspect last year. Follmer, 38 was shown on the video delivering a series of punches to the back of Ramon Hernandez's legs on Sept. 21. Hernandez said during the trial that he is considering filing a civil lawsuit against the city. [MORE] and [MORE]

Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:58PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | References5 References | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Family casts doubt on Siebert's review of '77 death

Another family has contacted the attorney representing the Martin Lee Anderson family with suspicions about the work of Bay County Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Siebert.

The family of Michael Niesen has met with Benjamin Crump, the Tallahassee attorney representing the family of the 14-year-old boy who died in January after an incident at the Bay County boot camp. Niesen, 18, died in 1977 after a car crash in Pinellas County. Niesen received severe head injuries, but his brother, John, and his mother, Mary Riley, say he was beaten by Clearwater police.

Niesen's family says he was killed in retaliation after Officer Ronald Mahoney was killed in the car crash when he tried to stop Niesen for driving a stolen pickup truck with Georgia plates. Siebert reviewed the case for the State Attorney's Office in Pinellas County in 2001.

Click to read more ...

Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:58PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

FBI Probing Alleged Denver Police Beating of Black Man: Armstrong was in Schiavo Like Coma

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The FBI has been asked to investigate allegations that Denver police beat Thomas Charles Armstrong, putting him a life-threatening coma while trying to arrest him last November, Armstrong’s brother said today. Earl Armstrong announced the investigation this morning after his brother was arraigned on charges of resisting arrest. Thomas Armstrong, 37, pleaded not guilty and is due back in court May 30. A trial is set for August. Thomas Armstrong was hospitalized for more than two weeks after the Nov. 11 confrontation with police. Armstrong’s attorney, Walter Gerash, has filed a notice of intent to sue the city for police use of excessive force during the arrest. The complaint alleges that Armstrong suffered kidney and liver failure, internal hemorrhaging, a fractured nose and numerous cuts and bruises. Denver police have denied any wrongdoing. Armstrong said he was walking to a convenience store from his girlfriend’s house when he was confronted by officer Daniel Swanson and handcuffed. Police say Armstrong lunged at officer Swanson after the patrolman saw him acting strangely near East 11th Avenue and Zenia Street. Armstrong became unresponsive and stopped breathing after he was handcuffed, police said. Earl Armstrong said the FBI is investigating the circumstances surrounding the arrest of his brother and other allegations of harassment of his family and Earl Armstrong because of his political activism. [MORE]

  • Armstrong in court over police skirmish [MORE]
  • Pictured above: Pictures of the badly beaten body of Thomas Charles Armstrong, 37, as he clings to life in a coma after sustaining a brutal attack by the Denver Police [MORE]

Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:58PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Emporia officer cleared in Fatal Police Shooting of Black teenager - Feds Take up Case

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U.S. mediators meet with NAACP, police in black teen's slaying
Police officials and the NAACP, which has called for a federal investigation into the shooting death of a black youth by a policeman, met with U.S. mediators yesterday. Last week, Greensville County Commonwealth's Attorney Patricia Watson cleared officer Richard Walker of any wrongdoing in the death of 14-year-old Jermaine Bell, a black youth, who was killed on the last day of 2005. The shooting was investigated by the state police, which presented its findings to Watson. Walker was placed on paid administrative leave at the time of the shooting, but has since returned to duty. In response to Watson's decision, state NAACP officials and representatives of the Greensville-Emporia branch held a news conference in Richmond and called for a federal investigation into whether the youth's civil rights were violated. The group announced at last week's news conference that the Department of Justice team would visit the community. Garry Allen, vice president of the local NAACP, told the City Council during a meeting last week,"We're not pleased whatsoever with the results [of the investigation]. We just feel like it's the usual cover-up." Vice Mayor Mary Person, who is one of three blacks on the seven-member council, said that members "feel your pain" but have no jurisdiction over the commonwealth's attorneys office. If they did, she said, "Some of us on here would definitely be pushing for something different to happen." Watson noted in a summary of events surrounding the shooting that after breaking up a fight between Bell and someone else, Walker followed Bell into the apartment complex where he lived and heard someone yelling about a knife. Walker saw Bell struggling with a woman as if she was trying to hold him back. With a large knife in his hand, Bell approached the officer and said, "You'll have to shoot me." Walker drew his gun and continued to ask Bell to drop the knife, but Bell continued to approach the officer until he dropped the knife and grabbed the end of the officer's weapon, Watson's summary noted. The officer fired one shot. But black leaders insist there are a number of discrepancies that need to be addressed. These include the contention that the youth held the knife by his side and never dropped it or reached for the officer's gun, and that Bell was shot as he stood in the doorway to his aunt's apartment, not inside. Black leaders also insist there was no tussle going on inside the apartment. "What is reported doesn't even make sense," Debra Brown, president of the Greensville-Emporia NAACP branch, said after Tuesday's council meeting. "It's got too many holes in it." "Somebody is lying somewhere," she said. "I'm not taking sides. I want to get to the truth." City officials, who have downplayed race as an issue, appealed yesterday to its residents, most of whom are black, to let the city heal. [MORE] and [MORE] and [MORE]

Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:58PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | References2 References | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

NO Arrests, NO Timeline in Jesse Lee Williams Case: Black Man Brutally Beaten to Death by Mississippi Officers

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A joint investigation such as the probe into the death of Jessie Lee Williams Jr. could result in state and federal charges or only one agency taking the lead. The process, according to attorney Robert Pfeffer, is not uncommon, nor does it usually involve a "double jeopardy" issue. A wrongful death lawsuit filed for Williams' estate claims Williams, 40, was beaten and tortured by jailers acting under color of law, depriving him of his civil, constitutional and human rights. It's been 103 days since Williams was beaten in the Harrison County booking room. No charges have been filed in the incident, which was captured on surveillance tapes. Attorneys for Williams' estate, which seeks $150 million in the civil lawsuit, have not been allowed to view the tapes. According to Pfeffer, formerly an attorney in Jackson and New York City, state and federal prosecutors often investigate a case jointly, "then decide whether to proceed simultaneously or let the other take the lead so there is no duplication of resources." There are exceptions, though, Pfeffer said, pointing to the Rodney King case, in which four Los Angeles police officers were accused on state charges of assaulting King in 1991. The incident was captured on videotape. "When the state failed to get convictions," Pfeffer said, "the federal government tried the case on federal statutes that involve violation of civil rights." State and federal officials have released no details of their investigations in the Williams case or a time frame for a grand jury. A motion filed on Sheriff George H. Payne's behalf to delay the civil case states Payne believes a grand jury review could occur in 60 to 90 days, or by August. [MORE]

Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:58PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Vigil a show of support for Black Man Beaten to Death by Mississippi Jailers

A candlelight vigil Monday aims to provide comfort and hope to the community and to the children of Jessie Lee Williams Jr., said attorneys lamenting the lack of arrests in his fatal beating. Monday is the 100th day since the booking-room incident at the Harrison County jail, where corrections officers allegedly delivered the deadly blows on Feb. 4 while Williams, 40, was restrained. The death of Williams, father of seven, was ruled a homicide. Attorneys for Williams' estate said they expect the vigil to be a peaceful gathering of a cross-section of the community in support of justice. Organizers wanted to have the vigil at the jail but declined after Sheriff George H. Payne Jr. issued guidelines allowing no more than 50 people, requiring their Social Security numbers, providing only 10 parking spaces and a warning that anyone obstructing entries or exits would be arrested. Attorneys said they expect no problems at the Courthouse. Attorney John Whitfield said the silence "is morally and legally reprehensible and unacceptable. We cannot change the system without changing the people running the system." [MORE]

Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:57PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Unarmed African Man Shot Multiple Times by Omaha Police: Witnesses Say Sessou Wasn't Driving At Officer

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The man shot by an off-duty Omaha police officer has been released from the hospital and arrested. Koko Sessou allegedly accelerated his car toward Officer David Brumagen. Authorities said Brumagen fired into the driver-side window. Brumagen is a 12-year veteran of the Omaha Police Department. Authorities said that on Saturday night Brumagen was working as a security guard while he was off duty for Eli's Bar and Grill in Rockbrook Village. The bar owner said that a group of men were in their cars harassing women when Brumagen and another off-duty officer confronted the men. Brumagen is on leave pending an internal investigation. Sessou was booked Wednesday on suspicion of first-degree felony assault on a police officer and first-degree felony assault. Sessou's attorney, James Martin Davis, disputes the police account of the story. He said the evidence shows that the second shot was fired from behind Sessou, and that his client never set out to run over the officer. Davis said the officer can not claim self-defense. "The angle of the bullets show he was hit on the side, and it went through his back," Davis said. "The passenger window on the driver side was shattered. That's physical evidence that the officer was not in front of that vehicle." Davis gathered some witnesses of the incident during an evening news conference. The witnesses backed Sessou's version of the story."I was right there," said witness Kristina Allee. "I seen everything."Allee said she was sitting in her car in front of Eli's Bar and Grill in Rockbrook Village at about 1 a.m. Saturday. Sessou and two friends were accused of harassing women outside the bar, and ordered to leave by an off-duty officer working as a security guard. The two friends left, and Sessou drove off, but apparently hit a dead end. "When we went to that dead end, I heard the officer say, 'Oh, my God. He's coming back. He's coming back,'" Allee said. Allee said Sessou was trying to leave, but police and several other witnesses said that Sessou was swerving towards the off-duty officer. Allee said everyone was out of the way and the vehicle had passed them when a female officer started swearing and yelling, "Shoot him, shoot him.""That's when the male officer took out his gun and shot seven, eight times at the vehicle," Allee said. Allee doesn't know Sessou, nor does witness Dominique Brown. Brown said she stopped to help Sessou after the shooting."I stepped back from the car and looked around and the cops weren't doing nothing. It was like they wanted him to die, and I was screaming, 'Help me. Help me,'" Brown said. Sessou is a political refugee from Togo. Davis said he works two jobs and goes to school.[MORE]

Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:57PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Las Vegas Police Offer No Explanation for Shooting Handcuffed Black Teenager in the Back

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Metro is investigating the connection between a body found in the desert over the weekend and the deadly officer involved shooting that claimed the life of a teenager. Kyle Staheli's bullet-ridden, burned body was discovered in the desert over the weekend. The 18-year-old did have a connection with Swuave Lopez, who was shot and killed by police. Lopez was in handcuffs and shot in the back after he escaped from a police car and ran. On Saturday, two Metro detectives arrested 17-year-old Lopez and James Carter Junior in connection with the shooting death of Staheli. Las Vegas Metro Police won't say why detectives felt they had to shoot a handcuffed 17-year-old. Deputy Chief Greg McCurdy says Lopez was left in the front seat of a detective’s car. McCurdy adds that Lopez was able to get his handcuffed hands in front of his body, open the car door and run. "Once the suspect was in the car, the detective stepped to the back of his trunk to retrieve something for another detective, McCurdy explained. He adds the detective looked up to see Lopez running away and that's when Metro fired at him. Lopez's grandmother said, "he's supposed to be a suspect in a murder and they put him in a police car, but nobody watches him? Did they want him to run so they could kill him?" Police said it could take weeks to determine whether two Las Vegas homicide detectives violated state law or departmental policy in the fatal shooting. In the last year, Metro has had 14 police shootings. Twelve were ruled justified, 2 were ruled excusable, none were considered criminal. [MORE] and [MORE]

Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:57PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Walter Collins’ family Faces Retaliation, Harassment after Filing Brutality case Against Minneapolis Police

“This case is about police lying,” said David Schulman. Schulman is an attorney for the family of Walter Kenyon Collins, a 21-year-old Black man who was shot and killed in 2003 by Minneapolis Police Officer Jamie Conway. The second trial in the wrongful death lawsuit brought against the City of Minneapolis and Conway by Collins’ family began on April 20. The first trial was conducted last October. Hennepin County District Court Judge Richard Scherer declared a mistrial when one juror said she was intimidated by a car that was parked outside of her home the night before jury deliberations were to begin. Walter Collins’ killing was one of three high-profile cases that took place within the span of a week and a half where charges of brutality were leveled against police by victims, family and community members. The case revolves around charges made by Collins’ family that Conway shot Collins in cold blood and that police officers and investigators for the Hennepin County Sheriff’s department attempted to cover up the killing by planting a gun that they claim belonged to Collins. The City of Minneapolis claims that these charges are baseless. Walter Collins’ family has also charged that Minneapolis police have harassed them in an effort to intimidate them into dropping their lawsuit. In a letter of protest to the City Attorney’s Office, Schulman said that on March 30 of last year police harassed Walter Collins’ mother, Sara Collins, at her home. The letter says that police “entered Collins’ home allegedly because of a call concerning loud music. This reason was false, however. No loud music was playing, and the neighbors had not made any calls to complain of loud music. During the March 30 incident, Sara Collins said that police searched through her legal papers and other personal effects. Walter Collins’ sister, Linda Collins, also said that she has been harassed by police. “About a month ago, six squad cars pulled me over for nothing,” Linda Collins said. “They pulled me out of the car and forced me to the ground at gunpoint. They did not care that I am pregnant.” She said that police claimed she fit the description of a man they were looking for. Walter Collins was killed in the early morning hours of October 10, 2003, on the lawn of the Phillips Eye Institute on the corner of East 22nd Street and Park Avenue South. According to court documents, Walter Collins and his friend Chandan Hurd were driving northbound on Park Avenue when the truck they were in broke down. Officers Conway and his partner Charles Greaves pulled up on the two young men in their squad car and shined the car’s searchlight on them, at which point Collins began to run. Conway got out of the squad car, chased Collins on foot and shot at him three times, hitting him once fatally. Conway claims he shot Collins because he saw him with a gun. Conway also found a gun at the scene that he claims belonged to Collins. In the brief cited above, the City Attorney’s Office states that Greaves “chose to follow Collins based upon witnessing Collins shove something into the front of his waistband.” However, in his affidavit, Hurd testified that when the police approached both young men, they pulled up their shirts to show the officers that they were unarmed. Hurd also testified that he did not see Walter Collins with “a firearm, nor did he suspect that Collins was in possession of a firearm.” There were no fingerprints belonging to Collins on the pistol, according to forensic test. In addition, during the first trial, no other eyewitnesses, including Conway’s partner Charles Greaves, could testify to seeing Collins with a gun at the time before or during the shooting. Another inconsistency in the City’s case, which came out during the first trial, was that surveillance camera footage from the Phillips Eye Institute, where the shooting took place, contradicts Conway’s account of what happened on that night. The footage shows that at no time did anything Conway describes in his testimony happen in the area where he claims the shooting took place, which is in full view of the cameras. “I want people to know that they can fight. That just because they have a uniform and a badge don’t mean you can’t fight back — you can,” said Sara Collins. [MORE]

Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:57PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Latino Man Stopped by Bexar Sheriif's Deputy for No Reason and Beat Down by Cops: Family Suing for Police Brutality

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A dramatic arrest is caught on tape and the family of the man who resisted arrest, says it shows an abuse of power by a Bexar County Sheriff’s deputy. The District Attorney’s office says otherwise; they say the man and his family are at fault.
Ambrosio Hernandez says BCSO Deputy Ben Ramos beat him and terrorized his family after a traffic stop in June of 2005. Dashboard video from Ramos’ patrol car shows him following Hernandez, after Hernandez left a Southside bar. The deputy was finally able to pull Hernandez over, right outside of the man’s house. That’s when the deputy confronts Hernandez.

DEPUTY: Stay in the car, stay in the car!

HERNANDEZ: What? What?

DEPUTY: Let me talk to you!

HERNANDEZ: I'm right here, talk to me!

DEPUTY: Let me see your driver's license.

HERNANDEZ: I haven't got my license bro!

DEPUTY: The reason why I'm stopping you is because you're driving with no lights, ok?

HERNANDEZ: I turned my lights on bro!

DEPUTY: Ok well you're under arrest; you were driving with no lights.

After the verbal confrontation, the two men walk out of the way, but audio tracks reportedly captured the confrontation as it continued. That’s when Hernandez’s wife and son, come out of their home, and begin arguing with the officer.

DEPUTY: Dude I'm gonna tell you something you better back off! You understand me? You better back off! It doesn't matter he was on the street when I stopped him.

WOMAN: You can't come and start smacking people here!

After several minutes of arguing, additional deputies and police officers arrested Hernandez’s wife and son and took Hernandez to the hospital. His lawyer says the tape shows Deputy Ramos stopped Hernandez without cause. “What you hear on that tape is a gruesome beating,” says attorney James Myart. “My client was being arrested for driving without headlights when the camera clearly shows that is a lie.” Hernandez is changed with evading arrest and his wife and son are charged with interfering with an arrest. The family is suing Bexar County for $10 million for the alleged brutality. [MORE]

Posted on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 11:57PM by Registered CommenterTheSpook | Comments4 Comments | References4 References | EmailEmail | PrintPrint
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