Category Archives: Cases

Former Atlanta Police Sargent Trevor King Convicted On Federal Charges of Using Excessive Force

Tyrone Carnegay (Photo credit: WSBTV

On October 13, 2014, a Walmart customer in Atlanta, Georgia was attacked by a security guard, accused of shoplifting.  The security officer was 48-year old, off-duty Atlanta police Sargent Trevor King.

King used his department issued expandable baton hitting the customer multiple times, breaking the customer’s leg in two places.  King alleged to seeing the customer, 53-year old Tyrone Carnegay, weigh a tomato then try to exit the store without paying.  However, Tyrone had a receipt for the tomato in the bag.

In April 2016, Tyrone filed a lawsuit. His attorney, Craig Jones, told the NY Daily News:

“He got whacked seven or eight times across the shin and actually broke both bones, both the fibula and the tibula,” Carnegay’s lawyer, Craig Jones, told the Daily News. “This tomato not only cost him the dollar they overcharged him. It also cost him over $75,000 in medical bills, which I intend to get them to pay many times over.”

The lawsuit names Walmart, King and another employee as defendants.

Tyrone was chained to his hospital bed.  The broken leg wasn’t his only injury.  He also suffered a ruptured artery that later oozed blood out of his cast.

Because of the cost of the tomato, Tyrone believed that he was overcharged, and after paying for it, returned to the produce section and checked the price on a scale.  He went back in line to challenge the cost, but then decided not to and left the line.  A security employee alerted King who assumed that Tyrone was leaving the store without paying for the tomato.  Tyrone had actually bought $20 worth of items in the store.

After the lawsuit was filed, the Atlanta Police Department opened an investigation. Read the rest of this entry

Arizona Officer Acquitted For The Killing of Daniel Shaver

Daniel Shaver and family

I generally report on cases and jury verdicts without opinion.  This time however, I feel the need to editorialize.

I reported on the killing of Daniel Shaver in April 2016.   That post includes a video of Daniel’s widow talking about the conversations she had with authorities that centered on the body cam videos and a plea deal. It left me with the feeling that she believed that if the videos were publicly released and Philip Brailsford brought to trial, that the jury would convict him.

Some of us know better.  The families of Sam Dubose, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Delrawn Small, Alton Sterling, Patrick Harmon, Dillon Taylor and a host of others, know better.

For years, I’ve mentioned that justifiable homicide burden of proof in cases involving police shootings is wrong.   It’s wrong because the deceased are blamed for the officer using deadly force. The dead cannot face their accuser.  The justification is one-sided, and it always includes what the officer thought.  Defense attorneys argue an abuse of discretion burden of proof without the jury knowing the requirements to meet that proof.   An abuse of discretion is if the accused has failed to exercise sound, reasonable, and legal decision-making skills.

Law enforcement officers are given discretion in performing their jobs.  They are even given discretion on whether or not to stop and frisk; whether or not to arrest; and whether or not to use deadly force.

Discretion is what gives police authority to see a woman crying for help on one side of the street, and a suspicious person standing on the other side of the street, and stop and frisk the suspicious person rather than help the woman crying for help, (while the man who snatched the woman’s purse and knocked her down breaking her leg, casually took off in a Ford pickup truck with a Confederate Battle Flag in the rear window). Read the rest of this entry

Former Cop Michael Slager Sentenced To 20 Years For Violating Walter Scott’s Civil Rights

Walter Scott

The family of Walter Scott has expressed forgiveness, but said that they are glad to see Michael Slager held accountable.  Walter was killed in April 2015.

The State charged North Charleston police officer Michael Slager with murder or voluntary manslaughter in the killing of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man.  Walter Scott was shot in the back 5 times.

Trial began on November 3, 2016, with closing arguments on November 30, 2016.  We followed the trial on this blog with part 1; part 2; and part 3.

Slager said in his report that Walter took his taser from him, giving him justification to use deadly force.   However, a by-stander’s video was released shortly after the deadly encounter that shows Slager unholstered his weapon and fire as Walter ran away.  The video also shows that Slager walked back and retrieved his taser, which was dropped to the ground before Walter ran.  Slager placed his taser next to Walter’s dead body.   After the release of the video, Slager’s attorney then withdrew his representation and Slager was terminated from his job and charged with murder. Read the rest of this entry

Texas victim’s family files first claim against U.S. Air Force over church massacre

The Crusader Journal

A memorial is seen at the site of the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs A memorial is seen at the site of the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

By Tina Bellon

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Parents of one of the victims killed in the Nov. 5 shooting rampage at a Texas church filed a claim on Tuesday against the U.S. Air Force in what appeared to be the first legal action in connection to the incident.

The administrative claim, which was filed directly with the Air Force in Washington, said the military acted negligently when it failed to report the criminal record of gunman Devin Kelly to a federal database that would have prevented him from legally purchasing a firearm.

Kelly killed 26 people and wounded more than 20 at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

The Air Force said in a statement it did not comment on specific claims. “Every…

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Ramarley Graham’s Family Still Seeks Personnel Records For Cops Involved In His 2012 Death

Ramarley Graham, 18-years old when killed by NYPD officer Richard Haste

Ramarley Graham was 18-years old when he was killed on February 2, 2012.  He lived in the Bronx.  The Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit of the New York Police Department spotted Ramarley and alleged that he was tugging on a gun in his waistband.  Officer Richard Haste followed Ramarley, who went into his apartment and locked the door.  The incident ended with Haste shooting Ramarley in the bathroom of his apartment.  No gun was found.

The official report stated that Ramarley ran when officers identified themselves.  Video evidence however, showed that Ramarley was walking into his home casually.

 

Officer Richard Haste was stripped of his service weapon and placed on modified duty.  In 2013, Haste was indicted by a grand jury and charged with manslaughter.  A judge dismissed the indictment however, citing an error in jury instructions.  A second grand jury convened and Haste testified before that grand jury.  That grand jury failed to indict Haste. Read the rest of this entry

Chicago Police Officer Marco Proano Sentenced To 5 Years for Violating Civil Rights

In August, Chicago police officer Marco Proano was found guilty on two felony federal charges of violating victim’s civil rights.  I reported the trial at this link.

Proano’s sentencing took place on November 20, 2017.  He was looking at 10 years.  Prosecutors asked the judge for 8 years.  On Monday, federal district court Judge Feinerman sentenced the 42-year old Proano to 5 years in prison for his use of unreasonable force in an on-duty shooting that wounded two teenagers four years ago.

Officer Marco Proano fired 16 shots in nine seconds at a stolen Toyota Avalon full of teenagers in Chicago on  December 2013. The shooting was caught on camera, and jurors took less than four hours to find him guilty in August of two civil rights violations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Georgia Alexakis argued that Proano “could have killed each and every one of those passengers.” Read the rest of this entry

Hundreds of Las Vegas shooting victims file lawsuits in California court

The Crusader Journal

A hat rests on flowers in a makeshift memorial during a vigil marking the one-week anniversary of the October 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas A hat rests on flowers in a makeshift memorial during a vigil marking the one-week anniversary of the October 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada U.S. October 8, 2017. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus

By Tina Bellon

(Reuters) – Hundreds of victims of the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas filed five lawsuits on Monday in a California court against the operators of the hotel from which the gunman fired, the organizers of the country music festival he targeted and the killer’s estate.

The largest of the lawsuits was filed on behalf of 450 people who were either injured in or witnessed the shooting, while the other four were brought by families of people who were killed or severely injured.

All five cases were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Muhammad Aziz, a Houston-based lawyer heading the lawsuits, said they were filed in California because nearly all the plaintiffs…

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Cop Sentenced to Prison, Forced to Pay Victim for Savagely Beating Teen on Video

Tales from the Conspiratum

It’s about time that juries start understanding that coppers are mere civil servants, not the powerful Gods they think they are. If the courts start jailing the bad coppers perhaps this police brutality trend will reverse.
thefreethoughtproject.com

Showing exactly how abusive cops should be treated, a bully cop has been sentenced 27 months in prison for savagely beating an innocent teen on video.

bully

Pittsburgh, PA — A belligerent and violent cop was recently convicted of violating the civil rights of a teenager by savagely beating him at a high school football game. The entire incident, which looks like a giant bullying a small child, was captured on video and led to the initial firing of officer Stephen Matakovich, 48, and the subsequent charges.

Matakovich “was an annoyed bully who beat the crap out of a drunk kid,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Gilson told…

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Boynton Beach Officer Mike Brown Found Guilty Of Violating Constitutional Rights of Jeffrey Braswell.

It’s a case of severe beating, then changing reports.

It happened on August 20, 2014 after a 20 mile, high speed chase.  It does not involve the offender/suspect, but a passenger.  Jeffrey Braswell was a passenger in a car that took Boynton Beach police officers on that chase.  When the car was eventually stopped, Mike Brown yelled for the driver and passengers to raise their hands and get out of the car.  However, Jeffrey Braswell had his seat belt fastened and being afraid of lowering his hands, did not exit the car.

Mike Brown decided to take Jeffrey Braswell from the car.  There was nothing wrong with that.  However, after doing so, he beat Jeffrey, including using his gun to strike.

Jeffrey Braswell before he was beaten.

 

Jeffrey Braswell after he was beaten.

Mike Brown was with officers Justin Harris and Ronald Ryan who were federally charged with deprivation of rights.   Jeffrey Braswell, then 25-years old, was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of obstruction or resisting arrest without violence and in their initial reports, filed shortly after the incident, they made no mention of punching or kicking him.  About a week later after they found out that the sheriff’s office turned over video to the Chief of Police, each of the officers made a number of changes to their reports. Read the rest of this entry

Pending Matters and Open Discussion

Dear friends and visitors,

Here’s heartfelt appreciation to all followers and participants.  Words cannot express my appreciation.

Here are some things happening;

Mesa Police Department officer Philip Brailsford is on trial for the killing of Daniel Shaver.   I’ll post on it when the jury hands in a verdict.

The jury is deliberating in the federal trial of three Boynton Beach police officers accused of violating the civil rights of a passenger in a vehicle.   If they reach a verdict tomorrow, I’ll blog it on Monday.

Charleston, West Virginia officer Stephen Doss plead guilty to failing to use his lights and sirens in a crash that killed 80-year old Dora Clarke.  Doss initially faced a charge of negligent homicide which carries a one year prison sentence and $100 fine.  His plea carries a maximum sentence of 10 days in jail.  Sentencing is scheduled for December 7, 2017.  Last week, the Charleston City Council approved a $675,000 settlement for a wrongful death claim that followed Doss’ accident. Read the rest of this entry

NY Cop Wayne Isaacs Found Not Guilty For Killing Delrawn Small

We followed the trial, where you can also read the background of the case at this link.   Wayne Isaacs was not on duty when he shot and killed Delrawn Small.  However, his defense during trial was that he acted according to his training and killed Delrawn in self-defense.  Within seconds of Delrawn approaching the driver’s side window of Isaacs car, Isaacs shot him three times.

Isaacs was charged with murder and the alternative charge of manslaughter.

The jury began deliberating on Thursday and today, the jury of seven women, five men, consisting of five Whites, five Blacks, one Hispanic and one Asian, handed in the verdict of not guilty.  Read the rest of this entry

Officer Federally Charged For Planting Evidence. Re: Willie Bingham, Jr.

After two trials for manslaughter where juries hung, now retired deputy Walter Grant is not being tried by the state for killing Willie Bingham, Jr. but rather, by the federal government for planting evidence as an excuse for killing him.

It happened in Bolivar County, Mississippi, in 2013.

Deputy Walter Grant shot 20-year-old Willie Bingham Jr. in the back of the head.

Willie Bingham, Jr.

Willie was suspected of breaking into cars parked outside of an auto parts plant.  Grant and other officers pursued a car carrying Willie and others.  The car stopped, and Willie allegedly jumped out and ran into a cotton field.  Grant caught up with Willie and shot him in the back of the head.

Grant told investigators that he thought Willie had a gun.  No gun was found.  What was found was a baton, and allegations that Grant planted it.

In 2015, Grant was indicted on state manslaughter charges.  His first trial ended with a hung jury.  He was retried, and that jury also hung.  After the trials, Grant retired.

State court records show that in 2016, the judge remanded the case to Jim Hood, the State Attorney General.

The family has filed a civil lawsuit accusing Grant of planting the baton. A response by the Bolivar County sheriff’s office later said the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the attorney general’s office, while investigating the shooting,  concluded Grant planted the baton. Read the rest of this entry

Utah Nurse Alex Wubbels Agrees To Half Million Dollar Settlement. She Is Paying It Forward.

University Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels has agreed to a $500,000 payment to settle a dispute over her arrest by a Salt Lake City police officer after she refused to draw blood from an unconscious patient who was a victim in a traffic accident.

Alex’s attorney, Karra Porter, said at a news conference that the agreement with Salt Lake City and the University of Utah covers all parties and takes the possibility of legal action off the table.

The video of Alex being arrested, and Jeff Payne, the arresting officer’s disrespect that Alex was complying with hospital policy, was reported on this blog.

Alex plans to use a portion of the money to help others get body camera footage at no cost.  Her attorney’s law firm, Christensen & Jensen, will provide free legal services necessary to obtain the video.

“We all deserve to know the truth and the truth comes when you see the actual raw footage and that’s what happened in my case,” Wubbels said. “No matter how truthful I was in telling my story, it was nothing compared to what people saw and the visceral reaction people experienced when watching the footage of the experience that I went through.”

Porter noted that body camera footage also protects law enforcement officers.

Alex will make a donation to the Utah Nurses Association and will help spearhead the #EndNurseAbuse campaign by the American Nurses Association. Read the rest of this entry

UPDATE: Alton Sterling’s Family Seeks Videos Not Made Public

Alton Sterling being stunned and shot at close range

Alton Sterling was 37-years old when he was killed on July 5, 2016, in Baton Rouge, LA.  Alton was selling homemade CD’s and DVD’s outside the Triple S Food Mart when Officer Blane Salamoni fired six shots into Alton at close range. Officer Howie Lake II, shocked Alton with a stun gun and helped wrestle Sterling to the ground but did not fire his gun.

In May of this year, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would not bring federal criminal charges against the officers.  The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office is now investigating the case.

Alton’s children and their mothers have filed a civil suit.  Attorneys representing them have requested a private viewing of videos that include police body cams and surveillance video that captured the moments before Alton was fatally shot.  The Attorney General’s office has those videos, but as of October 5, 2017, have not complied with the request.

Two cellphone videos taken by bystanders captured the violent end of the encounter and were made public, but body cam and surveillance videos are in possession of the Attorney General’s office and have not been made public.

In May, the DOJ told lawyers and family members about the audio and video from the shooting, and at times described it.  According to a source who spoke with The Advocate, Officer Salamoni is seen pointing his gun at Alton’s head, yelling profanities, and a threat to kill him. Read the rest of this entry

Jury Awards $44.7 Million To Victim of Chicago Cop

Michael D. LaPorta, | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Michael LaPorta is now 37-years old.  He has been unable to walk and read since January 2010 and for a period of time, had been unable to talk.  That’s because on January 12, 2010 Chicago police officer Patrick Kelly shot Michael in the back of the head.

Chicago Police Officer Patrick Kelly, 36-years old, was twice, formally found mentally unfit for duty.  He had also been arrested twice, and accused of beating a girlfriend.  Kelly had been treated for alcohol addiction.  Along with this, Kelly was sued 6 times and was subject of more than two dozen investigations into his on and off-duty conduct.  One investigation found that Kelly assaulted a woman sergeant. In another investigation, Kelly was accused of repeatedly using a Taser on a pregnant woman who later suffered a miscarriage.  The Chicago City Council approved a $500,000 settlement with the woman, Elaina Turner, and her fiance, Ulysses Green.

In total, Kelly related lawsuits resulted in nearly $1.2 million in settlement pay-outs and jury awards.

Even with this record, Michael LaPorta was Patrick Kelly’s friend.  They had been friends since childhood and were roommates in college.  One evening, Michael and Patrick spent the night drinking at two Chicago South Side bars.  The morning of January 10, 2010, they went to Kelly’s house.  Michael said that Kelly began hitting his dog, so he told Kelly that he was leaving.  He then heard a clicking sound.  Read the rest of this entry

New York Cop Goes On Trial For Killing Delrawn Small

Delrawn Small

Delrawn Small, 37-years old, worked as a maintenance engineer at a Chelsea supermarket.  He was raising three children and two stepchildren.

On July 4, 2016, Delrawn was in his car with his family when he was allegedly cut-off in traffic by Wayne Isaacs, who had just left his shift as a New York police officer.  Isaacs was out of uniform, but was carrying his service weapon.

At a red light, Delrawn approached Isaacs’ car.  Isaacs fired three times, hitting Delrawn in the arm, chest and abdomen, killing him.

Officer Wayne Isaacs, who joined the department in 2013, stayed at the scene and told investigators that he acted in self-defense after Mr. Small punched him through an open window.

Based on a preliminary investigation, police initially said they believed Isaacs opened fire after Delrawn reached through the officer’s open window and repeatedly hit him on the head as he sat behind the wheel.  Isaacs’ claimed that he shot Delrawn in self-defense.

Then surveillance video surfaced. Read the rest of this entry

Update: Philando Castile’s Mom Reaches Settlement Close to $3 Million

Philando Castile

On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, when he was fatally shot by Jeronimo Yanez, a St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer.  Diamond Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter were passengers.  Diamond live-streamed Philando’s dying moments and the aftermath on Facebook.  The officer shot 7 times, hitting Philando Castile 5 times, twice in the heart. Philando was 32-years old.

Yanez was charged and went to trial.  He testified in court that he believed Philando matched the physical description of a robbery suspect, and that Philando was disobeying his commands and reaching for a gun.  We followed the trial here and here.

Philando, who was licensed to carry a gun, had advised Officer Yanez that he had a firearm in the car. Prosecutors said he had done so to put the officer at ease, not to cause alarm.

The jury was deadlocked for almost a week, but ended up acquitting Yanzez. A juror gave an interview to MPR News on the condition of remaining anonymous.

“Jurors were quick to decide Yanez’s acquittal on felony weapons charges. The juror said photos of Castile’s body showed that Yanez was aiming away from the two passengers, Diamond Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter.”

“What we were looking at was some pretty obscure things to a lot of people, like culpable negligence. You think you might know what it means: It’s negligent, but maybe pretty bad negligence. Well, it’s gross negligence with an element of recklessness … We had the law in front of us so we could break it down.”

“It just came down to us not being able to see what was going on in the car. Some of us were saying that there was some recklessness there, but that didn’t stick because we didn’t know what escalated the situation: was he really seeing a gun? We felt [Yanez] was an honest guy … and in the end, we had to go on his word, and that’s what it came down to.”

Read the rest of this entry

Update: Second Deputy Charged In The Death of Jeremy Mardis Pleads Guilty

On November 2, 2015, 6-year old Jeremy Mardis was in the car with his dad, Christopher Few, when Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse, Jr. opened fire, seriously wounding Christopher and killing Jeremy.

Stafford and Greenhouse, Jr. were charged with attempted second-degree murder and second-degree murder.

Stafford’s trial was in March 2017, in Marksville, Louisiana.  We followed the trial here.

The officers, admitting that they did not see a weapon, alleged that Christopher backed up his vehicle and tried running them over.  A ballistic expert at trial testified that all shots were fired to the side of the vehicle, and cars do not run sideways.  Additionally, body cam footage showed that before the shooting, Christopher had both hands raised outside of his car window.

Derrick Stafford, 33, was found guilty of attempted manslaughter and manslaughter.  He was sentenced to 40 years in prison with credit for time served since 11/3/2015.  20 years of his sentence has to be served without parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.  Read the rest of this entry

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Christopher Reiter Found Guilty Of Third-Degree Assault

October 10, 2017

The Star Tribune calls it a “rare conviction for on-duty use of force”.

Christopher Michael Reiter. Photo Courtesy: Hennepin County

On May 30, 2016, Minneapolis police officer Christopher Michael Reiter, 36-years old, responded to a domestic abuse call. When he arrived, he found a woman badly beaten.  Other officers arrived and found the suspect, Mohamed Osman, sitting in his SUV.  Officers surrounded him and ordered him out of his car.

Surveillance video shows that as Osman was getting on the ground, one officer, Josh Domek, kicked him twice. Reiter then delivered a blow to Mohamed’s head that knocked him unconscious, broke his nose, started bleeding on the brain and caused a traumatic brain injury.

At trial in Hennepin County, state prosecutor Daniel Allard told the jury there was a conspiracy to protect Reiter.  Reiter, another officer, and the victim testified that they believed Mohamed had a knife.   However, other witnesses, including a security guard and several officers who were at the scene, said they did not see a knife.

Another officer, Luke Eckert, testified that he searched Mohamed and found a knife in his front pocket.  However, there was no mention of a knife in the official reports, nor was it taken into police inventory for evidence.  MPR News reports that when questioned at trial, Eckert said one could go through any squad car and find a number of items like keys, cellphones or pocket knives that hadn’t been inventoried. Read the rest of this entry

Salt Lake City Police Officer Cleared For Shooting Man in Back Three Times

Patrick Harmon. Photograph: Courtesy of Harmon family

On August 13, 2017, Patrick Harmon was shot and killed by Salt Lake City, Utah police officer Clinton Fox.  Patrick was 50-years old.

Initially, officer Kris Smith pulled Harmon over for riding his bike across six lanes and a median, and not having a red, rear tail light.   Smith called for backup and found that Patrick had an outstanding warrant.  As the officers took Patrick’s hands behind his back to place him in handcuffs, Patrick ran.  He was shot 3 times in the back.

 

 

The Deseret News gives Fox’s version of the incident as reported by the District Attorney.

“Harmon pleaded with the officers not to go to jail. The officers took Mr. Harmon’s hands and placed them behind his back. As Mr. Harmon’s hands went behind his back, Mr. Harmon bolted from the officers and ran,” the report states.

At one point, Harmon stopped running and turned around to face the pursuing officers while holding a knife, according to the report.

“Fox said Mr. Harmon came at the officers with something in his hand. Officer Fox said he was terrified by how close Mr. Harmon was to the officers when Mr. Harmon stopped and turned toward them,” the report states. “Officer Fox said he feared if he didn’t immediately use deadly force, Mr. Harmon was going to stab him and/or the other officers.”

Fox fired his weapon three times, according to the report.

“Officer Fox said that in 10 years of law enforcement and two military deployments, it was the scariest situation he had ever been in,” investigators wrote.”

Read the rest of this entry

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