Police Brutality is not only rampant in Long Island, it is widespread across the nation and has been since the birth of this nation. On this page we feature current news stories on excessive-use-of-force and police corruption across the nation. If you have a story to share, please write to: email@example.com or fill out our Contact Form.
Lessons From the Mistrial in the Freddie Gray Case
A jury failed to reach a verdict on any of the four charges against William Porter, the first of six officers charged in the 25-year-old black man’s death.
The trial of officers charged with killing Freddie Gray has moved quickly all along: The prosecutor
The result is a serious blow to activists who’d hoped the trial would pave the way for new accountability for police, and it’s a huge blow for prosecutors. Still, the result could have been much worse, and some observers of the trial expected Porter to be found not guilty. Lawyers for the defense and prosecution have been instructed to appear in court Thursday to discuss the next steps, and prosecutors have already declared that they intend to seek a second trial.
In the meantime, the short, inconclusive first trial still illuminates a great deal about the Gray case, Baltimore, and the fight against police violence in general. Here are four takeaways.
In a fascinating passage in the trial, Porter himself took the stand and described his own relationship with Gray.
“Freddie Gray and I, we weren’t friends, but we had a mutual respect,” he said, a striking image of the rapport that can develop even where police-citizen relations are strained. “If he wasn’t dirty”—carrying drugs—“he’d come over and talk with me.”
Porter described finding Gray injured in the back of the van in a way that might be read as either lacking perspective, or as proof of the empathy he felt: “It was traumatic for me also. Knowing I’m in the neighborhood, seeing him every day, not getting a response.”
Yet this level of involvement by officers was insufficient to prevent the tense relationship with the community—and the many documented cases of police abuse.
Jury selection in a case like this is especially fraught in a city like Baltimore, where so many members of the jury pool are likely to have come into some contact with the criminal-justice system, whether as victim, suspect, or convict. Half of the 75 potential jurors in this case fell into one of those categories. The jury ultimately included seven African Americans and five whites.
Even though the complaint of black Baltimoreans was with the police as an institution—regardless of whether individual officers were black or white—the racial dynamic in the courtroom caused some discomfort anyway. Unless and until jurors begin speaking out, there’s no way to know how race affected their deliberations, but NPR’s Jennifer Ludden reported on the unease over the weekend:
An African American studies professor was sitting in on some of the testimony this past week. And he said he had really mixed emotions. He was glad the state had brought charges to hold police accountable, but at the same time, he told us he was uncomfortable watching white prosecutors basically trying to discredit a black police officer.
(Mosby is black, but the prosecutors arguing the case are not.)
Prosecutors are wary of charging officers, because they rely on police to gather evidence and build cases. Juries, even in cities like Baltimore where the grievances against police are clear, are reluctant to find cops guilty unless a case is black-and-white. The jury in the Porter trial forced an especially difficult challenge; the central question of what happened to Gray remains largely unanswered.
Prosecutors focused on Porter’s failure to seatbelt Gray in a police van, but Porter didn’t dispute that. He just argued it was standard practice, even if it did breach departmental policy. Jurors may have been unwilling to convict Porter alone for the sins of the department at large. Yet because there are few intermediate steps for punishing officers—or at least few steps that seem to be used effectively on cops. The choice between bringing a hammer down on a defendant or letting him go scot-free has seldom seemed poorer.
Prosecutors then made a second set of strategic calculations about how to bring the case. Rather than try all six officer at once, they opted to try them serially. And they began with Porter, apparently in the hope that he would be convicted and then could be compelled to testify against other officers. But whatever advantages Porter’s testimony might have given them in a future trial, he proved impossible to convict—at least on the first try.
But they have said they intend to retry the case. As more information emerges over the next hours or days, it may become easier to gauge the likelihood of their success. Was the jury hung 11-1 in favor of acquitting? If so, prosecutors may not even bother. Or did 11 jurors want to convict, while one steadfastly refused? If so, Porter might still be in deep trouble. The answer will have important implications for the rest of the prosecution’s strategy and hopes for convicting the other five officers—including Caesar Goodson, who faces a charge of depraved-heart murder. That answer will also have important implications for the city of Baltimore, and for the police-reform movement around the nation.
FEDS RUNNING PARALLEL PROBES INTO CHICAGO POLICE BRUTALITY
Police brutality cases in Chicago are the subjects of two very different federal investigations. One investigation could put the police department under control of a federal monitor, and the other could put police officers in jail.
They are two investigations on parallel tracks. As the Justice Department conducts a new, highly public investigation of whether Chicago police “patterns and practices” violated residents’ civil rights, there have been much more secretive and hidden criminal investigations of whether individual police officers and officials broke federal law. The one we know about is the Laquan McDonald killing that created a cascade of legal issues.
“We do not comment on pending investigations,” U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said.
Translated: the U.S. Attorney in Chicago is supervising a grand jury investigation. Secretive by statute, it would produce possible indictments, according to ABC7 Legal Analyst Gil Soffer, a former assistant U.S. attorney.
“Absolutely if you find an intentional violation of civil rights, think Rodney King, uh, the Rodney King case. And that can result in a criminal prosecution of a police officer or police officers,” Soffer said.
Rodney King – the Los Angeles motorist beaten by LAPD officers in 1991 – is the landmark caught-on-video case.
Almost 25 years later in Chicago, the Justice Department is overseeing two investigations conducted by the same office, but run as distinctly separate operations. Outcomes of the civil rights cases and the criminal cases would mean far different things to those involved.
For the city and its police, the civil rights investigation is likely to mean new practices and procedures. Those snared in criminal cases would face prosecution and potential jail time.
“We do what we do independently. We do it with vigor. We look at all relevant aspects and options as we pursue a case,” Fardon said.
Unlike the corruption cases against recent Illinois governors, where prosecutors climbed the ladder of wrongdoing to executive offices, there may not be a similar approach by authorities in the brutality cases.
“It’s too early to know. If it does land at the door step of City Hall, it will be because in these individual cases they’ve built their way up and determined there was some knowledge at the top. But it takes a lot in a case like this to work your way up,” Soffer said.
Chicago has been the target of federal and local brutality investigations for decades, beginning in 1973 with the torture of suspects at the old Area 2 headquarters on the Southeast Side.
Misconduct-related lawsuits have cost Chicago taxpayers $521 million the last decade, roughly the amount of money it would have taken to save dozens of schools from being closed in the most recent CPS budget cuts.
The 13 Women Who Accused A Cop Of Sexual Assault, In Their Own Words
Last year, former Oklahoma City Department Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw was accused of abusing women in the community he patrolled. On Thursday, he was found guilty of many of their charges. But the testimonies of these women have never been reported in full, until now.
Originally posted on Dec. 9, 2015, at 11:21 a.m.Updated on Dec. 10, 2015, at 7:33 p.m.
After four days of deliberation, a jury found former Oklahoma City Police Department Officer Daniel Holtzclaw guilty of multiple counts of rape and sexual assault on Dec. 10. Holtzclaw, who has been on trial since November 2, was accused of targeting black women in the community he patrolled.
All 13 women testified against Holtzclaw in the trial. But it wasn’t their first time telling their stories in court. Last November, during a two-day preliminary hearing, each woman told her story in succession — publicly, for the first time ever, in a smaller courtroom than the one in which they delivered their trial testimony.
Before the November hearings, these stories had been told only through prosecutors and detectives. This was the first time they explained what Daniel Holtzclaw did to them — how he exerted his authority, and how afterward they felt reporting him would be futile — in their own words. Their testimonies have never been reported altogether, in full, until now.
The stories are consistent, from the questions Holtzclaw initially asked them, to the way he exposed himself through the fly of his police uniform, to the remote locations he took some of them to. GPS data from Holtzclaw’s car and various phone records presented in court verify many of the geographical and timeline-related details.
According to prosecutors, Holtzclaw targeted these women because they had records and lived in a high-crime neighborhood. He allegedly chose them because they didn’t want any trouble and because they feared the police — because they likely wouldn’t report their assaults to the police. He was the police.
According to the defense, these women are drug abusers and sex workers — some convicted felons with histories of lying to the police. Sometimes their testimonies are inconsistent, the defense said; they have “agendas,” they’re lying. Holtzclaw’s attorney built his defense on this approach: focusing on the character of the women and the reliability of their testimony.
This is their testimony.
S.H. December 2013. “I didn’t think that no one would believe me.”
S.H. was sitting in a truck outside an apartment complex when she was approached by three Oklahoma City Police Department officers. S.H., 23, said she was high on PCP and having an even stronger reaction after some had spilled on her skin. The officers called an ambulance for her. At a nearby hospital, S.H. was given a drink to help her come down from the drugs. After showering, she changed into a hospital gown and was transferred to various rooms.
In the second hospital room, she allegedly found herself alone with Officer Daniel Holtzclaw, who was observing her while she lay down, one arm handcuffed to her bed. S.H. didn’t know yet if she was under arrest.
About an hour into Holtzclaw observing her like this, S.H. recalls that he began repeatedly pointing out that her chest was exposed.
I’m thinking to myself, is he trying to come on to me? Because I’m like — he knows my condition, so he know that I’m not trying to show it to him.
If somebody else was in that situation I wouldn’t keep on telling them that, you know, because I wouldn’t want them to feel uncomfortable.
Holtzclaw allegedly approached her to pull up her hospital gown, but then groped her chest.
I’m high, [but] I’m thinking, like, I know I’m not tripping. He just did that.
He just went back and sat down at the chair in front of the bed and was talking to me.
He was talking nicely to me, as if he was trying to be my friend or wanted me to believe in — believe him.
He was asking me, why do I choose the type of baby daddies that I have.
Holtzclaw allegedly groped her two more times. She said she thought about trying to run on a bathroom break, “but I was so out of it like I wasn’t going to be able to make it.” Holtzclaw allegedly told her he would “fuck the shit” out of her.
I just really can’t believe it because it’s the police. And I thought stuff like that only just really happened on movies. I couldn’t believe what was going on was really going on.
[He said] that if I cooperate that just give it a month and to trust him that my charges would be off.
When he tell me to trust him, I’m saying I never trusted a cop. I never trusted a cop. So he was like, well, I’ve been straight up front with you all this time.
S.H. testified that Holtzclaw then exposed himself and forced her into oral sodomy, telling her to not move too much so that her heart monitor wouldn’t go off. She said that he said to her, “Ha-ha, you’ve never sucked a white dick before.” Afterward, she asked if she was going to jail — he responded that he had to take her to jail. She asked him to call her mom for her. After the call, which he made on his cell phone, Holtzclaw allegedly groped S.H.’s genitalia.
I just gasped.
Later, he prepared to take S.H. to county jail.
When I was talking to the nurse when she was taking my blood pressure and everything she asked me a whole lot of questions and she asked me was I sexually assaulted in the last 24 hours or whatever, and I told her no. He was standing behind her with my files, I guess … And after I said, no, he closed the book up.
He told me, he was like, ‘I hid your tickets for you and I made your bond super fucking cheap.’
About two weeks later after I got out, I had a [Facebook] friend request from him and I accepted it.
I remembered his face and I remember seeing his badge with the last name.
Holtzclaw and S.H. messaged about her charges. He asked her to call him, giving her his phone number, and said he wanted to meet her again.
We was texting and he had told me that he was leaving the Outlet Mall and that he wanted to come see me and talk about the case. And he came and he parked in the driveway next door at the vacant house and waited for me to come outside.
My husband just stepped out. I was watching my kids and my little brothers and sisters and the whole time we was in the car we was talking and he was telling me like to — pressuring me to have sex with him.
I kept on telling him I couldn’t because the kids was in the house by theyself [sic] and he really wasn’t too worried about that. He just was telling me like, ‘Could you just bend over real quick?’
That night, Holtzclaw allegedly exposed himself to her and asked for oral sex. She told him she “couldn’t because I had to watch the kids that was in the house.”
I just had enough like of him just trying to make me have sex with him, and I was telling him like he don’t even have a rubber or the condom and he really didn’t care about that. He was asking me like, ‘You don’t trust me?’
And I was just like, ‘I can’t do it,’ and then I was just like, ‘I got to go.’
S.H. told her mom and her twin about Holtzclaw. But she didn’t tell the police until they approached her about the ongoing investigation.
Because I didn’t think that no one would believe me. I feel like all police will work together and I was scared.
Update: On Dec. 10, Daniel Holtzclaw was found not guilty of any charges brought forward by S.H.
T.B. February through April 2014. “I wanted it to just go away.”
Around 11:30 p.m. one night, T.B. was sitting in a car with her two daughters and a friend, warming up the car before going to the store — waiting for midnight so that their food stamps would be ready — when two police cars rolled up. The officers told the women to get out of the car; T.B.’s friend went with one officer, and T.B. went with the other. The kids went inside the house. T.B. said she was put in the backseat of Holtzclaw’s patrol car, where she watched as her friend was allowed to go back into the house after a few minutes and the other officer drove off. She admitted to Holtzclaw she had outstanding tickets. She had been through this routine before, she said.
He spoke to me and told me I wasn’t going to jail. [He asked did] I have any drugs under my shirt, and I said, no. And he asked could he see, so I lifted my shirt up and let him see.
I knew if I didn’t I was going to jail.
I have been in the streets a very long time. And I know things — it naturally comes. First of all, if they going to search you a woman should be there to search you. Why would a man be asking what’s under my shirt and could he see what’s under my shirt?
He kept telling me, ‘You know, you got these warrants. When are you going to take care of them?’
Holtzclaw asked T.B. if there were anything under her breasts, and then groped her. He then let T.B. go, and she went back into the house, where her friend and daughters asked what happened.
I told them that I had to show him my body to get out of the police car, so I wouldn’t go to jail.
For real they were shocked. I’m like, ‘Do you all believe me?’ [They] said, ‘Yes.’
How come I didn’t call the police — I didn’t. I wanted it to just go away.
The next month, T.B. said she had another encounter with Holtzclaw when she pulled up to her house and found his patrol car in her driveway. Holtzclaw was on the porch — he told T.B. to “come here,” and put her in the backseat of his car, running her name again. She asked him why he was at her house — he asked her where she had been and whether she’d taken care of her tickets yet. She told him he was scaring her daughter, who was on the front porch.
We did a little chatting. I can’t recall each word, word for word.
We all know him by Spike.
Because when he knocked on my door and came in my house he always took the mousse and had his hair up and spikes up here at the front.
And that’s how we identified him.
I don’t even know what me and him was talking about. I was just ready to get it over with.
What I had to do to get out that police car to go in with my babies.
I knew what I had to do to get out. I didn’t have money to pay my tickets and I knew [what] I had to do with him to get out the car.
She testified that she exposed her chest, but Holtzclaw didn’t touch her. He asked her if she had dope on her, and she said no. He asked if she had drugs in her pants. She pulled the waistband of her leggings away from her body.
When I was getting out of the car, I turned and I looked at where I was sitting at to see if there was $20 there. And I said, ‘Why you got the $20 sitting there?’ And he said, ‘That’s how I set my people up.’ I left it at that and I went in the house with my babies.
When she got in the house, her boyfriend told her that earlier in the day, while he was sleeping, Holtzclaw had come into the house without permission and woken him up, telling him to come outside so Holtzclaw could run his name. T.B was upset, but she still didn’t want to call the police.
I didn’t call them. I didn’t think anyone would believe the allegations that I was making.
To be honest, I don’t like the police and I try to stay away from them as far as I can.
A month later, she had yet another encounter with Holtzclaw. She was at home, on the phone with her mother when Holtzclaw showed up at her door. He wanted to come in. She told him she was on the phone — she had put the call on speakerphone. Holtzclaw said he wanted to search the house for drugs. She said no, and he got mad.
I told him when he go get his search warrant and stop coming by by hisself [sic] and bring other officers I’ll freely open my door.
T.B.’s mother told T.B she should “pick up and leave.” She followed her mother’s advice, moving her family out of the neighborhood.
Update: Holtzclaw was found guilty of sexual battery and procuring lewd exhibition related to T.B.’s testimony, but not stalking or burglary.
C.R. March 2014. “It was nobody there but just me and him, so to me, I just took it as my word against his.”
C.R. said she was walking alone one night when Holtzclaw stopped her. The officer asked if she had an ID, where she was coming from, and where she was going. He asked if she had anything on her, and she said no. He patted down her front pockets to check.
He just kept asking did I have anything on me, he asked me if I had been arrested, and I was asking him why was he stopping me. I mean, for what reason. I don’t have any warrants. I had my ID.
He said he just wanted to talk.
It was just like nonchalant conversation. I don’t remember word-for-word, but he was asking me [if] I [had] anything on me, more or less talking about the upper part of my body.
He was motioning his hand, like, ‘Do you have anything else on you?’ And I was like, ‘No.’ And he just kept [telling] me that he needed to be sure that I didn’t have anything on me. So I just got to the point where I just opened my jacket and raised up my shirt and lifted my bra.
Because he kept asking me, talking about making sure that I didn’t have anything on me, and I was ready to get away from him.
C.R. testified that she had come into contact with officers before that night, but that she had never had been made to raise her shirt like that. Afterward, Holtzclaw put her in the backseat of his patrol car, where she stayed in his for another 30–45 minutes for more “nonchalant talk.”
I don’t remember exactly what it was [like], because in my mind was just thinking I wanted to get away, you know. And then after he let me out the car, I started walking back down 16th, and then a friend of mine saw me and he picked me up.
I spoke only in passing about it maybe once or twice, but I never went into details about it with anybody. I didn’t — I just try not to think about it.
I didn’t think anything would be done. I mean, it was nobody there but just me and him, so to me I just took it as my word against his, so I just blew it off — as best as I could just walked away from it.
Update: Holtzclaw was found not guilty of procuring lewd exhibition from C.R.
F. April 2014. “He had asked me something about working girls and I told him I didn’t know nothing about any working girls.”
F. testified that she was walking home one night when Holtzclaw stopped her. Earlier that day, she said, she had been drinking and smoking crack. The officer had stopped the 54-year-old woman before.
He asked for her ID, and she showed it to him. He had her empty her pockets — she had a crack pipe on her — and he handcuffed her, sitting her down on the curb.
He had asked me something about working girls and I told him I didn’t know nothing about any working girls.
Holtzclaw also asked F. if she was a working girl. She said she wasn’t.
F. had outstanding city warrants, and Holtzclaw told her she needed to take care of them. He crushed her pipe and told her she was free to go. But when he took her cuffs off, Holtzclaw allegedly groped her chest over her clothes.
Once she was released, F. walked away from him, across a park.
Update: Holtzclaw was found not guilty of sexual battery in F.’s case.
R.C. April 2014. “I was just ashamed and I didn’t want to face the rape. I didn’t want to face it.”
R.C. was six months sober at the time of her testimony in November 2014 — but in late April 2014, when she met Daniel Holtzclaw, she had been drinking in a car parked in a vacant lot across from a Family Dollar. She had just given someone a ride home when Holtzclaw pulled her over. He ran her name and told her to get out of her car so that he could search it; he said he smelled alcohol.
I told him I didn’t want to go to jail.
He said he wasn’t going to take me to jail. He would take me to detox.
After he looked into my car, he told me to pull my pants down. And at this time I was thinking that he was going to search me, but I wondered why he didn’t call for a woman police officer, a backup to help him search me to see if I had anything on me. Because I know that police officers can search you, but I didn’t think he had a right to search me.
She told Holtzclaw she didn’t want to go to detox. He insisted, and she asked if she could first drop her car off at a relative’s house a mile or so away, so that it wouldn’t get towed. He said yes.
I knew something was going to happen. I didn’t know what.
After she parked in front of the house, Holtzclaw led her to the backseat of his police car. He drove away and parked on a street near a bus lot, then told her to get out.
[He] was an officer and I was scared and I know that he could hurt me, so I did what he said.
R.C. testified that Holtzclaw then raped her for five or ten minutes. He let her go, and she went to her brother’s house.
I didn’t tell him everything that happened, but I asked him a question. I said, ‘Does a police have the right to ask a woman to pull her clothes down without another officer being there, a woman officer?’ And he told me he didn’t know.
But she didn’t tell her brother the whole story.
Because I was ashamed. I’ve been a victim. I’ve been molested as a child by a minister in my church. I’ve been raped a couple of times. So I was just ashamed and I didn’t want to face the rape. I didn’t want to face it.
She testified that shame stemming from her alcoholism also contributed to her reluctance to come forward — she didn’t want her brother to know she had been stopped for a DUI.
Because I’m an alcoholic, but I’m in recovery. I’m an alcoholic and I suffer with that problem since — for years. Since the ’80s. And I failed so many times — and I was ashamed, you know. I didn’t go to prison until I was 30 years old, but my mother was a Christian, so I was ashamed of what I was doing, you know.
Update: Holtzclaw was found guilty of raping R.C.
R.G. April 2014. “And he was like ‘This is, you know, better than the county.’”
On the night that R.G., 38, testified that she came into contact with Holtzclaw, she was walking by herself; he was in his car. That day, she had been “relapsing and getting high off of crack cocaine,” she said.
I was a nervous wreck and so I had — I was relapsing. I told him I was relapsing, you know, I didn’t have no business off over here anyways.
He searched her bag and found her pipe.
I was babbling on and on because, you know, I was still nervous about it.
He asked her to throw the pipe on the ground and offered to give her a ride. She gave him the address of the place she was living with her boyfriend. When they got there, she realized she didn’t have her purse — that Holtzclaw had set it on top of his car. He said he’d go back and get it, and she told him not to worry about it.
I’m just trying to depart, separate from him.
Then I started walking towards the door and he was walking with me. And at first I was — I mean, it was odd, you know, but I wasn’t going to question him, you know.
R.G. had encountered cops before — even gotten rides from some — but never had them escort her to her door.
Now, that’s when my spirit was like something is just strange about that.
She thought he might have doubts that she really lived in the house, so she started showing him around the house to prove she was familiar with it. He followed her up the stairs, where she showed him her room. Then he told her to sit on the bed.
And he was like ‘This is, you know, better than the county.’
Holtzclaw exposed himself to R.G. through his fly, and she was forced into oral sodomy. She said the whole time she noticed his gun close to her face. About 10 minutes later, she testified, Holtzclaw raped her. But after a few minutes, he abruptly stopped, she said.
I think because he was kind of looking out because my bedroom is above the front lawn and maybe he was looking out, maybe he got nervous. I don’t really know. I could see he was looking like out the window and then back at me at that point.
He immediately left.
R.G. would tell her boyfriend and father what happened to her, but she didn’t tell the police. She was scared and relapsing, she said.
I didn’t really know what to do, to be honest with you.
She testified that she saw Holtzclaw one more time, after she’d just relapsed again. She acted like she didn’t see him, and he circled around the block she was walking on before driving away.
Update: Holtzclaw was found guilty of forcible oral sodomy related to R.G.’s testimony, but he was found not guilty of raping her.
T.M. May 2014. “I know that like I’ve been in trouble before, so I mean like, who am I to a police officer?”
T.M., 44, testified that she was leaving an apartment complex when Holtzclaw pulled up beside her. The officer asked to search T.M.’s purse and if she had anything on her. T.M. told him she had a crack pipe. He put her in his car and ran her name through his system.
He asked me a bunch of questions — where was I coming from, where was I going — and I told him all that.
We sat there for a few minutes. I guess he was trying to see if I had a warrant … Then he got out. He came to the back door. He opened the door. I thought he was going to let me go.
Holtzclaw allegedly told T.M. to pull down her pants and raise up her shirt. After having T.M. expose herself, Holtzclaw told her she could go to jail for the crack pipe. T.M. told him most officers just threw them away — eventually, he gave it back to her.
He didn’t say I could do anything not [to] go to jail. He just did what he did. That was probably whether I was going [to] or not.
Holtzclaw allegedly forced T.M. into oral sodomy, exposing himself. She did it, briefly, and then he let her go.
I was scared.
About him being an officer. I was nervous and I felt like even though I didn’t have no warrants that he might make up something on me and send me into jail any way.
I know that like I’ve been in trouble before, so I mean like, who am I to a police officer?
When he let me out he asked me where was I going, I told him I was going to my uncle’s house. And he said, I don’t think it’s safe for you to walk.
He said, ‘I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you.’
He allegedly told her to get back in the car and then drove her to an open field.
We didn’t get out. He stopped for a second.
I don’t know. It was like he was thinking, deciding or something whether — I don’t really know, but then I think he was deciding whether to, but I was so hysterical, kind of hollering a little bit.
Because I was nervous and scared and I didn’t know what was going to happen next.
All of the sudden he told me to chill out because I was kind of crying and getting hysterical. And he was like I’m going to take you back. I’m going to take you where you go, and all of the sudden he just turned around and went back up the street and dropped me off where I asked.
T.M. said she didn’t want to tell the police at first — that she was too scared.
I didn’t think nobody was going to believe me anyway. And I’m a drug addict, so the only way I knew to handle it was to go and get high to try to block it out, to make it seem like it didn’t happen.
I didn’t want to because people were telling me … they wasn’t going to believe me over a police — and I almost feel like all [officers] are the same.
But then one night she and her ex had an argument, and the police were called. When the officers arrived, T.M.’s ex urged her to tell them about her alleged assault.
Update: Holtzclaw was found not guilty of any charges brought forward by T.M.
S.B. May 2014. “We hear stories about the police, you know — it’s real.”
S.B., 48, was out walking when Holtzclaw stopped her, pulling his patrol car alongside her. He stayed in the car while asking her where she was coming from and where she was going.
There is a house on the corner, and he asked me did I come from that house. And I was telling him, ‘No.’ And he was saying that it was a drug house. And I didn’t know why he was asking me that because that’s not where I was coming from.
He asked me did I have anything on me or, you know, the usual questions.
Any drug paraphernalia, drugs, whatever, weapons, whatever.
S.B. said she didn’t have anything on her. Holtzclaw got out of his car, putting her in the backseat, and ran her name for outstanding warrants. She didn’t have any.
He said, ‘Well, you got two choices. I can take you to detox or to jail.’
I had been drinking earlier and I guess I had alcohol smell on me or something.
She told the officer she’d rather go home.
Well, he sat there for a minute and he said, ‘Okay, I’m going to take you home.’
[He said] that he was really trying to get me off the streets and he was going to take me home, you know.
Instead Holtzclaw took her to place the neighborhood calls Dead Man’s Curve. He slowed down and told her she had two choices — oral sodomy and rape or jail.
I was like, ‘Really?’ … And he said, ‘No, really, I’m serious. You’re going to give me head, sex, or you’re going to jail.’
S.B. said “Okay.” She was forced into oral sodomy and raped.
[Afterward] I sat back in the backseat, closed the door.
He said, ‘Do you know where you are?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I do.’ He said, ‘Well, it’s about time for me to get off duty.’ He said, ‘Can you make it from here?’ I said, ‘Yes, I can.’ He got out the car, he opened the back door and he let me out and he said, ‘I’ll see you again.’
S.B. said she saw him “many times” afterward.
He would come through the neighborhood, driving through the neighborhood.
He would stop, ask me what was I doing, where was I going. As a matter of fact, the day after that I was walking with my boyfriend and he stopped me, asked me what was I doing and where was I going.
He stopped me one day in front of a friend. It was a nice day and everyone was out and he asked me did I, you know, tell anybody about the incident that happened and I said, ‘Yes, I did.’
He sped off because there was a lot of people out, and the people that I had told seen him and was looking at him and made remarks, so he sped off real quick.
S.B. said that she told her “whole neighborhood” about what happened, but like the others, she never told the police.
Well, in my neighborhood it’s like, you know, we hear stories about the police, you know — it’s real — I mean — doing things.
Update: Holtzclaw was found guilty of both forcible oral sodomy and rape in S.B.’s case.
S.E. May 2014. “I was very scared. I had never had nothing happen to me like that before.”
Just before midnight, S.E. was leaving her house on foot to visit her cousin when Holtzclaw stopped her.
I told him my name. And he had me in the back of the police car and he run a check on me, and he found out that I had warrants … He got out of the police car and opened the door. He asked me what was we going to do about the situation.
S.E. told Holtzclaw she knew she had warrants from city tickets and that she’d recently gotten out of the penitentiary. After telling her he was going to search her, Holtzclaw groped S.E. under her shirt and pants.
I knew it wasn’t supposed to happen like that.
He exposed himself through his fly, forcing S.E. into oral sodomy. She said she thought if she didn’t do it, she would go to jail.
Holtzclaw then drove her to a park next to a shuttered school, parking between a building and a group of overgrown trees. There, she testified, he raped her for about five or ten minutes.
I didn’t know what was going to happen. I mean, he’s a police — I didn’t know. I was very scared. I had never had nothing happen to me like that before.
Afterward, Holtzclaw said she was free to go.
Update: Holtzclaw was found guilty of all charges brought forward by S.E., including rape, forcible oral sodomy, and sexual battery.
C.J. May 2014. “Who are they going to believe? It’s my word against his because I’m a woman and, you know, like I said, he’s a police officer.”
C.J., 52, was walking to a friend’s house when Holtzclaw stopped her. He asked her what she was doing and where she was going, and told her to take everything out of her pockets. She took her money — $55 in cash — and keys out of her pocket, placing them next to her purse and jacket on the back of the police car.
He set my things on the backseat of the police car and he gets me in the backseat and he gets in the front seat and … [gets] to questioning me.
So he’s asking me questions: have I ever been arrested before, do I have anything stashed on me, you know, have I ever been arrested for prostitution and all that. And then he kept saying. ‘Are you sure you don’t have anything stashed on you, because most girls that get arrested, you know, they’re always hiding drugs down there close?’ And I told him, ‘No,’ that he can call a female officer to check me if he like, you know.
I’ve been through this before.
She heard through his radio that she had no outstanding warrants, and Holtzclaw let her out of his car.
So as I’m getting out of the backseat of the car, I notice a $20 bill laying in the backseat of the car. So I go, ‘Oh, I must have dropped my money,’ so I pick my money up and as I’m picking up my money he go, ‘Well, let me check the backseat and make sure you didn’t put any drugs back there.’ So by now I’m back at the back end of the car getting my belongings, my purse, and my jacket, and stuff. And then he tells me ‘Oh, yeah, by the way, give me back that $20 you picked up. ‘ And I tell him ‘No, that’s my money.’ He go, ‘No, that’s mine.’
So I took and pulled my money out — and I’m counting my money, and I see that I actually did still have my money along with an extra $20 bill, and that’s when I tell him … ‘I’m sorry. This is yours.’ And he tell me, ‘Well, yeah.’ He said he put that there for a reason.
She didn’t ask him what that reason was. She went back on her way to her friend’s house. But a few weeks later, she came into contact with Holtzclaw again while she was out walking, around 2 a.m., after leaving another friend’s house. Holtzclaw’s patrol car nearly hit her as he was turning a corner. He stopped and told her he didn’t see her.
He go, ‘Haven’t I stopped you before? Didn’t I arrest you?’ And I told him, no, he stopped me, but, you know, I didn’t get arrested. So anyway we talked and he puts me once again in the backseat of his car and he … calls it in, you know. We’re talking and he asked me about drugs being down my pants.
She told him there weren’t any drugs down her pants and heard her name come back clear over the radio.
So he’s getting me out the backseat of the car, so as I’m getting out, he go, ‘Are you sure you don’t have anything down your pants?’ And I tell him, ‘No, I didn’t.’
That’s when Holtzclaw groped her under her clothes.
All I can say was, ‘Sir, you’re not supposed to be doing that. Please, sir.’ Because I know that’s something that he’s not supposed to be doing. He’s not supposed to be touching me, not like that.
Holtzlcaw released C.J. She walked away, and Holtzclaw began droving away. She was on the phone with her roommate, leaving him a message and telling him what happened, when Holtzclaw’s car approached again.
He stops again and he go, ‘By the way, you have a warrant you need to go and get taken care of.’ And I said, ‘A warrant?’ He go, ‘Yeah, I don’t know what it’s about, but you need to go and get it taken care of,’ and then he drove off.
C.J. said she thought about calling the police.
But then I thought, then again, you know, who are they going to believe? It’s my word against his because I’m a woman and, you know, like I said, he’s a police officer. So I just left it alone and just prayed that I never saw this man again, run into him again, you know.
Update: Holtzclaw was found guilty of sexual battery in C.J.’s case.
K. June 2014. “I was scared … of these police systems.”
One night, K. went on a walk to cool off after arguing with her boyfriend. As she walked, a police officer pulled up beside her, his lights flashing. K. was talking to her boyfriend on the phone, and Holtzclaw told her to turn her phone off. She hung up on her boyfriend, telling him she was “fixing to get my name checked.”
After putting her in the backseat and running K.’s name, Holtzclaw offered her a ride, she said. She declined. She didn’t want to be seen getting a ride from a cop, fearing people would think she’s a snitch.
He wasn’t trying to hear it. Like he was still trying to get me to get a ride and saying it was too late at night to be walking.
Holtzclaw insisted. But instead of taking her in the direction she wanted, Holtzclaw allegedly drove her to an abandoned school, hopping the curb and sliding between two buildings on the school’s campus. He made her expose herself and allegedly told her, “I bet that pussy is wet,” then forced her into oral sodomy. He then raped her, she testified. Afterward, Holtzclaw told her he wanted to see her the next day. She watched him drive off and she walked home.
She told her boyfriend what happened later. He said she should call 911. She didn’t.
Because I was scared … of these police systems.
I stayed in for a little bit, for a couple of days.
K. eventually told her probation officer what happened after seeing news about the Holtzclaw case on TV.
Update: Holtzclaw was found not guilty of any charges brought forward by K.
A. June 2014. “‘This is what you’re going to have to do.’ That’s what he said.”
A., then 17, was walking through her neighborhood with two friends, who were arguing, when Holtzclaw pulled up and stopped them. He said he got a call about one of her friends threatening the other, and he questioned each of the three separately. When it was A.’s turn, Holtzclaw searched her purse, ran her name through his system, and told her that she had outstanding warrants. He told her she needed to take care of them, then let her and her two friends go.
But later that night — just before dark — A. was alone and walking to her mom’s house when Holtzclaw stopped her again.
He says, like, ‘I’m not sure you who you say you are.’ Because I didn’t have my ID on me. He asked me where I stayed at and, you know, I told him my mama’s house. I was just visiting. So he put me in the car and he took me to my mom’s house.
He let me out and then he kept on asking me if I had any drugs on me. I said, ‘No, I don’t.’ He already had like looked through my purse earlier, so I was wondering — you know, it was kind of suspicious to me.
They were on A.’s mom’s porch when Holtzclaw told her he had to search her. He groped her underneath her clothes and inserted his fingers into her genitalia.
I was in shock. I was thinking like ‘What’s going on? Why would he be doing this?’ He said, ‘You got warrants. I don’t want to have to take you to jail. I don’t want to make this any harder than it has to be.’ Something like that. I don’t remember exactly.
I was in trouble. Like this was bad.
‘This is what you’re going to have to do.’ That’s what he said.
She testified that Holtzclaw then exposed his penis through his fly and raped her.
I told him I didn’t even want to do it before he pulled my drawers down, but it was too late.
Afterward Holtzclaw told A., “’I might be back to see you later,’” she said.
I just stood there.
Why? Why? … I was confused. And I was shocked and I didn’t know what to think and I didn’t know what to do, like, what am I going to do, call the cops? He was a cop.
Later, A. said, she told a friend what happened. It didn’t go over well.
She said, like … ‘I wouldn’t really tell a lot of people — they would think that you’re snitching and it’s not like you could tell the cops.’
[Snitches] — they’re a waste of life.
I was afraid of what could happen to me if I did snitch or if people around my neighborhood thought I was snitching or talking to the police.
Update: Holtzclaw was found guilty of sexual battery, rape in the first degree, and rape in the second degree by instrumentation based on A.’s testimony.
J. June 2014. “‘Oh, my God, he’s going to kill me.’ That’s what I kept saying to myself.”
J. was driving home from playing cards and dominoes at a friend’s house — “where I usually go to relax,” she said — when she was pulled over by Holtzclaw. Earlier that night, she took a hit of her friend’s joint, she said, but she didn’t feel high. She had left her friend’s house around 2 a.m. — she had to be home to drive her fiancé to work at 4 a.m.
[Holtzclaw] had his lights on … He said, he stopped me because I was swerving. And I said, ‘No, I wasn’t swerving.’ And then that’s when he asked what did I have in my cup there, [said] that it was alcohol. I said, ‘No, sir, it’s Kool-Aid.’
It was sitting in the center of my cup holder.
I said, ‘You can taste it.’
Holtzclaw told J. to step out the car. As he led her to his patrol car, he asked why she was nervous. She said she wasn’t.
I had my hands on the car and he just started patting me all over and said, ‘Do you have anything illegal on you?’ I said, ‘No, sir.’ He said, ‘You better let me know. If you do I’m going to take you to jail.’ I told him I didn’t have any on me. He patted me down, didn’t find any, and he told me to go sit in the back of his police car.
He went inside my car — apparently, he saw that was Kool-Aid, and I guess he went through my purse.
When he came back to the police car, he opened up the back door where I was at and he said to me ‘How do I know you don’t have anything in your bra?’
J. testified that Holtzclaw then had her expose her breasts and genitals and shined his flashlight on both.
He wasn’t touching me, but he was touching himself … had his hand down there touching himself.
After he made a comment like he said, ‘Damn, you got a big ass.’ Those are the exact words. And I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, he’s going to kill me.’ That’s what I kept saying to myself.
At this point, J. was still sitting in the backseat of Holtzclaw’s car. He was standing beside her, outside the car, when he exposed his penis through his fly and said “Come on.”
I was twirling my hands together I was so afraid. I said, “No, sir. Now, you’re not supposed to do this. You’re not supposed to do this, sir.”
He said, ‘Come on.’ He said, ‘I don’t have all night.’ He said, ‘ just got off of work.’
And I’m sitting there, ‘No, sir, don’t make me do this. Don’t make me do this.’ I said, ‘You’re going to shoot me,’ and I’m sitting there looking afraid. I try to bend my head down, but I was looking at that gun in his holster and I’m saying to myself when I bend down he’s going to shoot me in the head. I was really afraid.
I raised my head back up and I said, ‘Sir, please don’t make me do this. Don’t make me do this. You’re going to shoot me.’ Then … he said, ‘I’m not going to shoot you, I promise.’ I said, ‘You promise?’ And he kind of made a snicker sound.
A snicker, like a grin. He kind of grinned.
I held my head back up and I said, ‘Oh, no, sir, I can’t do this.’ He backed away and he let me out the car. I thought he was going kill me. I just did. I couldn’t see myself getting away with that.
J. said that she was forced into oral sodomy, but only a “little bit … Not for very long because I wouldn’t allow it.” He backed away from the car, and she got up.
I didn’t know what else to say. The only thing that would come to my mind because I thought when I walked away he was going to shoot me in the back. The only thing I could say, was ‘Thank you, sir. Thank you, sir, for not taking me to jail.’
J. got in her car, while Holtzclaw got in his car to follow her to her daughter’s house. But right before she turned onto the interstate, Holtzclaw sped right past her. She drove straight to her daughter’s house.
I was crying. I woke her up out of her sleep. I said, ‘I need to talk to you. Something just happened to me.’ And she was mad because I woke her up and she jumped out of bed … And I told her what happened and she say, ‘What?’ And she started screaming and she was so upset.
So she got her kids out of bed, she got them dressed. Her boyfriend was there. We all got in her car, we went to Springlake Police Division. No one was there. It was dark. I left. I looked around to see if I saw any lights or anything. There was no lights. We left there and went … back towards her house. We saw two police cars [parked] like side-by-side like they were talking.
We made a U-turn and went back. And I started telling them what happened, and they called the captain, and the captain came and they took a report, and they took me back to the scene where it happened.
Update: Holtzclaw was found guilty of procuring lewd exhibition and the forcible oral sodomy of J.
J.’s allegations kicked off an investigation into Holtzclaw, putting him on administrative leave and eventually leading to his arrest. Detectives went through Holtzclaw’s records of running women’s names to interview each suspected victim. Ultimately these 13 women came forward, resulting in these three dozen charges against Holtzclaw, ranging from indecent exposure and stalking to forcible oral sodomy and rape. Of the 36 charges he faced, Holtzclaw was found guilty of 18.
On Dec. 10, Holtzclaw was found guilty on multiple charges of sexual assault and rape. This story has been updated to reflect each individual verdict. Dec. 11, 2015, at 10:57 a.m.
Divergent Accounts of Plea Negotiations in an Occupy Wall Street Protester’s Assault Case
By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.MAY 18, 2014
The outrage among Occupy Wall Street sympathizers about the prosecution of Cecily McMillan for assaulting a police officer during a protest in Zuccotti Park has rested largely on a single idea: that zealous prosecutors, seeking to make an example of Ms. McMillan, had refused during negotiations to let her plead guilty to anything less than a felony.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office, however, now says that Ms. McMillan was offered the same bargain as other Occupy protesters accused of hitting police officers: plead guilty to a misdemeanor assault in return for avoiding jail.
“This defendant was offered the opportunity to plead to a lesser charge, but chose to exercise her constitutional right to go to trial, and tell her side of the story,” Erin Duggan Kramer, the deputy chief of staff in the office, said in a statement on Friday. “Twelve jurors rejected her version, and convicted her of a violent felony.”
Ms. McMillan’s lawyer, Martin Stolar, disputes the prosecution’s account of plea negotiations. He said that the prosecutors, Erin Choi and Shanda Strain, never made a firm offer before trial that would have let Ms. McMillan plead guilty to a misdemeanor in return for probation.
“The only offer made was, ‘Plead to a felony and take probation,’ or, ‘If she would agree to plead to a misdemeanor, we would consider whether to accept,’ ” he said.
Ms. McMillan, 25, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday morning before Justice Ronald Zweibel in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. She faces up to seven years in prison, though the judge could also opt to give her as little as one day in jail and probation. If her trial and the aftermath serve as a guide, the courtroom will be packed with her supporters, who have urged Justice Zweibel to be lenient.
Mr. Stolar said he would argue at sentencing that Ms. McMillan’s decision to go to trial should not be held against her. If prosecutors push for state prison time, he said, they will be seeking “to punish someone for having the nerve to go to trial.”
That Ms. McMillan, a graduate student and volunteer labor organizer, has come to embody the frustrations of those arrested during the protests is a quirk of fate; according to her testimony, she never intended to join the civil disobedience that night in 2012.
Instead, she had been out celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. She said she went to the park to meet a friend and found herself in a confrontation with an officer, Grantley Bovell. Mr. Bovell testified that Ms. McMillan elbowed him in the eye as he escorted her out of the park. An onlooker’s videotape supported his account. For her part, Ms. McMillan said she lashed out at the officer instinctively after he groped her right breast.
Two weeks ago, a jury determined Ms. McMillan had deliberately hit the officer. She was remanded to jail to await her sentence as her supporters screamed, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” at the judge.
In news conferences, letters and online writings, Ms. McMillan’s supporters have urged Justice Zweibel to give her community service and probation rather than a prison sentence. They include five City Council members, the film director Spike Jonze, the former Sonic Youth guitarist Kim Gordon, two members of the Russian punk art group Pussy Riot (who visited her at Rikers Island) and 160,000 people who signed an online petition. Even one of the jurors, who said he spoke for nine members of the panel, has written a letter to the judge urging leniency.
Six other Occupy Wall Street protesters were charged with assaulting police officers. Only one, Diana Smith, 33, a graphic artist from Brooklyn, took a similar stand to Ms. McMillan’s and chose to go to trial.
Like Ms. McMillan, Ms. Smith took the witness stand and claimed the police had assaulted her, not the other way around. She also had turned down a deal under which she would have pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and avoided jail.
After a weeklong trial in April 2013, a jury acquitted Ms. Smith of the felony but found her guilty of a misdemeanor: obstruction of governmental administration. Justice Michael Sonberg sentenced her to 10 days of community service and three years of probation. Only a handful of fellow protesters showed up in court.
“She chose to go to trial and it worked out in her favor,” Ms. Smith’s lawyer, Anthony Cecutti, said. “She was willing to put a felony conviction and jail time on the line.”
Five other protesters who were charged with attacking officers accepted offers from the Manhattan district attorney’s office that kept them out of state prison and left them without a felony conviction on their records.
Damien Guarniere, a man in his 40s from North Carolina, ended up serving time: a 90-day stint in city jail for obstructing governmental administration. He was accused of knocking a police officer to the ground and punching him the face.
Nicholas Thommen, a war veteran and former Marine from Oregon, was accused of swinging a pole at two undercover detectives during a march near Astor Place in the East Village.
Mr. Thommen reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to the felony assault charge with the understanding that, after he did 100 hours of community service, he could withdraw that plea and plead guilty to a disorderly conduct violation instead. Known colloquially in criminal court as a “repleader,” this arrangement is common for first time offenders, his lawyer, Edward Donlon, said.
Justin Wooten, a student at Montclair State University who admitted he punched an officer, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and received community service and probation.
Two other men who plead guilty to assaulting officers — Nkrumah Tinsley of the Bronx and Zachary Miller of Berkeley, Calif. — were offered similar opportunities by prosecutors to replead to a misdemeanor charge after doing community service, their lawyers and prosecutors said.
Ms. Duggan Kramer pointed out that of the 2,644 people arrested during Occupy Wall Street protests, prosecutors only sought convictions in 421 cases; the rest were either dropped or adjourned in contemplation of dismissal. Of the 421 cases, 354 pleaded guilty, 56 were convicted at trial and 11 were acquitted.
Albuquerque police promote commander accused of burning off part of homeless man’s ear in 2002
By RUSSELL CONTRERAS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police promoted a commander who was accused in a lawsuit of burning off part a homeless man’s ear with a stun gun, officials announced Thursday.
Albuquerque Police Department Chief Gorden Eden said in a statement he was promoting two Albuquerque commanders to the newly created rank of major in response to a harsh U.S. Justice Department report that was critical of Albuquerque police’s use of excessive force and demanded the agency adopt a number of reforms.
Foothills Area Commander Timothy Gonterman and Criminal Investigations Commander Anthony Montano will now oversee the East and West Side Field Services Divisions respectively, Eden said.
In 2006, a federal jury awarded a former homeless man $300,000 and found that Gonterman and two other officers used “excessive force” in the man’s 2002 arrest.
Gonterman gave the man second- and third-degree burns with his stun gun, the lawsuit said. The man’s lawyer says he lost part of his ear from burns.
In a statement, Gonterman called his actions during the 2002 arrest a mistake and said it took place 12 years ago when the stun gun technology was new and before officers had the training they have now. “It was a mistake, and I have learned from that mistake. I have taken responsibility for it,” Gonterman said. “Since that time, I have become a use of force instructor and a less lethal technology instructor to train officers to use the minimal amount of force necessary to make an arrest. I am also trained in crisis intervention.”
Gonterman said his training and experience has given him great perspective to guide and teach others.
Eden did not mention the lawsuit involving Gonterman. Instead, he said the promotions address deficiencies cited in the Department of Justice’s recent scathing review of the Albuquerque Police Department related to proper supervision of officers.
“With this change we are now intensifying supervision and increasing accountability by splitting the Field Services Division into two sections,” Eden said in a statement. “We have chosen Commanders Gonterman and Montano because they have demonstrated the strong leadership skills necessary for us to move ahead with DOJ reform requirements.”
The Albuquerque Police Department has been under scrutiny over 39 police shootings in the city since 2010, prompting a harsh report earlier last month from the Justice Department that highlighted excessive use of force.
The Foothills area also is where Albuquerque police shot and killed James Boyd, a 38-year-old homeless man who was camping at the base of the mountain. His March 16 shooting, caught on video, sparked a violent protest in the city and prompted the FBI to launch its own investigation into the case.
It was unclear if Gonterman or anyone under his commanded was involved in the shooting.
Eden was hired in February to bring reform to the troubled department, which recently implemented changes such as lapel-mounted cameras on officers to lead to more transparency about police actions.
David Correia, a critic of the police and an American Studies professor at the University of New Mexico, said Gonterman’s new position was “really troubling” and showed that protesters have to put more pressure on the city for reforms.
“I think the promotion of Gonterman and his troubled history is the real evidence of what Albuquerque police is about,” Correia said.
Protesters take over Albuquerque City Council meeting
Anti-police brutality struggle takes another step forward
By Albuquerque PSL
May 6, 2014
On May 5 anti-police brutality activists and community members in Albuquerque effectively shut down the City Council meeting and reconvened it as a People’s Meeting, a truly unprecedented event in the recent history of Albuquerque.
In a planned, organized act of non-violent civil disobedience, nearly 50 protestors massed at the podium during public comment carrying banners and signs. Protester David Correia read a statement demanding justice for the families of victims, the indictment of officers involved in shootings and the disarmament and immediate termination of all officers with a record of brutality, among other demands.
In the decades-old tradition of the Albuquerque anti-police brutality struggle, an arrest warrant was then issued for Albuquerque Police Department Chief Gordan Eden as an accessory after-the-fact in the murders of James Boyd, Alfred Redwine, Mary Hawkes and Armand Martin—all killed during Eden’s three month tenure as chief.
A new movement is born in Albuquerque
The outbreak of a massive peoples’ movement against police brutality and police killings broke out in Albuquerque six weeks ago following the APD’s videotaped killing of a homeless and mentally ill man, James Boyd, for “illegal camping.”
Weeks of mass demonstrations and community organizing eventually forced the federal government to intervene. The Department of Justice scrambled to publish the results of a 16-month long investigation into APD’s pattern of brutality. The DOJ report was damning and defined the APD as a department that engages in the routine unjustified use of lethal and non-lethal force.
A significant number of police killings in Albuquerque involve persons with mental illnesses who are in crisis. Between 2010 and 2011, the New Mexico Public Defender Department found that nearly 75 percent of those shot by police suffered from mental illness.
APD responds to new movement by killing three people in six weeks
The response of APD to the new protest movement and the scathing DOJ report has been to kill three people in six weeks—in other words, to increase the number of shootings and killings, while stonewalling the release of information to the public about the killings. At a press conference following the killing of a homeless teenager, Mary Hawkes, on April 22, Chief Eden announced that video from the shooting officer’s lapel camera could not be “extracted.” When pressed by media about the reason why, he refused to answer.
The APD has defied all attempts by the community and local political establishment to curtail their heinous pattern of violence.
City Council meeting turns into a true People’s Meeting
The growing perception that all formal avenues of petitioning for justice have proven ineffective in either combating or curtailing the hardcore racist APD—who have in fact gone on a murder spree since the protest movement began—led activists to employ the tactic of civil disobedience.
After the people’s arrest warrant for Chief Eden was read, protestors announced that they would not relinquish control of the meeting until Albuquerque Mayor Berry, who has turned his back on the issue of police brutality all together, showed up to hear the people’s demands.
Amid chants of “Arrest Gordan Eden!” and “Fire Mayor Berry” a contingent of officers quickly surrounded the chief and whisked him away. With the breakdown of chamber decorum and protocol, City Council members left smoke behind as they raced for the door, with the exceptions of Councilman Garduno and Councilwoman Pena, who were the last to leave.
Activists and community members then occupied the vacant seats of the City Council and, after reconvening the meeting as a People’s Meeting, presided over several votes of no-confidence in the police chief, the mayor, and the mayor’s top administrator. The person in the council president’s chair was the 11-year-old son of a union organizer.
The police were wholly unprepared and after assessing the number of determined people engaged in civil disobedience, and with the media everywhere, made the tactical decision to make no arrests.
The People’s Meeting was called to a close in an orderly fashion with the announcement of plans to organize an historic civil rights demonstration in the city of Albuquerque.
By Tristan Hallman
4:42 pm on May 1, 2014
The Phoenix Police Department — headed by a former Dallas assistant police chief — has started a review of the last five years of police shootings, the Arizona Republic reports.
The newspaper reports that the review is meant to examine the factors that led to officers pulling the trigger, but could also help ward off Justice Department scrutiny. Some in Dallas have also called for the federal department to look into police shootings here.
The Justice Department recently alleged that Albuquerque police officers engaged in a pattern of excessive force.
Phoenix’s police chief is Danny Garcia, who was a candidate for the Dallas top cop job the eventually went to David Brown. Garcia is quoted as saying the review “is critically important for us because it can save our officers’ lives and citizens’ lives.”
Summary of Department of Justice’s Findings – Albuquerque Police Department Investigation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2014
Following a comprehensive investigation, the Justice Department today announced its findings that the Albuquerque Police Department has engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force, including deadly force. The pattern and practice is the result of serious systemic deficiencies in policy, training, supervision and accountability. The police department’s failure to ensure that officers respect the Constitution undermines public trust. Constitutional policing increases the public’s trust, ensures safety, and respects the rights of the city’s residents.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE INVESTIGATION
The Findings Letter marks the culmination of the Justice Department’s comprehensive investigation of Albuquerque Police Department, which began on November 27, 2012, and was conducted jointly by the Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico. The Justice Department investigation involved an in-depth review of police department documents, interviews with command staff and rank and file police officers. The Department reviewed thousands of pages of documents, including written policies and procedures, internal reports, data, video footage, and investigative files. The investigative team interviewed hundreds of community members and held four community meetings in which diverse members of the Albuquerque provided their accounts of encounters with officers.
The Justice Department found reasonable cause to believe that the Albuquerque Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Justice Department specifically found three patterns of excessive force:
Officers too frequently use deadly force against people who pose a minimal threat in situations where the conduct of the officers heightens the danger and contributes to the need to use force;
Officers use less lethal force, including Tasers, on people who are passively resisting, non-threatening, observably unable to comply with orders, or pose only a minimal threat to the officers; and
Encounters between Albuquerque Police officers and persons with mental illness and in crisis too frequently result in a use of force or a higher level of force than necessary.
The Justice Department also found systemic deficiencies of the police department, which contribute to these three patterns. The causes include deficient policies, failed accountability systems, inadequate training, inadequate supervision, ineffective systems of investigation and adjudication, the absence of a culture of community policing, and a lack of sufficient civilian oversight.
The Justice Department seeks critical remedial measures to address these deficiencies. These measures are in eight areas:
Use of Force Policies
Interacting with Individuals with Mental Illness and other Disabilities
Internal Investigations and Civilian Complaints
Management and Supervision
Recruitment and Selection
Community Policing and Oversight
The Justice Department looks forward to working with the city and Albuquerque Police Department and the community to timely resolve these findings. Change will not occur over night, and effective reform of the Albuquerque Police Department requires a durable and sustainable blueprint for reform which will provide the structure, transparency, and accountability necessary to achieve success.