Posts Tagged ‘police killings’

A new study released by the Washington Post reveals that for every 1000 people killed at the hands of police, only one officer is convicted of a crime. Since 2005, although there have been thousands of fatal shootings by police officers, only 54 have been charged. Of those charged, most were cleared or acquitted.

This analysis is, to date, the most comprehensive of its kind. According to the Post:

“The 54 criminal prosecutions were identified by Bowling Green State University criminologist Philip M. Stinson and The Washington Post. Cases were culled from news reports, grand jury announcements and news releases from prosecutors. For individual cases, reporters obtained and reviewed thousands of pages of court records, police reports, grand jury indictments, witness testimony and video recordings. Dozens of prosecutors and defense attorneys in the cases were interviewed, along with legal experts, officers who were prosecuted and surviving relatives of the shooting victims.”

It stands to reason that if there are thousands of fatalities due to police shootings, the number of police charged would be much higher than it is. According to the analysis, in order for prosecutors to press charges, there had to be exceptional factors at play. These include “a video recording of the incident, a victim shot in the back, incriminating testimony from other officers or allegations of a coverup.”

According to Bowling Green criminologist Philip M. Stinson, “To charge an officer in a fatal shooting, it takes something so egregious, so over the top that it cannot be explained in any rational way. It also has to be a case that prosecutors are willing to hang their reputation on.”

On the rare occasion an officer is charged with a crime, the punishment on average is much lower than would be expected, some spending only weeks behind bars. The prosecutors and defense lawyers interviewed in the study attribute this to the fact that “Jurors are very reluctant to punish police officers, tending to view them as guardians of order.” 

The most alarming part about this study is that the number of people fatally shot by police could potentially be much higher because police departments are not required to keep the database of police shootings updated. This is terrifying, as it’s arguably one of the most important records a police department could keep.

ZION, Ill. (AP) — An autopsy has revealed that a teenager killed by a police officer in Illinois over the weekend was shot twice in the back, authorities said Monday.

Justus Howell was shot by Zion police on Saturday afternoon. Police say officers responding to a call about an altercation began chasing a male when he ran from the scene. They say that after the teen was shot, officers recovered a handgun.

The Lake County Coroner’s Office said in a statement Monday that one bullet struck the 17-year-old in the left back and penetrated his heart, spleen and liver. Another bullet struck him on the right side of his back. Tests to determine whether drugs were in the victim’s system are pending.

The Zion police chief didn’t return calls Monday seeking comment about the autopsy results. Zion is a community of about 24,000 people along Lake Michigan about 45 miles north of Chicago, near Illinois’ border with Wisconsin.

Howell was black and his relatives contacted the NAACP asking its officials to speak on their behalf, according to Lake County NAACP president Jennifer Witherspoon. She says Howell’s relatives are hoping to find out exactly what happened as quickly as possible.

“Whether it was a mistake on his part or a mistake on the police’s part, they want answers to make sure something like this never happens again,” she said.

The teen’s death comes months after an unarmed black 18-year-old was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, an incident that sparked protests and heightened concerns about how minorities are treated by police around country. Police in Zion haven’t provided any details on the officer involved in Howell’s shooting, including the officer’s race.

“Here in America we are seeing this with too many brown and black boys,” said Witherspoon, who added she was encouraged that Zion police quickly handed the investigation over to the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.

Family members gathered Sunday near the site of the shooting to pay tribute to Howell.

Howell, was a high school junior who transferred from a school in Wisconsin to Waukegan Public School District 60, spokesman Nick Alajakis told the Chicago Tribune.

Alajakis said the teenager attended the Lakeshore Academy, a privately-operated school that takes students from the district and, according to the district’s website, serves academically struggling students.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — On his first day back from a mandatory leave for shooting and wounding a knife-wielding man earlier this month, a Wisconsin police officer shot and killed an armed suspect after confronting him following a chase, authorities said.

Kenosha police officer Pablo Torres returned from leave Saturday, 10 days after shooting a man who advanced on police armed with knives, the department said. While that March 4 shooting was investigated, Torres was placed on administrative leave by department policy in police-involved shootings. He also attended annual in-service training before returning to work last weekend, police said.

On Saturday morning, police chased a car driven by 26-year-old Aaron Siler, who was wanted on a felony probation and parole warrant, Lt. Brad Hetlet said in a statement. Siler crashed at around 9:30 a.m. and took off running.

When Torres confronted Siler, Siler “armed himself with a weapon” and Torres fatally shot him, Hetlet said.

Wisconsin online court records show a man with the same name and birthdate as Siler was charged in 2011 in Kenosha County with strangulation, false imprisonment, battery and disorderly conduct. He pleaded no contest to strangulation with the other charges dismissed and was sentenced in 2013 to four years of probation on condition he serve one year in jail.

In 2011, the same man pleaded guilty to bail jumping and was sentenced in May 2013 to credit served for 563 days he spent in jail. A theft charge was dismissed.

In the earlier officer-involved shooting, Torres was among three officers and a recruit who went to a home after a woman called to say her husband had gone into the garage to kill himself. Police say the man was armed with two knives and was seated in a running vehicle. When the man refused to drop the knives, two officers shot him with Tasers. When the man began advancing on police, Torres shot him once in the stomach. The man is expected to survive.

Hetlet said police had no additional information to release about the shooting of Siler.

Kenosha is in southeastern Wisconsin between Milwaukee and Chicago.

From Balko…

Meet Derek Cruice, your latest collateral damage in the drug war:

A deputy shot and killed an unarmed man while attempting to serve a narcotics search warrant in Deltona, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators said deputies were entering the home on Maybrook Drive when Derek Cruice, 26, allegedly advanced on a member of the SWAT team around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“Volusia County Sheriff’s Office narcotics investigators and the Street Crimes Unit were attempting to serve a search warrant at a residence. They were met with resistance and a shooting occurred,” Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said.

A deputy shot Cruice in the face right in the doorway, investigators said.

Cruice was taken to Florida Hospital Fish Memorial Hospital in Orange City as a trauma alert, but later died.

There were five other people inside the home at the time of the shooting, but no one else was injured.

If he was shot in the doorway, it seems unlikely he had much time to process what was going on around him. In fact, not only was Cruice unarmed, according to his roommates, he was wearing only basketball shorts. The roommates also dispute the police account that Cruice “advanced” on them.

Two of Cruice’s friends, who told WESH 2′s Claire Metz that they were inside the house when he was shot, insist that he did not threaten or resist the deputy.

“That is completely a lie. I was there; I watched the whole thing. There was no advancement. There was no reaching for anything. The guy was wearing basketball shorts like I am. It’s kind of hard to conceal anything or hide anything when this is all you have on,” said Cruice’s friend, who asked not to be identified.

Another friend called the incident “murder.” There were no weapons in the house.

It seems likely that Cruice was dealing pot. The police say they found a ledger book, a scale, about a half-pound of marijuana and some cash. It also seems likely that if the police had simply knocked on the door and waited, or apprehended Cruice as he was coming or going, Cruice would be still be alive. This insistence on serving drug warrants by barreling into homes creates needless violence, confusion and confrontation. They’re designed to do this. I doubt that Cruice knowingly decided to take on a raiding police team armed only with his basketball shorts. It seems far more likely that he thought they were criminal intruders and was either trying to confront them, or was trying to escape. But there is no room for errors in judgment for the people on the receiving end of these raids — even though sowing confusion and disorientation are the stated aim. But it is only the suspects, the targets of the raids, who are expected to do everything right. When the police screw up and kill someone, they’re generally forgiven, owing again to the volatility of the situation.

So judging from the many, many prior incidents similar to this one, it’s probably safe to say that this officer will be cleared of any wrongdoing. It’s also probably safe to say that any investigation will determine that there’s nothing wrong with the police department’s warrant service policies. At least that’s how these investigations usually go. And if it is determined that the cops in these cases are following policy, and that there’s nothing wrong with the policies themselves, then the only conclusion we can draw is that the police agencies believe unarmed men getting shot in the face is an acceptable consequence of the effort to stop people from getting high on marijuana.

Of course, even that is an illusion. If there’s one thing we can say with near-absolute certainty, it’s that it is no more difficult to buy pot in Volusia County, Fla., today than it was before Derek Cruice was gunned down in his own home. And so we add another body to the pile.

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) – A 26-year-old Central Florida man died after being shot in the face early on Wednesday morning by a sheriff’s deputy attempting to serve a search warrant in a narcotics investigation, authorities said.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office reported in a press release that the victim, Derek Cruice, advanced on a member of the SWAT team as the officer was entering the house, leading to his killing.

Spokesman Gary Davidson said a further description of the encounter would follow a report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which investigates fatal shootings by police.

Michael Grady, one of six people in the house, told reporters at the scene that he opened the door when officers knocked, stepped outside and closed the door behind him. Within a couple of seconds, as officers pushed him to his knees, Grady said he heard the gunshot behind him, according to video of his interview posted on the Daytona Beach News-Journal website.

Reuters could not reach Grady for comment.

The deputy who fired the shot was Todd Raible, 36, a 10-year employee of the sheriff’s office, according to Davidson, who said no one was arrested.

“advanced on the SWAT team my ass-the trigger-happy stormtroopers shot him IN THE FACE!


(Reuters) – Three Los Angeles police officers who fatally shot an unarmed man after a televised car chase in 2013 will not face charges over the killing, prosecutors said on Monday, in a case that has drawn criticism from the department’s police chief.

The news was contained in a letter dated Jan. 29 and released by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. It came as national scrutiny over police killings of unarmed people remains high after several high-profile deaths.

The three Los Angeles officers said they thought 51-year-old Brian Beaird, who was white, was reaching for a gun or shooting at them when they fired on him 21 times on Dec. 13, 2013.

“There is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (the officers) did not act in self-defense and in defense of others,” the letter said.

The incident began as a car chase when Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies tried to pull Beaird over in his silver Corvette for reckless driving, police said.

After Los Angeles police officers took up pursuit, Beaird’s vehicle collided with another car at a downtown intersection and he emerged flailing his arms, police said.

An officer fired a non-lethal bean bag shotgun at Beaird. Shortly after, the three officers – Armando Corral, Leonardo Ortiz, and Michael Ayala – opened fire on him, killing him, officials said.

“I find that the tactics utilized by (the officers) substantially and unjustifiably deviated from approved department tactical training, thus requiring a finding of administrative disapproval,” Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck wrote in a report of the incident last December.

Media reported that Beaird’s family had obtained a $5 million settlement from the city over the shooting. Bill Beaird of Fresno, California, told reporters at the time he saw police shoot his son on live television.

“I’ve seen a lot, but nothing affected me like this, I just can’t seem to get over that,” he said.

The decision not to charge the officers comes as officials in Washington state are investigating the fatal shooting by three police officers of an unarmed man who was throwing rocks.

That fatal shooting prompted protests in the state’s agricultural heartland, and a lawyer for the man’s family said his constitutional rights had been violated.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco)

The police officer who fired the shot that killed an unarmed man in a Brooklyn housing project in November has been indicted, according to three people familiar with the grand jury proceedings.
Peter Liang, 27, who had been on the force for less than 18 months, was patrolling a darkened stairwell at the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York when he shot and killed Akai Gurley, 28. Less than 12 hours after the shooting, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton acknowledged that the shooting had been a grave error.
A formal announcement by the district attorney’s office was expected on Wednesday afternoon, but whether the indictment against Officer Liang includes any homicide counts, such as manslaughter, could not be immediately determined.
When Officer Liang and his partner entered an eighth-floor stairwell in the building, he had his gun drawn, according to the police. At nearly the same moment, Mr. Gurley and his girlfriend entered the seventh-floor stairwell, 14 steps below.
The charges, reported by NY1 on Tuesday afternoon, come two months after a grand jury on Staten Island declined to bring criminal charges against Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, who died after an encounter with the police.
It came at a time of heightened tension between the police and minority communities and was one of several cases that advocates for police reform cited as evidence of overly aggressive police tactics.

Officer Peter Liang, 27, was patrolling a darkened stairwell at the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York, Brooklyn, when he shot and killed Mr. Gurley. Credit Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

December 31, 2014
Back in July, we looked at the case of Jason Wescott, a Florida man shot and killed by a police SWAT team during a drug raid over an alleged sale of $200 worth of pot to a police informant. The tragedy was exacerbated by the fact that according to friends and relatives, Wescott had been previously threatened by a man who had broken into his home. When he reported the threat to police they apparently told him, “If anyone breaks into this house, grab your gun and shoot to kill.” Officers from the very same police agency then raided Wescott over some pot. When he grabbed his gun, they killed him.All that would be appalling in and of itself. But a new report from the Tampa Bay Times shows that it’s actually quite a bit worse. The paper was able to obtain the identity of the informant that led to the raid on Wescott’s home, Ronnie “Bodie” Coogle. And he has a lot to say.

A 50-year-old felon and drug addict, Coogle was the principal Tampa Police Department informer against at least five suspects this year. He conducted nine undercover operations. In their probable-cause affidavits, his handlers called him reliable. Even Tampa’s police chief praised his “track record.”

Coogle said they were all wrong. He said he repeatedly lied about suspects, stole drugs he bought on the public’s dime and conspired to falsify drug deals.

One of those he lied about, he said, was Jason Westcott, a young man with no criminal convictions whom a SWAT team killed during a drug raid that found just $2 worth of marijuana. Critics from across the country condemned the Police Department’s handling of the case as an example of the drug war’s lethal excesses.

“They’re making statements that are lies, that are absolute untruths, that are based on shady facts,” Coogle said of Tampa police. “Everything they’re saying is based on the informant. And I was the informant.”

Coogle said he decided to step forward, exposing his identity and risking retribution from drug dealers, because of his remorse over Westcott’s death. “I’ve got morals, and I feel compassion for this guy’s family and for his boyfriend,” he said. “It didn’t have to happen this way.”

Coogle is nobody’s idea of a righteous whistle-blower. The only constant in his story is his own dishonesty; even when he confesses to lying you don’t know if he’s telling the truth.

Much of what he says can be neither proved nor disproved, in large part because of the Police Department’s minimal supervision of his work. But Coogle’s allegations against the cops who paid him, and even his own admissions of double-dealing, aren’t necessarily what’s most disturbing about his account.

Most unsettling of all might be what nobody disputes — that police officers were willing to trust somebody like him in the first place.

When you’re trying to gauge the honesty of statements from a habitually dishonest person, it’s helpful to look at motives. Coogle had plenty of motive to lie to police about drug investigations. He got paid for his tips. I’m not sure what motive he’d have to lie here. What he told the paper will almost certainly end his gig as an informant, and, as the except points out, will likely put him in the crosshairs of the people he has reported to the police. Here’s how his lies got Jason Wescott killed.

Westcott and Reyes didn’t know much about the ingratiating junkie who slept in their neighbors’ tool shed. He showed up at their house almost daily last winter, eating their pizza and smoking their pot. As a token of friendship he once gave them a vacuum cleaner he had stolen from Walmart.

“You could tell he wasn’t the greatest of people or whatever,” Reyes said. “Jason, he kind of befriended everybody, you know what I’m saying? And that’s where we went wrong.”

One day he asked if they could get him heroin. “I’m like, ‘I don’t even know what heroin looks like,’” Reyes recalled.

The shed-dweller was Coogle, of course, fresh out of jail and staying with his in-laws. And when he asked for heroin he wasn’t asking for himself.

Coogle said his police handlers had urged him to seek heroin from Westcott and Reyes, but Westcott rebuffed him. We’re not involved in any s— like that. We’re pot smokers, Coogle remembered him saying.

But Coogle said he didn’t think his bosses would like the truth, so he told them the couple was connected to a heroin supplier in New York. He said he picked the state simply because he knew Westcott was born there.

“It was a bull—- story,” he said.

He then says the police started to lie themselves.

On the night of April 8, Coogle said, he stepped into an unmarked truck waiting for him on Knollwood Street with bad news: Westcott had no pot to sell. But as he started to explain, he said, the detective in the driver’s seat glared and cut him off.

“He said, ‘No, you got a gram, right?’ ” Coogle recalled. “You could tell with the body language and the way he was talking that he didn’t want to drive away from there without doing a buy.”

Back at the rally point where other undercover officers had gathered — the parking lot of a Bravo Supermarket on Sligh Avenue — he said he and his handler sat in the parked truck and talked, the detective’s pen poised over a report to which Coogle would eventually sign his name.

“It was almost like he was reading me the Riot Act,” Coogle said. “He’s like, ‘Listen, we’ve got too much manpower out here tonight for us to come up dry.’ And after him saying that in a couple of different ways but saying the same thing, I caught on to what he was saying. And I said, ‘Yeah, I bought the gram.’ “

Police reports indicate Coogle bought $20 worth of marijuana from Westcott that night.

Coogle said it was one of two times he swore to buying drugs when a target he approached actually had none to sell. The second was a falsified $50 crack-cocaine purchase from the Sulphur Springs suspect, he said.

In both cases, he said, Tampa detectives assured him they weren’t doing anything wrong — just guaranteeing the arrests of people they knew were dealers. “Once they determine that there’s criminal activity,” he said, “after that nothing else counts.”

Coogle also says that police distorted his story about Wescott’s gun, the apparent reason for the decision to use the SWAT team to apprehend him. If you’ll remember back to the first post, there’s another reason to believe that Coogle is telling the truth, here. The police also initially claimed that the tip about Westcott’s drug dealing came from neighbors, not a drug addicted confidential informant. That is, until the Tampa Bay paper interviewed those neighbors and discovered they had said no such thing. The police then “revised” their story. (Incidentally, all of these stories were reported by the Tampa Bay Times’ Peter Jamison. He deserves a ton of credit for his tenacity on this story.)

Read more @

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – An unarmed 25-year-old black man slain by Los Angeles police officers in August suffered three gunshot wounds, including one to his back, a long-awaited autopsy report showed on Monday.

Police have said two officers shot and killed Ezell Ford, described by a family lawyer as mentally challenged, after he struggled with one of them and tried to grab the officer’s gun during an Aug. 11 scuffle in a poor neighborhood of Los Angeles.

The autopsy conducted by medical examiners for the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office showed that Ford suffered gunshot wounds to the arm, back and right flank. The wounds to his back and flank were fatal, it said.

Toxicology tests showed Ford had marijuana in his system at the time of his death.

Because everyone deserves to be executed on the spot  by police death squads,we don’t needs judges and juries any more,right?

Places such as a courtroom,which is the proper venue to introduce the man’s state of mental health into evidence for a jury to consider.

Nah,the stormtroopers are all powerful,mere citizens must bow down to their superior force.

And people wonder why cops are gettin shot?!