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Unusual media criticism of police as NYPD Officers attack peaceful protest

Officer: NYPD Various
Charge: excessive force, wrongful detainment, assault
Date: Sep 26th, 2011
Location: New York, New York and everywhere in America

Not local, but worth sharing because it is so rare to see mainstream media criticism of police. Particularly when the criticism goes beyond the "bad apples" argument and criticizes the accepted pattern and practice of police brutality and misconduct.
Lawrence O'donnell's on msnbc:
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s Rewrite. This weekend, a few troublemakers turned a peaceful protest against Wall Street greed into a violent burst of chaos. The troublemakers carried pepper spray and guns and were wearing badges.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get in there and help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re not doing anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: "We`re not doing anything." You heard the woman say that as the police were grabbing people for absolutely no reason, crushing them on the pavement and arresting them. "We`re not doing anything."

We will post all of the video that we have on this protest on our blog. And you won`t find anyone doing anything that is legal grounds for arrest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSS TALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Let`s take another look at that unprovoked police brutality. The reason that man is being assaulted by the police is because of what he has in his hand. He`s holding a professional-grade video camera. Since the Rodney King beating was caught on an amateur video camera, American police officers have known video cameras are their worst enemies.

They will do anything they can to stop you from legally videotaping how they handle their responsibility to serve and protect you. So this police commander has decided that the correct response to that man shooting video is to grab him and smash his head into a parked Volvo.

The commanders are recognizable by their white shirts. The white shirts indicate a rank of lieutenant or above. Here`s another courageous commander showing his men how to control the citizenry. His target for showing how tough he is was an unarmed woman who he had to reach across the police security line to grab.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no. Stop it. Stop it. No, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop it. Stop it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And there was at least one unprovoked use of pepper spray.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pepper spray. Pepper spray for what?

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: USLaw.com has posted a slow motion version of the pepper spray incident, which, of course, shows there is no conceivable justification for the use of the pepper spray.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: As is usually the case in these situations, most of the police officers on the scene carried out their duties calmly and nonviolently, like this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, back, please. Thank you. Back, please, ma`am. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That`s how you do it. Stand back, thank you. You respect those people. As usual, police department is defending its troublemakers as having done absolutely nothing wrong. The department insists that the pepper spray was used appropriately. The department may be forced to conduct an investigation of the police conduct if police brutality complaints are filed.

But police investigations of this sort are always a sham, designed from the start, to the finish, to defend the police conduct. The police department is already defending the inexcusable use of the pepper spray, which you just saw. They`re defending it knowing there is videotape proving that it was unjustified.

The police department can do this because the police department knows that this story is going to go away. This kind of story always goes away. Someone would have to have been killed or very seriously injured in order for the press to stay interested in this story, and for the police to do even a half serious investigation into it.

This is just a story of a few cops being tougher than they had to be, and, yeah, technically breaking some laws. And cops know they can always get away with that. American police know that no mayor and no police chief is ever going to call them on just being what they think of as a little too tough.

Now, I haven`t bothered to mention where this took place or what police department was involved because this is an American police work that we`re watching. It`s an American police work story.

In fact, it involved one of the best police departments in America. Every day in America, police are too tough. Every day in America, police cross the line and abuse citizens.

Every day in America, police get away with that. White America was shocked at what they saw police doing to Rodney King. Black America would have loved to have been shocked by what they saw police do to Rodney King. But black America only could have been shocked if what the police did to Rodney King was something completely alien to their community experience, was something they couldn`t imagine the police doing in their community.

There`s a Rodney King every day in this country. And black America has always known that. Everything those cops did this weekend to those protesters they`ve done to someone else when there were no video cameras rolling. They`ve done it and they`ve gotten away with it. They know just how much assault and battery their department will let them commit.

They know just how many false arrests their department will let them do. They know just how much latitude their department gives them on abusing citizens. They do it because they know they can. They do it because they know -- they know they will get away with it.

None of the officers who crossed the line this weekend will be disciplined in any way. None of them will be charged with the assaults and batteries that they committed. None of them will be charged with the false arrests. None of them will lose a day`s pay.

The police department doesn`t need an investigation to figure out what happened this weekend. The department has already said the officers acted appropriately. Case closed. That`s it.

If the department does, by some miracle, by some chance, discipline anyone -- anyone for what happened this weekend, I will immediately Rewrite what would then be my mistaken presumption tonight that American police have once again gotten away with another crime against the American people they are sworn to serve and protect.

Bill Azua harasses people walking through Beach Flats

Officer: Wm. Azua
Charge: harassment, unlawful detainment, racism, threats
Date: May 2004
Location: 900 block of 3rd St. Santa Cruz ( Beach Hill neighborhood)

Victim's testimonial:
Even though this happened long ago, it still bothers me to this day:

A friend (another white male in his 40's) and myself had walked from the Seabright area, across the trestle at the Boardwalk and through the Beach Flats neighborhood up to 3rd street, where we were stopped by Ofc. Azua and a female officer in training. After asking us if  we "scored" while we were in the flats, to which I replied "No, we weren't looking for women or dope."  Ofc. Azua asked us for our IDs and ran us for warrants.

I asked Azua what his probable cause was to detain us and he stated "Because you were walking through the flats." After seeing mine and my companion's ID's, he went on to ask us several questions about why we were in the flats when we lived nowhere nearby. I replied that we had walked from downtown over to Seabright to visit someone, and were returning.

Ofc. Azua advised us that we were the "wrong color" to be walking through the flats and if he saw either one of us in the flats again he would be happy to stop us and arrest us for "spitting on the sidewalk or jaywalking" or anything else he could "dream up."

I advised him that we were both natural born citizens of the United States and the city of Santa Cruz and that telling us that we could not  have free movement around these environs was unconstitutional and illegal in this case [it is as if] marshal law had been in force.

Ofc. Azua advised us that he was the marshal law and he was not afraid to use force if his law was violated.
Filed by:  D. Jackson (contact available)

List of SCPD Officers

Here is the complete list of all 89 members of the Santa Cruz Police Department as of August 19th, 2011.  This was received by a Records Act Request.

BADGE  OFFICER NAME
100Vogel, K
101Bush, J
103Flippo, D
104Barry, W
105Baker, B
106Perry, D
107McPhillips, J
109McMahon, C
110Martinez, R
111Conner, M
112Eveleth, M
113Clark, S
114LeMoss, C
116Medina, M
117Campbell, S
118Escalante, B
119Sanders, M
120Harms, M
121Richard, L
122Swannack, E
123Garner, S
125Auldridge, J
126Clayton, B
128Huynh, M
129Crofts, G
130Bynes, W
132Cockrum, D
133Kelley, J
134Ross, D
135Deeg, K
136Pendleton, S
137Hernandez, J
138Rogers, K
139Dukelow, R
140Emigh, D
141Bayani, P
143Peabody, E
144Ahlers, T
145Vasquez, N
146Bailey, M
147Azua, B
148Teaford, A
149Vigil, C
150Hoppe, E
151Kendall, T
152Ganzel, A
153Cecena, K
154Warren, B
115Vasquez, A
156Kiar, R
158Pawlak, D
159Schonfield, L
160Trog, J
161Martin, A
162Crowell, F
163Guerrasio, D
164Winston, B
165Inouye, R
166Mulvihill, M
167DeOcampo, P
168Hillier, B
169Jones, C
170Hedley, M
171Fincutter, E
172Butler, E
173Hansen, W
174Shields, T
176Coffey, E
177Seiley, E
178Hatcher, B
179Rodriguez, S
180Badeo, R
181Burnham, I
182Gunter, D
183Clark, B
185Gallegos, J
186Williams, D
187Young, T
188Aguilar, A
189Cline, B
190Morey, W
191Nottingham, A
192Venegas, S
194Duarte, M
195Terry, S
196Rodriguez, A
197Garcia, J
198Forbus, D (David)
199Forbus, Da (Dan)

The Public Records Act is designed to give the public access to information in possession of public agencies: "public records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of the…agency and every person has a right to inspect any public record, except as . . . provided, [and to receive] an exact copy” of an identifiable record unless impracticable.

Here is a first rate pamphlet on making Public Records Act Requests in California:  http://www.thefirstamendment.org/publicrecordsact.pdf

Santa Cruz police shoot dog during arrest near Santa Cruz's DeLaveaga Park

Officer: Officer Ron Inouye
Charge: excessive force
Date: May 12, 2011
Location: DeLaveaga Park, Santa Cruz

From the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
SANTA CRUZ -- Santa Cruz police shot and killed a dog Thursday during the arrest of a parolee in the woods near upper DeLaveaga Park, police said.

Two officers were investigating complaints of homeless campers and aggressive dogs about 2:30 p.m., when they came upon a campsite of a parolee known to be aggressive toward police, Deputy Chief Steve Clark said.

The officers were on a narrow trail when the 75-pound, male Rottweiler mix came at them, Clark said.

The lead officer was hampered by two large trees on either side of him, he said.

"He essentially had no other option and nowhere to retreat," he said. "Officers had seen the dog's owner and pleaded with the owner to pull the dog off, and the dog continued coming at the officer in a very aggressive way, literally running and lunging at the officer."

The camper and dog owner, 47-year-old Paul Boulerice, was arrested on suspicion of violating his parole and possessing a dangerous weapon, Clark said. The weapon found at his campsite was a billy club fashioned from a bike handle with custom lead weights on it, he said.

Officer Ron Inouye, a five-year veteran who Clark said loves dogs and has experience training them, shot the dog.

"It really is an unfortunate set of circumstances," he said. "He was convinced that was his only option."

Boulerice is on parole for making threats to an officer and for trying to take an officer's gun during a fight, Clark said. He has a history of drug-related arrests.

His family once owned The Impossible Restaurant on Soquel Avenue, he said.

"Mr. Boulerice had an opportunity to call his dog off and could have tied him up in the area," he said.

The area is off Brookwood Drive on the inland side of Highway 1 and snakes up around the south side of DeLaveaga Park, and slopes down to a creek that is the city limit, Clark said.

Less than lethal options such as pepper spray or a Taser or a baton have a limited effect to immediately stop dogs, Clark said.

Todd Stosuy
, who manages the animal control portion of the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, said officer-involved shootings of dogs have occurred "every once in a while" since he started in the county eight years ago.

County shelter workers went out to retrieve the dog's body, Stosuy said.

"If there is an officer-involved shooting, they do their own internal investigation to see if the level of force was justified," he said. "We hold onto the animal for them and transport it to the vet if a necropsy is necessary."

To prevent such encounters, he said anyone approached by law enforcement should make sure their dog is on a leash. And if an owner knows the dog has a propensity to attack or bite, it should be muzzled, Stosuy said.

"Those really are the keys," he said. "Definitely if you are someone on probation or parole, and you are dealing with law enforcement, you should make sure your animal is properly contained. The police and sheriff's deputies don't want to shoot animals, but they have to make sure to protect themselves."

On April 14, a sheriff's deputy shot a 5-month-old, 57-pound bull terrier to death when it and a second dog, an adult pit bull mix, came out the front door of a Boulder Creek condo during a probation search aimed at 48-year-old Lonni Locatelli. Deputies say the dogs were bearing their teeth and refused to halt when doused with pepper spray. The puppy, Sheeba, died at a veterinarian's office. Locatelli said the dog was only barking.

Police often claim that arrestees have a history of violence or claim that they resisted arrest or even assaulted officers.

Additionally, police frequently use a "weapons" charge (almost always later dropped) as a pretense for an arrest, search and more serious charges. Though the charge would seem to imply that criminals are packing machine guns, these "weapons" often turn out to be bike u-locks, walking sticks, legal pocketknives leathermen tools, or even a water bottle. 

References:

Santa Cruz Motorcycle Riders Claim Police Harassment

Officer: Unknown
Charge: harrassment
Date: April 15th, 2011
Location: Santa Cruz

From KOIN:
Motorcycle riders in Santa Cruz County claim police are harassing and accosting them for no reason. "We were on an Easter basket run," says Lyle Fleming. "Unless it's illegal to give baskets of goodies to children to take a ride on a Sunday afternoon. I can't see anything that was illegal at all."

Fleming is from the Monterey Bay Federation of Motorcycle Clubs. Now, he's speaking out against what he calls discrimination from police. He said, last Sunday, deputies from the Santa Cruz Gang Task Force targeted them.

"They looking for arbitrary reasons to harass motorcyclists," says Fleming. "We aren't really clear why. We are not gangs, we are motorcycle clubs."

But, the Santa Cruz County Gang Task Force said they had high presence after receiving complaints from the public. They also say it was a Hells Angels advertised event and they were just doing their job to keep the public safe.

"The people who were pulled over or had any enforcement action were those that had flagrant violations in front of officers," says Commander Mario Sulay.

Sulay said they gave out 16 citations and arrested four people. Three of those arrests were weapon-related.

"No one was pulled over for riding a motorcycle," says Sulay.

Fleming disagrees and said it's not against the law to associate with the Hell's Angels and he doesn't want to be classified as a criminal.

"It seems that the cops have an attitude toward motorcyclists," says Fleming. "They would like us to all be gangs. They try to lump us into the category of street gangs. Unfortunately we are not street gangs."

Police frequently report to the press arrests for "weapons-related charges." Though the charge would seem to imply that criminals are packing concealed semi-automatic weapons, these "weapons" often turn out to be legal pocketknives or even leathermen tools.

References:

Violent Arrests at Farmers Market Protest

Officer: Albert, Bruce Cline, Mike Huynh, and Michael Harms
Charge: excessive force, harassment
Date: September 17th, 2008
Location: Farmer's Market Corner of Cardiff and Cedar, Santa Cruz


On September 17th, 2008, two protesters were arrested at the scene of the farmer's market drum circle, Jack Rusk, a cook for Food Not Bombs and Wes Modes, a drummer with the Santa Cruz Trash Orchestra. Both Mr. Rusk and Mr. Modes took part in a protest at Santa Cruz Parking Lot 4 in support of the drum circle at the Wednesday Farmer’s Market, and to oppose the fences erected by the city to preclude the drummers from their traditional spot around the trees in the parking lot near the farmer's market.

This was the second week of protests in this most recent attempt to evict the drum circle and Food Not Bombs. (The police had tried in January of that same year to evict the drummers but thanks to community support and protest, the drummers prevailed.) During that previous week of September 10th, Santa Cruz police Sergeant Michael Harms harassed protesters and drummers, photographing individuals and citing for minor violations. While no one was detained or arrested, Mr. Modes was served with five infractions, including destruction of city property, disturbing plants or grass, and trespassing in a city parking lot in a complaint sworn out by the City Attorney John Barrisone. This complaint was waiting for Mr. Modes when he was arrested the next week.


At the protest on September 17th, Mr. Modes again participated as a musician in Trash Orchestra, playing his blue drum. At this demonstration, Santa Cruz police Officer Albert arrested Mr. Rusk on suspicion that he removed some of the fences. Santa Cruz Police Seargent Michael Harms used pain compliance holds on Mr. Rusk. Drummers and community members rallied in support of Mr. Rusk, protesting his arrest loudly. Sergeant Harms ordered SCPD Officers Albert, Bruce Cline, and Mike Huynh to target Mr. Modes, tackling him to the ground.  Officer Cline clubbed Mr. Modes with his baton on the leg. Mr. Rusk was taken to County Jail while Mr. Modes was taken to the hospital for sutures from the baton blow and then later to County Jail.


The case took fifteen months of court, more than a dozen court appearances, three major motions, four rejected plea deals, two district attorneys, untold reams of paper, and nearly a thousand hours of defense work. In the end, Mr. Modes and Mr. Rusk took a plea deal to get on with their lives.

The series of motions, denials and plea offers finally ended on Dec. 4, 2009. "We did nothing wrong. But we eventually felt fighting the case would dominate our whole lives," says Modes who, along with Rusk, finally took a plea deal of "resisting arrest" for a suspended sentence and mandatory community service. "Defending yourself in court costs time and money, and most people just don't have enough."


When police assault and batter someone, it is standard procedure for the police and the DA to charge the victim with "battery on an officer" and "resisting arrest" to justify the excessive force.

References: