Court allows lawsuit against police for improper drug raid to go forward

This might be a big victory: A federal appeals court has ruled that a lawsuit by two former CIA agents can go forward against the police for an improper home drug raid against the family because they happened to have a tomato garden.

The police raided the home, threatened the couple and their children, all because they had shopped for garden supplies and had brewed their tea from loose tea leaves. From the court ruling:

This week, the three judge panel — Carlos Lucero, Gregory Phillips and Nancy Moritz — ruled against the state, sending the case back to district court. What’s notable is that the 100-page decision pushed back hard against the claim police officers are immune from legal responsibility if they are just doing their jobs. “The defendants in this case caused an unjustified governmental intrusion into the Hartes’ home based on nothing more than junk science, an incompetent investigation, and a publicity stunt,” Lucero wrote in his opinion. “The Fourth Amendment does not condone this conduct, and neither can I.”

The judge went on to question the department’s claim of probable cause for the raid — particularly on the issue of the supposedly “positive” field-tested tea leaves. “There was no probable cause at any step of the investigation,” the judge wrote. “Not at the garden shop, not at the gathering of the tea leaves, and certainly not at the analytical stage when the officers willfully ignored directions to submit any presumed results to a laboratory for analysis.”

The lawsuit was filed against the specific police officers who conducted the raid, as well as the local county elected officials who sanctioned the raid. I hope they bankrupt them all.

I should also add that the timing here is great, because Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, appears in favor of more of these kinds of raids.

Cursing the police and the law is legal

Victory for free speech: A federal judge has ruled that a man’s first amendment rights were violated when he was arrested because he wrote profanity-laced objections on his speeding ticket payment letter.

This what these fascists in the small town of Liberty, New York did:

On May 4, 2012, Barboza, then 22, was driving through the small, scenic town of Liberty when he was given a speeding ticket. Clearly sore about the incident, Barboza crossed out “Liberty” on the payment form and replaced it with “Tyranny.” He then scrawled the offending phrase across the top, pleaded guilty to speeding and put the form in the mail.

Justice Brian P. Rourke informed Barboza in September of that year that his payment had been rejected and he’d have to make the two-hour trek from Connecticut to appear in court. There, Rourke lectured Barboza over his use of foul language, before prosecutors from the Sullivan County district attorney’s office instructed police officers to arrest Barboza on a charge of aggravated harassment. Barboza was taken to the Liberty police station, where he was booked, fingerprinted and handcuffed to a bench. After being shuffled between courts, he was eventually released when he paid a $200 bail.

The new ruling makes the DA liable for damages. The town of Liberty will also have to “stand trial for failing to train police officers regarding the First Amendment,”

A drastic drop in complaints immediately after San Diego outfitted its police with body cameras

Surprise, surprise! Immediately after San Diego outfitted its police force with 600 body camera the number of complaints plunged.

The report, which took one full year into account, found that complaints against police have fallen 40.5 percent and use of “personal body” force by officers has been reduced by 46.5 percent. Use of pepper spray has decreased by 30.5 percent.

Two benefits can be seen immediately. First, the police are being harassed less from false complaints. Second, and more important, the police are finding ways to settle most disputes without the use of force, which means they are abusing their authority less.

These statistics do confirm what many on both the right and the left have begun to believe in recent years, that the police have been almost certainly using force against citizens inappropriately too often. In San Diego at least the cameras are serving to stem this misuse of authority.

Posted from Tucson International Airport, on my way to Vandenberg to get a tour and give a lecture.

Georgia police declare war on okra

We’re here to help you: Heavily armed police raided the home of a retired Atlanta citizen because a helicopter inspection — without a warrant — spotted some plants in his backyard that they thought were marijuana.

The plants were okra, a classic southern side dish.

And police wonder why many people today are suspicious of them. What the hell are they doing, flying over people’s homes and snooping into their backyards?

The benefits of fewer New York police arrests

Link here. The author nails it, noting that many of the arrests the cops have stopped doing were probably nothing more than the harassment of citizens and did nothing to improve the city’s quality of life. The cops were doing it under orders of the government, which they are now defying.

The sad part is the police are not defying these orders because they object to the policies, but because they object to the mayor.

New York cops stop harassing citizens in protest

In a virtual work stoppage, New York cops have ceased issuing citations for traffic offenses, parking, and other low level drug offenses.

Angry union leaders have ordered drastic measures for their members since the Dec. 20 assassination of two NYPD cops in a patrol car, including that two units respond to every call. It has helped contribute to a nose dive in low-level policing, with overall arrests down 66 percent for the week starting Dec. 22 compared with the same period in 2013, stats show. Citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587, during that time frame. Summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination also plunged 94 percent — from 4,831 to 300. Even parking violations are way down, dropping by 92 percent, from 14,699 to 1,241. Drug arrests by cops assigned to the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau — which are part of the overall number — dropped by 84 percent, from 382 to 63.

I see this as a true improvement to the quality of life for the average New Yorker. It isn’t the murders by police that make life hell in New York, but the constant harassment by police for doing the most minor things wrong. In fact, it is these kinds of offenses that probably cause the most friction between citizens and the police.

Sheriff tases and arrests homeschooling family because their house is messy

We’re here to help you! Lacking a warrant, police officers forced their way into the home of a homeschooling family, tased the parents, and then arrested them.

The reason? A child protection caseworker had visited the house a few days previously and had found it to be “messy.” When the caseworker returned with the sheriff and his deputy, without a warrant, the parents refused them entry.

As Jason [the father] turned to go back inside, Glidden [the deputy] sprayed him with pepper spray—first at the back of his head and then directly in his face. Glidden also sprayed Laura [the mother], who fell to the floor. Glidden then turned to Jason, who was still standing, and shot him in the back with his Taser. As Jason fell, Laura closed the front door. Glidden triggered the Taser three more times through the closed door.

Sheriff White joined Glidden on the front porch. Together they forced open the door and found Laura and Jason lying on the floor. Glidden sprayed Laura in the face a second time while White sprayed Jason and tried to turn him over onto his stomach. Laura shouted to the officers that Jason had been taken to the emergency room earlier in the week for chest pains. White nevertheless continued attempting to turn Jason over and sprayed him a third time when he was unsuccessful. The officers also sprayed the Hagans’ dog with chemical agent and threatened to shoot it if it didn’t stop barking.

Finally, the officers handcuffed and arrested Laura and Jason and charged them with resisting arrest and child endangerment.

The charges were dismissed because of the lack of warrant, and the family is now suing. The article does not say whether they are suing the state or the officers themselves. I hope they are suing the officers, as there should be some direct consequnces for this kind of fascist behavior.

Police seize $100K without a warrant

Theft by government: Two men who were detained, their car searched without a warrant, and had more than $100K in cash seized illegally, have now filed suit claiming their constitutional rights were violated.

By the time the encounter was over, the gamblers had been detained for more than two hours. Their car was searched without a warrant. And their cellphones, a computer and $100,020 of their gambling “bankroll” were seized under state civil asset-forfeiture laws. The troopers allowed them to leave, without their money, after issuing a traffic warning and a citation for possession of marijuana paraphernalia that carried a $65 fine, court records show.

Months later, an attorney for the men obtained a video of the stop. It showed that the motorists were detained for a violation they did not commit — a failure to signal during a lane change — and authorities were compelled to return 90 percent of the money.

Now the men are questioning the police tactics in an unusual federal civil rights lawsuit. In the suit, filed Sept. 29, William Barton Davis, 51, and John Newmer­zhycky, 43, both from Humboldt County, Calif., claim their constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures were violated. They also contend the stop was part of a pattern connected to the teachings of a private police-training firm that promotes aggressive tactics.

I hope they win big, very big. As far as I can tell, there is nothing legal about this police action. Nothing. It is theft, pure and simple, and thieves are supposed to be punished if caught.

Police officer suspended for slapping citizen for refusing a warrantless search

This story demonstrates why it is becoming essential for every citizen to begin recording their interactions with the police every single time.

Yesterday police were contacted in regard to a video posted online which appeared to show an inappropriate interaction between an on-duty member of the Sheriff’s Office and a civilian, resulting from a suspicious vehicle complaint in the Town of Halfmoon.

The Sheriff’s Office has identified and interviewed all parties involved in the interaction and as a result, the police officer has been suspended without pay effective immediately, pending the outcome of the investigation and possible disciplinary action.

Make sure you watch the video. It is very clear that the officer did not know he was being recorded. It is also clear to me that his behavior in this situation was not unusual, that this police officer is quite used to using violence to get his way, regardless of the law. Had the recording not existed, however, he would not have been suspended, and would not be likely to lose his job.

The recording did exist, however, which has forced the Saratoga police force to take action.

A citizen pulls over a cop and issues him a warning

Watch the video below the fold. The citizen saw a cop on patrol in an unmarked car, which is illegal in Washington, and flagged him down to tell him that he was in violation of the law.

Seim then went through all the normal steps of a traffic stop: taking the officer’s name and asking to see his license. Then after a lengthy discussion about the law, Seim let him off with a warning. He urged the officer to speak with his bosses about their illegal patrol cars.

» Read more

Police arrest a man for picking up his kids.

A Minnesota black man is tased and arrested by police because he was going to pick up his kids from school.

Don’t believe me? Watch the video below the fold. It is heart-breaking and infuriating. The man does nothing wrong, and the police could have easily calmed the situation down. Instead, they escalated it for no reason. The man quite reasonably concludes “The problem is I’m black.”

I think the problem here is less racism and more a police force that is in love with its power. As I and many others have documented extensively, modern American police are increasingly willing to abuse their position of trust in ways that are appalling. In this case, as in many similar cases, the police officers in this case got off free, without punishment. What should have happened is that the male officer should have been fired, and the female officer disciplined.
» Read more

German journalists arrested by police in Ferguson

Modern American free speech: Two German journalists were arrested by police in Ferguson for wanting to take photographs of a burned out gas station.

The comments of one of the journalists was especially shameful:

This was a very new experience. I’ve been in several conflict zones: I was in the civil war regions in Georgia, the Gaza strip, illegally visited the Kaliningrad region when travel to the Soviet Union was still strictly prohibited for westerners, I’ve been in Iraq, Vietnam and in China, I’ve met Cuba dissidents. But to be arrested and yelled at and be rudely treated by police? For that I had to travel to Ferguson and St. Louis in the United States of America.

Except for the arrests of journalists there, I have not posted much about the situation in Ferguson, mostly because no one at present really knows what happened and the subsequent behavior of everyone has been exceedingly disgusting and uncivilized, undeserving to my mind of much attention.

The cop who shot and killed an already restrained 90 lb teen, saying “We don’t have time for this,” as he fired, has now been indicted for voluntary manslaughter.

More good news: The cop who shot and killed an already restrained 90 lb teen, saying “We don’t have time for this,” as he fired, has now been indicted for voluntary manslaughter.

Too often the actual cops and government officials who commit acts of oppression get off scot free while their government has to pay the bills. This time, the punishment is being applied to the person who did the deed, a much better approach as it imposes personal responsibility from the individuals involved.

The man who was forced by police to undergo multiple invasive surgeries after a traffic stop — and billed for the abuse after nothing illegal was found – has won a $1.6 million legal settlement with New Mexico local authorities.

Pushback: The man who was forced by police to undergo multiple invasive surgeries after a traffic stop — and billed for the abuse after nothing illegal was found –- has won a $1.6 million legal settlement with New Mexico local authorities.

He is also suing the hospital involved. I hope he wins millions more.

When a man denied the police entry into his house because they didn’t have a warrant, one officer threatened to come back with a warrant and “shoot and kill” the man’s dogs.

Does this make you feel safer? When a man denied the police entry into his house because they didn’t have a warrant, one officer threatened to come back with a warrant and “shoot and kill” the man’s dogs.

[When the] police asked to search his house, Crinnian refused multiple times. He said they needed a warrant. Then he said one police officer started threatening him saying, “If we have to get a warrant, we’re going to come back when you’re not expecting it, we’re going to park in front of your house, where all your neighbors can see, we’re gonna bust in your door with a battering ram, we’re gonna shoot and kill your dogs, who are my family, and then we’re going to ransack your house looking for these people.”

How nice.

It appears that the police in Deming, New Mexico have done forced medical procedures on more than one person.

It appears that the police in Deming, New Mexico have done forced medical procedures on more than one person.

Armed with what police said was probable cause and a search warrant, officers took Young to the Gila Medical Center in Silver City, N.M. The name of the hospital may sound familiar because it’s the exact same hospital Eckert was taken for the invasive hunt for drugs in his body that lasted more than 12 hours. Young was then reportedly subjected to X-rays and an anal exam. They found no drugs. Young, just like Eckert, says he did not consent to any of the procedures, which were performed in a county not covered by the search warrant obtained by police.

I suspect that more victims of this type of police abuse are going to be found.