Captured on Video: Boynton Beach Police Cuff Black School Boys as Classmates Watch

Video shot by students from their school bus this week shows Boynton Beach, CA, police handcuffing and choking two juvenile males for reasons that remain unclear. It took four cops with handcuffs to subdue the two teens, neither of which resisted or struggled. The incident was thrust into the public spotlight after a pair of videos surfaced on YouTube. The second video, which clearly records a police officer tripping one child and then placing him in a choke hold, can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=041ItKgLhnk.

Hidden Camera Captures Shooting of Mentally Ill Man Inside Bathroom

A hidden camera captured a Fort Bend County, TX, deputy shooting Michael Blair several times after the mentally ill man refused to lay down a (small) kitchen knife and come out from behind a locked bathroom door. The deputy remains unidentified and on duty as of this posting.

Mature Content: White Texas Deputy Kills Mentally Ill Black Man in Bathroom

The five-minute video, released this week, shows the deputy fire nearly a dozen shots into the body of Blair, and he continues to shoot as Blair falls to the ground—a clear violation of all policing protocol. The deputy was not aware of the camera, and he can be heard several times saying “be patient” to his partner and screaming “I don’t want to shoot you” as Blair flops around in an empty bathtub and his family pleads for his life.

Exactly why a hidden camera was aimed at the bathroom and why it took so long for the footage to be released remains unclear, but it really doesn’t matter.

I have a few thoughts on this case, and almost all center around why/how a deputy felt a clearly ill individual locked in the bathroom with a knife was a threat to him and the general public. Why is his finger on the trigger of his weapon during the entire incident? Why does he not once use his radio to call for specialized assistance? Would the outcome of this incident have been different if the cops knew they were being video taped?

I believe it would have.

Further, the deputy—despite “fearing for his life”—antagonizes Blair throughout the video and clearly places using force at the top of his list of options. The deputy escalates the situation from the outset, and at no time does he try to engage or simply talk with Blair—a reflection of poor training, inexperience or both. The deputy instead takes on an aggressive posture and tags Blair several times with a stun gun.

This man was not a threat, simple as that. Negotiators and mental health professionals were never called to the scened, and we find ourselves once again analyzing a situation in which a bully with a badge crowns himself judge, jury and executioner.

You’re Fired: Hearne, TX, Cop Who Killed 93-Year-Old Woman Terminated by City Council Amid Mass Protests

imagesYou have a voice!

Outrage from across the country and expressed via social media has resulted in the termination of a Texas cop who shot a 93-year-old woman multiple times last week. Police involved in alleged police brutality cases are typically put on leave and taken off duty until completion of an internal investigation. Very rarely are they terminated so quickly, but this case was so egregious and the conduct so unbecoming that city officials simply couldn’t wait.

Steven Stem, now a former Hearne, TX, police officer, shot Pearlie Goldman inside her home after being dispatched to the residence on a disturbance involving a weapon report. It was Stem’s second fatal shooting since joining the small department. Stem TWICE tried to join the Marines, but he was kicked out of Officer Candidate School BOTH times due to injury (military jargon for “he just couldn’t hack the hustle.”) Not fit for military duty but cleared for patrol, Stem didn’t waste any time in shooting Tederalle Satchell shortly after joining the Hearne PD in 2012. He was cleared of wrongdoing in that case, but Satchell’s family was emphatic that Stem was a danger to the public and had a history of exercising poor  judgement on the job.

From around the Web:

  1. Texas Cop With Record of Shootings Guns Down 93-Year-Old Woman
  2. Texas town shaken by officer shooting 93-year-old
  3. Hearne PD officer terminated after fatal shooting
  4. Texas town shaken by officer shooting 93-year-old

Last week’s incident ignited a firestorm of criticism on social media, and groups from throughout the world bombarded the normally sleepy town of Hearne, TX, with call for action and sentiments of disgust. As previously stated, it’s extremely rare for an officer to be fired so swiftly, but it’s even more rare for a city council to call an emergency weekend meeting to discuss the matter—which is exactly what Hearne city officials did at the request of Mayor Ruben Gomez. Now that’s leadership.

Pearlie Goldman was a fixture in Hearne and had lived there most of her life. She had many friends and was an involved, respected member of the community. Last week’s need for police at her home arose after Goldman’s nephew pulled her driver’s license. She became agitated and armed herself—typical for a Texan and far from illegal. She was shot because she was holding a gun inside her home, which Stem entered armed and ready to shoot. He discharged at least three rounds into Goldman’s body. Stem did not deploy a taser, contact family members, request negotiators or update dispatch on the situation.

Congratulations to the leaders and citizens of Hearne, TX, for standing up against an injustice and doing everything possible to quickly right an obvious wrong. I hope the rest of America took notice.

D.C. Cops Shatter Man’s Eye, New Video of Dearborn Cyclist Beating and a Letter from Occupy

Multiple Washington D.C. news outlets are reporting this morning on the injuries a 27-year-old man sustained during an arrest last Sunday. Take particular notice of the assaulting a police officer now facing the bruised and battered complainant. Almost all victims of police brutality are charged with assault on an officer, producing an interesting “guilty-until-proven-innocent” quandary I always find ironically paradoxical.

Jeremy Gordon, a student at Howard University, was driving home from work around 5:30 p.m. and had just got off the phone with his girlfriend when he noticed flashing lights in his rearview mirror. Gordon told reporters this week that he pulled over and complied with requests but was was then pulled from his car, thrown to the ground, pepper sprayed, handcuffed and struck with fists multiple times.

Officers said Gordon was drunk and combative. Cops have shot people for less, so Gordon can feel good about at least being alive. Note: no blood alcohol tests have been released by police, and dash cam video has not yet been made available to the press. The same goes for audio recordings of the arrest—particularly noteworthy because of a venomous taunt Gordon said was made after he was handcuffed, bleeding and dripping with pepper spray. NBCWashington reported at least one officer at the scene is accused of saying “welcome to Washington D.C.,” a snarky reference to Gordon’s New York license plates.

Gordon’s left eye is still swollen shut, and he says a long-term damage prognosis is still unknown. The officers involved in the incident, as many as 10 and all still unidentified, remain on duty.

Detroit: A 27-year-old Lebanese immigrant was bicycling home from his dishwashing job last December when the chain popped. Forced to attempt a curbside repair, Ali Beydoun was startled when flashing lights approached. Dash cam video shows an officer ignite his spotlight, flip on his flashing lights and approach Beydoun.

Struggling with English and scared, Beydoun—who also reportedly suffers from an undisclosed mental disability—attempts to show the officer that the chain on his bike has broken. NOTE: the officer puts on gloves BEFORE asking Beydoun for identification—clearly illustrating his intent to search a civilian without cause. The officer then attempts to initiate a search of Beydoun for “weapons.” Beydoun resists, saying over and over “no.” A violent struggle ensues, and a second officer arrives at around the video’s 2:45 mark. I love how even two cops can’t seem to subdue a meekly resisting Beydoun. Too bad because Beydoun pays for their ineptness.

The cops DRAG BEYDOUN OUT OF DASH CAM RANGE, and we only have horrifying audio to piece together exactly what happens next. We can, however, see repeated knees being delivered to Beydoun’s midsection. Screaming, Beydoun is then pounced on by a third officer arriving on the scene. The three officers are still unable to get a crying Beydoun in cuffs. but we do see he feet kicking frantically as officers presumably apply a choke hold.

Finally, Beydoun is taken into custody, and a lieutenant or captain with at least some level of competence arrives. Beydoun is transported to the police station, and in-squad video clearly shows his face badly bruised and bloodied.

The Dearborn Police Department issued the following statement: “A thorough Police Department review of an incident in December 2013 involving Ali Beydoun, who resisted police officers’ lawful instructions, resulting in the necessary use of force, showed the officers acted and reported the incident appropriately and according to approved department protocols.”

Now the Department of Justice has taken notice because attorneys say Beydoun’s civil rights were violated without provocation and, in part, because of his ethnicity. With video finally released to the press and rigged internal investigation complete, attorneys for Beydoun say they are ready to file suit against the Dearborn Police Department and the individual officers involved.

I was sent the following by a member of OccupyMinnesota. I thought I’d share it today. It was first posted back in March.

As many people in the community are aware, Minneapolis police officers harass, beat, and even kill community members on a regular basis with impunity. The Star Tribune recently reported that out of 437 complaints against police officers in a year-long period, not one of the officers implicated had been punished. It is egregious enough that Minneapolitans, especially people of color, the homeless, and the poor, are being routinely harassed and beaten; but to make matters worse, when an officer is successfully sued for police brutality, it’s the taxpayers that pay for it. That’s right. When an officer is sued – sometimes in excess of $1 million in one case – the city automatically pays for these lawsuits out of the city’s general fund. This has amounted to $20 million of wasted taxpayer money in the past 7 years, in Minneapolis alone.

In response to these myriad injustices, members of the Minneapolis group Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) banded together to form the Committee for Professional Policing (CfPP). CfPP’s first big undertaking is a charter amendment campaign to require police officers in Minneapolis to carry professional liability (malpractice) insurance. As previously mentioned, Minneapolis is currently self-indemnified, meaning that when an officer is successfully sued for brutality, the city automatically pays for the lawsuit and all court fees from the general fund.

By requiring officers to carry professional liability insurance, the city will benefit from a risk management mechanism against brutality. In other words, an officer will face increased premiums on his/her insurance after each lawsuit. This will act as a deterrent to brutality, since the police will finally be held directly responsible. Moreover, after several repeat offenses, an officer will find him/herself uninsurable and no longer able to serve in Minneapolis. Under this model, the survivors and family members of victims of police brutality will still receive the compensation they deserve, while officers are being directly punished.

The wording of this charter amendment proposal was scrupulously crafted with the help of insurance agents and lawyers, so as to ensure its viability and compliance with state and federal laws. Furthermore, the wording of the amendment proposal would give the city the option to cover the base premium for each officer. This would ensure that honest cops are not punished for no reason.

But this isn’t going to happen just on its own; WE NEED YOUR HELP. In order to get this amendment proposal placed on the ballot for November, 2014, CfPP needs to collect a minimum of 10,000 signatures from registered Minneapolis voters. Since these signatures will need to be submitted directly to the City Clerk, they may not be collected electronically. Additionally, the city will conduct quality checks on the signatures and dismiss those that are not legible or fully completed. To compensate for this, CfPP’s goal is to collect 15,000 signatures.

Our goal is to have the signatures collected by the middle of May. Although they are due in the first week of July, submitting them early will give us time for legal wrangling with the city. Also, it will give us more time to conduct an extensive Get Out the Vote effort throughout the summer and leading up to the November elections.

Committee for Professional Policing’s office is located at 4200 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis. We hold office hours every Monday and Wednesday, 1:30-5:30pm, and every Thursday, 5-8pm. Call or email Eric at 612-715-8784 or cfppmpls@yahoo.com to set up a meeting so that you can sign the petition, get trained on messaging and petitioning, and help collect these signatures! Thank you!

Elderly Texas Woman Shot Five Times, Portland Police Cuff Kid, Cop Pushes Drunk Girl and National Coverage of New Mexico Brutality

We have serval cases of police misconduct to discuss today.

The first comes out of Texas, where a cop shot a 93-year-old woman Wednesday, May 7, after allegedly seeing her holding a gun. Pearlie Golden was shot multiple times by Steven Stem after he was dispatched to Golden’s home on a report of a disturbance involving a gun. Witnesses reported hearing several shots, although exactly how many times the elderly woman was hit remains unclear. She did not, however, discharge her weapon, and witnesses could not confirm that she pointed it at officer Stem. Congratulations to officer Stem for ridding Hearne, TX, of a vile and dangerous criminal. You should feel great about yourself. NOT!

Portland: Department brass is defending the handcuffing of a 9-year-old girl. The incident occurred last year, but details are only now coming into focus. Police were initially dispatched to an area youth club on a report of a fight. Upon arrival, officers decided to handcuff one of the kids involved in the fight—a 9-year-old in a blue and white, two-piece bathing suit. The child was taken downtown, processed on an assault charge and held for about an hour. She was eventually released, and prosecutors did not take the case to trial. Now the girl’s mother and several civilian advocacy groups are close to filing suit in connection with the handcuffing and calling on the department to release internal documents surrounding an investigation of the case. The Independent Police Review Division, an internal department panel, found officers committed no wrongdoing.

A cop in Springfield, MO, is under online fire after a video surfaced showing him pushing and punching a young female outside of a bar last week. Courtney Lewis, 24, now faces an assault against an officer, while the officer involved—identified as Thomas Jordan—remains on duty. The female was among several dozen involved in a downtown disturbance on April 27, and a witness’ video clearly captures Officer Jordan violently pushing Lewis (backwards) to the ground. She gets up, begins screaming and throws a few (weak) punches. The officer responds by tackling the 110-poundish pissed off 20-something, punch her repeatedly and pin her down. The video then cuts out. An internal investigation has been requested to look into the incident. http://www.kspr.com/news/local/video-shows-sgf-police-officers-physical-confrontation-with-woman/21051620_25847516

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams aired an in-depth feature story on Wednesday evening’s national broadcast exploring the police brutality epidemic in New Mexico—particularly Albuquerque. Boisterous protestors interrupted a city council meeting last week and plan to do so again tonight in response to a well-documented string of officer involved shootings during the past two years—including 26 killings. The report is attached to this post.

Nassau Police Sued for Brutality Against Black Motorist

Undercover officers pulled 20-year-old Kyle Howell last month for a cracked windshield. What ensued was a horrific case of clear police brutality.

Thankfully Howell recorded the traffic stop on his cellphone because an unprovoked knee to his face resulted in a broken nose, ruptured blood vessels and unknown long-term facial scarring. He’s scheduled to have surgery this week, the first of what could be a series of operations to reconstruct his face and orbital bones.

Howell’s lawyer conducted a news conference yesterday and announced plans to file suit against the department and individual officer(s) involved. The story was lightly reported on in the New York area but has gone virtually unnoticed by the national media.

Video from a surveillance camera has also been obtained by Howell’s lawyers and posted here.

Shockingly, Nassau County officials declined to comment on the case, but the Long Island Press is reporting the Nassau County District Attorney is investigating the case.

“One of these officers that were a part of the attack threatened that he was physically going to force me to stop using my cell phone to record [them] anytime I was pulled over,” Howell said. “It’s the only protection that I have against them.”

Names of the officers involved in the April 25 incident have not been released, but we will publish them here as soon as possible.