Are Police Becoming a Necessary Evil?
The first story is about how two sheriff deputies in Florida really screwed up.
Pinellas County sheriff’s vice and narcotics detectives briefly lost a car they had under surveillance one afternoon in August, but then it reappeared: A white Chevrolet Lumina, with tinted windows, a yellow license plate, and two black men inside.
They didn’t check one thing, however, when they spotted the Lumina the second time – the license tag.
That oversight Aug. 17 led to pandemonium at an Enterprise Rent-A-Car, when two detectives stormed the business, their guns drawn, and wrongfully arrested two black men.
The two sergeants each have been suspended for 12 days, Sheriff Jim Coats said Wednesday, one day after the county commission agreed to pay the men a total of $100,000 in an out-of-court settlement.
“It’s something we’re not proud of,” Coats said.
They were disciplined for failing to verify the license plate, and for using such force with the two men. Their names were not released because they continue to work undercover.
In a surveillance video, one sergeant was seen repeatedly putting his foot on Small’s shoulder – or giving him a “foot strike” – as Small was prone on the floor, but trying to look around; this sergeant also pushed Small’s face into the floor, the video shows.
“I stomped down trying to step on him and flatten him to the ground,” the sergeant told internal affairs investigators.
After Small and Lobban were handcuffed, members of the squad gave each other high-fives, the video shows.
To the sergeants, Small was resisting while Lobban was not, according to their interviews with internal affairs. No one in the vice and narcotics division who was involved, including the captain in charge, had a problem with the level of force used.
The two sargents are appealing the suspension. Frankly, given the excessive force, that the two men don’t seem to have a problem beating up suspects, I’d say they need to be fired. But then holding police to a standard equal to or above that of civilians…well that is just crazy.
The second story takes us back to what is now starting to look like the murder of Kathryn Johnston.
An Atlanta police narcotics officer has told federal investigators at least one member of his unit lied about making a drug buy at the home of an elderly woman killed in a subsequent raid, according to a person close to the investigation.
In an affidavit to get a search warrant at the home Nov. 21, narcotics officer Jason R. Smith told a magistrate he and Officer Arthur Tesler had a confidential informant buy $50 worth of crack at 933 Neal St. from a man named “Sam.”
But narcotics officer Gregg Junnier, who was wounded in the shootout, has since told federal investigators that did not happen, according to the person close to the investigation. Police got a no-knock warrant after claiming that “Sam” had surveillance cameras outside the Neal Street residence and they needed the element of surprise to capture him and the drugs.
Buddy Parker, a former federal prosecutor, said that officers who lied to the magistrate could face serious charges in addition to making false statements to a judge.
“If that was the case, you have a conspiracy,” said Parker. “If you have a warrantless entry, you have no legal investigation. It can be either conscious disregard for the law and all conduct flowing from that is criminal — the entry, the homicide. It’s no different from people going in to rob a bank and kill someone in a shooting.”
The last story is an update on Kenneth Jamar,
Remember Kenneth Jamar? He was the Alabama man who almost suffered Kathryn Johnston’s fate last June. Partially deaf, and suffering from gout and two hear attacks, he met the raiding federal-local SWAT team with a pistol. The SWAT team opened fire, and nearly killed him. An internal investigation cleared the police of any wrongdoing, despite the fact that address on the warrant was wrong, and that police had circled the wrong house on a satellite photo. They were looking for his nephew. Not on murder or rape charges. But on drug distribution charges. The nephew actually watched the raid from his father’s home. After they carted Jamar off in an ambulance, police arrested the nephew without incident.
Jamar is now suing the police. Hopefully he’ll win a huge settlement.
With police like this, who needs criminals.
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