“Additional video shows three cops—Hopp, Jalia, and Tyler Blackett—watching the footage the day they booked Garner.
“Ready for the pop?” asks Hopp, as Jalia squirms and appears visibly uncomfortable. “Hear the pop?”
“What’d you pop?” asks Blackett. “I think it was her shoulder,” responds Hopp, as he re-enacts the motion.
“I hate it,” says Jalia.
“I love it,” one of the male officers responds. Garner did not receive medical care for six hours after the ordeal, according to the suit. (Blackett later resigned.)
Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer has claimed that the department was unaware of the extent of the brutality until the lawsuit became public, but the contents of an internal report released yesterday appear to directly contradict that, with documents showing that Assistant Chief of Police Ray Butler viewed the footage and said that Hopp’s actions were “necessary, reasonable and within policy.”
“There is no excuse, under any circumstances, for what happened to Ms. Garner. We have agreed on steps we need to take to begin building back trust,” Ticer said in a statement. “While these actions won’t change what Ms. Garner experienced, they will serve to improve this police department and hopefully restore faith that the LPD exists to serve those who live in and visit Loveland.” He also said that department policy now requires an assistant city attorney and personnel from city of Loveland human resources to review use of force incidents, as opposed to just a member of the police force. Sarah Schielke, an attorney for the family, has called for his resignation.”
“Police violated the constitutional rights of an Alabama man when they repeatedly shot at his car, first as he inched forward in it nonthreateningly and then as he drove away, hitting him either five or six times and requiring that he receive emergency surgery, a federal court ruled last week.
The same panel found that the officers are entitled to qualified immunity and thus cannot be sued in connection with the incident. The legal doctrine allows state actors to violate your rights without fear of civil liability if the exact manner in which they misbehaved has not been declared unconstitutional in a preexisting court precedent. (A practical example: Two cops in Fresno, California, allegedly pocketed $225,000 while executing a search warrant, but the victims were not permitted to sue because no ruling on the books said that stealing under those precise circumstances is a violation of someone’s rights.)”
“Body camera footage released along with the lawsuit shows Grashorn stepping out of his police cruiser. Love and Hamm’s other dog, Bubba, is sleeping on the ground but gets up and begins running toward the officer. Grashorn draws his gun on the dog, but the couple yells at the animal to come back. It pauses and turns toward its owners, but Herkimer jumps out of the truck and lopes toward Grashorn with its tail wagging. Grashorn shoots the dog. (The audio is not captured by the body camera, which retains 30 seconds of footage before it is turned on, but not sound.)”
“After the shooting, Grashorn refused to allow the distraught couple near Herkimer, ordering them to go back to their truck. When Hamm demanded to know why Grashorn had shot the dog, Grashorn yelled that he had “no way of knowing” whether Herkimer was friendly and that he “wasn’t in the business to get bit.”
The lawsuit says that Loveland police refused to let the couple retrieve their dog and take it to a veterinarian until a Loveland police supervisor arrived on the scene. Hamm was ticketed for having a “dangerous dog.” The ticket was later dismissed by the district attorney.
Herkimer died four days after being shot. An internal review by the Loveland Police Department found the shooting was justified.”
“Reason has been covering sad incidents of “puppycide” like Herkimer’s for decades now. In 2019, a Faulkner County, Arkansas, sheriff’s deputy was fired and charged with animal cruelty after he casually shot a small dog because the owner refused to walk outside to talk to him. The shootings lead not only to devastated families and viral news stories, but expensive lawsuit settlements for cities. In 2019, St. Louis paid $775,000 to a woman whose dog was shot during a no-knock SWAT raid over an unpaid gas bill. The Detroit Police Department has settled a string of lawsuits for shooting dogs during drug raids.”
“One of Sessions’ final moves in office was to sharply limit when the Justice Department could enter into consent decrees. Vanita Gupta, who ran the Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration, called that policy “a slap in the face to the dedicated career staff of the department who work tirelessly to enforce our nation’s civil rights laws.” The Biden administration rolled back Sessions’ directive, and Gupta is now back at the Justice Department as an associate attorney general.
Sessions was correct that consent decrees should be used judiciously. Justice Department investigations and settlements are a heavy-handed imposition of federal authority. But they can also provide recourse for citizens who have been betrayed by rotten police departments and indifferent local governments.”
“In November of 2018, Lucil Basco of Bexar County, Texas, awoke to a thunderous boom, followed by a parade of eight cops barging through her front door. She was handcuffed, and, with her screaming child, removed from the premises. The officers soon realized they made a mistake: They had the wrong house, based on incorrect information from a confidential informant. Yet they continued the operation anyway.”
“Deputies arrived and broke into Basco’s home that evening, despite there being no reason to believe such force was required. Though it appears they did not do the requisite research to confirm she was involved in the drug trade, they did conduct plenty of surveillance: “Officers conducted a traffic stop of Mrs. Basco shortly before the raid during which they searched her vehicle and learned that she is a nurse,” writes Pulliam. “And officers were surveilling the home both when Mrs. Basco left to collect her child and when she returned with him.””
“It is not uncommon for police departments to leverage confidential sources to carry out violent, no-knock raids. The Chicago Police Department, for example, is well-known for its so-called John Doe warrants, based solely on anonymous tips.
In 2019, a cadre of male cops knocked down the door to a Chicago apartment, handcuffing a naked woman while they ransacked her home. The officers elicited nearly 100 misconduct allegations during that one raid because they had the wrong address and had not bothered to do rudimentary verification beforehand. The city has a pile of similar suits.”
“Kevin Strickland, Christopher Dunn, and Lamar Johnson all have something in common: they all have spent decades in the Missouri prison system, they all maintain their innocence, and the cases that led to their convictions have all fallen apart. Yet the men remain behind bars with no release in sight despite various government actors suggesting they should have their verdicts overturned.
It’s hard to cook up a more nightmarish scenario.”
“The fates of Johnson and Strickland are in the hands of Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who insists on Strickland’s guilt and says that Johnson exhausted all his appeals.
If Schmitt does not petition for their verdicts to be overturned, it would be up to Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, to issue executive clemency. Parson yesterday released a list of pardons that included Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who attracted national media attention after waving their guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis.
In the spirit of forgiveness and redemption, their pardoning makes sense; his failure to also pardon Dunn, Strickland, and Johnson does not. If Parson wants to make a point about prosecutorial overreach, he should grant mercy to prisoners incarcerated for crimes the government concedes they did not commit.”
“For years, St. Paul police officer Heather Weyker was swamped. She gathered evidence, cultivated witnesses, filled out the police reports, testified under oath—all in connection with an interstate sex trafficking ring run by Somali refugees. But perhaps most impressive is that she did all that while fabricating the same ring she was investigating, which resulted in 30 indictments, 9 trials, and 0 convictions.
Hamdi Mohamud, then a 16-year-old refugee from Somalia, found herself caught up in that scheme in 2011, when one of Weyker’s witnesses, Muna Abdulkadir, tried to attack her and her friends at knifepoint. Mohamud called the police, and Weyker intervened—on behalf of Abdulkadir. She arrested Mohamud and her friends for allegedly tampering with a federal witness, and Mohamud subsequently spent two years in jail before the trumped-up charges were dismissed.
While Mohamud lost those two years of her life, Weyker has not paid any price—not in spite of her position, but because of it. Since the officer conducted her investigation as part of a federal task force, she is entitled to absolute immunity and cannot be sued, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled last year.”
“School resource officers appear in all 50 states. They are visible in both urban meccas and small towns. In 1975, only 1 percent of US schools reported having police stationed on campus. By the 2017–18 school year, 36 percent of elementary schools, 67.6 percent of middle schools, and 72 percent of high schools reported having sworn officers on campus routinely carrying a firearm. In raw numbers, there were 9,400 school resource officers in 1997. By 2016, there were at least 27,000.
Because police operate under many different titles in schools, these numbers are surely low. Tallies often miss private security guards and neighborhood officers assigned by the local police department to patrol several schools without any formal agreement with the school district.”
“Even when school resource officers are expressly hired to respond to emergencies and protect students from guns and serious threats of violence, they are quickly drawn into the more routine activities of law enforcement on campus. Forty-one percent of school resource officers surveyed in 2018 reported that “enforcing laws” was their primary role on campus. Police often arrive with little or no training on how their traditional law enforcement roles should differ within the school context and even less training on developmental psychology and adolescent brain development.”
“Ultimately, more police in schools means more arrests — three and a half times more arrests than in schools without police. And it means more arrests for minor infractions that teachers and principals used to handle on their own.
When I was in high school in the mid-1980s, we were sent to the principal’s office when we acted out. Sometimes we had to stay after school for detention. I even got suspended once for “play fighting” with one of my classmates, but I was never arrested. Today, children get arrested regularly at school, and mostly for things kids do all the time: fighting or threatening a classmate, breaking a window in anger, vandalism and graffiti, having weed, taking something from someone on a dare, arguing in the hallway when they are supposed to be in class.”
“The increase in murder appears to be a uniquely American phenomenon. While murder rates rose in some developed countries last year, like Canada and Germany, the increases are far below the double-digit spikes America is seeing. That’s especially notable because the United States already had a higher baseline of murders, after controlling for population. Despite claims that Democratic mayors or progressive criminal justice policies are driving the increase, it also appears indifferent to the political party in charge: As Asher and criminal justice expert John Pfaff have shown, murder rates increased in cities run by Democrats and Republicans, progressive and not.
The good news is there is a lot more agreement among experts about how to bring down the spike than there is about what caused it. But the best evidence suggests stopping murders in the short term will require more and better, though not necessarily more aggressive, policing — a controversial proposal on the left.
“I know people don’t want to hear this, and I empathize with that,” Anna Harvey, a public safety expert at New York University, told me. “But at least as far as the research evidence goes, for short-term responses to increases in homicides, the evidence is strongest for the police-based solutions.”
The stakes are very high. Nearly 21,000 people were murdered in America in 2020, based on preliminary data. Another increase of 10 percent or more could mean thousands more dead in 2021.”
“Some other kinds of crime also increased, according to this early data, including shootings, aggravated assaults, and car thefts. Still, violent crime in general went up at much lower rates, if at all, compared to murders, and overall crime declined, driven in part by a drop in the majority of property crimes.”
“The closest to a consensus I’ve been able to find in talking to experts about the cause of the murder spike: It’s complicated.
Experts have rejected some possibilities. Given that murders rose in both Democrat- and Republican-run cities, as well as places that adopted criminal justice reforms and those that didn’t, partisanship and criminal justice reforms don’t seem to be a cause.
Three plausible explanations, none of which exclude the others, have come up repeatedly:”
“The pandemic shut down programs that likely safeguard Americans from violence, including policing, social services, and community-led efforts. It left some people, particularly teen boys and young men, with more free time to stew over interpersonal conflict as workplaces and schools shut down. And it fed a general sense of chaos and despair throughout the year, perhaps amplifying perceptions that desperate times can call for desperate measures.
But much of the world also struggled with Covid-19, from Mexico to Canada to much of Europe, and didn’t see double-digit percent increases in murders last year. That suggests the virus can’t be the sole cause.”
“One theory held that officers, afraid of getting caught in the next viral moment that leads to protests, backed off from proactive policing. On the other side, the public could have lost trust in police and been less likely to cooperate as witnesses or informers, making it harder to close cases, make arrests, and get dangerous people off the streets. A greater sense that the criminal justice system can’t be trusted also could have led people to take matters, violently, into their own hands.”
“The US has the most number of guns in civilian hands, and the last year saw a huge spike in the number of firearms purchased by Americans. The research is clear here: More guns mean more gun violence — and more deadly violence, because the presence of a gun allows just about any conflict, from public arguments to domestic abuse, to escalate.”
“Even if new gun purchases weren’t to blame, it’s possible existing guns are: Asher found evidence that more people were carrying guns last year, leading to more police finding guns in the course of an arrest. So perhaps it’s not so much that people bought new firearms but that they started carrying the arsenal of weapons they already had.
Perhaps the best explanation: All of these factors played a role.
There are many ways all these explanations could have interacted. As one example: Covid-19 and protests both fueled a sense that the social fabric was unraveling, and more people — particularly in the worst-off neighborhoods — felt they had to fend for themselves. They equipped themselves with guns to act on their own if they felt a threat. And this made any given conflict more likely to escalate to deadly violence.
Ultimately, though, there are too many unknowns to draw hard conclusions.”
“there’s strong evidence that more police lead to fewer homicides, and solid research backs strategies like hot spot policing and problem-oriented policing.
These strategies tend to be more focused, like hot spot policing’s heightened surveillance of very specific high-crime blocks. Or they tend to be more planned: Problem-oriented policing requires formal evaluations of a problem and solutions, and calls for bringing in community partners to make sure the issue is addressed at its root. It’s a shift from dragnet efforts in which officers target entire neighborhoods to stop or arrest as many people as possible.
In fact, these approaches can actually reduce overall incarceration. For example, the evidence for hot spot policing suggests that officers’ mere presence deters crime, since people are less likely to do illegal things in front of a cop. Police don’t have to do anything — just stand there and watch. And fewer crimes committed means fewer arrests.”
“There’s good evidence for providing summer jobs programs, raising the age to drop out of school, greening vacant lots, installing more streetlights, providing more drug addiction treatment, implementing better gun control, and raising the alcohol tax, among other ideas.
The problem, experts told me, is that even the effective non-police strategies tend to take time to work. Police can be active on a high-crime block in minutes, but it can require years to lift up people and neighborhoods, economically and otherwise, and address root causes of crime that these alternatives are supposed to target. They aren’t all designed to reduce the number of murders quickly.
“It doesn’t mean police are a panacea for these things,” Williams said. “But it does mean we should be very careful about throwing around interventions that we don’t necessarily know come with any important benefits or costs.””