“The Phoenix Police Department (PPD) is conducting an internal investigation after a man was killed when three officers pinned and arrested him on hot asphalt.
Ramon Lopez, who was 28 years old, died on August 4 after being subdued on a roadway for approximately six minutes. It was about 100 degrees that morning, and blacktop temperatures can climb 40 to 60 degrees above outside temperatures.”
“”He’s kinda acting funny, he’s over there sticking his tongue out, I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” a woman told a Phoenix 911 dispatcher that day. “And then he got ripped pants on, and he jumping around…looking at people’s cars.”
“Alright, what is he doing exactly?” the dispatcher asks.
“He’s out there looking at people’s cars,” the woman repeats. “Sticking his tongue out. Holding his, you know, his private parts.”
“You say he’s exposing his private parts?” the dispatcher interjects.
“No, he’s holding it, like he’s scratching on it or something,” the woman replies. Video footage shows him briefly clutching the crotch area of his shorts.
A police vehicle arrived at the scene shortly thereafter. At the sight of the car, Lopez darted across the street and into a convenience store; an officer followed and met Lopez outside as he exited the shop. Lopez ran, throwing a drink over his shoulder that the PPD alleges he stole from the convenience store, though that didn’t factor into his arrest as law enforcement wasn’t yet aware of that allegation. He was tackled onto the hot roadway and subdued by three officers after a scuffle, during which one officer can be heard saying “left arm broken” in reference to Lopez. Officers handcuffed him and placed him in leg restraints after he was no longer moving. Lopez can be heard screaming and groaning in the body cam footage.
“You’re fine,” one officer says.
Additional backup then arrived. At one point, at least seven officers can be seen in the footage, not including the cop whose body cam was recording. After leaving Lopez on the asphalt for a few minutes, officers carried his body into a police vehicle, at which point they realized he was unresponsive. They then dragged his body back out and placed him on the ground. “Wake up buddy,” an officer says as he shakes Lopez’s body.
Fire personnel were called to the scene to provide medical treatment. He was pronounced dead later that day at a nearby hospital. Lopez’s partner said he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia; his mother maintains that, while he had intense anxiety and was starting to seek help from medical professionals, she was not aware of any specific diagnosis.”
“It’s not the first time the PPD has come under scrutiny. The department has developed somewhat of a reputation: They are the subject of a recent lawsuit from a teen who suffered second-degree burns after a cop allegedly pinned her on hot asphalt in August of last year after law enforcement responded to complaints of a fight between high school students. Also last summer, a PPD officer assaulted a young father while a different officer threatened to shoot his fiancé because their daughter was suspected of stealing a Barbie from a dollar store. “Get your fucking hands up,” one officer said. “I’m gonna put a fucking cap right in your fucking head!” An internal investigation resulted in that cop’s firing.
And in May, a Phoenix officer shot a man in the back at least twice while responding to a noise complaint.
Law enforcement certainly has a rightful place in society. But our country’s criminalization of small nuisances, and the corresponding gut impulse to call the police for those routine annoyances, can have deadly consequences. ”
“Reason asked writers who have been on the criminal justice beat for years to lay out serious proposals for reforms with a fighting chance of being implemented in the coming months or years. The result is a robust list that includes calls to abolish qualified immunity (page 18), bust the police unions (page 22), better regulate the use of police force (page 25), rethink crisis response (page 28), end the drug war (page 32), release body cam footage (page 35), stop overpolicing (page 37), and restrict asset forfeiture (page 40).”
“California is one of only five states that does not have a formal process for decertifying bad cops to keep them from finding patrol work. And it looks like it’s going to stay that way.
In the middle of a massive push for policing reforms in America, law enforcement unions have defeated S.B. 731, a California bill that would have created a commission to hear cases of cops who have engaged in misconduct and determine whether they’d be stripped of their certifications.”
“Several law enforcement unions in the state say they want a process in place to decertify bad cops. They even made a web page to insist that they support things like a database of officers who have been fired for misconduct, and “a fair, reasonable and workable decertification process.” But they object to Bradford’s commission because only three of the nine members would be police officers. Four of the other members would be members of nonprofit or academic institutions and community-based organizations that have experience on “issues related to police misconduct.” One member would be a citizen who has been a survivor of police misconduct (or a relative of somebody who did not survive misconduct). And one would be an attorney with “experience involving oversight of police officers.” Police unions determined that this newly created board would be, in the Associated Press’s words, “inherently biased against officers.””
“The cops and the unions want too much control over what is and is not considered “misconduct.” Time and again, Americans have seen these organizations use their power to defend and make excuses for terrible police behavior. Their ideal form of “due process” for police officers facing misconduct allegations is an ostensibly civilian commission that police control.”
“After flying from Tampa to North Carolina for a casino reopening last May, Stacy Jones and her husband had dinner with friends, who were interested in buying a car the couple owned. They paid for it in cash. When the couple had to cut their trip short because of a death in the family, Jones put that money, along with cash she had for gambling, in a carry-on bag and headed for the airport in Wilmington, never considering the possibility that she was about to be robbed of $43,000 by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
A local sheriff’s deputy, alerted to the presence of seizable cash by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners, grilled Jones and her husband about the money and deemed their explanation fishy, even after he called their friend, who confirmed the car purchase but was unable to say exactly how many miles were on the odometer. The deputy called in two DEA agents, who interrogated the couple some more and then announced that they were seizing the money based on their suspicion that it was related to drug trafficking.
Jones is the latest named plaintiff in a federal class action lawsuit that the Institute for Justice filed in January, arguing that the DEA’s practice of seizing money from travelers without any evidence of criminal activity violates the Fourth Amendment. The lawsuit also argues that the TSA’s participation in this racket is unconstitutional and exceeds the agency’s statutory authority.”
“”Civil forfeiture allows the government to seize and permanently keep your property, even if you’ve never been charged with a crime,” Institute for Justice senior attorney Dan Alban explained to WFLA. “DEA has a policy of seizing large amounts of cash at airports, regardless if it has any proof the money is connected to drug trafficking. And unfortunately, that sweeps up a whole bunch of innocent people who have perfectly legitimate reasons for traveling with cash.””
“The named plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Terrence Rolin, a 79-year-old retired railroad engineer, who lost his life savings—$82,373—to a DEA seizure after his daughter, Rebecca Brown, whom he had charged with depositing the money in a joint bank account, took it with her while flying from Pittsburgh, where she was visiting him, to her home in Massachusetts. Two months later, after the case attracted national publicity, the DEA agreed to return the money.”
“Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old charged with murder in the shooting deaths of two people during the violent protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, had a run-in with the police earlier in the night — an extremely friendly one.
In footage from about 15 minutes before the shootings pieced together by the New York Times’s Visual Investigations team, you can see Rittenhouse walk up to an armored police vehicle and chat with officers. A police officer pops out of one vehicle’s hatch and tosses bottles to Rittenhouse’s associates, members of an armed militia. “We appreciate you guys, we really do,” the officer says before driving off.
The young-looking Rittenhouse is under the legal age for firearm ownership and was carrying an assault rifle, which appears to be a misdemeanor under Wisconsin law. Instead of stopping him and asking for proof of age, the police give him water and an attaboy. And when he tried to surrender after the shootings, the police went right by him, even as bystanders were telling them that Rittenhouse had shot people.”
“The longitudinal study, published by researchers at the University of Maryland and the firm Westat, looked at disciplinary offenses at 33 public middle and high schools in California that increased their number of school resource officers (SROs) in 2013 or 2014, and then compared them over time with 72 similar schools that did not. The study found that increasing the number of SROs led to both immediate and persistent increases in the number of drug and weapon offenses and the number of exclusionary disciplinary actions against students.
While the initial bump in offenses could be explained simply as an effect of increased policing, the boost in recorded crimes and exclusionary responses persisted for 20 months in the schools studied. The researchers say this suggests that rather than deter crime in schools, increasing the number of SROs leads to more “formal responses to behaviors that otherwise would have been undetected or handled informally.”
“Our findings suggest that increasing SRO staffing in schools does not improve school safety and that increasing exclusionary responses to school discipline incidents increases the criminalization of school discipline,” Denise Gottfredson, professor emerita at the University of Maryland Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, said in a statement.”
“Tucson handyman Kevin McBride was hard at work one Friday last May when his girlfriend offered to get him a cold drink from a convenience store. She took his Jeep, his sole means of transportation and the basis of his livelihood. Then the cops took his Jeep, and local prosecutors are now demanding a $1,900 ransom before he can get it back.
This sort of shakedown would be clearly felonious if ordinary criminals attempted it. But as McBride discovered, it is legal under Arizona’s civil asset forfeiture law. The cops said McBride’s girlfriend had used his Jeep to sell a small amount of marijuana to an undercover officer for $25. Although the charges against her were dropped, the Jeep is still being held as a party to that alleged offense, and McBride has to pay for the privilege of getting his property back.”
“Back in March of 2017, Curry was driving her kids to karate when she stopped to get them some muffins. She was in the café for just a few minutes. When she came out, two cops rebuked her for leaving the kids.
In Kentucky, it’s a crime to leave children under the age of eight in a car under circumstances that “manifest an extreme indifference” to human life and create a grave risk of death. But the cops didn’t say she’d done that. The kids all looked fine, and they the officers left without charging Curry with a crime. Nevertheless, they felt obligated to call the state’s child protection hotline, thus opening a neglect investigation which automatically required a visit to the Curry home to check on the kids.
When the caseworker arrived at the home, Holly refused to let her in without a warrant. The worker returned with a sheriff’s deputy, but still no warrant. When Holly insisted that they still couldn’t enter, they threatened to “come back and put your kids into foster care.” Holly begged for time to call her husband. They refused. Finally, crying and terrified, Holly let them in.
Labeling that decision “voluntary consent,” the authorities entered the home. Unsurprisingly, the house and kids all looked fine. Even so, the caseworker insisted on strip searching each kid, removing their underwear and examining their genitals for signs of abuse.
A few months later, the caseworker closed the investigation as “unsubstantiated,” saying that what Holly had done was a “one-time ‘oopsy-daisy.'” But she telephoned Curry later and said, “If we ever get a call against your family again, bad things will happen to you, and we’ll take your children.”
At that point, Curry had had enough. She turned around and filed suit against the caseworker and cop, claiming violation of her constitutional rights.
They, in turn, pressed hard for immunity. But in in a powerful ruling on August 19 in Curry v. Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services, Judge Justin Walker said that it was clear the government used an improper threat to enter the home, lacked any evidence that might have justified a strip search, and violated the children’s rights to bodily integrity.”
” To enter a home without consent and examine stripped kids requires a warrant, genuine suspicion of abuse, or an actual emergency. Who knew? Apparently not the authorities in Kentucky, who have been defending the warrantless entry and strip ever since the Curry’s filed their lawsuit in 2018.”