1st Amendment OK’s recording coppers — Suggestions for staying alive!

Recordings of police officers, whether by witnesses to an incident with officers, individuals who are themselves interacting with officers, or by members of the press, are an invaluable tool in the fight for police accountability. Often, it’s the video alone that leads to disciplinary action, firing, or prosecution of an officer.

This blog post provides some practical tips to record the police legally and safely, and explains some of the legal nuances of recording the police.

What to Know When Recording the Police

* You have the right to record police officers exercising their official duties in public.
* Stay calm and courteous.
* Do not interfere with police officers. If you are a bystander, stand at a safe distance from the scene that you are recording.
* You may take photos or record video and/or audio.
* Police officers cannot order you to move because you are recording, but they may order you to move for public safety reasons even if you are recording.
* Police officers may not search your cell phone or other device without a warrant based on probable cause from a judge, even if you are under arrest. Thus, you may refuse a request from an officer to review or delete what you recorded. You also may refuse to unlock your phone or provide your passcode.
* Despite reasonably exercising your First Amendment rights, police may illegally retaliate against you in a number of ways including with arrest, destruction of your device, and bodily harm. We urge you to remain alert and mindful about this possibility.

Don’t expect cops to obey the law or even know or understand the law. That’s a sad thing to have to say; but, it’s the truth. Staying alive … living to fight another day … gets a lot more done than a photo of your body on the front page of a newspaper.

California Deputies caught on camera beating a suspect

Cops beat crook on camera
Cops too dumb to realize that News Choppers may have cameras

An alleged horse thief went down in a swarm of San Bernardino Sheriff’s deputies Thursday while an NBC helicopter captured the brutal scene from above.

NBC reports the cops began chasing the man when he fled the scene of a search warrant—apparently in a Dodge minivan. Eventually he abandoned the car and continued his escape on stolen horseback.

Officers were eventually able to tase him off the horse—and thus commenced a two-minute beatdown so large some officers had to step back to let other officers get a chance to hit and kick the man.

The group surrounding the man grew up to five sheriff’s deputies as several appeared to kick, hit, and punch him dozens of times over a two-minute period. In the two minutes after the man was stunned with a Taser, it appeared deputies kicked him 12 times and punched him 29 times. Eleven blows appeared to be to the head as seen from aerial footage…

After the frenzy subsided, the man reportedly lay still, without any medical attention, for more than half an hour. A sheriff’s spokesperson tells NBC two officers were treated for dehydration and one may have been kicked by the horse.

I’m surprised the deputies didn’t shoot and kill the horse.

Baltimore Police CCTV catches cop beating a civilian

A Baltimore police officer faces misdemeanor assault and perjury charges after an incident with a suspect was caught on video.

Officer Vincent Cosum Jr. was captured on a city surveillance camera on June 15, repeatedly punching Kollin Truss in the face with other officers present. He faces perjury because in his police report he said Truss assaulted him first, a claim not supported by the video evidence.

Truss is now represented by attorneys, who say charging Cosum alone is not adequate.

“The other officers participated,” Truss attorney Tony Garcia told CBS Baltimore. “They held his arms back. Our client was knocked unconscious on his feet.”

Truss’s attorneys have filed a $70 million lawsuit against the city.

The beating prompted a call from city officials and the public to look into complaints against the city’s police department. The mayor has asked the Department of Justice to investigate.

I hope he gets every penny. Corrupt cops only exist with the collaboration of corrupt government. And vice versa. The DOJ is reaching the point where they may as well ask for a separate seat in the Presidential cabinet to deal with the range of corruption from tickets issued as police fundraisers, police brutalization of minorities and young people in general, theft and collaboration with gangs and gangsters.

I’m more and more impressed with CCTV when it’s used to catch cops as well as civilian miscreants.

7 students get home detention for beating 13-year-old girl unconscious on the way to her first day at school!

Sitting across from their parents or guardians, five girls and two boys faced a judge Saturday afternoon, a day after they were arrested by Marion County sheriff’s deputies for the severe beating of a 13-year-old girl on a school bus that left the girl hospitalized…

Authorities said the injured child was beaten multiple times and was treated at the hospital for a concussion, muscle spasms and a serious head bruise.

Inside the makeshift courtroom at the Marion County Jail, Assistant State Attorney John Zaleskie asked Judge Frances King to detain the youths due to what the prosecutor described as “extreme violence” and injuries suffered by the victim until their arraignment.

King decided to release the seven — who the prosecutor said had no prior arrests — to their parents/guardians and place them on home detention.

While on home detention, the youths have to abide by certain rules, such as no contact with each other or with the victim…

All eight juveniles, including the victim, attend Liberty Middle School.

According to sheriff’s deputies, the beating occurred on the school bus around 7:30 a.m. on the way to school. Authorities said there were approximately 74 children on the bus…

Unable to stop the fight, the driver drove to an elementary school and reported the incident to school officials, who called police…

All of the juveniles were arrested and charged with felony battery and disorderly conduct.

RTFA for the details of each stupid, egregious excuse offered for this criminal behavior.

Society says such behavior is OK. It’s normal behavior on TV programs approved by their parents. Only sex and swearing aren’t family values – and the sex is mostly OK, too. Violence, assault, might makes right are all perfectly acceptable to American morality.

Certainly, the parents bear no responsibility. Right? The judge obviously feels that to be the case.

Christian preacher advocates beating your children into submission

After services at the Church at Cane Creek on a recent Sunday, a few dozen families held a potluck picnic and giggling children played pin the tail on the donkey.

The white-bearded preacher, Michael Pearl, who delivered his sermon in stained work pants, and his wife, Debi, mixed warmly with the families drawn to their evangelical ministry, including some of their own grandchildren.

The pastoral mood in the hills of Tennessee offered a stark contrast to the storm raging around the country over the Pearls’ teachings on child discipline, which advocate systematic use of “the rod” to teach toddlers to submit to authority. The methods, seen as common sense by some grateful parents and as horrific by others, are modeled, Mr. Pearl is fond of saying, on “the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules.”

Debate over the Pearls’ teachings, first seen on Christian Web sites, gained new intensity after the death of a third child, all allegedly at the hands of parents who kept the Pearls’ book, “To Train Up a Child,” in their homes. On Sept. 29, the parents were charged with homicide by abuse.

More than 670,000 copies of the Pearls’ self-published book are in circulation, and it is especially popular among Christian home-schoolers, who praise it in their magazines and on their Web sites. The Pearls provide instructions on using a switch from as early as six months to discourage misbehavior and describe how to make use of implements for hitting on the arms, legs or back, including a quarter-inch flexible plumbing line that, Mr. Pearl notes, “can be rolled up and carried in your pocket.”

The furor in part reflects societal disagreements over corporal punishment, which conservative Christians say is called for in the Bible and which many Americans consider reasonable up to a point, even as many parents and pediatricians reject it.

Few, if any, pediatricians would support the medieval ideology of the Pearls. I’m not surprised that many Christians adopt their practices. Everything else they believe in is equally out-of-date, divorced from modernity derived from science and civility.

That a few take punishment to the extreme of murder is no surprise. Is it? Fundamentalists Christians exceed even Republicans at hypocrisy – prattling about opposing abortion because it kills a collection of protein cells while endorsing every murderous crusade throughout the world in the name of God and Country. Fundamentalists stand up in outrage over human beings who love and care sufficiently for each other to wish to live in wedlock – but, they don’t meet the regulations of a 14th Century rulebook leftover to tell the ignorant how to run their own lives.

RTFA for detail after detail of one more backwards facet of fundamentalists who would sing away while shutting down what freedoms we have remaining.

Pennsylvania coppers go to trial for obstruction of justice


Crystal Dillman and her fiance Luís Ramírez

Three former Pennsylvania police officers went on trial this week on charges of obstructing justice in the beating death of a Mexican immigrant in 2008, a prosecution that Hispanics have come to view as a national test case for treatment of Latinos.

The federal case against the former officers, Matthew Nestor, Jason Hayes and William Moyer, began with the killing of Luís Ramírez, 25, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who was beaten and kicked to death in July 2008 by a group of young white men in the central Pennsylvania town of Shenandoah.

The case became a cause célèbre for Latinos who argued that the two main defendants, Brandon Piekarsky, a member of a high school football team, and his friend Derrick Donchak, got off with light sentences in a state trial in 2009. They were acquitted of the most serious charges and convicted of simple assault, a misdemeanor.

After mounting criticism from state officials, federal prosecutors pressed civil rights charges against the two men, and in October, they were convicted of a hate crime. The men, who are 19 and 20, face a maximum of life in prison when they are sentenced on Jan. 24.

In federal court on Thursday in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., prosecutors argued that the police officers, who are charged with conspiracy, making false statements and obstruction of justice, misrepresented facts during their investigation because they had personal connections to the families of the accused. Mr. Nestor, the chief of police at the time, had vacationed with Mr. Piekarsky’s mother, according to the indictment. Mr. Hayes, a patrolman, was dating her, and the son of Mr. Moyer, a lieutenant, played on the same football team as those accused in the beating. All have since left the police department…

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which circulated a petition in 2009 calling for the Justice Department to bring federal charges in the case, welcomed the trial.

“This trial sends a strong message that hate crimes and those who attempt to cover them up, including law enforcement officers, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Gladys Limón, a staff lawyer for the fund.

RTFA for brief details. Wander back through Google-time and you’ll find more coverage – and damned little done by the local PD.

“Protect and Serve” does not ask the question “which neighborhood and whose friends” get protected and served?

UAE Supreme Court rules men can beat wives if no marks left

The Federal Supreme Court in the United Arab Emirates has ruled that a man can beat his wife and young children as long as no marks are left, The National newspaper reported…

“Although the (law) permits the husband to use his right (to discipline), he has to abide by the limits of this right,” it quoted Chief Justice Falah al-Hajeri as having written in a ruling released in a court document on Sunday.

The court ruled that a man who “slapped and kicked his daughter and slapped his wife” violated his “right” under sharia, or Islamic law, to discipline his wife and children, as he beat his wife too severely and his daughter, aged 23, was too old for such discipline, the newspaper said.

The UAE is less conservative than some Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, where women cannot drive and need a male guardian’s permission to travel.

But Islamic religious law remains a part of the legal framework in the UAE, which also has secular laws.

I’m just posting this for the record. The backwardness of theocracies – and especially those superstitious lands where something as archaic as Shari’a law is practiced – is recognized by most educated adults.

Just one more example of someplace I will never choose to live and work.

5 indicted – including 3 coppers – in hate crime


Luis Ramirez with his fiancee, Crystal Dillman, before his murder
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Five people, including three police officers, have been indicted on charges related to the beating death of a Latino man in rural Pennsylvania in July 2008…

The indictments come almost six months after a Schuylkill County jury acquitted two teens of aggravated assault and one of murder in the death of Luis Ramirez.

The undocumented Mexican immigrant was beaten into a coma during a street brawl involving the teens and their friends on a residential street in Shenandoah. The incident divided the small, rural mining town along racial lines and became a flash point for racial tensions nationwide.

After the verdict, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell denounced the attack as racially motivated and called on the Justice Department to intervene.

A federal grand jury handed up the indictments last week, and they were unsealed Tuesday. The two young men, Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky, are accused of a hate crime for beating Ramirez while shouting racial epithets at him, according to the department.
If convicted of hate crime charges, Donchak and Piekarsky face a maximum penalty of life in prison. Donchak also faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted of obstruction, and an additional five years on the charge of conspiring to obstruct justice.

Donchak also faces three counts of conspiring to obstruct justice and related offences. He is accused of attempting to orchestrate a coverup with members of the Shenandoah Police Department, the Justice Department said.

Shenandoah Police Chief Matthew Nestor and Lt. William Moyer and Officer Jason Hayes are charged with conspiring to obstruct justice in the Ramirez investigation. Moyer faces additional charges of witness and evidence tampering and making false statements to the FBI.
Nestor, Moyer and Hayes intentionally failed to “memorialize or record” statements made by Piekarsky about the incident, and “wrote false and misleading official reports” that “intentionally omitted information about the true nature of the assault and the investigation,” the indictment said.

A tragic example of bigotry grounded in a community and its officials – not just points on a compass. The first thing I learned in the civil rights movement – decades ago – is that you can be killed just as dead by a bigot in the North as the South. And the cop pulling up outside your home might not be there to help you.

Fortunately, sometimes you can find a good cop to help you deal with the bad cop.

Malaysia pair killed in ritual “health cure”

A Malaysian couple have been beaten to death by four close family members in a ritual apparently intended to help one of them stop smoking.

They reportedly smashed the husband and wife’s heads on a table, and beat them with broomsticks and motorbike helmets at a house in Kuala Lumpur. The couple’s 14-year-old daughter was also injured and taken to hospital…

Mohamed Ibrahim was seeking help to stop his smoking habit, while his wife was suffering from asthma and a liver ailment.

Following this, a 23-year-old male relative suggested that the couple undergo a ritual which involved all family members joining forces to beat up the couple to rid them of their ailments.

Well, it certainly was effective. Worked as well as any other superstitious crap medication.

They ain’t smoking anymore. Or breathing.