The Thick Blue Line

Screen grab by author.

Below is a February (including late January) edition of ‘no charges against police officer’ cases leading to injurious harm or fatality: the thick blue line of police impunity. (First post here. Second post here.)

In the Blue Earth, Minnesota case, not even the accusation against police is revealed. The press record is cryptic on the matter: an incident occurred, there was an internal investigation, no charges were filed.

Charges against police were filed in the case of the Fayetteville, Arkansas officer accused of rape and sexual assault.

The King City, California corruption scheme has resulted in a class action lawsuit whose outcome is still pending.

One of the two Fullerton, California police officers who got away with the beating death of Kelly Thomas were chased out of a Denny’s.

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Toledo, OH | ‘An internal police investigation report prompted by a fight between an off-duty police couple, with a shot fired inside a downtown apartment in October, showed that one of the off-duty officers had cocaine in his system at the time. No criminal charges were filed against the pair or are expected to be filed.’

Seattle, WA | ‘A Seattle Municipal Court judge approved a deal in which a criminal charge against a police officer accused of assaulting a handcuffed man will be dismissed in two years if the officer performs community service and abides by other conditions. The agreement allows Officer Chris Hairston, 47, to avoid the risk of a misdemeanor assault conviction while sparing prosecutors the possibility of an acquittal. It also enhances Hairston’s chances of keeping his job when the Seattle Police Department now conducts its own internal investigation.’

Morrison, IL | ‘No charges will be filed against the state conservation police officer who shot and killed a motorist on Interstate 88 west of Rock Falls on Nov. 22, Whiteside County State’s Attorney Trish Joyce announced. After an investigation into the death of Shane D. Cataline, 30, of Toledo, Ohio, Joyce issued a written decision that she believes the shooting by Conservation Police Officer Steven Francisko was “justified.”‘

Toledo, OH | ‘A grand jury chose not to bring any charges against a Toledo police officer who shot and injured a South Toledo man who brandished a gun at officers in September.’

Troy, MI | ‘Charges are still under review for a veteran Troy police officer suspected of driving-under-the-influence. Troy Police Sgt. Andy Breidenich said the unnamed officer, a member of the force since 2001, remains on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. State police conducted the test that showed the officer had a .27 blood-alcohol level, nearly three times the legal driving limit. A blood-alcohol level above .17 percent qualifies as “Super Drunk.”‘

Denver, CO | ‘The Denver District Attorney’s Office has declined to file criminal charges against a female Transportation Security Administration agent at Denver International Airport after a passenger complained the pat-down she received amounted to sexual assault. “I felt sick to my stomach,” said Jamelyn Steenhoek, 39, when she learned that Denver prosecutors were no longer pursuing her complaint and would not be filing criminal charges. “I still feel as if a crime was committed, and as an individual American I am powerless to do anything about it.”’

San Diego, CA | ‘A San Diego Police officer is accused of sexual misconduct involving at least four women, according to SDPD Chief William Lansdowne. | A seventh woman has come forward accusing Officer [Chris Hays] of sexual misconduct. A sixth woman reported her alleged encounter with Hays, [that] Hays threatened to arrest her if she didn’t give him oral sex. | Hays was formally charged with two felony counts of false imprisonment with violence and three misdemeanor counts of sexual battery involving four women. His attorney said the officer would be resigning from the SDPD.’

Durham, NC | ‘Prosecutors won’t seek criminal charges against Durham police in last summer’s fatal shooting of a Latino man during a confrontation involving a knife. Jose Adan Cruz Ocampo, 33, was shot four times by Durham officer R.S. Mbuthia after police responded to a call and found a man cut with a broken bottle. Police said Ocampo approached officers with a knife in his hand and repeatedly ignored commands to drop it. That’s when the officer shot him in the head, chest and stomach. But in an interview after the shooting, Ocampo’s nephew, 18-year-old Walter Cardona, said witnesses told him that his uncle had wrapped the knife in a bandana or something similar and was trying to give it to the officer—handle first. “Police could have used a Taser or Mace,” Cardona said, “because there were three cops against one person, and he was holding the blade. He wasn’t attacking them or anything. I think they overreacted with four shots.” Questions also were raised about whether Ocampo, a native of Honduras, understood the officer’s orders. Ocampo’s death was one of three Durham police officer-involved gunshot deaths last year that rocked the city.’

Suffield, CT | ‘The larceny charge against a former Suffield police officer accused of stealing $120 obtained as evidence in a drug case has been dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired. According to the report, police were also unable to locate 22 bags of heroin and 10 diazepam pills seized during a September 2011 arrest that DePietro made. He had to undergo counseling on department policy after the September investigation, but received no additional discipline.’

San Bruno, CA | ‘A black man on BART [wa]s tasered by a cop after ignoring the cop’s repeated request to get off the train. The police officer repeatedly asked the man to get off the train. “Get off the train, sir. Sir, get off the train,” he kept repeating. Robert refused to obey the cop’s orders, instead asking why he was being taken off the train. [Vidya] Kaipa chimed in, saying, “It’s fine. He’s not bothering me. It’s okay.” Kaipa adds, “It went from being about me to being about the police officer.” | The use of stun guns by BART officers was questioned further after another incident in 2010, in which a BART officer deployed his weapon on a 13-year-old boy who was fleeing the scene of an alleged assault. Although the officer missed his shot, the agency demanded all BART cops turn in their Tasers. The weapons were redistributed to officers later that year.’

San Bernardino, CA | ‘Law enforcement officers who faced off with Christopher Dorner at a cabin in Big Bear violated no laws and “had no choice” but to engage in a fierce firefight with the fugitive, according to a detailed review of the incident by prosecutors. In a 59-page report, the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office formally cleared more than three dozen officers from several law enforcement agencies who were involved in the standoff. The findings mean no criminal charges will be brought against any of the officers.’

Los Angeles, CA | ‘Aloni Bonilla uploaded one of the close to 82,000 YouTube videos with headlines that promise to show “police brutality caught on tape.” The jury that convicted Bonilla never saw the video. Today, she has five slipped discs in her spine and neck she says were a result from the altercation with the officer.’

Warrington, FL | ‘The deputies who shot two dogs after entering a Warrington home without a search warrant will not face criminal charges, the State Attorney’s Office said.’

Fayetteville, AK | ‘A former Fayetteville police officer pleads not guilty to rape charges. Officer Jamison Stiles was fired last year after a woman said she woke up naked with him standing over her bed inside her apartment. The accusations of sexual assault came later from two different women. The internal investigation documents say former Stiles had been counseled before by supervisors for turning recording devices off during arrests and traffic stops.’

Blue Earth, MN | ‘No criminal charges will be filed against a Blue Earth police officer. Officer Todd Purvis was placed on paid administrative leave last month by the City Council, following allegations that have not been disclosed.’

Victorville, CA | ‘A homeless man died just steps away from a Mojave Desert jail early Wednesday, after being released by sheriff’s deputies who reportedly decided “he was able to care for himself.”‘

Los Angeles, CA | ‘Eugene Mallory, an 80-year-old retired engineer, [had his] home raided by the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. (which has been at the center of a number of scandals in recent years), in search of meth. No meth was found, but Eugene Mallory was shot dead in his own bedroom.’

San Francisco, CA | ‘Police beat up and detain Good Samaritans who call 911 and perform first aid on accident victim. The entire procedure then went dark, because in San Francisco, you aren’t allowed to know what happens to police officers who beat you up, thanks to the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights.’

Las Vegas, NV | ‘The Los Angeles man shot by park rangers after a routine police stop just outside Las Vegas last week wasn’t homeless, didn’t use hard drugs and wasn’t a violent criminal, according to his father. D’Andre Berghardt Jr., 20, was shot and killed near the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Friday afternoon after Bureau of Land Management rangers responded to call about a pedestrian impeding cyclists along state Route 159. [Berghardt Sr.] said the family has contacted a lawyer and planned to sue the involved agencies. He wants justice, he said. “They want us to pay $2,000 to get my son back to L.A.,” he said. “No way, man. They’re gonna pay for that. They’re gonna pay for more than that.”’

King City, CA | ‘Authorities say police officers in the Salinas Valley town took part in a scheme to steal more than 200 cars from poor Latinos. | The highest ranking officers in the King City Police Department for years targeted the city’s most vulnerable residents, essentially stealing their cars for profit, District Attorney Dean Flippo said. In what is likely the most widespread case of official corruption in Monterey County history, six King City police officers, including the former and acting chiefs of police, were arrested on felony charges on Tuesday, four of them accused of conspiracy, embezzlement and bribery. The owner of a local tow truck company, the brother of the acting chief, was arrested in the scheme, which involved impounding the cars of mostly unlicensed drivers, then selling them when the cars’ owners were unable to pay towing and storage fees. | According to the [federal class action law suit], the defendants “concocted and developed a scheme to target a particular demographic population, that is, economically disadvantaged and low-income persons of Hispanic descent.” That group composes about 87.5 percent of King City’s population, according to the complaint.’

Saginaw, MI | ‘The U.S. Justice Department announced that it will not pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against Michigan police officers who shot and killed a knife-wielding homeless man in July 2012. Authorities said there was insufficient “evidence of willful misconduct” to warrant a federal criminal prosecution of the Saginaw Police Department officers who fired 46 bullets at Milton Hall, 49, during an argument. Hall was hit 11 times. Hall’s family said he had a history of mental illness.’

San Diego, CA | ‘Former San Diego police officer Anthony Arevalos won a partial victory Tuesday when a judge wiped out two of the charges he was convicted on—including the most serious count, sexual battery.’

Tremonton, UT | ‘Investigation continues on accusations of child pornography against a police officer who was arrested and booked into jail last summer but yet to be charged in court. The arrest came in June of Jeremy Rose, 37, a 12-year-veteran of the Tremonton force. He was booked into the Box Elder County Jail on suspicion of sexual exploitation of a minor.’

Savannah, GA | ‘Two police officers won’t face criminal charges for fatally shooting a southeast Georgia man inside his home after the man’s fiancee called 911 seeking an ambulance to help him.’

Lynchburg, VA | ‘No criminal charges will be filed against the armed security officer who killed a Liberty University student at an off-campus dorm in November.’

Midland TX | ‘Two police officers in an oil-rich West Texas city spent weeks competing to see who could take the most cardboard signs away from homeless people, even though panhandling doesn’t violate any city law. Nearly two months after the Midland Police Department learned of the game, the two officers were suspended for three days without pay.’

Jackson, MI | ‘A prosecutor has decided not to issue any charges against a Jackson police sergeant who had a heated dispute with his wife, moving a relative to call 911. There was “insufficient evidence” to charge Timothy Hibbard, a sergeant at the police department, the Branch County prosecutor informed [the] Jackson County Prosecutor, who asked the state attorney general’s office to assign a special prosecutor to review the case. Hibbard remained on paid administrative leave. Hibbard was not arrested. He was placed in “protective custody” and taken to Allegiance Health for a mental health evaluation.’

San Francisco, CA | Four San Francisco police officers have pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges of conspiring to violate civil rights and steal property, money and drugs seized during searches and arrests. The officers are four of six charged in two separate federal indictments.’