Tuesday, January 06, 2015

This week in police abuse news, Texas style

*As this post was composed, two more NYPD officers have been shot, and are expected to survive. Their two assailants escaped on foot.

It's hard out there for a cop, as we all know.  Life on the thin blue line and all that.  Some make it hard on themselves, however.  Our local version of Bad Cops on Parade has us in Victoria, near Corpus Christi, as the 23 year-old policeman who Tasered a 76 year-old man -- twice -- for having an expired inspection sticker has been terminated.  From his job, I mean.

Victoria Police Chief Jeff Craig placed Robinson on administrative leave and ordered two separate investigations: a criminal investigation conducted by the Texas Rangers and an internal administrative investigation conducted by the Victoria Police Department's Internal Affairs Division.

This follows on the heels of three other Victoria cops who punched and kicked a woman, resulting in black eyes and broken ribs, then arrested her for "vulgar language".

Mary Frances Jones told the Victoria Advocate that the three police officers woke her up early in the morning on Dec. 22, 2013 over reports that a truck that she had purchased the day before had been seen driving in a local creek.

Jones said that she had been unaware at the time that her sons borrowed the truck while she was sleeping. After officers claimed that she was lying about owning the truck, Jones said she tried to go back inside her home, and that’s when they forced her to the ground.

She's suing the VPD for assault and false arrest.

Medical records will support Jones had two black eyes for two months and was put on a ventilator after she was diagnosed with pneumonia due to her broken ribs. She's visited the hospital about six times since her arrest, Jones said.

The lawsuit claims the officers used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment and its "reasonableness" standard and falsely arrested and imprisoned Jones.

Gale, of San Antonio, said he took on the case because he thought it had merit.

"I think the police, while they're trained in the concepts of law enforcement, they are not trained in regards to the application of them," he said. "When you express your opinion in any form or fashion with any kind of words and walk away from them, that's a sign of disrespect. ... It's completely and utterly constitutional to walk away from somebody. They're just going to make you pay the price. That's concerning. This is not a police state."

What we are fast approaching in the United States today is not just a loss of respect for police but outright disrespect.  And they have brought it upon themselves.

Read this account from Remington Alessi of Houston, as he led the HPD on a wild goose chase around the Galleria parking lot in a protest last month against police abuse.  There are thousands of recent examples of law enforcement overreaction much worse than this of course, and not just in Ferguson or New York or Chicago or Los Angeles or even Victoria, Texas.  There will be more incidents today, and tomorrow, and the next.

And it is the responsibility of those whose job is "to serve and protect" to discontinue rapidly escalating interactions with the public into beatings, Taserings, and shootings.  Or else these situations are just going to keep occurring with more frequency.

The police are NOT supposed to make things worse when they arrive on the scene.  Thankfully a new generation of Houston activists has made improving these instances for better outcomes their cause.  Part of the reform effort must include the grand jury system, as far too many cases of excessive use of deadly force by LEO are no-billed.

These are all good steps in the right direction, but now -- as in right now -- it's on the cops to figure out their part in lessening public tensions.  So far, they are failing at that effort also.

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