Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Frisk Stop in New York City

It's a way of getting around the law:

"Some NYC officers fail to document stops, monitor says" by J. David Goodman and Al Baker New York Times   July 10, 2015

NEW YORK — Some New York City police officers are stopping people for questioning but are not documenting the encounters as required, calling into question the official accounting of a significant decline in stop-and-frisk activity, according to the first report of the federal monitor overseeing the city’s Police Department.

The finding is contained in an 87-page report filed Thursday in US District Court in Manhattan by the monitor, Peter L. Zimroth, who was installed as part of the court’s decision in 2013 that found the department’s stop-and-frisk tactics were unconstitutional.

The report also urges changes to the court’s order to outfit officers with body cameras. Rather than having all officers in five precincts wear cameras, as the court required, Zimroth proposed in his report a broader and more scientific approach — a “randomized controlled trial” — that would issue cameras to officers in 20 precincts around the city and set control groups to allow for comparison.

Zimroth, in a letter filed along with the report, said that while “it is still early in the remedial process and there is much to do,” he found that the Police Department was “moving in a positive direction.”


The monitor was tasked by the court with implementing its orders after it consolidated three federal cases against the Police Department: the stop-and-frisk suit, Floyd v. the City of New York, and two involving criminal trespass stops in public housing and private buildings.

Those orders include new training on the laws surrounding police stops, frisks, and searches as well as the policies that guide how those tactics are used. The court called for greater involvement of supervisors in making sure that the officers’ actions were constitutional and free of racial bias.

“NYPD has conducted several precinct audits and concluded that some stops were made but not documented,” Zimroth wrote. “More work needs to be done to determine the extent of the problem and to make sure that there is proper record-keeping.”


I suppose they should feel fortunate they were not shot:

"Officials say hammer-wielding man shot by police was mentally ill" Associated Press  May 14, 2015

NEW YORK — Manhattan Chief of Detectives William Aubry said they tracked the suspect to a subway station, where he used his Metro card. Officers obtained an image of him and, using facial recognition technology, matched a photo with one on file at the department, Aubry said.

David Baril, 30, has at least eight arrests and a history of schizophrenia and paranoia, police said. He had voluntarily left a mental institution a few months ago, police said....

He's lucky he's still alive.


Really stigmatizing the mental disabilities stuff with the shootings. 

It get's worse from here:

"New York rolls out plan to drop cash bail for minor crimes" by Jake Pearson Associated Press  July 09, 2015

NEW YORK — Thousands of New Yorkers accused of minor or nonviolent crimes won’t face the prospect of raising cash for bail under a plan that seeks to keep such suspects out of the troubled Rikers Island jail.

Why? What's wrong with Rikers

You know, when one looks around at the AmeriKan penal $y$tem one might also see dens of torture!

The $18 million city plan, detailed on Wednesday, allows judges beginning next year to replace money bail for about 3,000 low-risk defendants with supervision options, including regular check-ins and text-message reminders.

Cash bail has long been criticized by inmate advocates for unfairly targeting poor people.

In New York City? No way!

And reforms were recommended by a mayoral task force last year after reports of a mentally ill homeless man who was unable to make $2,500 bail for trespassing and died in a sweltering Rikers cell.

Baril got lucky; they put him in a nice hospital.

More calls for reform gained traction after the suicide last month of 22-year-old Kalief Browder.

That is a common theme today, too, along with the body cams.

When he was 16 years old, Browder was unable to make $3,000 bail on charges he stole a backpack. He ended up being held in Rikers for three years, beaten by inmates and guards alike, and held in solitary confinement before charges against him were dropped.

That's torture, and $3,000 for a backpack? What did he do, drop it off near a mailbox during the Marathon?

‘‘I think the basic principle is that Kalief Browder and other cases have begun to signify this [need for reform],’’ said Elizabeth Glazer, the mayor’s criminal justice coordinator. ‘‘We want to focus on risk to be the determining factor to decide if someone will be in or out; and it has to be risk, not money.’’

Currently, about 41 percent of criminal defendants who pass through New York City courts annually are released on their own recognizance.

About 87 percent of the 1,100 people on supervised release in city pilot programs return to court as scheduled, officials said.

Initial funding, provided by the Manhattan district attorney, allows for as many as 3,000 defendants charged with misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies to bypass bail, letting them live with their families and keep their jobs while their cases wind through the courts. Officials say they would like to expand non-bail options to include thousands more.

Advocates hailed the decision Wednesday, saying expanding options beyond cash bail for poor people accused of nonviolent crimes will help make the criminal justice system fairer.

‘‘Locking up New Yorkers who should be treated as innocent until proven guilty just because they are poor offends the values and principles this country was built on,’’ said Donna Lieberman, New York Civil Liberties Union executive director. 

That innocent until proven guilty stuff is gone. It's the accusation that sticks with regular folk (elite don't have to worry unless they get out of line; then their name starts popping up in the paper in unflattering ways).

Releasing defendants to community supervision based on risk-assessment tools that gauge a person’s threat to public safety is increasingly done throughout the country. 

The end of that will be the next guy who kills somebody after being allowed to stay home.

About 10 percent of state, county, and city courts currently use some such tool to decide if a defendant is too risky to be released or who qualifies for some level of supervision, according to the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which created its own risk instrument that’s used in Arizona, Kentucky, and New Jersey as well as in cities such as Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, and Phoenix.

Chicago is getting rather frisky.

But in New York, unlike most states, efforts to fully do away with bail are complicated by state law, which requires judges to consider defendants’ risk of flight, not their risk of reoffending, when determining bail conditions.

Glazer said she hoped legislators would consider changing the law, a move supported by the state’s chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, who said in a statement that alternatives to either jail time or no supervision at all ‘‘are critical steps in reducing overreliance on bail.’’


It's a good thing you are not headed for Rikers, kiddo:

"Rikers Island guard gets 5 years for inmate death" Associated Press  June 19, 2015

NEW YORK — A former Rikers Island guard convicted of ignoring the pleas of a dying inmate dabbed tears from his eyes Thursday after he was handed a five-year prison term by a judge who said the sentence was intended to be a deterrent to others.

Poor guy. The guard, not the scum.

Former Department of Correction Captain Terrence Pendergrass was also fined $5,000 after a jury convicted him in December of depriving 25-year-old Jason Echevarria of his civil rights.

The prisoner swallowed toxic detergent while housed in a now-closed solitary confinement unit for inmates who break jailhouse rules.

You think "Escape From Alcatraz" is just a movie.

According to court papers, the 51-year-old Pendergrass told other jail employees he didn’t want to be bothered unless there was a ‘‘dead body’’ in the cell after Echevarria told two other correction officers that he had wallowed the deadly substance. 

Umm, Terry? Better have a look in the cell.

‘‘Such criminal indifference will not be tolerated,’’ US District Judge Ronnie Abrams said in Manhattan as she imposed the sentence but rejected a request by prosecutors that Pendergrass begin serving the prison term immediately.

Finding he had reliably shown up for his court appearances, the judge said he could report to prison Aug. 18.

The judge said deterrence was an important consideration so guards know they will be held responsible for wrongdoing even when they work in a troubled correction system or a jail such as Rikers.

Shoulda got a job on Wall Street instead!

Federal sentencing guidelines had called for a sentence of roughly two years.

She also noted the difficulty of prosecuting civil rights cases.

Prosecutors had asked for a substantial punishment, saying in court papers that his crime was ‘‘particularly cruel.’’

Defense lawyer James G. Frankie wrote that Pendergrass had no reason to accept reports Echevarria had swallowed a soap ball since it was without precedent that an inmate would receive an unauthorized soap ball and ingest it.

He said the claim that he had swallowed the soap ball seemed ‘‘more consistent with malingering to get out of a cell rather than a genuine call for medical assistance.’’

Well, then you beat 'em a couple times for making you get up and away from the TV show or whatever.

Conditions at the nation’s second-largest jail system, where about 11,000 inmates are regularly housed in 10 Rikers Island facilities, have drawn considerable scrutiny over the last year.

There have been numerous reports of inmate beatings, guard corruption, and mistreatment of the mentally ill.


And watch out if they get a hold of you:

"N.Y. reaches $5.9 million settlement in chokehold death" New York Times  July 14, 2015

My print piece was a four-paragraph AP article.

NEW YORK — New York City reached a settlement with the family of Eric Garner on Monday, agreeing to pay $5.9 million to resolve a wrongful death claim over his killing by the police on Staten Island last July, a lawyer for the family said.

The agreement, reached just a few days before the deadline to file suit, headed off one potentially fractious legal battle over Garner’s death even as a federal inquiry into the killing and several others at the state and local level remain open and could provide a further accounting of how he died.

Still, the settlement was a pivotal moment in a case that has engulfed the city and the Police Department since the afternoon of July 17, 2014, when two officers approached Garner as he stood unarmed on a sidewalk and accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes.

The death of Garner, 43, followed by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in August, set off a national debate about policing actions in minority communities and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.

Garner’s final words - “I can’t breathe” - repeated 11 times as one officer held him in a chokehold, became a national rallying cry. A Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, fueled weeks of demonstrations. The protests eased after the killing of two police officers in Brooklyn in December by a man who said he acted to avenge Garner’s death.

The killings of the officers shook the city anew, deepening tensions between the police and Mayor Bill de Blasio and slowing a push to enact a host of criminal justice reforms.

And who benefited?

Last year, Garner’s relatives, including his widow, Esaw Garner, and his mother, Gwen Carr, filed a notice of claim - a procedural step that must precede a lawsuit against the city. In the notice, they said were seeking $75 million in damages. Since then, the family has been in talks with the city comptroller’s office, and on Monday, both sides confirmed the resolution of the claim.

“The City of New York has agreed to pay $5.9 million to resolve the Garner case,” said Jonathan C. Moore, the lawyer for Garner’s family.

I don't like the fact that taxpayers had to pay for cop misconduct. Maybe if the individual or group of criminals had to pay (like for civilians), the cops would be more careful.

Moore said the city had until Friday, the anniversary of the death, to come to an agreement. If none had been reached, a suit would have been filed.

The resolution is among the biggest reached so far as part of a strategy by the comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, to settle major civil rights claims even before a lawsuit is filed. Stringer has said the aim is to save taxpayers the expense of a drawn-out trial and to give those bringing the suits and their families a measure of closure.

And more importantly, remove the black eye from authority.

But the settlement did not provide any greater clarity on the actions of the officers that day or the policing strategies that have come under criticism in the year that has followed.

The relatives of Garner, along with Moore, are expected to discuss the settlement at a news conference scheduled for Tuesday morning at the Harlem offices of the National Action Network, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton.

You know about Al and the FBI?

On Saturday, Garner’s family is expected to lead a rally outside the Brooklyn offices of the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York to call for a federal case to be brought against the officers involved in Garner’s death.

“This is not about people getting money,” Sharpton said on Monday. “This is about justice. We’ve got to restructure our police departments and how we deal with policing nationwide.”

When they say it's not about money, it's about money -- and how much Al can collect in donations. With out the division, we don't need him.

The city medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, citing the chokehold and the compression of Garner’s chest by other officers who held him down.

Several inquiries into Garner’s death were still pending, including investigations by the U.S. attorney’s office, the Civilian Complaint Review Board and state health officials, who are looking into the actions of emergency medical responders in treating Garner.

The Police Department has concluded its internal investigation but has yet to say whether any officers would be disciplined.

The agreement with the city does not cover the private hospital that sent the responders, Richmond University Medical Center. Video shows that as Garner lay on the ground, he was not given oxygen and the actions of the medical responders, also captured on video, appeared disorganized. The conduct of its employees at the scene has come under scrutiny and could result in further legal action. But as of Monday, “nothing has been filed,” William J. Smith, a spokesman for the hospital, said.

De Blasio, speaking to reporters shortly before the settlement had been reached, said the anniversary of Garner’s death was on his mind. “I think it’s on the mind of many New Yorkers, and we, you know, mourn the death of Eric Garner,” the mayor said. “I think we’ve come a long way, even in the last year, in terms of bringing police and community together.”


In recent months, the comptroller’s office has reached major settlements in several cases without a suit being filed, effectively cutting out involvement by the city’s Law Department.

Stringer reached a $6.4 million deal with David Ranta, who was imprisoned for 23 years after a wrongful murder conviction; Ranta had sought $150 million.

Related: Ranta's Release

A deal was also reached for $2.25 million with the family of Jerome Murdough, who died in an overheated cell at the Rikers Island jail complex, to settle their $25 million claim against the city.

Well, that stinks. I'll bet the heat made the hangover smell worse.

But while the approach spares the city and those hurt by it from protracted legal fights, it has come under criticism for sidelining experienced lawyers at the Law Department who might better gauge the city’s legal liability.

“The determination of appropriate damage levels is a complex, nuanced process,” said Victor A. Kovner, a former city corporation counsel. “The notion that the comptroller, without the benefit of that experience, seeks to make these resolutions on his own is in my experience grandstanding and against the city’s interest.”

Kovner said settlements in wrongful death and police brutality cases must take into account the pain and suffering of the person as well as future earnings and financial damage to the family. In the case of Garner, his apparent suffering in video images would have probably been a major factor in any settlement discussions.

In 2001, a suit brought by Abner Louima, a Haitian man tortured with a broomstick while in police custody at a Brooklyn precinct station house in August 1997, was settled for $8.75 million, with the city paying $7.125 million and the police officers’ union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which was accused of conspiring to cover up the assault, paying Louima another $1.625 million.

Yeah, that case. They sodomized an innocent man with that thing. 

The United States can't lecture anyone when it comes to human rights, although they do it all the time.

That agreement was reached three years into the suit brought by Louima, who was sodomized with the broken broomstick handle. The settlement came after federal trials in which one officer, Justin A. Volpe, was convicted in the attack and sentenced to 30 years in prison, and another pleaded guilty to perjury. Two more were sentenced to probation in the cover-up. Two other officers had their convictions overturned on appeal.

Nearly five years after the killing of Amadou Diallo in 1999, the city settled with his relatives for $3 million. The city settled a suit over the 2006 fatal shooting of Sean Bell for $3.25 million. 

You know, once is a mistake, twice, aaaaah, more than three times.... pattern. 

It's what they tell the criminals.

In January, Stringer agreed to pay $17 million to settle wrongful conviction claims brought by three defendants whose cases involved Louis Scarcella, a retired homicide detective whose investigative tactics have come under scrutiny and are under review.

In an interview last December, after the grand jury’s decision, Stringer called Garner’s death “a terrible tragedy” and said “my heart goes out to the Garner family, and I feel very strongly about that.”


Those cops didn't go to jail, did they?

RelatedN.Y. judge OK’s release of data in Garner case

No wonder they settled. They need good cops in New York:

"NYPD seeks more Muslim recruits" Associated Press  June 09, 2015

NEW YORK — The New York Police Department is working to recruit more Muslims and is asking for help within the community to better refine outreach aimed at stifling the lure of overseas terror groups, officials said Monday.

So they can frame them?

Out of about 35,000 uniformed police officers, about 800 are Muslim, according to the NYPD Muslim Officers Society. Of those, only about 20 are higher ranked officials. Lieutenant Adeel Rana, commanding officer of the community affairs immigration outreach unit, said there has been a slow increase over the past decade, but it has been rapidly changing in the past year and a half.

‘‘It’s changing every day; we are getting more and more recruits,’’ he said. ‘‘And as they see people of their own religion in uniform, their eyes brighten.’’


How will they know? Just by looking at them? 


There has been an effort to increase openness and communication with the community since the new administration took over, stinging from a public outcry over the contentious stop, question, and frisk policy and the surveillance of Muslims. A unit that investigated Muslims under the previous police commissioner was disbanded, and Commissioner William Bratton said Monday that officials had worked hard to regain trust.

‘‘We will not do anything to jeopardize that trust,’’ he said.

In an effort to reach out to more recruits, the NYPD is also expanding a cadet program where college students are given stipends and fast-tracked to a job. Rana said officers also attend community meetings and fairs. A video played during the department’s annual pre-Ramadan conference showed dozens of uniformed officers who are Muslim saying: ‘‘We are your NYPD.’’

Muslim leaders said they are encouraged by recruitment efforts.

‘‘The more Muslims who work in the NYPD the better,’’ said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Maybe they will go national with it!


Well, time to get out of the city.

Took longer than I thought, and I'll be stopping it here for a few hours (how appropriate, huh?)

UPDATE: NY prison inmates suffered beatings, retaliation after historic escape

No Sweat, right?

"Man killed after firing at N.Y. police" by Jake Pearson Associated Press  August 14, 2015

NEW YORK — Shortly before emerging from an apartment armed with a fully automatic AK-47, Garland Tyree tenderly told his mother over the phone Friday that he had agreed to surrender after a six-hour standoff with police.

‘‘I’m coming out, Mama,’’ he said, according to the New York force’s top negotiator, Lieutenant Jack Cambria.

Instead, Tyree, 38, a wanted high-ranking member of the Bloods street gang who hours earlier had shot and injured a firefighter responding to heavy smoke in the house, fired his weapon at police and was shot and killed in return.

‘‘It cannot go without saying that this is not the way we want these kinds of negotiations to end,’’ Police Commissioner William Bratton told reporters at a news conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Tyree was to be arrested early Friday at his girlfriend’s apartment in a two-family Staten Island home by US marshals and New York detectives for violating parole. But he refused to open the door, officials said, and then ignited a smoke bomb, prompting the call to the Fire Department.

If true -- and there is always reason to doubt the official story because, well, it's the official story -- how can things come to this. Parole violation gets a guy killed.

Three times before the deadly confrontation, Tyree fired his weapon and officers didn’t return fire, Bratton said.

When he did emerge, wearing a bulletproof vest, his shots struck police cars and a neighbor’s house, officials said.


Hey, maybe it was the only way to stop him, but this stuff is becoming much to frequent.