Saturday, August 6, 2016

Slow Saturday Special: Big City Lights

I'll leave this on for you:

"Video shows Chicago police firing at car as it drives away" by Don Babwin Associated Press  August 06, 2016

CHICAGO — Video released Friday shows Chicago police firing repeatedly at a stolen car as it races down the street away from them, then handcuffing the mortally wounded black 18-year-old who was at the wheel after a chaotic foot chase through a neighborhood.

None of the footage from last month shows the moment the suspected car thief was shot in the back. Shortly after the shots are fired, Paul O’Neal can be seen lying face down on the ground in a backyard, blood soaking through the back of his T-shirt.

An officer is heard angrily accusing the suspect of firing at police. Another officer asks, ‘‘They shot at us too, right?’’ suggesting police believed they had been fired upon and that they did not know how many suspects were present. No gun was recovered from the scene.

Attorney Michael Oppenheimer, who represents O’Neal’s family, said the video showed officers taking ‘‘street justice into their own hands.’’

In all, nine videos were released from both body cameras and at least one dashboard camera. It was the city’s first release of video of a fatal police shooting under a new policy that calls for such material to be made public within 60 days.

That and other policy changes represent an effort to restore public confidence in the department after video released last year showed a black teenager named Laquan McDonald getting shot 16 times by a white officer.

The McDonald video sparked protests and led to the ouster of the former police superintendent. The officer who shot him is now awaiting trial on murder charges.

The latest recording catches the stolen car being pursued by officers as it passes a stop sign. Before gunfire breaks out, the suspect sideswipes one squad car and then strikes another as officers open fire.

Soon after the July 28 shooting, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson stripped three of the officers of their police powers after a preliminary inquiry concluded they had violated department policy. On Friday, he promised that if the officers acted improperly, they would ‘‘be held accountable for their actions.’’

Authorities have not said specifically what policy the officers broke.

In February 2015, former Superintendent Garry McCarthy revised the department’s policy on the use of deadly force to prohibit officers from ‘‘firing at or into a moving vehicle when the vehicle is the only force used against the sworn member or another person.’’

But the policy also says that officers have the right to defend themselves if they or someone else are in imminent danger of being struck.

The head of the Independent Police Review Authority, the agency that investigates Chicago police misconduct, called the footage ‘‘shocking and disturbing.’’

The officer who killed O’Neal said he believed O’Neal had fired at him and he returned fire with three to five rounds.

The moment of the shooting was not recorded because the officer’s body camera was not operating at the time, possibly deactivated by the cruiser crash, police said.


Related: Big City Nights 

Where are the protests?

"Mayor Walsh rejects idea of Boston police carrying long guns" by Evan Allen Globe Staff  August 05, 2016

Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Friday that he was “taken aback” by a strident letter sent to the city by the leadership of the Boston police unions with a host of demands, including that patrol officers be armed with long guns and supplied with new body armor equipment.

“I think there was some language in that letter that didn’t need to be used, and I’m not sure that letter reflects the overall feel of every officer of the city,” Walsh said. He would not support officers walking beats with long guns, he said. “There’s absolutely no need.”

Better watch your back, Marty.

Walsh joined a chorus of voices skeptical of the demands in the letter, which was addressed to Walsh and Police Commissioner William B. Evans and signed by the leadership of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, Boston Police Superior Officers Federation, and Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society.

“Public safety is paramount, and police officer safety is right up there with it,” said Darnell Williams, president and CEO of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. “But we want to make sure that we are not shifting the focus on community policing to military-style policing.”

The letter is undated, but was first reported Thursday. Union officials did not respond to repeated requests from the Globe for comment. The city is currently in contract negotiations with the police unions.

“The time has come to put ‘Politics’ aside,” the letter implores. “Police officers and other public safety personnel are being murdered across this country at an alarming rate.”

The letter describes Boston police as being “outgunned and undermanned,” and makes several demands: that the names and addresses of officers be removed from public documents; that officers be supplied with ballistic helmets, heavy armor ballistic plates for their bullet-resistant vests, and long guns; that the bomb unit be supplied with take-home motor vehicles for faster response times; that more police officers be hired; and that patrol supervisor vehicles be equipped with backup equipment including extra radios and batteries, first aid kits, and cases of water.

The unions’ letter contained grievances about state and national politics, including a charge that President Obama “has basically ‘fanned the flames of Police hatred.’ ”

In a statement, Evans said that keeping officers safe “is always foremost in my thoughts and I take the concerns of the unions seriously.”

City officials said that withholding names from public records would require a state statutory change.

Regarding the equipment demands, officials said that in recent years the city replaced $451,000 worth of firearms and $150,000 worth of high-powered tactical weapon vehicles known as “gun cars.” The city is spending $56 million on new radio systems and spends $3 million per year on new police vehicles. The city invests $350,000 a year on bullet-resistant vests, officials said, but the union has not agreed to a mandatory wear policy.

Over the past six years, officials said, personnel levels have increased by 17 officers. In the last year the city increased the recruitment class, and this summer the city brought in more than 40 police cadets.

Officials also noted that police union members received wage increases of 25 to 29 percent during the contract period that ended last month; that police spend about $60 million in overtime each year; and that the police department received much larger budget increases in fiscal 2017 than the school or fire department.

Matthew Segal, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said that while it is important police feel safe, it is also important to look at what actually works — such as body cameras, which he noted have been shown to reduce use-of-force issues and complaints. Boston has a body camera pilot program, but no officers had stepped forward to wear the cameras as of Monday.

“It’s confusing that in Boston there have been zero volunteers to wear body cameras, and at the same time, there has been this request for more weaponry,” Segal said.

Former Boston police officer Thomas Nolan, who spent 27 years on the force and is now a criminology professor at Merrimack College, said the union letter was “shrill if not hysterical.”

The letter overstated the danger of policing, he said, noting that over the last four decades the number of officers killed in the line of duty has steadily dropped. Having officers carry long guns to calls, he said, would create needless fear, and officers already have access to high-powered firearms — they simply don’t carry them everywhere. Nationally, he said, police are moving away from highly militarized methods.

“The letter is a political appeal in the midst of protracted contract negotiations,” Nolan said.

Just good, hard, tough negotiating, 'eh?


RelatedPoll: Police harassment familiar to young blacks, Hispanics

All the more reason to get a camera on them.

Maybe someday you can play the big stage:

"Former FBI agent central to Bulger case sentenced for lying" by Milton J. Valencia and Shelley Murphy Globe Staff  August 05, 2016

Robert Fitzpatrick, a former second-in-command of the FBI’s Boston office, and a central figure in the saga of James “Whitey” Bulger, was sentenced to two years of probation Friday for lying during the notorious gangster’s trial.

Fitzpatrick, who is 76, suffering from kidney disease, cancer, and diabetes, must also pay a $12,500 fine. His sentence was handed out in a roughly 15-minute, humdrum hearing, a flat punctuation to a noted career with the FBI.

Assistant US Attorney Zachary Hafer, who was also one of the prosecutors in Bulger’s case, said,  “The criminal justice system depends . . . on the truthfulness of witnesses who testify.”

No wonder it's in such trouble.

Fitzpatrick had been an outspoken critic of the FBI’s handling of Bulger since it was publicly acknowledged by the agency in the late 1990s that the gangster was a longtime informant and it was revealed that he got away with murder while being protected from prosecution by corrupt agents, but he admitted to exaggerating his accomplishments and lying about his relationship with Bulger when he testified during the gangster’s 2013 trial. He was called as a defense witness and testified that he tried in vain to end the FBI’s relationship with Bulger, part of the defense team’s attempt to prove that Bulger was not a worthwhile informant.

Prosecutors said it was a lie, and that Fitzpatrick knowingly made false statements “to enhance his credibility on the key issue of Bulger’s defense — FBI corruption and government misconduct.”

They say he lied when he told jurors he was given a special mission to uncover corruption in the Boston office, that Bulger insisted he wasn’t an informant when they first met in 1981, and that he urged his superiors to drop Bulger as an informant in 1982.

Fitzpatrick also lied about his own accomplishments, falsely claiming that he personally arrested Boston underboss Gennaro “Jerry” Angiulo, and that he found the rifle that James Earl Ray used to kill Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. 

Is it just me, or is there not some irony in a lying government accusing others of lying?

Before his sentencing, several family members and supporters had written to US District Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV on Fitzpatrick’s behalf, saying his conviction unfairly eclipses his true accomplishments working on those cases, as well as other historic cases such as the racially motivated bombings in Mississippi in the 1960s, and the Abscam political corruption probe in the 1970s.

“Bob was never afraid to speak up when he thought people abused their power! That was his nature, gutsy and honest,” Andrew Sloan, who worked alongside Fitzpatrick in the FBI’s Memphis office in the 1960s, had written to the judge....

That's why he was charged.


I don't know about the fibs, but after what I heard on the grapevine, he's lucky he's not wearing concrete galoshes.

Caged heat in California:

"The wardens at California’s two major women’s prisons retired amid allegations of pervasive problems at both institutions, including sexual abuse of inmates at one prison and persistent suicides at the other. The complaints come amid wide problems for the corrections department. A series of lawsuits forced the state to lower its inmate population and cede control of prisoner health care to a federal receiver, while the California inspector general found a culture of racism and abuse at a men’s prison...." 

It's an epidemic everywhere, and just don't get pregnant while in there.

"Struggle may have been a misunderstanding — or something worse" by John R. Ellement Globe Staff  August 05, 2016

It may have been a misunderstanding between two people who apparently did not speak the same language — or it could have been something more malevolent.

Now, Weston police are circulating a composite sketch of a man who walked through an unlocked front door at the Winter Gardens condominium on Tuesday, triggering a confrontation with a Spanish-speaking woman who was visiting her daughter.

“The woman yelled at him in Spanish and began pushing him towards the door and out of the house,’’ Weston police wrote in a posting on Facebook. “The male was speaking English to her and she could not understand what he was saying.’’

The man grabbed the woman’s shirt and began pushing her out of his way, police wrote. At that time, the woman’s husband arrived from another part of the residence, prompting the man to run outside and get into a black Kia SUV where a second man was sitting in a passenger street.

The vehicle drove off.

“At this time, we are unable to determine whether this was a simple misunderstanding due to the language barrier (i.e. someone possibly going to the wrong house and not being able to communicate what had happened) or an actual break-in,’’ police wrote.

Lover's spat?

But police want to speak with the man. He is described as being in his early 20s, about 5 foot 8, and weighing about 150 pounds. Police said the man has “light dark skin.’’

Anyone with information is asked to call detectives....

It is the policy of this blog to never post phone numbers.


Can you believe they towed my car?


NYPD Commissioner Bratton Resigns, Takes Job With Pro-Clinton, Pro-Israel Firm

Chicago official: Body cameras new to district where suspect killed

The news conference came the same day protesters held a rally that originally was to start at the Chicago park where 50 years ago Martin Luther King Jr. called for fair housing practices, but it was moved a few blocks away at the request of organizers of a festival related to a newly unveiled King memorial in Marquette Park.

Two jailers in Texas switched jobs after woman’s death in custody

"Sandra Bland was found dead hanging from a garbage bag in her jail cell."

Just thought I would toss that in here.

It’s time to talk about better police preparation

I'm not going to cross that line, but an old woman did and they shot her.


Denver police to collect racial data on contacts

Poll finds young adults support efforts to curb gun violence

As they head to the military recruiting center.

I'm sorry the cop coverage is going to the dogs.

Also see: 

"An attorney for a South Boston man who says he was wrongly convicted of a 1980 murder argued Wednesday that prosecutors failed to turn over a police report during his 1981 trial that would have left jurors with “an overwhelming case of reasonable doubt.”

I doubt the court will hear it.