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Currently Browsing: Cops Behaving Badly

The Cautionary Tale Of The Baltimore City Police Department.

They were the best of the best. Often cited as a shining star in law enforcement in the City of Baltimore, the members of the elite Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) were in fact criminals – selling drugs, robbing victims, and assaulting people at will.

The BBC has a lengthy investigative story on this task force and it is worth the read not because of the salaciousness of the accusations, the cases and the trial of these officers.

Here’s what the public was led to believe about the Gun Trace Task Force, before the FBI arrested almost every member of the squad:

That in a city still reeling from the civil unrest that followed the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody, the GTTF was a bright spot in a department under a dark cloud. The 25-year-old African-American man’s death after a ride in a police transport ignited a build up of decades of tension between Baltimore’s black residents and the police, touching off days of demonstrations, including looting and violence.

That while the homicide rate was on a historic rise, this elite, eight-officer team was getting guns off the streets at an astonishing rate – their supervising lieutenant praised “a work ethic that is beyond reproach” that resulted in 110 arrests and 132 guns confiscated in a 10-month period.

That the GTTF’s leader, a former Marine and amateur MMA fighter named Sergeant Wayne Jenkins, was a hero who’d plunged into a violent crowd during the unrest to rescue injured officers, an act of bravery that earned him a departmental Bronze Star.

But when the sun came up on 1 March 2017, the city awoke to a vastly different reality.

Seven officers were arrested and indicted for racketeering, extortion and fraud: Sergeant Jenkins; Detective Daniel Hersl, a 17-year veteran of the force; longtime partners Detectives Momodu Gondo and Jemell Rayam; and Detectives Maurice Ward, Evodio Hendrix and Marcus Taylor. Only one member – oddly enough, John Clewell, the man whose name triggered the entire investigation – escaped indictment. The FBI found he was never a part of the criminal enterprise.

“They were involved in a pernicious conspiracy scheme that included abuse of power,” the US Attorney for Maryland told reporters that day. Police commissioner Kevin Davis, who’d once praised the men’s work, now likened them to 1930s-style gangsters.

“It’s disgusting,” he said.

The public soon learned that the GTTF stole from drug dealers, but also from a homeless man, a car salesman, a construction worker and many others. The victims were overwhelmingly African-American.

However, there is a theme in the entire narrative:
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SWAT-ing And The Death Of Andrew Finch.

The two young children of 28 year old Andrew Finch of Wichita, Kansas are starting the year out by having to bury their father.

Finch was killed after he was “SWAT-ted” by a person by the name of Tyler Barriss who made a false 911 to the police, who rushed to the address of Finch and then shot Finch.

Police have arrested Barriss but and the cop that shot the unarmed Finch is on leave.

Tyler Raj Barriss

This whole thing started when two gamers were playing Call of Duty and got mad at each other. One threatened the other and because you can be really brave on a game counsel, dared the first guy to come over to his house and he would “kick his a**.”

The first guy said “what’s your address?” and the second guy gave him the address of Finch, whom he did not know or never had contact with. It appears the guy just pulled an address out of the air.

The first guy then contacted Barriss who “swatted” the address of the home of Finch. Barriss was known to have done this type of thing before to people which is how the gamer knew him.

“Swatting” is making up a false call to the police. It usually involves some sort of horrific crime which causes the police to respond with overwhelming force and weapons.

In this case, Barriss claimed he was living at the address and his parents had gotten into a fight. The caller (Barriss) claimed he had shot his father in the head and the father wasn’t breathing. The caller said he was going to hold his mother and younger brother as hostages. He also threatened to pour gasoline all over the house and light it on fire.

This is the 911 call that Barriss made:
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Worth County Sheriff Goes Where No Parent Wants Him To Go.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Before we dive into this story, we want to say that being a cop is a difficult job. There are times when you get thrust into difficult situations and even situations that require a split second decision that may involve someones life. Communities and groups often turn on police officers for absolutely no reason. Then again, there are times when officers are their own worst enemies. This is one of those times.

Worth County, Georgia is a rather small county of 21,000 residents located just outside of Albany. The Sheriff of the county is one Jeff Hobby.

The Sheriff’s site has this mission statement:

‘It is the mission of the Worth County Sheriff’s Office to work in partnership with the citizens of Worth County toward providing a safe environment while enhancing the quality of life consistent with the values, upstanding morals and diversity of the community. We are committed to the enforcement of laws, the protection of life and property, while respecting individual rights, human dignity and community morals and values at all times.’ (emphasis ours)

Well, there are “rights” that everyone recognizes and “rights” that the Sheriff seems to not recognize.

In an attempt to rid the local school of drugs, Hobby and his deputies separated the boys from the girls and then proceeded to search each and every child – all 900 of them.

According to a lawsuit filed against the Sheriff and other deputies from his department, the search is characterized this way:
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Baltimore City Police: To Profit And Steal.

Seven Baltimore City police officers, who were members of the “Gun Task Force” have been arrested and indicted on charges they robbed and extorted Baltimore residents, filed false court documents, and made false overtime claims:

The indictment alleges that Detective Marcus Taylor, for instance, filed for overtime on days when he was in New York City on vacation. It alleges that Sgt. Wayne Jenkins filed for overtime on days when he was in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on vacation. It alleges that Detective Maurice Ward also filed overtime for a day when he was in Myrtle Beach on vacation.

The indictment alleges Detectives Jemell Rayam and Momodu Gondo were recorded discussing being in the poker room at Maryland Live Casino in Anne Arundel County and getting a drink with a friend, respectively, on a day when they claimed to be working overtime.

The indictment does not provide total dollar amounts for the alleged fraudulent overtime payments, but does calculate the total amount of overtime the officers made in fiscal 2016.

Jenkins, whose annual salary was $85,406, made the most of any of the officers, taking in $83,345 in overtime. Gondo, whose annual salary was $71,412, made the least amount of overtime of any of the officers, taking in more than $29,000.

In addition to overtime fraud, the officers are accused of shaking down citizens, filing false court paperwork and making fraudulent overtime claims, all while Justice Department investigators were scrutinizing the department for what they concluded were widespread civil rights violations.

One of the officers was also accused in a separate indictment of participating in an illegal drug organization and tipping its members off to investigations.

[…]

The officers were summoned to internal affairs Wednesday morning and arrested. They were identified as Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, 36, and Detectives Momodu Gondo, 34; Evodio Hendrix, 32; Daniel Hersl, 47; Jemell Rayam, 36; Marcus Taylor, 30; and Maurice Ward, 36.

It appears that these officers were not unknown to be what can charitably described as “bad cops.”

Some of the officers have long been accused of using excessive force or of other wrongdoing. The city has paid out more than $500,000 in settlements in cases involving the officers, according to a review by The Baltimore Sun.

Members of the city’s state legislative delegation called for a federal investigation into Rayam in 2009 after he was involved in three shootings over the course of two years. The city has settled multiple lawsuits involving Hersl.

“The majority of these officers have been known to my attorneys as having significant credibility issues,” Baltimore Deputy Public Defender Natalie Finegar said. “We have aggressively been pursuing personnel records to be able to highlight the issues with their credibility on the force.”

But even with the allegations and use of excessive force, these rogue cops were still on the job and still allowed to shake down citizens, steal from the taxpayers and run illegal operations. If anything, this case shows how horribly difficult it is to get rid of bad cops. Frankly, getting rid of those bad cops should be something every good cop should want to happen. The actions of the bad cops stain the good cops and damages the reputation of the police within the City. (Assuming that it could be damaged more than it is already.)

Indicted Officers.
(image courtesy Baltimore City Police Department)

Six out of the seven officers are being held without bail. U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie Gallagher cited concerns with the officers’ previous actions while on the job.
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How To (Illegally) Get A Gun And Permit In New York City.

Lichtenstein-NYPD-Badge-ROH
Alex Lichtenstein had a hot business going.

In New York City, where it is down right impossible to get a permit for a weapon, Lichtenstein had a way to get around that little roadblock of permits being denied to honest citizens.

For $18,000 you could pay Lichtenstein and he would come back to you later on and have a perfectly valid gun permit enabling you to go purchase a gun and keep it in the city. The “illegal” part of “How to Illegally Get A Gun and Permit in New York City” comes into play when one sees how Lichtenstein was obtaining the permits.

A Brooklyn volunteer safety patrol member was charged Monday with bribing cops with $6,000 in cash and other goodies to expedite gun permit requests, and three officers were transferred out of the licensing unit as part of the far-reaching NYPD corruption probe.

Shaya (Alex) Lichtenstein, 44, was so cozy with cops in the License Division that he’d spent nearly every day inside the office in police headquarters since 2014, federal court papers say.

Yep. To get the permits, Lichtenstein was bribing police officers who were in charge of the permitting process.

The amount of bribes to the officers were not too shabby when put together:
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The Sound You Just Heard Was Us Screaming In Anger.

Felx Cross was a 61 year old, beloved teacher at the Williamsburg Charter High School in Williamsburg, New York.

We use the past tense for Mr. Cross because on July 6, 2013, the Spanish teacher was run over by a New York Police Department van driven by Officer Paula Medrano. After being struck, Cross was taken to Bellevue Hospital where he died that night.

A local camera recorded the accident.

Cross was walking in the crosswalk, with the light when he was struck by Medrano.

What happened after this?

Nothing. Not one daggone thing.

A Spanish teacher who was hit and killed by a marked police van in Williamsburg had the right of way — but the plainclothes cop driving the vehicle is not likely to be charged, sources said.

“It was a tragic, unfortunate accident,” a police source told The Post.

Felix Coss, 61, had the pedestrian signal as he finished crossing Broadway at Hooper Street at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, sources said.

The veteran female officer was making a left-hand turn from Hooper Street to Broadway and failed to see the Coss, a teacher at the Beginning with Children Charter School, a source said. Coss was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

No criminality and no traffic-law violations are suspected, police said.

Witnesses say that Medrano was on her cell phone at the time of the accident.

NYPD’s Internal Affairs Unit subpoenaed Medrano’s phone records because Medrano refused to hand over the cell phone:

A livery car driver, who saw the accident from across the street but would not give his name for fear of the police, said he saw the officer talking on her phone at the time of the accident.

“She had her phone up to her ear,” said the man who would only give his name as Elvis. “She didn’t yield. She didn’t see him until she hit him.”

Elvis said he saw Medrano get out of the car with a worried expression and start apologizing.

Investigators asked for her phone immediately after the accident but Medrano refused to hand it over, telling them that they would have to subpoena her for the records, police sources said.

News outlets and bloggers have asked for the records and other information now that the investigation is closed. The NYPD, however, have refused to allow the public to view the records:
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A Novel Theory On “Privacy Rights.”

Santa-Ana-Police-Pot-Cameras-ROHThere is a bit of a backstory to this tale of “privacy” and while the backstory doesn’t really affect the silliness that ensued, it gives the setting.

The City of Santa Ana, California, allows medical marijuana dispensaries within their boarders. While the state does not license the dispensaries, local cities may and Santa Ana set a limit of 20 dispensaries within the city limits. Some people claimed that the licenses were given out as political favors and allowed applications in the lottery for licenses that should have been disqualified. Those people opened up shops without a medical dispensary license and sued the city. The city responded by raiding the shops with police after it was estimated that 100 non-licensed and non-regulated shops had opened in Santa Ana.

“Sky High Collective” was one such shop on the city’s radar. Because of what they felt was an impending police raid, the shop installed security cameras – including hidden cameras.

On may 26, 2015, Santa Ana police did raid the Sky High Collective. Eight officers broke into the shop and demanded customers lay on the ground.

The officers issued citations to customers and sent them on their way.

It is at this point where the story takes a strange turn.

The cops disable the video cameras as they go about their business. What they don’t realize is that they miss one of the hidden cameras and recording devices from all of the cameras.

The attorneys for the shop released the heavily edited video. What it shows isn’t pretty.

After most of the cameras are taken down, a camera they didn’t detect shows the officers talking about a woman with an amputated left leg who at the time of the raid was in her wheelchair inside the dispensary.
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Carrollton Kentucky Police Arrest Man For “Crime” The Police Helped Him Commit.

Police-Badge-Wood-ROHAdam Horine is a 31 year old man with issues. Life, for whatever reasons, has not been kind to Horine. In May of 2015, Horine appeared before Judge Elizabeth Chandler for the crimes of cussing in public and threatening a cab driver.

Horine claimed he was mentally ill and saying things he shouldn’t say. Crying while standing at the podium, he begged the court for help.

Chandler ordered sheriff’s deputies to take Horine to the hospital, but he was first transported back to county jail where a social worker evaluated him, reporting that Horine was hearing voices, felt suicidal, couldn’t sleep, and wanted to hurt “certain people.”

Horine never made it to the Eastern State Hospital in Lexington for a more thorough psychiatric assessment as ordered by Judge Chandler.

Instead, Officer Ron Dickow put Horine in his police cruiser, drove 50 miles to the Lexington, Kentucky Greyhound Bus station. There, using money supplied by the Carrollton Chief of Police Michael Willhoite, Dickow put Horine on a 900 mile, one way trip to Florida.

Adam Horine’s last moments in the Carroll County jail are captured on a surveillance video. About 3 a.m. April 23, barely 14 hours after Judge Chandler ordered the Eastern State Hospital examination, officer Dickow strolled into the jail.

In the video, Dickow chats with the deputies on duty, then slouches on a chair in the corner while waiting for Horine to be brought out. One of the deputies offers Dickow some documents. Dickow declines, saying, “No, I don’t need no paperwork.”
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