The foundation of this country's creation is the United States Constitution, which specifically gives every person, regardless of race, creed, color, or ethnic origin, the right to be free from certain governmental behavior. When a government official, acting under color of law, deprives a person of his/her constitutional rights, that may well give rise to legal liability on the part of that individual and potentially his/her government employer. It is imperative, in every situation that possibly involves police (or other governmental) liability, that you immediately consult with an attorney to determine the particular type of notice, if any, that must be given to the government. Frequently a failure to give such notice will bar absolutely any claims under the pertinent tort claims/sovereign immunity act.
"The only good nigger is a dead nigger and they should hang you in the town square to prevent any other nigger from coming in the area."-- July 2011 Statement by Oakland Public Schools Police Chief Pete Sarna, referring to an African-American police officer.
Original Post Dated: August 24, 2015 at 8:04 PM PDT
600 ‘unnecessary’ shots!
“Never in the history of U.S. law enforcement has a police force dealt with an event such as this. “The only incident that comes close was the 1997 North Hollywood shootout in which the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers battled a pair of heavily armed bank robbers, who were covered in body armor.”-- Police Foundation President Jim Bueermann in a written report Stockton, CA -- On July 16, 2014, In Stockton, bank robbers took three hostages when they escaped the bank in an employee’s Ford Explorer. The grabbed bank manager Kelly Huber and teller Stephanie Koussaya along with Misty Holt-Singh. The suspects — members of a local gang — fled the scene with the cash and hostages. An hour-long high-speed police chase punctuated by barrages of bullets from police and robbers followed. The massive car chase involved dozens of police officers in marked and unmarked vehicles. A robber fired an AK-47 from the back of the stolen Ford Explorer disabling several police cars and an armored SWAT vehicle. With the officers in pursuit, the chase wound through the streets of Stockton for over an hour. Huber, the bank manager, had been pushed out of the moving SUV after a suspect accidentally shot her in the leg. Koussaya, the teller, opened a door and jumped out while the car sped through the streets at about 50 mph. Koussaya survived, but was seriously injured. Thirty-three Stockton police officers fired more than 600 shots in pursuit of the gunmen who were armed with an AK-47 and three handguns. Ten bullets from police weapons eventually killed one of the hostages, Holt-Singh. The brazen shootout was described as unprecedented in a report released this week by the Police Foundation. The Police Foundation was asked to independently review the July 2014 incident. The report was completed by the nonprofit Police Foundation at no cost to the Stockton Police Department. It highlighted the toll of bankruptcy on the town’s police force. The department was repeatedly hampered by limited resources during the chase. The most damaging aspect of the report criticized what it described as the deadly hive mind mentality and lack of leadership during the chase. The report alleges that this led officers to endanger hostages in a shootout with the bank robbers. By 3:15 p.m., the chase was coming to an end. Police gunfire had blown out the tires on the suspects’ vehicle. Misty Holt-Singh was still being held hostage in the hijacked Explorer when it fishtailed and came to a stop. The robbers unleashed a barrage of gunfire at the police. Officers fired back. “There were no dedicated shooters. There was very little control. Just police officers trying to stop a threat,” the report concluded. The report described an officer laying on the floor, weapon drawn, scanning for a target. Another officer stood above him, shooting: “What’s your target?” the prone officer yelled, thinking he was missing something. “The car!” responded the officer, who continued shooting. They kept shooting well after the gunfire from the vehicle had come to a stop. When the gunfire finally ended, Holt-Singh was dead. Two other suspects had also been shot and killed. A third man, Jaime Ramos, was found in the vehicle virtually unharmed. Police believe he used Holt-Singh as a human shield. Some officers reportedly fired their weapons into the vehicle simply because other officers were firing their weapons — “sympathetic gunfire,” in the parlance of police — adding up to 600 “excessive and unnecessary” shots fired, the report concluded. The hail of bullets was reminiscent of a fatal 2012 shooting involving dozens of Cleveland police officers in pursuit of two unarmed people in a car. Officers fired more than 140 shots at the car, and one officer was charged — and later acquitted — of manslaughter. That shooting prompted a Justice Department review of the department’s use of force.
Original Post Dated: Feb. 28, 2015 at 8:04 PM PDT
Last Updated: July 11, 2015 at 8:04 AM PDT
During an interview in February (2015) Chief Eric Jones (pictured above, center) said that officer-involved shootings are the most serious incidents he must deal with. “It’s the top priority on my mind, … the impact on the lives involved and on our staff. The decision by an officer to use lethal force is based on the state of mind of the officer at that time, often a matter of seconds or milliseconds. Their life or the life of someone else is in danger. We take very seriously the use of deadly force.”
STOCKTON, CA — Stockton (California) Police officers have shot at least twenty-seven (27) people between 2009 and 2014. Sixteen (16) of these officer-involved shootings were fatal. The police claim that of the sixteen (16) subjects fatally shot by police, seven were armed with firearms ranging from an AK-47 assault rifle to various shotguns and handguns. Police say several other subjects used vehicles in a threatening manner. The remaining subjects were allegedly armed with knives and one subject allegedly brandished a bayonet, prompting officers to use lethal force.
For example, in 2012, Stockton police shot and killed Luther Brown Jr., 32. Brown was unarmed at the time of his shooting death. Police claim he was shot and killed after initially fleeing on foot from a traffic stop. They then claim he stole an officer’s baton during a struggle. Two-and-half years ago this month, Stockton Police Officer, Houston Sensabaugh (pictured below, center) Shot and killed Gary Allen Hawkins, 33. Hawkins was shot and killed inside a stolen Mercedes that authorities say he used in an attempt to run them down. It was only after they examined his body did they discover a loaded handgun in his waistband.
The city attorney's report omitted the name of Misty Holt-Singh, 41. Holt-Singh is the Bank of the West customer who was taken hostage July 16, 2014 by three armed robbers. She was used as a human shield during a final standoff with police. During a news conference in August 2014, Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones revealed that she was shot 10 times by his officers. (In December 2014, a grand jury indicted Jaime Ramos, one of the alleged robbers. They also indicted Pablo Ruvalcaba. Ruvalcaba allegedly drove the gunmen to the bank. They were indicted on a host of felonies, including the murder of Holt-Singh.)
Jones noted that no two officer-involved shooting cases are the same. Jones made it clear that every encounter his officers have in the field is unique. “No one can guarantee any particular type of situation," he said. "If everybody was cooperative and compliant, but that is not the case.” The expectation is to be cooperative and compliant. In that case, force would never be required. Unfortunately, compliance is not always present.”
Jones said that after each incident his department conducts an internal debriefing with the personnel involved to determine what led to the officer’s decisions and actions. In addition to the internal debriefing, after every officer-involved shooting a multiple-agency protocol investigation is launched involving the Stockton Police Department, San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office and the California Department of Justice. It is supervised by the county District Attorney’s Office. Jones said it is the district attorney’s job to look into the findings. He would not disclose what the results of those findings were in the 27 officer-involved shootings.
The 27 shootings represent an average of 2.7 fatal officer-involved shootings per year over this six-year span. The information was obtained by media sources through a Public Records Act request. The Stockton City Attorney’s Office was asked for additional information and outcomes on those officer-involved shootings. The city attorney provided police reports on only five of the oldest cases. They indicated the rest of those cases remain under investigation going back as far as May 2010.
According to Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau: “A protocol investigation focuses on whether an officer is legally justified in his or her use of force in a particular incident that results in the death of a person. The investigation is of an event, and a single report is generated regardless of whether there are multiple officers or multiple decedents.”
Citing specific government codes, Deputy City Attorney Ted Wood explained that information on the incidents still under investigation is protected from public disclosure. He also cited Government Code 6255 that states: “The public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.” Wood wrote in response to a media source inquiry: “In addition, as there are potential criminal repercussions in the cases still under review by the district attorney, disclosure could violate the constitutional rights to a fair trial and the right against self-incrimination.”
Twelve (12%) percent of Stockton's city population of more than 300,000 is comprised of African-American. Stockton Civil Rights activists continue to be troubled by the high number of African-American casualties. Many critics of police actions believe race plays a role in officer-involved shootings. An analysis of the sixteen (16) individuals killed by Stockton Police revealed:
•» Six (6) were identified as African-American (38 percent); •» Five (5) were identified as white (31 percent); •» Four (4) were identified as Latino(25 percent); and •» One (1) was identified as as Asian (6 percent).
A longtime Stockton bail bondsman and former City Council member first made a public records request late last year for information from City Hall on all officer-involved shootings going back to 2009. The bondsman also serves as president of the Stockton Black Leadership Council. He now intends to call for a federal investigation regarding Stockton police practices. He called into question the existing protocol investigation procedures and cited events following the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last year.
“I’d send this to the FBI to investigate these cases that aren’t complete. They don’t have to send us 100 (special agents) like they did in Ferguson," the bondsman said. "And we don’t want no local FBI that already work with the locals.” He said fewer Latinos — Stockton's largest ethnic group with 40 percent of the population — are shot by police because they are represented on the force by more than 90 sworn officers. There are currently fewer than 10 African-American officers, down from more than 30 several years ago, according to the bondsman.
Jim Fisher, a retired FBI agent and criminal justice professor emeritus, completed an in-depth study of officer-involved shootings nationwide. He concluded that officer-involved shootings are more common now than ever before. “I collected this data myself because the U.S. government doesn’t. There is no national database dedicated to police-involved shootings. Since the government keeps statistics on just about everything, why no national stats on something this important? The answer is simple: they don’t want us to know. Why? Because police shoot a lot more people than we think, and the government, while good at statistics, is also good at secrecy.”
Fisher based research on the officer-involved shootings that occurred nationwide in 2011. He told media sources in April 2014: “I noticed a lot of mentally ill people were shot, and a lot of people didn’t have guns. With regard to how these cases are investigated, if someone shoots a cop, I guarantee you a thorough investigation, but when a police officer shoots someone, you really can’t trust the result, and they’re really not that thorough.” He went on to say, “ [he] was [...] surprised by the high percentage of justifications for the shootings under circumstances I consider questionable. In other words, it seemed to me the police were killing people unnecessarily.”
The statistics Fisher cites in his research parallel what media sources learned about officer-involved shootings in Stockton. Many of those shot were men much older than the typical first-time arrestee. They often had a history of criminal activity. In Stockton, they ranged from 16 to 60. The offenses that brought the police and the shooting subjects together most often included domestic disturbances and other crimes in progress such as robberies; assaults; carjackings; arrest warrants; drug raids; gang activities; traffic stops; vehicle pursuits; and standoff & hostage events.
Chief Jones agrees with the national dialogue around accountability and oversight of police work and improvements in police/community relations. However, Jones said he also believes there need to be discussions around “the expectations of the public in a police contact. He sees the need for upgrading officer training and providing proper equipment. Stockton Police Department statistics indicate they are fielding 1,000 calls a day for service. Annually they make around 400 arrests for resisting (more than one per day). Each year some 100 officers out of a current force of 372 sworn personnel, are injured while on duty.
“People need to be educated on the expectations of when you are pulled over by police. If an officer tells you to put a weapon down, that is very important. It’s also very important to get people mental health help before their behavior escalates,” Jones said. Jones said there is action under way to provide wider mental health crisis-intervention coverage around the county. However, Jones said those teams aren’t allowed (for safety reasons) to intervene until a scene is secure.
Many of the families and others with connections to the subjects shot by Stockton officers continue to question police actions years after the fact. Gary Hawkins’ mother, Pamela Hawkins, said she has yet to get a straight answer from law enforcement about details of that night in 2013 when her son was shot to death by members of a multi-agency task force. He was in a stolen car when he was killed and wasn’t pointing a gun at officers. If he posed a threat, Hawkins asked, “so why didn’t you take his tires out?” She said that his body suffered “defensive wounds,” as if he was attempting to protect himself. “I don’t think he deserved to die that way. The cops snuck up on either side and opened fire — boom, boom, boom. The bullet holes were only through the windows,” Hawkins said, basing her statements on what witnesses told her.
Original Post Date: Oct. 22, 2015 United States -- Demonstrators in cities across the U.S. took to the streets to protest what they say is an "epidemic of police brutality." Organizers say protests took place in dozens of cities, including Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Cleveland, Seattle and Fresno.
People across the U.S. have mobilized on Oct. 22 since 1996 for a National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. The protests were organized by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, which also works with the Stolen Lives Project -- a project to document killings by law enforcement nationwide.
"Police view all blacks and Latinos as criminals that are allowed to be either stopped and frisked here in New York," a protester in New York City said to media sources. "In LA, ... three or more black or brown youth standing together are considered a gang with no rights and are allowed to be rounded up."
Police departments have said that they do not institutionally target people of color and that they carefully investigate claims of police brutality. In a phone call with sources, an LAPD spokeswoman said that the department denounces racial profiling and that all claims of wrongful police behavior are investigated and, when appropriate, result in discipline.
In Seattle, protesters burned flags, and police had to disperse fights between protesters and anarchists who seemed to have taken advantage of the situation, according to sources. A total of about 70 demonstrators participated in the protest, media sources reports.
About 70 protesters in Los Angeles stopped traffic and attracted dozens of police officers, as seen in a video posted online. Members of the Youth Justice Coalition also gathered at a Compton City Council meeting to demand that city officials take action to reduce violence in the community.
"When [police brutality] happens to one person in the community, it affects the entire community," Michael Richardson, a leader of the LA protest, said to news sources. Los Angeles leads the nation in rates of police brutality, according to the same sources.
"We don’t want to be here 18 years from now, having more and more annual days of protest," the protester in New York City said to media sources. "The point is to get to an Oct. 22 where we celebrate and look back to the days when this used to happen."