Baltimore Police Swarm Over Area Where Detective Was Killed

Sean Suiter, an 18-year police veteran, was shot and killed Wednesday while investigating a homicide in West Baltimore’s notoriously violent Harlem Park neighborhood. The 43-year-old detective was a husband and father of five.

Police swarmed over West Baltimore Friday in a search for the gunman who shot and killed a Baltimore detective on Wednesday, reports the city’s Sun. Federal ATF officers in tactical gear were on the streets in the neighborhood where the shooting took place, and an armored police vehicle was on the scene as well. Rewards of nearly $170,000 are being offered for information leading to the arrest of the suspect. Detective Sean Suiter, an 18-year veteran of the city police force, was shot while investigating another killing in the notoriously violent Harlem Park neighborhood in West Baltimore. He died Thursday at Maryland Shock Trauma. The 43-year-old detective was a husband and father of five. Described as a dedicated officer, Suiter joined the city’s homicide unit in 2015.

After the shooting, police went door-to-door looking for the suspect. For hours, they maintained a wide perimeter around the 900 block of Bennett Place, with officers taking cover around corners. A police helicopter swirled overhead, shining a light onto the rowhomes — many of them vacant — below. The location, near U.S. 40 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, has seen much of the violence that has plagued the city. More than a dozen people have been shot or killed in that area in recent years. Two people were shot near the corner — one of them fatally — on July 18. Three people were killed in a single incident there last December.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Judge Restricts St. Louis Police Strategies During Protests

Federal Judge Catherine Perry faulted police for using unconstitutional strategies used to impede lawful protesters in September after a white former cop was acquitted in the shooting of a black man.

A federal judge issued on Wednesday wide-ranging restrictions on the ability of St. Louis police to declare protests “unlawful” and use chemical agents against protesters, says the city’s Post-Dispatch. U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry’s 49-page order says that police can’t declare an “unlawful assembly” and enforce it against those “engaged in expressive activity, unless the persons are acting in concert to pose an imminent threat to use force or violence or to violate a criminal law with force or violence.” Police also can’t use that unlawful assembly order or threaten the use of pepper spray and other chemical agents to punish protesters for exercising their rights, she wrote. The ruling came as part of an ACLU lawsuit over police strategies during protests in St. Louis in September after white former police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted in the 2011 shooting death of black driver Anthony Lamar Smith.

A mayoral spokesman said in an email that the city would comply with the order. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, asked the region’s federal prosecutor to launch an investigation into the “alleged unconstitutional practices” by St. Louis police. Judge  Perry said that based on the evidence presented so far, the ACLU was likely to succeed in its underlying lawsuit over police practices. She faulted police use of mace against nonviolent protesters and those recording police activity, and said police had improperly declared an “unlawful assembly” on some occasions and then gave protesters and others unreasonable and vague dispersal orders. She said a controversial police “kettle” that confined protesters on Sept. 17 “cannot meet constitutional standards.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

No Criminal Charges in Fatal Indianapolis Police Shooting

The special prosecutor said there is insufficient evidence to refute officers’ statements that they feared for their lives when they killed Aaron Bailey. The announcement drew a tearful response from Bailey’s daughter, Erica, who said the “system has failed” her family.

There will be no criminal charges in the fatal shooting of Aaron Bailey, an unarmed black man, by two Indianapolis officers during a June traffic stop, a special prosecutor announced Tuesday, reports the Indianapolis Star. Metropolitan Police Chief Bryan Roach is outlining Wednesday the remaining steps of an internal police investigation, which can proceed now that the criminal investigation is finished.

The special prosecutor said there is insufficient evidence to refute officers’ statements that they feared for their lives. The announcement drew a tearful response from Bailey’s daughter, Erica, who said the “system has failed” her family. Bailey, 45, was shot and killed by officers Michal Dinnsen and Carlton Howard in the early morning of June 29. About 10 minutes after a traffic stop, Bailey led police on a short case that ended in a car crash, police said. The special prosecutor noted that the officers said Bailey did not respond to their commands to show his hands. They said Bailey reached into the vehicle’s center console before turning toward one of the officers. The officers then fired repeatedly. The FBI opened a civil rights investigation into the case.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Victim Gets $45M for Mysterious Chicago Cop Shooting

The city of Chicago is on the hook for the jury award following a federal civil trial. Officer Patrick Kelly was declared responsible for the 2010 shooting that left his best friend, Michael LaPorta, severely disabled. The shooting following a night of heavy drinking. Kelly had claimed LaPorta shot himself.

A federal jury awarded a record-breaking $44.7 million Thursday to a man after finding that a Chicago police officer shot him in the head after a night of heavy drinking and that the city’s troubled police department enabled the off-duty patrolman’s violent behavior, reports the Chicago Tribune. The 10-member jury deliberated for two days before reaching its decision, bringing an end to the nearly four-week civil trial that repeatedly hit upon the police accountability issues that have dogged the city for decades. Jurors said it took them less than 20 minutes to determine Officer Patrick Kelly fired a bullet into his best friend Michael LaPorta’s skull in January 2010 and then misled investigators by insisting LaPorta tried to kill himself.

LaPorta survived the shooting but suffers from a host of medical conditions. Now 37, he can no longer walk or read and depends on his aging parents for round-the-clock care. “I feel whole again,” LaPorta said in a soft, halting voice after the verdict. Because the jury found that the police department has a widespread problem with disciplining officers and failed to maintain an early warning system, the city of Chicago is responsible for the $44.7 million award and LaPorta’s legal fees, which likely also will be millions of dollars. Juror Andrea Diven said the massive award was intended to send a message to the city. “They can’t get away with this,” she said. “It’s something that’s embedded and it needs to change.” Kelly, 36, was stripped of his police powers, meaning he can no longer carry a gun or make arrests, after he exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions during the civil trial.

from https://thecrimereport.org

NY City Refuses to ID Cop Who Killed Parole Officer

City of Canandaigua, N.Y., won’t say which of its officers shot an off-duty parole officer eight days after the incident. An expert says the information is “clearly public.”

One day after a Freedom of Information Law request and eight days after a shooting claimed the life of an off-duty parole officer, the identity of the Canandaigua, N.Y., Police Department officer involved still has not been released to the public, reports the Messenger Post in Canandaigua. Nancy Abdallah, the city’s clerk-treasurer and designated freedom of information officer, wouldn’t explain why the officer hasn’t been publicly identified. Robert Freeman of the New York State Committee on Open Government and the state’s preeminent expert on public records, said the information is “Clearly public, clearly public, clearly public.”

Repeated requests for the name of the officer were denied by city officials in the days after the shooting that claimed the life of Sandy Guardiola, an off-duty parole officer who engaged in an exchange of gunfire with the police officer. The police officer was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by New York State Police. Michael Grygiel, a lawyer for the newspaper, said in a letter to the city that, “the element of time is not unimportant if press coverage is to fulfill its traditional function of bringing news to the public promptly.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Half of 2015 Police Killings Wrongly Classified

The finding in a Harvard study is the latest to show government databases seriously undercounting the number of people killed by police, The Guardian reports. “Right now the data quality is bad and unacceptable,” said lead researcher Justin Feldman. “To effectively address the problem of law enforcement-related deaths, the public needs better data about who is being killed, where, and under what circumstances.”

More than half of all police killings in 2015 were wrongly classified as not having been the result of interactions with officers, a new Harvard study has found, The Guardian reports. The finding is the latest to show government databases seriously undercounting the number of people killed by police. “Right now the data quality is bad and unacceptable,” said lead researcher Justin Feldman. “To effectively address the problem of law enforcement-related deaths, the public needs better data about who is being killed, where, and under what circumstances.”

Feldman used data from the Guardian’s 2015 investigation into police killings, The Counted, and compared it with data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). That dataset, which is kept by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was found to have misclassified 55.2 percent of all police killings, with the errors occurring disproportionately in low-income jurisdictions. “As with any public health outcome or exposure, the only way to understand the magnitude of the problem, and whether it is getting better or worse, requires that data be uniformly, validly, and reliably obtained throughout the US,” said Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology at Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health and senior author of the study. “Our results show our country is falling short of accurately monitoring deaths due to law enforcement and work is needed to remedy this problem.” Researchers found the accuracy varied wildly by state, with just 17.6 percent misclassification in Washington, but a startling 100 percent in Oklahoma. [Oklahoma] had more than 30 people were killed by police there in 2015 and none of them were counted on death certificates,” Feldman said.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Protests of Charlotte Police Shooting After Dramatic Video

More than 70 supporters of Ruben Galindo sat in silent protest at Monday night’s Charlotte City Council meeting. Galindo, 29, was shot after police responded to a 911 call he had made himself. A video shows Galindo exiting his apartment with his hands raised above his head before officers fatally shot him.

After a dramatic video of a police shooting was released, supporters of a Charlotte man fatally shot by officers last month have called for accountability and even criminal charges against the officers involved, the Charlotte Observer reportsMore than 70 supporters of Ruben Galindo sat in silent protest at Monday night’s Charlotte City Council meeting. Galindo, 29, was shot on Sept. 6 after police responded to a 911 call he had made himself. A video shows Galindo exiting his apartment with his hands raised above his head, three to four seconds before officers fatally shot him. The video, obtained by the Observer through a court order, shows that after Galindo appears at his doorway, Charlotte-Mecklenburg officers began to shout orders to drop his weapon, and a series of gunshots rang out. Galindo then slumped to the ground.

“The video speaks for itself,” said Brian Hochman, an attorney for Galindo’s family. “This is horrific.” It was the city’s latest controversial police shooting and came nearly a year after the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, which prompted unrest that put Charlotte in the national spotlight. Police Chief Kerr Putney said videos never tell the whole story of what officers perceive at the time. Officers have limited options when facing a lethal threat, he said, and have to think about saving their own lives and the lives of others. “I’m not going to second-guess how (officers) perceive a lethal threat,” he added. Critics were less reluctant. “If it’s not a police chief’s job to second-guess his officers, what is his job?” said Mel Tucker, a former FBI agent, police chief and retired training expert who has testified as an expert witness in almost 100 court cases. Corine Mack, president of the local NAACP branch, called the chief’s comment “asinine.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

PA Case Shows How Hard It Is to Fire a Cop

Since 2006, at least 451 of 1,800 officers fired from 37 of the nation’s largest departments have won their jobs back, reports the Washington Post. The newspaper details the case of a Philadelphia officer who is still on the job after he was dismissed for shooting a suspect to death.

Most officers never fire their weapons on duty. Cyrus Mann, a nine-year member of the Philadelphia Police Department, shot three people in just over three years. A 2012 shooting in an alley would prove fatal and prompt the police commissioner to try to fire Mann. Like many police chiefs, he failed.

A Washington Post investigation found that hundreds of police officers who were fired for misconduct, including allegations of sexual assault and drug trafficking, have been reinstated. Since 2006, at least 451 of 1,800 officers fired from 37 of the nation’s largest departments have won their jobs back through appeals provided for in union contracts. Mann case offers one of the starkest examples of how little power police chiefs hold in deciding which officers remain in their ranks.

By the time he was fired, Mann had been accused of lunging at a superior and had been described to a jury by a defense attorney as a “nightmare to the citizens of Philadelphia.” Of the 71 officers who fought to get their jobs back in that city, police were forced to rehire 44, more than in any other department checked by the Post.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. said, “There are occasions that you are frustrated, not just the police commissioner but even sometimes rank and file as well as commanders, because you’ll get people who get their jobs back and you are completely baffled and dismayed by it.” Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said that in his eight years leading the department, he was forced to reinstate an officer who was charged with theft and another who was accused of sexual assault. An officer involved in a corruption case was not only given his job back, but an arbitrator ordered the department to give him a promotion. Mann sent a text saying. “No comment. F— off.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Charlotte Critics Pan Police Foundation Report on Protests

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts wants “more meat” in a Police Foundation report on the police response to protests last year after Keith Scott was killed by an officer. Activists say the report was too easy on the police.

Charlotte’s $380,000 report to study the police’s response to last year’s Keith Scott protests was panned by activists Monday, and even criticized by some City Council members and Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who said the Police Foundation’s study is lacking, the Charlotte Observer reports. The City Council hired the Washington D.C.-based group to study the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police’s response to the protests that turned violent. The foundation gave City Council a presentation of its draft report, which some activists said was too easy on the the police. Some council members and Roberts also said the consultant needed to give the city more recommendations about how to handle a similar situation in the future. “I would like to see some more meat,” said Roberts.

Roberts said the report should have covered issues like the city’s decision to call the National Guard as well as whether the city made the correct decision in calling a curfew two days after the shooting. Last Sept. 21, after protesters shut down Interstate 85, Pat McCrory offered Charlotte the National Guard if the city would declare a state of emergency. The city decided not to seek the state’s help. That night, several police officers, protesters and bystanders were injured when protests turned violent uptown. One person was shot and killed. The Police Foundation’s Frank Straub said he can add more to the report before a final version is released. Council member Ed Driggs said he  wanted “more tangible” recommendations from the foundation.

from https://thecrimereport.org

St. Louis Activists Seek Ouster of Mayor, Police Chief

Protesters stage a town hall meeting after Mayor Lyda Krewson cancels her own public meetings. The activists are calling for more police reform after a judge acquitted a white officer in the fatal shooting of a black drug suspect.

St. Louis activists protesting the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley have called for the resignation of Mayor Lyda Krewson and the firing of acting Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Stockley, who is white, was charged with murdering black drug suspect Anthony Lamar Smith after a high-speed pursuit in 2011. “We’re beyond disappointed” that the mayor chose to cancel opportunities for people’s voices to be heard, said activist Kayla Reed, alluding to Krewson’s calling off town-hall meetings she had scheduled. That’s why organizations such as St. Louis Action Council, ArchCity Defenders and Organization for Black Struggle came together to hold the People’s Town Hall on Thursday night.

Organizers flashed on a screen a list of 12 demands they said city leaders must meet if they are serious about making fundamental changes that demonstrate that black lives indeed matter. In addition to the departures of Krewson and O’Toole, the activists want to remove from the bench Judge Timothy Wilson, who acquitted Stockley. Wilson is retiring in December. The group said it would campaign against Proposition P, an initiative on the Nov. 7 ballot that would increase the wages of city police officers. It is a proposal Krewson supports. “But there is really only one demand,” Reed said. “Stop killing us.” Most of the town hall meeting consisted of a question and answer session with city leaders, including state Rep. Bruce Franks Jr.; and Fifth Ward Precinct Committeeman Rasheen Aldridge. Franks and Aldridge were protesters in Ferguson after the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown. Most questions centered on police reform.

from https://thecrimereport.org