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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Police Misconduct

Cobb County police are arresting people who are stone cold sober for DUI by marijuana.

http://www.11alive.com/news/investigations/the-drug-whisperer/437061710

The goal of Drug Recognition Expert "training" isn't to weed out drivers under the influence of drugs.  It is to provide a pseudo-scientific excuse to arrest people and convince juries to convict.  

For example, a DRE-trained police officer will say that twitchy eyes indicates drug use, but will not say that a lack of twitchy eyes contraindicates drug use.  Talking quickly is a clue, but so is talking slowly.  Too much eye contact is a clue, but so is too little.  Slurring words is a clue, but so is over-articulating your words.  Fidgeting is a clue, but so is not moving enough.   Are you too cooperative?  That's a clue.  Are you argumentative?  That's a clue.  

In other words, everything is a "clue" and nothing is a contrary clue.  The officer begins with the presumption of guilt and uses his "training" to build a case.

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Wholly distinct from the Due Process right to record police, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has held that citizens may assert a First Amendment right to do so as well. 

http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/161650p.pdf


UCLA Professor Eugene Volokh sums it up here. 

 

 

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Video shared by on in Criminal Defense Blog

Late-night comedian John Oliver takes on the practice of Civil Forfeiture.  It's hilarious (or at least it would be if it wasn't real). 

 

MORE: 

Forsyth County Forfeits an Entire House

TN Lawmakers Investigating "Policing for Profit"

Judge Calls Civil Forfeiture "State-Sanctioned Theft"

Civil Forfeiture: Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

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It's not a perfect system.  It is a system of people, and people make mistakes.  So the system is only as good as the people in it.  

 

False Allegations:  Sometimes the trouble starts when people accuse others of crimes that didn't happen.  It happens frequently, but the damage is greatest when the innocent person is accused of something like rape or child molestation.  An objective investigator can ferret out false allegations, but too often they presume the honesty of the "victim" without question.

  1. Student Arrested In False Sex Assault Report On Campus
  2. Woman Lied About Rape to Get Boyfriend Home from Military (But then they cut her a break.)
  3. Woman Cries Rape Because She Didn't Enjoy It
  4. ELEVEN False Rape Claims
  5. Campus Rape Claims Prove False
  6. Man Beaten To Death After False Rape Allegation.  Apparently, the cheating female didn't want to admit that the sex was consensual.
  7. Student Charged Over False Sexual Assault Accusation. 

 

False Arrests: False arrests aren't as bad as convictions, but they can be costly for taxpayers too.

  1. LONG ISLAND WOMAN RECEIVES $1.12 MILLION FOR FALSE PROSECUTION
  2. New York City Arrests, Prosecutes, Eventually Settles With Legal Knife Owner for $7500 (Note that his public defender told him to plea guilty even though he had committed no crime.
  3. Judge Looks Away While Officer Arrests Woman Accusing Him of Assault
  4. $25,000 For Woman Arrrested For Recording Police
  5. Connecticut Man Sues For Unconstitutional Arrest  because he wrote profanities on his ticket.
  6. Audio Recording Exonerates Uber Driver Falsley Accused Of Rape

 

False Confessions:  The easiest way to not be tricked into a false confession is to refuse to speak to the police at all.  But unfortunately, police are very good at getting people to talk.  So sometimes, false convictions are based on false confessions.  (Yes, people sometimes really do confess to things they didn't do.)

  1. The 5 Most Controversial False Confessions
  2. Why Do People Confess to Crimes They Didn't Commit?
  3. False Confession Sent An Innocent Man To Prison For 22 Years
  4. Why Do Innocent People Confess?
  5. List of False Confession News
  6. Famous False Confession Cases
  7. False Confessions Plague Criminal Justice System With Wrongful Convictions and Wrongful "Guilty" Pleas

 

False Convictions:  Here are a few articles I've collected about those who were wrongfully convicted of crimes they didn't commit.

  1.  Wrongly convicted man released from US prison after 39 years
  2. Man in prison 19 years freed after claim recanted
  3. Georgia General Assembly Awards Wrongfully Convicted Man $400,000
  4. The Staggering Number of Wrongful Convictions in America

 

 

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The Free Thought Project has published their own Top 10 Reasons to Not Talk to Police.  It's similar to my own list but this advice can't be given often enough.

Here is their list:

REASON #1: Talking to the police CANNOT help you.

REASON #2: Even if you’re guilty, and you want to confess and get it off your chest, you still shouldn’t talk to the police.

REASON #3: Even if you are innocent, it’s easy to tell some little white lie in the course of a statement.

REASON #4: Even if you are innocent, and you only tell the truth, and you don’t tell any little white lies, it is possible to give the police some detail of information that can be used to convict you.

REASON #5: Even if you were innocent, and you only tell the truth, and you don’t tell any little white lies, and you don’t give the police any information that can be used against you to prove motive or opportunity, you still should not talk to the police because the possibility that the police might not recall your statement with 100% accuracy.

REASON #6: Even if you’re innocent, and you only tell the truth, and your entire statement is videotaped so that the police don’t have to rely on their memory, an innocent person can still make some innocent assumption about a fact or state some detail about the case they overheard on the way to the police station, and the police will assume that they only way the suspect could have known that fact or that detail was if he was, in fact, guilty.

REASON #7: Even if you’re innocent, and you only tell the truth in your statement, and you give the police no information that can be used against you, and the whole statement is videotaped, a suspect’s answers can still be used against him if the police (through no fault of their own) have any evidence that any of the suspect’s statements are false (even if they are really true).

REASON #8: The police do not have authority to make deals or grant a suspect leniency in exchange for getting as statement.

REASON #9: Even if a suspect is guilty, and wants to confess, there may be mitigating factors which justify a lesser charge.

REASON #10: Even for a completely honest and innocent person, it is difficult to tell the same story twice in exactly the same way.

It's a good list.  Read the details here.

 MORE:

Why Do Innocent People Confess?

$teakley'$ Golden Rule$

Top 10 MORE Things Clients Do To Damage Their Cases

Top Ten Ways to Damage Your Criminal Case

Famous False Confession Cases

False Confessions Plague Criminal Justice System With Wrongful Convictions and Wrongful "Guilty" Pleas

The Sad Case of Lester Eugene Siler

Don't Talk To The Police - EVER!

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Posted by on in Criminal Defense Blog

Last year, Cobb County Police arrested Amy Barnes for using profanity at them.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, while using profanity or profane gestures at the police is a bad idea, it's not a crime. (It is one of Steakley's Golden Rules that just because something is Constitutional does not mean it is a good idea.) 

Ms. Barnes stood her ground on Free Speech principles.  She had the Constitutional right, she asserted, to express her extreme dissatisfaction with the local law enforcement authorities. To vindicate herself, she was willing to face trial, a jury, and the risk of a wrongful conviction. Fortunately, it did not have to go that far.

The outcome:  

Amy Barnes admits to making obscene statements Easter Sunday 2012, when she saw two Cobb County police officers questioning a burglary suspect about 7 p.m. on Austell Road. As she was riding by on her bicycle, Barnes said, among other things, “F— the police,” and “police suck,” [her attorney Cynthia] Counts said, calling the statements “a protest of police abuse.”

“Upon hearing her statements, the officers left the suspect to pursue Ms. Barnes, who they stopped and arrested,” said Counts. The burglary suspect got away. Barnes was arrested and taken to jail, charged with one count of disorderly conduct under O.C.G.A. § 16-11-39(a)(4), which bars “without provocation” the use of “obscene and vulgar and profane language in the presence of a person under the age of 14 years which threatens an immediate breach of the peace.”

The police justified this charge by alleging that a child was present when Barnes made her statement, Counts said.

“After hearing testimony from two officers and viewing a video of the incident taken from a camera in one of the officer’s cars, the judge concluded that the officers simply took issue with what Barnes had said and were determined to arrest her,” Counts said.

Clayton also concluded that the alleged presence of the child was “inconclusive” and “irrelevant,” because, “the mere presence of children does not transform the defendant’s statements into ‘fighting words.’”

“Her criticism of the police was certainly caustic, but criticizing the police and other public officials is a basic right,” Counts said. “Certainly, the police cannot arrest someone for disrespecting them by the use of a curse word.”

Ken Hodges and Alex Bartko of Rafuse, Hill and Hodges also defended Barnes, saying her “First Amendment rights were clearly violated by the arrest and prosecution.”

Hodges, a former prosecutor, said, “It is a travesty that Ms. Barnes spent 23 hours in jail, including six hours in solitary confinement. She should also not have had to spend the last year awaiting vindication. The officers should have thicker skin. There was no reason to arrest a woman on a bicycle who presented no threat.”

 

 A couple of thoughts:  It's not only police officers who should have thicker skin.  We all should. 

 The attorney who won the case for Barnes was Cynthia Counts, who also points to a NY case where "the bird" directed at police was considered free speech as well, so this case isn't outside normal court rulings.  On the contrary, I think Cobb County State Court Judge Melodie Clayton did exactly the correct thing.

 That all being said, allow me to remind you of the Steakley Golden Rule that says that just because something is Constitutional - protected by law, protected by free speech - that doesn't mean it's a smart thing to do.

 UPDATE:  Ms. Barnes settled her case for $100,000.   So maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to do what she did.  

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CHP officers play a "game" where they pass around explicit photos from telephones they have seized.

Officer Shawn Harrington called it a "game." Harrington says other officers at the Dublin precinct routinely distributed pictures from phones of female arrestees. Images were forwarded to other officers and "non-CHP individuals." Court documents also describe a second incident in which Harrington forwarded images from a DUI arrestee's phone while she was being x-rayed. 

Encryption by default keeps criminals out of people's phones, even the criminals that hide behind uniforms and the color of law. The same goes for the warrant requirement recently ordered by the US Supreme Court. In a typical DUI arrest, there's really no reason for a cop to be going through the suspect's phone. Evidence of drunk driving is usually contained within the arrestees themselves, not their phones. At best, any time a cop does this, it's a fishing expedition for bigger charges. At worst, it's Harrington and his complicit bro cops, passing around nudie pics just because they can. Access and ability are the worst enablers. 

When cops complain about falling behind in the tech race while arguing against warrant requirements and encryption, one wonders whether this isn't part of the "problem." It's not so much that the criminals have gotten smarter than the cops. It's that the phones have. The incidents leading to Officer Harrington's arrest both created digital paper trails leading back to the California Highway Patrol. The minimal effort made to cover his tracks wasn't enough. Maybe this is why some cops fear the relentless forward march of technology: covering up misconduct has never been harder. 

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Georgia taxpayers will be shelling out almost three-quarters of a million dollars for the wrongful arrests (malicious prosecution) of some Morrow restaurant workers, reports the Fulton Daily Report. And it's not the first time that this officer has cost the taxpayers to open their wallets:

The city of Morrow has paid $700,000 to settle a malicious prosecution suit stemming from a midnight police raid during which a restaurant manager and her fiancé, an attorney, were handcuffed and jailed for nearly three days after being charged with nearly two dozen code violations.

The citations were all eventually dismissed but the raid, part of an alleged "campaign of harassment" against Cheerleaders Sports Café, was successful: The club never reopened following the arrests.

The settlement, reached late last year, was the last of three involving a now-departed police detective whose flawed arrests cost the city's insurer at least $950,000. One of the other two cases settled for $250,000, and another case—in which the insurer represented the officer, not the city—settled confidentially.

Police generally enjoy something called "qualified immunity" which means they are personally immune from most suits.  When they have to pay, it's not the police officers themselves that pay up; it's the taxpayer.  Thus, police have little personal incentive to behave.  They have "no skin in the game," to put it another way.  Some sort of limited liability for wrongdoing - even if capped at a single year's salary - would probably work to reduce problems like this case and save taxpayers millions of dollars.

At least one federal circuit has stepped in the right direction.

More mischief:

Cops Raid Home; Find Fruit

 

 

 

 

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Police in Massachusetts are at it again

FALL RIVER (CBS) – A Fall River man says he was recording a police officer who was out of control, but instead, he was arrested and his cell phone was seized.

Now the video he recorded is gone. Police say he erased it, even though they were the ones holding the phone.

Imagine that. 

George Thompson says last January he was just sitting on his front porch, watching a Fall River police officer working a paid detail. Thompson says the officer was on his phone and was swearing very loud.

That’s when Thompson pulled out his phone. Thompson says Officer Tom Barboza then rushed him and arrested him, charging him with unlawful wiretapping.

Note:  "sitting on front porch."  This guy is on his own property, not in public.  He's not interfering with anything or anyone.  But apparently, Officer Barboza didn't want to be recorded talking however he was talking to whoever he was talking to.

But in Massachusetts it’s perfectly legal to record video and audio of a public official, including police, as long as they are performing their duties and the recording isn’t hidden.

Even that is Constitutionally questionable.  If the person doing the recording is also the suspect being questioned, they may very well have a Due Process Right to record police, even secretly. 

“I think we all have our basic rights and I think people should not record others secretly or surreptitiously,” Fall River Police Chief Daniel Racine told WPRI.

Oh really?  Because police do that to people all the time.  That's why police departments are full of special interrogation rooms with hidden cameras. 

Thompson claims that two days after his arrest, his phone, which was locked up at the police station, somehow had all of the video erased.

Funny how that happens.

“If a Fall River police officer erased that video, he’s fired,” Chief Racine said. “And I would suspect the district attorney would take out charges.”

George Thompson is not buying it. “They’re investigating themselves and there’s a code of blue and everybody knows that,” Thompson says.

Nothing will happen.  There's no evidence who did or didn't erase the video and no one will confess to anything.  It's too bad that Mr. Thompson wasn't using my iphone app or the ACLU app or Eye Got You Covered.  If so, the video would be stored away safely out of police reach.

 

More:

http://baystateexaminer.com/man-sues-fall-river-police-officer-arrested-video-recording/

 

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Recording police-citizen encouters favor the people who play by the rules and disfavors those who don't.  There are plenty of good police officers who have nothing to fear because they carry out their job with professionalism.  But then there are the ones that prefer to not be recorded because they fear being held accountable.  Those are probably the ones who need recorded the most.

For example, would you expect police harassment for washing your car in your driveway?  Most people wouldn't.  Most people wouldn't even believe it possible, but thanks to modern technology we see that it is

In the movies, when police come calling, the ordinary citizen has two options: quake or pull out a gun.

In recent time, however, people have realized that they have a third, quite potent option: the cell phone.

They know that if they can film the experience, disbelief will have to be suspended, because the evidence is all too clear.

The latest example of a seemingly innocent man encountering a peculiar visit from a policeman comes from Long Island.

What the filmed evidence seems to show is a policeman wandering onto the man's private driveway and suggesting that it's illegal to wash his car there.

This is a subject I've addressed before.  I think you can record the police in any public space so long as you don't interfere with their job.  I also think that you have a Constitutional right to record your conversations even in a private place when you are the suspect.   Read more below:

Recording Conversations in Georgia

Will They Ever Learn? (Cont'd)

$25,000 For Woman Arrrested For Recording Police

Mistrial for Cop Accused of Recording Judge in Maryland

County Pays $645,549 To ACLU For Unconstitutional Prosecutions

Half of Americans Now Have Smartphones

CopBlock.org Founder Adam Mueller Appeals Convictions

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I have previously noted the quasi-law-enforcement entities that are private homeowner association (HOA) security forces.  Now it seems the NC Appeals Court has weighed in on the issue, but on the side of the HOA: 

Rental cops hired by homeowners associations (HOA) can conduct traffic stops that would be unconstitutional if performed by an actual police officer, according to a ruling handed down last week by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel took up the case of Frederick Lloyd Weaver Jr, who was stopped on April 20, 2012 by an armed security guard employed by Metro Special Police and Security Services. The HOA for the Carleton Place townhomes near the University of North Carolina at Wilmington contracted with Metro for security services.

North Carolina allows armed guards to wear police-like uniforms with badges, carry guns and drive cars with flashing red and white light bars. Qualifying for the security guard position requires four hours of classroom instruction and a day on the range.

Four hours in the classroom and a day at the range certainly doesn't compare to what a real police officer has to go through.

I stand by my earlier post that blurring the lines between who is and isn't endowed with state authority is a bad idea that will cause all sorts of problems.  Citizens need to know who is and isn't an officer, who does and doesn't have arrest powers, and who can and can't pull them over.  To blur those lines causes confusion and will encourage abuse. 

Hopefully, the NC Supreme Court will overrule this decision.

 

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I love it when the police want to arrest someone so badly that they just fabricate a law on the spot.  Popular ones include "Obstruction of a Police Officer" when people won't answer the cop's questions or "failing to obey a police officer" when people won't do what the copy wants. 

This officer comes out with a good one:  "making false allegations toward a police officer" and then arrests her for accusing him of doing something wrong.  One would think that a sitting judge watching it happen might remind the officer that no such crime exists, but instead the judge just turns her head while a woman is arrested for something that isn't a crime.

Full story here.

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Two Omaha police officers are facing serious charges because of their reaction to being legally recorded by a bystander, reports KMTV.

Former officer James Kinsella will be charged with felony tampering with evidence, and two misdemeanor charges of obstructing governmental operations and theft by unlawful taking.

Former Sgt. Aaron Von Behren will face misdemeanor charges of accessory to a felony and obstructing governmental  operations.

Both officers as well as two others involved in the incident have been fired from the police force.

A YouTube video that KMTV Action 3 News first aired on March 21st shows a police officer taking down Octavius Johnson during a dispute over parking near 33rd and Seward.

His brother, Juaquez Johnson was recording the incident near the curb when officers chased him into his house.

The police captured Juaquez and apparently destroyed the video.  It has never been found.  So while the police were able to run down Juaquez, steal his phone, and destroy the evidence, they failed to notice the guy across the street who was also recording the scene from inside his home. 

These officers have lost their careers and may lose their freedom because they didn't want to be recorded in a public place.  They successfully captured and destroyed the recording they knew about, but they failed to notice the guy across the street. 

All of the officers in this department need to be educated about the right of citizens to record the goings-on of police officers in public places, as well as how costly it can be when the police infringe upon this right.  And of course, A Due Process Right To Record Police should be required reading. 

Related:

The Sad Case of Lester Eugene Siler

$25,000 For Woman Arrrested For Recording Police

Some Cops Never Learn

For Georgia cases, see Smith v. City of Cumming, 212 F.3d 1332 (11th Cir. 2000).

 

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In another installment of "Will They Never Learn?" the taxpayers of Salisbury, NC, have had to shell out money to an innocent woman wrongfully arrested for the completely legal act of recording the police in a public place: 

The case began in 2009 when Felicia Gibson maintained that Salisbury Police Officer Mark Hunter had no right to come into her house and arrest her as she watched an unrelated traffic stop take place in front of her house.

After two days of testimony Judge Beth Dixon ruled that Gibson was guilty in that she had interfered with Officer Hunter's ability to do his job in dealing with the traffic stop. Gibson had posted a video of the incident on YouTube.

. . .

The incident happened with a traffic stop near 819 W. Fisher St. The traffic stop was the end of a chase in which drugs and gun were found and two suspects ran from police.

At one point, Officer Mark Hunter notices people standing on the porch of Gibson's home, including Felicia Gibson, her father, and a neighbor, and orders them inside.

Hunter then arrested Gibson, charging her with resisting arrest and obstructing an officer.

In court during the original trial, Gibson's lawyer argued that only 10 seconds elapsed from Hunter's command for her to get in the house, and for him to cross the 40 feet from the street and arrest her.

The attorney said her constitutional rights were violated and that Gibson has a right to stand on her own front porch and watch police officers doing their jobs.

Agreed.  The settlement is a little small, but nevertheless it proves the point that arresting people for filming police in a public place is not a good idea for the police.

I have only one gripe, though:  I think any settlement should include mandatory re-training of the officers with required reading of A Due Process Right To Record the Police followed by a test on the subject.

Acknowledgments to Carlos Miller of Photography Is Not A Crime for alerting me to this.

If you have an iPhone, my iPhone app will allow you to record the police and send it to me before the police have a chance to snatch your phone and delete it.  Check it out. 

For Georgia cases, see Smith v. City of Cumming, 212 F.3d 1332 (11th Cir. 2000).

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Posted by on in Criminal Defense Blog

For most of the past five years (i.e., most of the Obama Administration), the FBI has enjoyed the use of "Stingray", capable of listening in on your cellular telephone calls without a warrant:

FBI investigators for at least five years have routinely used a sophisticated cellphone tracking tool that can pinpoint callers’ locations and listen to their conversations — all without getting a warrant for it, a federal court was told this week.

The use of the “Stingray,” as the tool is called, “is a very common practice” by federal investigators, Justice Department attorneys told the U.S. District Court for Arizona Thursday, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Installed in an unmarked van, Stingray mimics a cellphone tower, so it can pinpoint the precise location of any mobile device in range and intercept conversations and data, said Linda Lye, staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California in a blog post about the case.

Scary.  There are certain people who would much rather talk about what went on during the previous Presidential Administration, but it is long overdue to take a closer look at what is going on in this one.

Full article here.

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This is outrageous.  Not only should it not be a crime for this officer to record his warrant applications, it should be REQUIRED that warrant applications be recorded for later review by higher courts.  I hope they never convict this officer of anything.

For Georgia cases, see Smith v. City of Cumming, 212 F.3d 1332 (11th Cir. 2000).

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Taxpayers in Illinois are on the hook for more cop/prosecutorial abuse of people who record the police in public:

In 2012, Illinois saw a rash of cases involving the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, which forbade making audio or visual recordings of people without explicit consent from everyone in the recording. In practice, the law made recording on-duty police officers a felony in the state. The prosecutions of citizens that ensued prompted the ACLU to challenge the state's Eavesdropping Act, and it was eventually ruled unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds in the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 2010, the [ACLU] group brought a case against Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, who had been prosecuting ACLU staff members for recording on-duty police officers. . . . And now this month, the judge ruled that Cook County taxpayers must foot the $645,549 legal bill the ACLU racked up. 
 
“The Illinois Eavesdropping Act... violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution as applied to the open audio recording of the audible communications of law enforcement officers (or others whose communications are incidentally captured) when the officers are engaged in their official duties in public places,” a January ruling by Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman read. 

Entire article here.  

In addition to paying the ACLU legal bills, I think the prosecutors and police officers involved should be assigned some homework about A Due Process Right to Record Police.  It should be required reading in police academies and prosecutor conferences. 

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This is one of those cases where the innocent vitim is very luck to have been sitting in view of a camera, and the cops not realize otherwise.

A man who claims a police officer planted drugs on him will have the charges dismissed one day before his case was set to go to trial.

Eleby said his nightmare began in July 2012 at the Chevron gas station on North Hairston Road.

He said he stopped to speak to someone who was sitting in a black SUV when an officer said he smelled marijuana and arrested the driver on charges of marijuana possession with intent to distribute.

"I was searched twice," Eleby said. He said no drugs were found on him and he was told to sit down.

His attorney said surveillance video from the location shows the officer call the officer guarding Eleby over to the SUV he had been searching.

As she searches the vehicle, Zenobia Waters said the video shows the officer circle back to her client and toss marijuana next to him. She said the officer then picks the drugs up and repositions them.

The video shows Eleby vehemently protesting what he sees the officer do and the officer then puts him in a chokehold while other officers look on.

Chokehold.  A chokehold because he complained about being framed. 

"The DeKalb County Police Department could not produce the alleged marijuana. Therefore, the State is without the evidence needed for trial. The dismissal is not related to how the alleged marijuana came into existence at the scene of the crime nor the videotape made at the scene of the crime."

I've heard stories that some cops drive around with an exta baggie of cocaine or mairjuana in their trunk that they can throw down by a suspect when they need to make a case.  The missing marijuana is probably already back in the officer's trunk helpking him make more cases. 

Without the video, it would be his word against at least two officers in front of a jury pool with at least a few people who think that anyone accused of a crime must be guilty of something.  He should have pulled out his cell phone and started recording.   That would have made some good, embarrasing YouTube video for this cop. 

Full article here.

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You may have read here or elsewhere about the abuse of civil forfeiture laws by police.  It looks like Tennessee lawmakers are considering changes: 

Tennessee lawmakers are prepared to consider a major overhaul of laws that allow police to take cash off of drivers to fund their agencies.

Rep. Barrett Rich's bill, as drafted, would completely outlaw the practice known as civil asset forfeiture. That practice allows police to take people's cash or property without charging them with a crime.
 
While Rich didn't believe he had the votes to go that far, he said that there is an emerging consensus over other reforms to protect the innocent.
 
A prime example, Rich said, is the New Jersey man who had $22,000 cash taken from him during a traffic stop. An officer took George Reby's money based on his suspicion that it might be drug money.

Rep. Rich said that story "opened a lot of people's eyes" and has created a chance for reform.
 
"If we arrest a criminal, they are given an opportunity to have a preliminary hearing," the lawmaker said.
 
"I think that when the government does a taking of property, they should be given that opportunity immediately to be given at least hearing in front of an elected judge, a real judge."
 
Rich added that he wants to make sure that police are still allowed to take real drug money off the streets, while protecting the rights of the innocent.

Let's hope.  When police can seize property with impugnity, then things have gone way too far.  Hopefully, other states like Georgia will follow Tennessee's lead in trying to reign in this growing problem.

Judge Calls Civil Forfeiture "State-Sanctioned Theft"

Civil Forfeiture: Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

 

 

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