court

Little Rock, AR — An encouraging end to a tragic story comes out of Arkansas this week after a former Little Rock police officer was found liable in the shooting death of 15-year-old boy in 2012. What sets this case apart from the myriad of other civil cases in which police officers are found responsible for killing, beating, and depriving people of their rights, is that this cop was held personally responsible — and will have to pay the victim’s family using his own assets, not the taxpayers.

On August 12, 2012, then-Little Rock Police Officer Josh Hastings, 31, and another officer were investigating a report of car break-ins. The officers attempted to box in a car occupied by the victim, Bobby Moore III, along with two other teens.

Hastings fired 3 rounds into the vehicle of unarmed teens, striking Moore three times, killing him.

As is the norm when police shoot into moving vehicles, Hastings claimed he feared for his life as the 15-year-old boy attempted to run over him.

However, according to court records, the car was in reverse when Hastings fired. The other teens in the car also testified that they were trying to flee and they did not want to run the officer over.

Before the civil case this month, Hasting was tried twice in criminal court — each time on charges of manslaughter — but the juries ended in deadlock both times. After two mistrials, the prosecutors declined to go after Hastings a third time.

Naturally, after the deadlocked juries, the family of Moore was shaken, feeling like they’d never see justice for their lost child. However, last Thursday, all that changed and a heartening precedent was set.

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After two days of deliberation, the unanimous verdict was returned at 3:15 pm on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr., filling in for presiding Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Miller, read aloud the verdict that awarded Moore’s mother, Sylvia Perkins, and her family $415,000.

As the Arkansas Democrat reported, Perkins cried so hard at the news of the verdict that she shook.

The court threw out the case against two others involved in the lawsuit, and Perkins was told she could file an appeal that decision.

“There are times when my faith in the judicial system has been weakened,” Austin Porter Jr., co-counsel for Perkins said. “There are times when my faith in the judicial system has been strengthened. This is one of those rare times when justice has prevailed.”

Hastings, who is now a delivery driver, noted that he has no idea how he’ll pay the $415,000. However, it was not money that Perkins was after, it was justice.

The case has never been about money, Perkins said, adding that she just wanted the truth to come out.

“It’s been five years,” she said. “Ain’t nothing going to bring him back.”

As the Free Thought Project has reported extensively, police officers, even when found at fault for their abusive actions, are almost never held personally liable. It is the taxpayers who foot the bill. However, this new trend in accountability seems to be on the rise, and will be massively more effective at curbing police brutality than any system in place right now.

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In February, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was told he must decide whether to pay $100,000 in damages, from his own pocket — stemming from a civil lawsuit involving an inmate abuse case — or face liens on his assets.

Baca’s case was the second such case in only a short time, in which cops are being forced to come out of pocket after being found at fault in a lawsuit. Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Lin’s case was similar but a bit more extreme than Baca’s and Hastings, however.

In 2013, Lin spotted 19-year-old Dontrell Stephens in a “high-crime area” — the man’s own low-income neighborhood — riding a bicycle in a manner the deputy found suspicious.

Lin stopped the youth, who dismounted the bike with a cell phone in his hand and slowly approached the officer. Just outside the range of dash cam video, the officer shot Stephens four times — claiming he was in fear for his life — but footage and evidence clearly showed the claim to be baseless.

Three of the bullets remain lodged in Stephens’ body, according to the Sun Sentinel — two in his arm and one in his spine, which left him paralyzed and dependent on a wheelchair for mobility.

Stephens won a massive $22.4 million settlement and U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer ruled that Lin should foot at least a portion of the bill. Last month, nearly everything this officer owned was seized to pay back Stephens — including everything from his furniture to his clothing.

Both Lin and Hastings will most assuredly think twice before shooting another unarmed teen.

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Imagine, for a moment, the result of all police officers being held personally liable for their actions. In nearly every other profession on the planet, if someone hurts someone else while on the job, they are held liable — personally. Why can’t cops carry personal liability insurance just like doctors?

As instances of police brutality and police killings continue to be exposed, there is no doubt that the US is in dire need of reform. The simple requirement for police to be insured for personal liability is an easy fix — especially to remove repeat offenders from the force.

All too often, when a tragic death such as Tamir Rice occurs, months later we find out that the officer should have never been given a badge and a gun in the first place because of their past. However, insurance companies, who can’t fleece the taxpayers to pay for problem cops, would have to come out of pocket to pay for them and would make sure that these officers are uninsurable.

If the officer becomes uninsurable, the officer becomes unhirable — simple as that.

There are likely many cops out there right now who would be denied insurance coverage by any company, due to their track records. A requirement for personal liability insurance would, quite literally, weed out problem officers — almost overnight.

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Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Facebook.
  • The Cat’s Vagina

    This is a GREAT sign of things to come, but there can’t be a silver lining without a dark cloud. The problem is, holding officers personally accountable could easily lead to financial devastation for the victims when they don’t actually get paid anything.

    Not everyone can actually afford to sue just on principal – especially living victims, such as Mr. Stephens, who face a lifetime of medical bills that could easily mount into seven figures. Also, many of the people killed by police have families to support – who’s going to take care of them when Mr. Former Cop shrugs and turns his empty pockets inside out? Putting “liens” on future earnings and assets just ensures they’ll work under the table and put everything they own in somebody else’s name.

    • Zackknowitall

      The 2nd amendment is a solution to all the above mentioned cases.

      Correction is the only solution

      • The Cat’s Vagina

        Killing people is probably not the right answer but hey, at least you’re trying!

        • Zackknowitall

          Really? Find me a case of a dead rapist or child molester that reofended.

          Tell me how many more houses a dead burglar will break into.

          • David Wei

            What if you mistook someoe else for criminal, and shot him? That happened a lot with police, why do you think you being police/judge/executioner at the same time would do any better?

          • Zackknowitall

            Yea bc someone is gonna get confused about the cop that killed their kid. Plus random cops would be better so that the killer has no connection.

          • Tom

            The average person does not have the time or money to train in gunfighting to the same extent that cops train on the taxpayer’s dime. If you want to get into a gunfight with someone who’s been practicing his quick draw and blasting away with his Glock at “no hesitation” targets for years, knock yourself out. The rest of us would rather hire a lawyer and sue.

          • Zackknowitall

            lol the ppl who shot them cops in their cars figured it out also the cops shot while eating didn’t fair to well.

          • chilegirl

            Zack, can you please take remedial elementary school grammar?
            Your ignorance of language and critical thinking skills is appalling.
            Either that or you’re just plain ignorant and stupid.

          • Zackknowitall

            Well that no way to speak to a vet suffering from a TBI. Maybe you get over your self.

          • chilegirl

            Sorry. Being a vet doesn’t make you special, so that shit doesn’t wash with me.
            Secondly, I’ve got several friends with TBI. They still have grammar and spelling skills.
            You do not. Some jerks will use anything as an excuse. With your TBI, you shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a gun or a keyboard.

          • Zackknowitall

            Yea having a TBI does not make a person dangerous. Are your friends dangerous. I’ll give you a chance to respond then I’ll be blocking your lame ass.

          • chilegirl

            One of my friends can be very dangerous when they feel threatened. So yeah.
            But you’re such an entitled jerk, you’re probably the same. But they don’t brag bout it or use it as an excuse for their behavior or posts.
            And your anger shows that you shouldn’t have access to weapons. Block me, big man vet. And I will ask, how many people did you kill with that entitlement

          • Zackknowitall

            I’ve had a CCDW for 16 years now. I’m very good at de-escalation. My verbal judo and confidence shines through when I tell aggressive people to back down they do it. My only fights even have been in the gym or cage not even one street fight. My 22 plus years of wrestling and MMA gives me the ability to defend my self and only use my gun as a last option.

            I didn’t take lives in the military I saved them. Still saving lives to day as a paramedic. I have combined 18 years of medical service. It’s neat because I pack heat under my uniform while working. Promise me you won’t tell my boss. I don’t want to be caught slipping. Hopefully I’m not the only paramedic carrying a gun at work.

          • Bill the eighth

            Hahahahahaha, now that’s funny. Cops rarely go to the range, let alone train in gun-fighting. Maybe a few SWAT pigs in big cities train regularly, but the vast majority do not train, do not go to the range unless they have to and know less about guns than your average American gun owner.

    • Bruce_Mitchell

      Please note that in the Stephens case, the settlement of $22.4 is NOT dependent on money from the officer, who is responsible for only part of it. “U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer ruled that Lin should foot at least a portion of the bill…” The court is well aware that the officer lacks the means to pay the entire settlement but sought to maximize his contribution by ordering seizure of ALL his assets.

      Seems to me that holding an errant officer personally accountable is a very good thing and is likely the only way the concept of personal liability insurance for officers will ever take hold.

      Nobody sues just on principal, btw. Lawyers are in business to make money, like anyone else. Lawsuits can be costly to prosecute, a burden that almost always falls on the lawyer, not the client, thus a good lawyer will not file a lawsuit unless there is a very good chance of winning — which is the only way the lawyer gets paid in such cases.

    • Tom

      This is why I call for all cops to carry their own professional liability insurance policy, paid out of their own pocket. Then the victim can collect the settlement, but when the cop’s premiums go through the roof because he’s now a known loose cannon, he’ll quit. Then there’s no need for the department head to do the firing, and nothing the police union can do to stop it. In fact, if cops had to pay for their own insurance, they would WANT the bad apples drummed out instead of protecting them, just like good drivers want bad drivers off the road because they drive up rates for everyone.

  • Here’s an idea: how about when the officer tells you to get out of the car you get out of the car and not try to flee? Money, liability, lawsuits, who gives a crap? This boy would still be alive if his parents had taught him to obey the LEO instead of resisting arrest.

    • Boba Vette

      Here’s a better Idea! You keep sucking that phat black police cock and then you get to be the white N!GGER! Its suits you just fine.

      • CornFedCriminal

        Did JC change his name?

      • Well said. You must be the pride of your whole family.

    • Lord Humungus

      So you feel lethal force is acceptable for all levels of noncompliance… OK, so you’ll support people gunning down cops who violate civil rights then correct… I mean they’re in noncompliance with the law… guess they should have followed it.

      • Tell you what, why don’t you describe to me a scenario where this young man fleeing from the police in a motor vehicle ends well. Go ahead, give it your best shot.

        • G’ma G

          Sure. The police take down the license, run the plate to find the home address and send backup to where they will eventually be. I know, that takes reason and planning which is beyond the IQ of the average officer.

        • Lord Humungus

          Not the issue here… the issue is of lethal force being used when no threat to the user is present. I mean we can go there…. but be aware that’s a two way street. Is that how you want to play the game?

          • The issue is taking personal responsibility for how you behave. This young man chose to flee in a vehicle. Whether the situation deserved gunshots or not is a snap decision by the police officer THAT DID NOT NEED TO BE MADE. If the young man had behaved lawfully, nobody would be dead.

          • Bill the eighth

            Do you work at being this stupid or does it come naturally?

          • rev_dave

            Wow, J.P., you’re a real troll magnet. See what a little truth will get you?

    • Ron Barth, Jr.

      Cop-sucking punk bitch.

    • Cali

      STFU

  • Amor Terra

    GREAT news! I disagree that it’s a bad trend that will leave victims wanting for a financial payout. First, most of the time,there will be liability for the employing city as well, because for most of these thugs, it’s not their first time to the dance (to abuse civilians), and there will be claims for failure to properly train, improper supervision, etc. Second, it won’t take many of these verdicts before cops seek to have themselves insured against losing their entire livelihood–and that’s exactly what we want. Just like insurers refuse to insure drivers who keep having accidents or tickets, insurers will quit insuring cops who have records of complaints. And then–BUH-BYE psycho thugs!

  • Ed

    You all know the answer to why cops are not held responsible! Union!

    • Thebob

      Military doesn’t have a Union, why should any Gov’t sector employee…

      • chilegirl

        Are you really this stupid, Thebob?

        • Thebob

          Your point is what? Unions do not help the little man at all. Not any more. They are just political lobby groups…Why should a Public Sector job have a Union? More to the point why should a PUBLIC SERVANT/Service have a union? They work for the American People not the Gov’t…Just like the Gov’t works for the American People also….Are you that stupid?

  • Thebob

    Hey if the Hospital isn’t liable fort he Doctor and Doc’s must have Mal-Practice Insurance then Cops Leo’s should have to fork over something similar…

  • Tom

    I hope this case brings us closer to what I’ve been advocating for years: MANDATORY professional liability insurance for all cops. It would work just like the mandatory car insurance we all have to buy — for good cops it would be an affordable requirement to work, for bad cops it would be so expensive they would look for a different line of work. I have to have proof-of-insurance paperwork every time I drive. Why can’t cops be required to have an insurance card in their wallet to go on their shift?

    • Bill the eighth

      I have been saying this for years Tom!

  • Citizen Quasar

    Great! I think that is 42USC1983. 42USC1985 is the same except it includes conspiracy.

  • Cousin Eddy

    I wouldn’t be celebrating just yet. Attorney Gestapo Jeff Himmler Sessions will rain on that parade real soon. Himmler will have these thugs’ backs.