The conviction of Daniel Holtzclaw last week was a massive victory for his victims as well as those in the police accountability movement. The evidence against this serial rapist was so damning that he was unable to beat all of the dozens of charges levied against him.
However, mounds of evidence, even video evidence, is no guarantee that a criminal cop will face justice.
While the media plastered the face of Holtzclaw across newspapers and websites alike, a tragedy of justice was unfolding in the darkness.
In the shadow of a single act of justice, at least six cops, 5 of which were caught on video committing horrific crimes and another who was responsible for a toddler getting blown apart by a flash bang grenade – all escaped justice.
Two weeks ago, while the nation was consumed with other news, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office quietly slipped out a report noting that Officer Daniel Andrew acted within the law when he savagely beat Marlene Pinnock on the side of a highway.
After the incident, even Andrew thought he was a goner, and he did what most cops do when they get caught committing a crime – resign to avoid punishment. It worked too, in spite of the CHP paying out a $1.5 million settlement to Pinnock.
“There is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the force he used was unreasonable or excessive,” claims the report. “In our analysis, his use of force was legal and necessary to protect not only his own life but also that of Ms. Pinnock.”
What do you think?
In Dover, Delaware, Officer Thomas Webster of the Dover Police Department was finally indicted last May for kicking a man in the face during a despicable act of police incompetence in August of 2013. The attack was captured on the dash camera from another officer’s car, which showed the victim, Latif Dickerson getting kicked in the face by Webster as he was complying with the officer’s orders.
In the attack, Dickerson was knocked out and had his jaw broken despite never being guilty of committing any crime. Dickerson just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was on his knees with his hands on the ground when Webster delivered the jaw-shattering kick, leaving him unconscious.
“I wasn’t intending to kick him in the head. I was intending to kick him in the body,” Webster testified to the grand jury. He then claimed that he was in “fear for his life,” because they were looking for an armed black man with a yellow shirt and their incompetence led them to an innocent unarmed black man with a yellow hat instead. The jury bought his lame excuses and, last week, Webster walked.
This is public service in a police state.
Caught on video shooting a handcuffed and unresponsive man 28 times with her Taser, a former Oglala Sioux police officer, Rebecca M. Sotherland was acquitted last week of assault and obstruction charges. Although the ex-cop would have continued tasing the barely coherent man lying on the ground, concerned witnesses ordered her to stop abusing her handcuffed victim and helped him into a patrol car.
She admittedly used the taser far too many times on the man, at levels capable of inflicting serious injury or death and according to federal guidelines, Sotherland was in complete violation. However, the blue privilege was stronger than empirical evidence of her criminal behavior – and she walked.
On Monday, a spokesperson for the Round Rock Police Department announced that the case involving Officer Rigo Valles choking and slamming student Gyasi Hughes, 14, was investigated by Internal Affairs and the Department determined the officer’s actions “were reasonable and within policy” and there were no violations of department procedures.
The clearing of the officer is in spite of video evidence showing a violent assault on the teen.
“Are you telling me you can choke a kid on school campus, and body slam him, and that’s your policy? Look at the whole nation, does anybody think we’re going to accept that?” said Nelson Linder, Austin NAACP president.
Apparently, law enforcement across the nation does think you are going to accept that. Valles walked and is back at work in the same district.
On Thanksgiving night, with his 23-year-old wife, Darien Ehorn in the passenger’s seat, Andrew Thomas left the Canteena Bar and was immediately pursued by Paradise police officer Patrick Feaster.
After Thomas lost control of the SUV, Officer Feaster then gets out of his car, gun drawn, and as Thomas attempts to get out of the vehicle, in a likely attempt to check on his wife, the cop shoots him in the neck.
When backup arrived on the scene, Feaster said nothing of discharging his firearm. For 11 minutes, Thomas lay bleeding out in the vehicle before anyone even found the shot.
Only when the commanding officer on the scene suggested an investigator return to the Canteena to find out if Thomas had been shot at the bar did Feaster reveal he’d pulled the trigger.
In spite of shooting a man in the neck and being caught red-handed trying to cover it up, Feaster faces zero consequences. Last Tuesday, Feaster walked.
In spite of multiple police officers being negligently involved in the process that led up to and included the deployment of a flash bang grenade into the crib of a sleeping baby, only one cop was charged – who was not part of the actual raid.
Deputy Nikki Austin was found to have justified the search warrant leading to the tragedy based on entirely false information.
Literally thousands of people are in federal prison because of genuinely trivial inaccuracies in stories they told federal investigators. As a member of the privileged enforcement caste, however, Autry was spared punishment because the applicable legal standard required the prosecution to demonstrate that she acted “willfully” and with “reckless disregard” for the truth – and, more importantly, the prosecution had to overcome the reflexive deference to law enforcement that characterizes American juries, especially at the federal level.
“How can we explain this? I thought this country was built with the truth, and not a bunch of corruption and lying like this. I almost lost my life, my family, my son,” exclaimed Bounkham Phonesavankh after a federal jury acquitted the only cop who had a chance at being held liable for nearly killing his son.
So turn the brutal, rusty, and bloody cogs of the American justice system – chastising those who challenge it and laying waste to those who are unable to see it coming.