Monday, June 21, 2010

The Jack-Booted Thug(s) of the Week...

... are too numerous to single out just one example, so here's an assortment from the many that have unfortunately crossed our computer screen in the last day or so:

1.  New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran (and all credit must go to Halloran for pursuing this) spied Traffic Officer Daniel Chu recklessly speeding down a road in Queens while running stop signs, complete with flashing emergency lights, while also gabbing away on his cell phone.  Halloran followed Chu to see what the all-fired traffic emergency could possibly be.  He soon found out after he saw Chu dart into a Dunkin' Donuts in order to pick up a coffee drink.  Peeved, Halloran took a picture of Chu exiting the treat emporium.  That's when Chu really lost control:

"Chu apparently didn't like being caught on candid camera, so he whipped out his ticket book and handed the councilman a $165 ticket for what Halloran says are trumped-up charges.

"He says, 'you're going to take pictures of me? Well, I'm going to write you a summons,'" Halloran said."

It's probably not a good idea to cite one of your bosses for an imaginary crime.  Chu is now under investigation not only for this incident but also for many previous alleged abuses of power, one witnessed by a former cop:

"It turns out that Officer Chu has something of a history in the neighborhood. Former NYPD cop Tim Dillon told CBS 2 he was a pallbearer at Gleason's Funeral Home when Chu showed up.

'The family was getting ready to transfer the body from the funeral home to the church,' Dillon said. 'The traffic agent felt that they were all double-parked. There was a confrontation – he started yelling and screaming at the family members.'"

Sounds like a truly dedicated public servant.

The article points out that a simple peasant nabbed for committing all the traffic violations Chu was witnessed committing at one time would most likely rack up enough points to immediately lose their license.  So why does Chu still possess one, as well as a job?

2.  In contrast to the previous story, Jesse Wright of Chattanooga, Tennessee really did have a good reason to run some stop signals, albeit carefully and in the middle of the night.  Wright was driving his wife of four days to the hospital while she was in the middle of suffering a stroke: 

"On the way to the hospital, Aline [the wife] says Jesse treated two red lights like stop signs. He would stop and then proceed if no traffic was coming. After Jesse ran the second stop light one block from Erlanger, the officer turned on the cruiser's blue lights and followed the couple into the emergency room parking lot."

The cop, who conveniently hasn't been named to date, then confronted Mr. Wright as he was carrying his bride into the emergency room about running the lights.  Things rapidly got all surreal after that:

"Aline tells Channel 3 Eyewitness News that once the couple was placed in a hospital room, the officer attempted to enter their room to arrest Jesse for evading the police.

Erlanger medical personnel then turned the officer away, informing him that since Aline could not speak Jesse was needed to answer questions for the doctors.

Thursday morning Erlanger security informed the couple that a warrant for Jesse's arrest had been issued, and suggested he turn himself in. Aline says Jesse went to the Hamilton County Jail to turn himself in that evening. According to Aline, jail employees told Jesse that they had no record of a warrant for him and told him he was free to go.

Jesse returned to his ailing wife's bedside at Erlanger Medical Center.

'I thought it was over,' said Aline.

'But apparently it wasn't. I was awakened abruptly by people coming in the room.'

On Friday morning the police were back at the hospital. This time Jesse surrendered to Erlanger Security who arrested him on behalf of the Chattanooga Police Department."

Mr Wright now faces a bevy of charges, including felony evading arrest, merely for saving his wife's life and then trying to turn himself in once he learned that he was in trouble, however wrongly, for doing so.

"Lt. Kim Noorbergen says the officer was just 'doing his job'."

If the officer's job description involves being an officious jerk who abuses his authority while ignoring a life-threatening emergency (which obviously justified the necessary breaking of a few traffic laws) and who then proceeds to make an even bigger jackass of themselves then yes, we suppose that Lt. Noorbergen is quite correct on that point. 

3.  The Atlanta, Georgia City Council is preparing to pay the not-insignificant sum of $20,000 to resident Minnie Carey, who was arrested for disorderly conduct by Officer Brandy Dolson simply because she had the temerity to ask just why he was ordering her and her friends to stop having a conversation on a public sidewalk:

"Around 4 p.m. on March 26, 2009, Carey and her friends were on the sidewalk in front of the Boulevard Lotto convenience store, just a few blocks from downtown Atlanta. They had been talking a few minutes about funeral plans for a woman they all knew when Dolson and his partner pulled up. Dolson told the women to 'move it.'

Three women started walking away but Carey didn’t, asking 'why' instead.

Dolson’s answer to Carey was 'because I said so,' according to records.

'I’m a citizen and I’m a taxpayer and I have a right to be here. I’m merely trying to find out about a sister’s funeral,' Carey responded.

That's when Carey was handcuffed, put in the back of the patrol car and eventually taken to jail on a city ordinance violation charge."

Ms. Carey sounds like our kind of woman.  Fortunately for her, the charge was dismissed when "Officer" Dolson failed to show up in court.  Actually, Dolson hasn't been showing up for much of anything lately:

"Dolson has been suspended without pay for most of this year, but not for the Carey case. APD said it was other, unrelated infractions that led to the disciplinary action."

Dolson sounds like a fine, upstanding professional, doesn't he?  At least Atlanta residents aren't having to pay this buffoon's salary while the ultimate disposition of his job winds its way through the police bureaucracy, as normally occurs in these types of cases.

4.  Cleveland, Ohio seems to be dealing with the serious problem of kids being too old to play in public playgrounds:

"Police received a complaint about kids on the Madison Park playground that were too old to be there at 2:37 p.m. June 10. Officers cited a boy for being too old on the playground."

How sad it must be for a child there to be able to play away in a public park, and then in some bizarre Logan's Run-style scenario summarily be deemed too old for that exact same park just one day later on his or her birthday.

What was that citation for, anyway - being too old for the park but too young to hang out at the mall?  What about the parents of the so-called "legal" tykes?  Aren't they running afoul of the exact same ordinance should they decide to go down the slide with their offspring?

5.  "A Dallas police officer is on administrative leave after authorities said she fired off her gun while off-duty in a squad car with at least one on-duty officer."

It's a good thing the Brady Campaign and Violence Policy Center types are fighting so hard to make the argument that law-enforcement officers are the only ones "professional" enough to carry firearms in public.  The simpleton peasants would probably end up wearing theirs while going on a drinking bender and end up discharging it in the back of a squad car while protesting the latest of multiple attempts by on and off-duty officers to drive her safely home.

Here's the richest part of this story:

"Commanders were called to the scene, but did not arrest [Kelly] Beemer at the time, saying she was too drunk to be interviewed.  It wasn't until they viewed the tape that they decided to arrest and charge Beemer."

Drunkenly discharging her gun in the back of a cruiser while fighting the probably-too-nice attempt (since two other officers have been placed on administrative duty over this incident) to get her home wasn't enough to slap the cuffs on her?  They had to actually wait to look at a tape?  Talk about defying credulity.

How many average citizens who acted like such a dangerous fool would get the same courtesy?  Not too many at all, we bet.  Fortunately for Dallas residents, it appears that Ms. Beemer's police career is at an end.

6.  Finally, an update to a story that our friend Carlos Miller is watching closely, the case of the Maryland motorcycle rider who was hit with felony charges, not for doing a wheelie on his motorcycle but for taping his interaction with an abusive off-duty State Patrol officer at the ensuing subsequent traffic stop with a helmet-cam and posting it online:

"A week later, on March 10, [Anthony] Graber posted his video of the encounter on YouTube. What followed wasn't a furor over the police officer's behavior but over Graber's use of a camera to capture the entire episode. 

On April 8, Graber was awakened by six officers raiding his parents' home in Abingdon, Md., where he lived with his wife and two young children. He learned later that prosecutors had obtained a grand jury indictment alleging he had violated state wiretap laws by recording the trooper without his consent."

On Interstate 95.  Not much of an expectation of privacy there.  Except if one is an out-of-control off-duty cop (Trooper Joseph David Uhler, for those keeping score) in Maryland, apparently.  Thank God we no longer live in the abusive Nanny-state of our birth.

 (Uhler, from Photography is Not a Crime.  Yep, we'd call that "out-of-control", all right)

Carlos is doing yeoman work covering this one, so head on over to his place for updated coverage.

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