Putnam County, FL Sheriff’s Office Needs to HonorYourOath

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Or at least learn the laws that you are enforcing.

Jeff Gray, more popular as HonorYourOath on YouTube and PINAC, was fishing in Putnam County, Florida.  While fishing, he was openly carrying a pistol in a shoulder holster.  First, Florida law states that the prohibition on open carry of firearms do not apply to “A person engaged in fishing, camping, or lawful hunting or going to or returning from a fishing, camping, or lawful hunting expedition”.  Fla. Stat. Ann. § 790.25(3)(h) (West); Levin v. State, 449 So. 2d 288 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1983) (no reasonable grounds for stop when subject was carrying fishing pole towards a public body of water).

Of course the Putnam County Sheriff’s deputy (Griffin) did not see it that way, immediately stopping Gray to determine if he were a “felon.”  Guys, this has been covered over and over again.  See generally United States v. Black, 707 F.3d 531 (4th Cir. 2013) (being a felon in possession of a firearm is not the default status); United States v. King, 990 F.2d 1552 (10th Cir. 1993) (where state law allows the carry of firearms, that alone does not create reasonable suspicion); United States v. Uribes, 224 F.3d 213 (3d Cir. 2000) (that a subject may possess a firearm, where legal, does not justify detention).

Here, both factors were in play.  Gray was clearly within the law allowing the possession of a firearm while fishing, and Griffin had no reasonable suspicion that Gray was a felon.

Second, Griffin stating he was arresting Gray for violation of the Florida wiretapping statute, even though Griffin was a public officer in public view, with no reasonable expectation of privacy.  Gray has a First Amendment right to film a police officer in public.  Smith v. City of Cumming, 212 F.3d 1332 (11th Cir. 2000);  Abella v. Simon, 13-10255, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 13638, 2013 WL 3368872 (11th Cir. July 5, 2013).

Obviously Griffin needs more training, as it violated Gray’s Fourth Amendment rights to be handcuffed and held for 45 minutes while the deputy figured all of this out.

Sheriff Jeff Hardy should hear about this (jhardy@putnamsheriff.org) as he has signed a pledge to support Second Amendment rights.  Of course, he may have other things on his mind, like deputies pulling guns while drinking at a bar or having sex in the bar’s restroom.

 

Texas Officer Allegedly Stops Woman For “Walking By His Traffic Stop,” Slams Her Into Car, and Then Into Concrete Sidewalk

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ExCop-LawStudent:

Another case of an officer making stuff up as he goes along.
I don’t even know how to address this from a police officer’s perspective. Walking by a traffic stop is a violation? In what universe?

Originally posted on JONATHAN TURLEY:

PalermoJamesAngelo-1Corporal James Angelo Palermo, 40, of the San Marcos, Texas police department is under arrest today after his department reviewed an arrest of a predestrian who was allegedly roughed up by Palermo in a false arrest. The woman lost two teeth and suffered a concussion. Palermo is now charged with aggravated assault by a public servant.

View original 142 more words

Royal Oaks Police Harass Open Carrier

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In Michigan, open carry is legal without a permit or a license.  Here, a young officer stops a citizen who is openly carrying.  The citizen immediately asks if he is being detained and the officer tells him he is not being detained, whereupon the citizen turns to walk away.  The officer clearly wasn’t expecting that and orders him to stop, telling him that he is being detained.  Thus far there has been nothing to indicate that the officer has any sort of reasonable suspicion of a crime to justify the stop.  See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 22 (1968); People v. Jenkins, 691 N.W.2d 759, 764 (Mich. 2005); People v. Custer, 630 N.W.2d 870, 876 (Mich. 2001).

Note that in Michigan, the Michigan State Police have issued a legal update that clearly states that the open carry of a firearm is not a crime.  Michigan also does not have a stop and ID law, meaning that the officer cannot stop someone and demand identification without reasonable suspicion for a crime.

The officer asks for ID, stating that the citizen may have a “mental injunctive order” or something.  The citizen refuses to provide ID, as is his right.  See People v. Williams, 234 N.W.2d 541, 545 (Mich. 1975); People v. Rivers, 202 N.W.2d 498, 501 (Mich. 1972).  Further, if the officer does not have a reasonable suspicion that the citizen has a “mental injunctive order”, or something, that is not the default position, that the possession of the weapon is illegal.  United States v. Black, 707 F.3d 531, 540 (4th Cir. 2013) (“Being a felon in possession of a firearm is not the default status. More importantly, where a state permits individuals to openly carry firearms, the exercise of this right, without more, cannot justify an investigatory detention.”).

The officer is obviously irritated by the refusal to provide ID, and wants to know what the citizen’s problem is, that he needs to see the citizen’s ID.  He then tries to get the citizen to turn off his own video, and the citizen wisely refuses, citing the First Amendment.  At that time (about 2:15 in the video), a second, more experienced officer shows up and tells the citizen that if he doesn’t want to give ID it is OK, he is free to go.

The younger officer looks like he got kicked in the teeth at that point.  He does, however, follow the citizen for the next 15 minutes.

From my perspective this is fairly clear cut.  The young officer was not prepared nor trained to handle this.  He had no idea what he could or could not legally do, and the fact that the citizen stood up for his rights surprised him.  He hesitated due to his confusion, which was actually a good thing.  Some officers are much more assertive in what they believe their authority is, and would have stepped off into a minefield by making an arrest or taking other illegal actions.

Officers are not used to be confronted in a calm and reasonable way where their authority is being questioned.  They don’t like it when it happens.  The young officer was also lucky that the more experienced officer showed up, because you could see that the younger one was losing his patience.

That is also the reason that the officer followed him for the next 15 minutes or so (the videos are available at the citizen’s Youtube channel).  Had the citizen jaywalked or spit on the sidewalk, the officer would have made contact under the guise of the minor violation.

Officer Fernandez Doesn’t Know Texas Law, Buda, Texas

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And here we go again.  A stop for openly carrying a long arm in Buda, Texas, and Officer Fernandez tells the individual that he is being detained based on a number of calls, and that the individual has to identify himself or he will be arrested for Failure to Identify.

The thing is, the citizen knows the law better than the officer.

Then some fat, plainclothes deputy constable shows up and tells him that if an officer asks for identification, the citizen has to produce identification.  Of course, this is not correct in Texas.  If detained, you do not have to produce identification, you just can’t lie about your name, date of birth, or address.  Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 38.02.

After getting out of the car, Officer Fernandez is no longer talking about arresting the citizen for failure to ID, but starts saying that if they keep getting calls, it is alarming the public and disorderly conduct.  Again, as we have noted before, it is not.  You have to have more than just phone calls, it has to be carried in a manner calculated to alarm.

Although the State maintains the fact that someone called the police is sufficient to show the gun was displayed in a way calculated to cause alarm, we cannot agree. The mere fact that the police were called is not evidence of the way in which the gun was displayed. Nor is the mere fact that a person saw a gun “displayed” on a balcony evidence that the balcony was in a public place. Without some evidence describing the balcony or the manner in which the gun was displayed, we cannot conclude there were any facts or circumstances showing the gun was displayed in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm.

Grieve v. State, No. 05-07-00156-CR, No. 05-07-00157-CR, 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 3756, at *9 (Tex. App.–Dallas 2008, no pet.) (not designated for publication).  The above link has the other cases on this issue.

The Buda PD phone number is 512-312-1001, the Chief of Police is Bo Kidd.

 

Testify Truthfully, Get Fired: The Ben Kruidbos Story

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Angela Corey

Angela Corey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Well, Florida’s State Attorney for the 4th Judicial District has just shown where she falls on the idea of seeking justice instead of winning at all costs, and it is not on the side of justice.

 

Her office just fired Ben Kruidbos, their IT director, for testifying in the George Zimmerman case.  It seems that a check of Trayvon Martin’s cell phone had potentially exculpatory evidence that is required to be turned over to defense counsel.  “[T]he suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.”  Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87, 83 S. Ct. 1194, 1196-97, 10 L. Ed. 2d 215 (1963); see also Johnson v. State, 921 So. 2d 490, 507 (Fla. 2005).

 

Well, it seems that Angela Corey‘s office did not turn over all of this potentially exculpatory evidence to Zimmerman’s attorneys.  A hearing was held on the matter, seeking sanctions against the prosecution for the Brady violation.  Had Kruidbos not come forward, no one would have known that the prosecutor had withheld potentially exculpatory from the defense.  The video is below.

 

 

The idea of prosecutorial misconduct in this case is not limited to the defense attorneys and conservatives, but includes noted academics and liberals, among others.

 

  • Jonathan Turley, “Corey’s decision to terminate the man who disclosed the withholding of evidence before a ruling on the alleged violences is highly questionable and speaks more to the anger of being called to account for sitting on such evidence.”
  • Alan Dershowitz, “That a prosecutor would hide behind the claim that she did not have an obligation to tell the whole truth until after the judge ruled on probable cause displays a kind of gamesmanship in which prosecutors should not engage.”  Note that Corey was enraged by Dershowitz’s criticism and called the Harvard Law School, threatening to sue Harvard and have Dershowitz disbarred.
  • Ken White (Popehat), “[Corey's] letter betrays anger management issues, entitlement problems, a weak grasp of pertinent First Amendment law governing statements of opinion, and a rather frightening attitude from a government official with such power.”
  • Sandy D’Alemberte, “I cannot imagine a worse choice for a prosecutor to serve in the Sanford case.  There is nothing in Angela Corey’s background that suits her for this task, and she cannot command the respect of people who care about justice.”

 

 

Carson City & Lyon County Sheriffs, Unlawfully Detain Photographer

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In these two videos, you see Aaron Friesen being contacted twice by a deputy from the Carson City Sheriff’s office and by a deputy (Dep. Willy) from the Lyon County Sheriff’s office.  In the first contact, Friesen is contacted and asked why he is recording deputies coming in and out of the gate by Willy.  Friesen asks if he is free to go and Willy says yes, so Friesen walks down the street.

A few minutes later (2d video), the deputies recontact him.  This time the deputy tells him he’s being detained and to put his iPad down.  The deputy then tells Friesen that he cannot record law enforcement officers and the license plate numbers of their vehicles, that it is a violation of law.  Friesen immediately asks where in the Nevada Revised Statutes (N.R.S.) that it is a violation and the deputy asks if he wants him to call the sheriff over to explain it to him.  Friesen replies that he does want it explained to him.  The deputy then says that they can make this real easy or that they can make it real hard – which doesn’t cause Friesen to back down at all.  The deputies do conduct a Terry frisk, a pat-down of the outer garments for weapons.  See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1967).  The deputy justifies the pat-down by saying that he doesn’t know him and he’s filming deputies.  Once a supervisor shows up, he basically says that there is nothing the officers can do about Friesen’s filming.

Let’s review what happened and why it happened.

  • The deputies did not like being filmed, especially when the video was capturing their personal vehicles license plate numbers.  There is a valid concern here for officers, they do not want to bring any consequences of the job home to their families.  This is a reason that officer’s addresses are not normally subject to public information requests, etc.  When Friesen was first contacted, the deputies felt that he would be intimidated enough to leave.
  • Once he didn’t completely leave, they became irritated (how dare he not respect our authority) so they contacted him again.  Look at the initial response on the second contact, how the officer is acting.
  • The officer did not know the law.  He felt that filming police was wrong, so it must be against the law.  This is not uncommon among officers–look at the reaction when the supervisor indicated you can’t really do anything about it.  The one deputy asks, almost incredulously, if the supervisor was “OK” with Friesen filming.
  • The “I don’t know you” mantra has taken hold in the police world, and officers do not realize that this is not a valid reason for a pat-down search.  Examples of this abound.  The law student in Portland, Maine example.  Whitehall, Pennsylvania.  Several courts have ruled on this issue also, see United States v. Black, 707 F.3d 531 (4th Cir. 2013) (Being a felon in possession of a firearm is not the default status).
  • Officer safety.  Officers believe that they can justify almost anything under officer safety, which is understandable, that is what police academies and defensive tactics instructors teach them.  They don’t realize that officer safety measures must be related to the detention in the first place, see United States v. King, 990 F.2d 1552 (10th Cir. 1993) (Officer’s conduct was not “reasonably related in scope to the circumstances which justified the interference in the first place,” and went far beyond what was necessary to protect her safety).
  • Finally, officers are taught to believe that they know more about criminal law than anyone else.  For example, in one training session I went through, the instructor flatly stated that police officers received more classroom instruction in criminal law than lawyers did, basing it on the fact that most law students take a class in Criminal Law and maybe a class in Criminal Procedure.  Since I’m now in law school, I realize how idiotic this view is since lawyers don’t learn the law in the same way that police officers do.  Officers learn what the exact statutes are, lawyers learn the principles behind it, how to research it, case or common law, procedures, etc.  The problem is that an officer will read the text and decide on his own what it means, while a lawyer will double-check case law to make sure.  This means the officer will often try to stretch things to cover acts that are not criminal, or seek to apply a law that has be ruled unconstitutional (because it is still on the books, it must be OK).

This isn’t the only example of this in Carson City.

 

Why Springdale, PA Citizens get Abused – It’s their own fault

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Springdale, Pennsylvania is a small town of about 20,000 about 18 miles outside of Pittsburgh.  Recently they have had several incidents of police abuse, and in addition to being abused, they are paying for the privilege.  But that’s OK, because they are getting what they deserve.

In the winter of 2010, Allegheny County Police Officer Ray Hrabos was going to his home in Springdale when he stopped to ask Springdale Police Officer Mark Thom if he could move so he could get by.  Hrabos was immediately assaulted by Thom and thought Thom was going to kill him, even though Hrabos had identified himself as an officer.  Two weeks later, the police department filed terroristic threat, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct charges against Hrabos.  They were dismissed and caused the judge to comment that it was insane to bring that into his courtroom.  Hrabos sued and settled with the city for almost $100,000.

In 2011, Gary Cahill was arrested and was sitting in the back of Thom’s squadcar when Thom began to strike him and to use his taser on Cahill.  Cahill was charged with drunken driving, resisting arrest, and other charges, but all charges were dismissed.  Cahill has also sued, stating that Thom violated his rights and the city had prior notice of Thom’s violent tendencies.

But wait – it gets better.

Earlier this year, Thom pled guilty to violating Cahill’s civil rights in U.S. District Court, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242.  Thom faces up to 2-1/2 years in prison.  So of course Thom resigned as a police officer.  And then Springdale hired Thom in a non-police capacity.

Huh?  This guy has already cost the city $100K, pled guilty to a federal felony for violating civil rights, will cost the city more in the Cahill lawsuit, and you rehire him?  And it is not the department head that did it, it was the city council.

According to Council President Dave Finley, Thom was the victim of “character assassination.”  Finley stated that as far as he was concerned, Thom did a fine job as an officer, and when asked about Thom’s guilty plea, said “I don’t care.”  “Maybe he was wrongfully accused.” “He pled guilty, yeah. You keep harping on the pled guilty. Are you asking me if he’s a good man or did he plead guilty? It’s an obvious thing: he accepted a plea bargain. I’m telling you he’s a good man in the eyes of the residents of Springdale. He has two young children and we take care of our own.”

Well, Finley may take care of his own, but he sure doesn’t take care of protecting the citizens from rogue officers.  Another former officer ,Jeremy Liotta, is facing theft, drug, and impersonating an officer charges.

And the reason Springdale citizens deserve the abuse?  They elected this bozo and the other four council members that rehired Thom.  There has been no indication of protests or concern by the citizens.  You get what you allow, and you’re allowing this to be done to you.  Plus you get to pay for it too.

Past incidents:

  • Joseph Liotta was fired by the council from his position after cash was found to be missing.  He sued and lost his case.  See Liotta v. Borough of Springdale, 985 F.2d 119 (3d Cir. 1993).  It is not known if Joseph is related to Jeremy.

 

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