Pasco Police Officer Ryan Flanagan Has a History of Excessive Force Against Hispanics

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In 2009, a 30-year old Hispanic woman, Maria Davila-Marquez was driving her vehicle in Pasco, Washington.  Police officers in the area were looking for a teenaged Hispanic girl who was creating a disturbance.  Officer Ryan Flanagan and officer Zachary Fairley saw Davila and stopped her, even though she was about twice the age of the teenager they were really looking for.  Davila couldn’t speak English very well and neither officer could speak Spanish.  So the officers handcuffed her, slammed her against the car hood, and held her there until she received second-degree burns from the engine heat, and searched her even though department policy required them to call a female officer to do that.

Although Davila had requested an interpreter, the officers refused to call one.  Then the complainant showed up and said that Davila was not the teenager (duh), so the officers charged her with interfering with public duties.  So Davila sued the officers, the chief, and the city.  She wasn’t able to show a pattern or policy of misconduct, so the court dismissed with prejudice the case against the chief and the city, see Davila-Marquez v. City of Pasco, No. CV-12-5059-LRS, 2103 WL 1136658 (E.D. Wash. Mar. 18, 2013).  The case against the officers remained, however and rather than go to trial, the city settled for $100,000.

In an article at the time, Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield said that although Davila did not meet the description of a teenager, the officers erred on the side of inclusion when they arrested her.  Crutchfield is lucky that Pasco had already settled.  In the United States, we don’t err on the side of inclusion when arresting someone.  We either have probable cause, or we don’t.

AS TO THE CURRENT INVESTIGATION:

This may also get more interesting.  Coroner Dan Blasdel is considering calling an inquest to make the determination on the shooting.  This isn’t used often, but the evidence would be put in front of a six-member jury, who would decide the issue.  Note that in Washington, the inquest does not determine culpability for the death.

“He (didn’t) comply with their commands” so we killed him, said Police Captain Ken Roske UPDATE 3

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A yet unidentified man who had been throwing rocks at cars was shot and killed by Pasco, Washington police on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2015.

The man can be seen throwing a rock at officers at approximately 0:05 of the video, and then turning to run.  At least one officer shoots at him at that time, and the first gunshots appear to be justified.  A thrown rock can be deadly force,* and the brain can transmitted the order to shoot before it realizes that the threat is turning and fleeing.  The man runs across the street with his hands up, turns down a sidewalk, and then turns as if to surrender with his hands still up, in front of him, empty, and in plain view.

Pasco Police Captain Ken Roske says the officers fired after the man refused to listen to their commands.  This is the fourth fatal shooting by police in the last six months.  So far, all officers have been cleared, and based on the comments by Roske, these three officers will also be cleared.  Non-police witnesses said that the man was merely trying to get away.

I don’t see how this shooting is justifiable, although it is clear, in my opinion, that Roske believes that if police give commands to someone and they don’t obey, then it is perfectly fine for the police officers to then shoot that person.  That also seems to be the way that patrons of PoliceOne are looking at the matter.

This appears, to me, to be a straight up execution.  For not obeying police commands.

*Ask Goliath or any of the multitude of people stoned to death in the modern day Middle East.

UPDATE:

1.  Capt. Roske, in addition to being the police manager over Public Information and Administration, is also the local FOP President and has been for over 10 years.  This is only relevant because, although it is not clear in this case, Police Administration is normally where the Internal Affairs function is located.  I would hope that it is not the case here, since having the police supervisor over IA also be the local union president would sure appear to be a conflict of interest.

2.  Involved officers are Ryan Flanagan, Adam Wright, and Adrian Alaniz.  The victim is Antonio Zambrano-Montes.  Chief Bob Metzger did not take any questions at the under four minute press briefing.  He reiterated the statement that Zambrano did not follow commands, and that officers were forced to kill him because of the “threats” to the public.  In other words, move on, nothing to see here.

3.  Well, the smear the dead guy campaign has begun.  Apparently Zambrano fought with police over a year ago.  Of course that is relevant to the shooting, because at that time he tried to throw a “rocking chair” at one officer, and did in fact throw a “male box” [sic]† at the officers.  Since all police officers instantly know of prior bad behavior, the officers who shoot Zambrano must have known this.  Perhaps they were afraid that he would find a female box to throw next.

†Presumably a mail box.

Is Failure to ID Really that Difficult to Understand? Corpus Christi, Round 2 – UPDATED

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This was first posted at PINAC, and in the past I would have commented on it there, but I’m no longer interacting there, so I am posting it here.

In the video, a police officer with an unknown police department† claims that Lanessa Espinosa is a “jailhouse lawyer” because she actually knows what the law says.  She pointed out that she did not have to identify herself unless she was “being charged.”  At that point Corpus Christi Senior Officer‡ J.E. Lockhart comes up and demands ID and tells her that he will arrest her if she doesn’t provide ID.

The problem is that § 38.02, Texas Penal Code, does not authorize an arrest for failure to ID on a mere detention unless the person provides a fictitious name.  We’ve covered that several times, here, here, here, here (also in Corpus), here, here, here, and here.

There are several things wrong with the video.  First, the officer from the unknown department is choking Espinosa with an arm-bar choke hold.  If you look at the video at 1:12, you’ll see the officer’s forearm cutting directly over Espinosa’s adam’s apple in the same manner that killed Eric Garner in New York.  The arm-bar choke hold is almost universally viewed as deadly force, and completely inappropriate here when the crime is at best, a misdemeanor under the officer’s mistaken idea of the law.

Second, it is a false arrest.  Even more so, it is an arrest because she is exercising her right not to provide identification when he knows (or should have known) that the arrest is unlawful, and that he intentionally denied her of her freedom when he knew (or should have known) that his conduct was unlawful.  Folks, that the definition of Official Oppression, § 39.03, Texas Penal Code, and is a Class A misdemeanor.††

I can almost guarantee that Chief Floyd Simpson will not follow up on this.  Recently he kept an officer on the department after the officer assaulted a handcuffed prisoner in the jail.  That officer got a two-week suspension and was allowed to retire.

Anyway, if you want to waste your time, you can contact the department:

  • Chief Floyd Simpson (FloydS@cctexas.com), 361-886-2600.
  • Internal Affairs, 361-886-2627.

†We know it is not a sheriff’s office because the patch says “Police” just above the state seal.  I believe that it is probably going to be some type of park ranger or park police for several reasons.  One, the uniform, except for the patch, is much the same as the TPWD park ranger uniform.  Second, the badge appears to be round, which is the normal shape for a state agency, although some county agencies also use a round badge.

‡In Corpus, for some reason, the sergeants are called “senior officer” although they wear sergeant stripes on their collar.

††Punishable by up to a $4,000 fine and/or up to 1 year in the county jail.

UPDATE:

OK, the first officer in the khaki shirt is an investigator from the Nueces County DA’s Office.  Second, they detained Espinosa for Interference with Public Duties, § 38.15, Texas Penal Code.  She was not arrested, but was released at the scene.  A very quick check of the annotations leaves it unclear if this would be a valid charge or not, but I don’t have the time to research it thoroughly.  My initial impression is that this is BS, but without a case directly on point, they can probably skate on Official Oppression.

Next, the NCDA (Mark Skurka) is investigating the use of the chokehold by the officer.  You’ll probably never hear what the result is, and there will likely be no disciplinary action taken.  You can contact the DA’s Office at 361-888-0410 or at nueces.districtattorney@nuecesco.com. BTW, this was an off-duty job for the officer, DA investigators are normally in plain clothes.

Corpus Christi issued a press release absolving their officer of all responsibility and stating how they were committed to transparency and allow people to videotape or film.  All of that is nice, but it misses the point.  There were no grounds to require identification, as state law did not require it.  Espinosa took no actions other than to verbally assert her rights, in other words, speech only.  Finally, the press release noted how CCPD officers were trained to “be respectful” and to use “de-escalation techniques.”  Really?  That’s what they call respect and de-escalation?  I would hate to see what is disrespectful and escalating.

In North Carolina, It’s OK to Commit Felonious Assault if You’re the Police

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On October 31, 2013, Johnnie Williams drove through a DUI checkpoint without stopping, and then led police on a chase.  During the chase, he reportedly rammed a police cruiser, and he was eventually stopped by officers who ran their cars into his.  Williams is being charged with multiple felonies over the incident.

I don’t have a bit of problem with any of that.

I do have a problem with what happened next.  After the chase was over, you can see Williams surrendering.  Both of his hands clearly come up in the “I give up” position.  Then we see Wilmington officer Stafford Brister pick up his K9 and shove it through the window at Williams.  Of course the dog immediately attacked Williams, causing serious injury.  Brister and the other officers then stood back and watched.

The district attorney took the case before the grand jury, which no billed Brister.  In most states, if a DA wants an indictment, they get an indictment.

The police chief says that sometimes the job “isn’t pretty.”  No argument there, sometimes it isn’t.  I don’t care what the POS suspect did, you still don’t toss a dog in the car with him.

Brister can still be prosecuted, but it would have to be a federal civil rights trial.  Wilmington is in the Eastern District of North Carolina, and the U.S. Attorney is Thomas G. Walker.  His contact info is:

Office of the United States Attorney
310 New Bern Avenue
Federal Building, Suite 800
Raleigh, North Carolina 27601-1461
Phone: (919) 856-4530
Fax: (919) 856-4487

Texas DPS Conducts Another Roadside Body Cavity Search, near Houston (updated)

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You would have thought that the troopers of Texas DPS would have learned their lesson after the body cavity debacle in Irving where Trooper Kelly Helleson was fired and Trooper David Farrell suspended for conducting a roadside body cavity search on two women.  Helleson was also indicted for two counts of Sexual Assault and two counts of Official Oppression.  The victims settled for $185,000.

But apparently the word hasn’t gotten out to the rest of the troopers.  Two Houston area women were recently subjected to a roadside body cavity search in Brazoria County by DPS troopers and have filed a lawsuit.  The female trooper, Trooper Jennie Bui has been fired and Trooper Nathaniel Turner was suspended.  Again, the trooper did not change gloves between the searches.

Look, I understand that officers are intent on finding drugs.  Police departments have been fighting a “war” on drugs for over 40 years (and losing, but that’s another issue) and officers are rewarded for their anti-drug efforts.  I understand that people are very imaginative on where they hide their dope.  But officers need to ask themselves a question–is finding a minor amount of dope worth losing your job and potential felony charges?

Guys, it is not worth it.  If you don’t catch them this time, you or another officer will catch them later.  People that use dope are not all that bright and will sooner or later get caught.  The fact that the suspects are likely criminals does not mean that they don’t have rights, and you are betting your career on that small amount of dope.

Here, former Trooper Bui needs to be indicted, just as Helleson was.  In addition, both male officers need to be fired and charged, not just suspended.

UPDATE:

It was pointed out to me that this search occurred prior to the Irving search.  It’s just that the lawsuit was filed later.

Is the Rhea County Sheriff covering up Abuse by his Deputies? UPDATED

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Walter Gann is a crook.  He was in jail in Dade County, Georgia when he stole a county truck while on a work detail and escaped.  Rhea County deputies found him and chased him into Tennessee, and then were called off of the pursuit afterGann Tennessee police picked it up.

Gann was finally stopped and complying with Graysville PD officers instructions when two Rhea County deputies arrived at the arrest location.  According to Gann, these deputies kicked him in the face, ribs, and groin.  He wrote out a statement on what happened.  That was 18 days ago.

Neal refuses to investigate because 1) Gann has not made a complaint, and 2) he’s happy in our jail.

Ah, yeah. OK.

Graysville Police Chief Erik Redden immediately had an internal affairs investigation conducted, which supported Gann’s statement.  The District Attorney has already indicated that he would have the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation check into the matter.

Neal claims the allegations are false, even though he hasn’t seen the investigation.

Gann was taken to the hospital immediately after being arrested.  Redden said it was because Gann complained of pain in his ribs and pelvic area.  Neal said it was to have a taser barb removed.  Since the hospital took X-rays and a CAT scan of Gann’s ribs and pelvic area and they reportedly also support Gann’s complaint, I’ll let you decide who is telling the truth and who is ly—- not.

UPDATE:

June 20, 2013.  The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will conduct an investigation into the matter at the request of the District Attorney.

Scattershooting

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A long time ago in Dallas, there was a sports reporter named Blackie Sherrod, who wrote a weekly Sunday column called “Scattershooting.”  In it he would cover a series of news items that interested him, typically short, brief comments.

The Albuquerque Police finally fired Officer Conner Rice.  From KRQE.  Rice repeatedly tased a subject who was not resisting over a year ago.  His criminal trial for the abuse is pending.

 

In Florida, the trooper who recently lost a high profile DUI, as reported by Steveo on PINAC, has been sued for False Arrest after he arrested a man who blew a 0.000 (twice) and whose urine test showed no drugs.  Trooper Melvin Arthur, although not trained on the Horizontal Gaze nystagmus test, administered the test (improperly) as part of his evaluation of both driver’s intoxication.  The complaint is here.  The video of the other stop is here.

 

According to PoliceOne, three former Knoxville Police officers have pled guilty to misdemeanor assault and felony oppression in order to avoid federal charges from the beating of a handcuffed prisoner.  Three other officers were suspended for between 12 and 18 days, and the supervisors received reprimands.

 

 

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