Two Jasper Police Officers Fired for Beating a Prisoner

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The video really says it all, and tells officers even more.  The first officer, Officer Ricky Grissom, was obviously irritated – note how he hangs up the phone on the prisoner, Keyarika “Shea” Diggles.  According to several sources, Diggles’s bond or fine was $100.00, which means that this was the equivalent of a ticket for Disorderly Conduct.

At 0:50 in the video (first camera angle) and again at 3:28 (second angle) you see Grissom go hands on.  Texas law allows a person to defend oneself from an officer’s unprovoked and unnecessary use of force.  Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 9.31; see also Bowen v. State, 162 S.W.3d 226 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005).  When Diggles lifted her hand to protect herself, the second officer, Officer Ryan Cunningham, slams her head into the counter, and then, with a handful of hair, takes her to the floor.

Former Officers Ricky Grissom and Ryan Cunningham.

Former Officers Ricky Grissom and Ryan Cunningham.

Aside from the impropriety of dragging her by her foot, I would also bring your attention to 1:50 in the video where the officer brings the woman’s shackled arms directly up in the air.  This causes extreme pain and does not serve any legitimate law enforcement purpose.  It can also cause serious injury to shoulders.  It appears to be a case of the officers inflicting their own punishment on the woman.

There are any number of reasons that this happened–unfortunately, none of them are valid reasons.

Hopefully, the Jasper County District Attorney will look at criminal charges against the officers, starting with Assault with Bodily Injury and Official Oppression.  He’s already dropped the bogus Resisting Arrest charge that the officers filed on Diggles.

The officers were fired on Monday, June 3, 2013, but only after a city council member sent the video to the local media, since the police department was ignoring Diggles written complaint.  The mayor Mike Lout (yeah, that’s his real name, I couldn’t make this stuff up) was semi-defensive of the officers, saying “She refused to do what the officers told her to do and she resisted.”  Other council members did not agree and voted to fire the officers.

As a side-note and completely biased on my part, why is it that the officers that shave their head seem to be more aggressive?  Both officers tried to contact Diggles by phone after she filed the written complaint.  A local TV station has photos of the caller ID from the phone calls.  What purpose would this serve, other than to threaten or intimidate the witness?

 

Downey, California Settles with Widow of Unarmed Man Killed by Police

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Michael Lee Nida, with his family

Michael Lee Nida, with his family

On Saturday, October 22, 2011, Michael Nida was filling his car up with gas.  A Downey police officer, Officer Steven Gilley, fired a three round, fully automatic burst from his MP-5 submachine gun into Nida’s back.

The police claim that Nida fit the description of an armed robber, who had been described as wearing dark colored hoodies.  Nida was wearing a yellow and blue polo shirt.

On October 24, 2012, Prosecutor Stephanie Sparagna announced “Given the rapidly evolving, dangerous situation that confronted Officer Gilley, we conclude that Officer Steven Gilley was justified in using deadly force to prevent Nida’s escape.”  Her report is here, at: District-Attorney-report-on-Michael-Nida-shooting.  In it you see references to witnesses, none of whom stated that Nida turned back towards the officers.

On May 9, 2013, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the City of Downey settled the civil suit for $4.5 million, while admitting no wrong-doing.

Yeah, right.

You need to ask yourselves a couple of questions.  First, do you want to live or work in a city where the police carry submachine guns?  Second, does someone who just runs deserve to be shot with that same machine gun?  Finally, what is the city council doing about it, to prevent it from happening again?

Officer Gilley is still working the streets of Downey, presumably with his MP-5.

 

Sgt. Mark Hunter, Salisbury Police Department (Updated)

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The City of Salisbury, North Carolina, recently settled a lawsuit by Felicia Gibson against the city and Sgt. Mark Hunter for $25,000.  The lawsuit involved Hunter arresting Gibson for video-recording a traffic stop that was occurring in front of her home.

When I started looking into the matter, I found out something more interesting.  This isn’t the first such lawsuit that Hunter has been involved in, nor is it the first time that the city has settled a lawsuit alleging that Hunter violated a citizen’s rights.  Hunter and other Salisbury officers have been involved in the following:

  • In 2009, Hunter and former officer Kareem Puranda are accused of using excessive force against John and Michael Fox.  The video shows Puranda start to punch John Fox at 3:35 in the video.  The city is now in court-ordered mediation to settle the claim. 
  • In 2009, Hunter and Puranda were accused of using excessive force against Robin Otto Worth.  The city recently settled the lawsuit for $40,000.  Puranda was accused of striking Worth in the head with a pistol (commonly known as pistol-whipping), then punched, kicked, pepper sprayed and tasered him.  Puranda resigned during a N.C. State Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the incidents mentioned here.  Puranda was later charged with a federal civil rights violation (18 USC 241) and his criminal trial is pending in the U.S. District Court.
  • In 2009, Hunter and Puranda were accused of violating the rights of Felicia Gibson, who was filming a traffic stop in front of her home.  The city settled the lawsuit for $25,000.
  • In 2007, Puranda was accused of using excessive force against Wayne Partee at a traffic stop.  During a frisk, Puranda grabbed Partee and slammed him to the ground.  Partee suffered a broken collarbone, and the city settled for $60,000.  The incident was captured on Puranda’s squad car video.  A state district judge ruled that Puranda had no legal justification for the search.

What is interesting is that an internal affairs memo alerted the city before these incidents that Puranda was a liability to the city.  I’m speculating here, but the Salisbury P.D. is accredited by CALEA, which requires an “Early Warning” system to be in place to alert police management of loose cannons.  The early warning system is normally data driven, and measures specific items such as use of force reports, citizen complaints, lawsuits, etc., to decide if an officer has “performance” issues that could cause liability to the agency.  What is clear here, that despite being an accredited agency for over 20 years, the Salisbury Police do not have a firm grip on early warning.

During the period in question, both Hunter and Puranda were repeatedly given merit raises and both were promoted.  The two officer have already cost the city $125,000 in settlements, with more to come.

UPDATE:

Sgt. Hunter passed away from an apparent heart attack according to this article.

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