Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Yet another illustration of why law enforcement is widely distrusted

We've examined many incidents (some are listed here) where law enforcement officers and agencies have been 'economical with the truth', or overstepped legal and constitutional boundaries.  Despite my long association with law enforcement and an abiding respect for the rule of law, I'm forced to admit that many of the concerns expressed by commentators, protesters and others are solidly grounded in fact.  It's a sad but true fact that the 'good cops' and agencies out there (and there are many) are all too often tarnished by association with the bad ones.

If you needed any further reinforcement of that, consider the lawsuit just filed against the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office in Texas.

Faulkenberry's own surveillance video shows the lawmen approach on foot, their guns drawn. He stood stock-still except to raise his hands in the air. The video is silent but Faulkenberry says a sergeant ordered him to turn around so handcuffs could be put on.

Then came a sudden takedown.

“I turned my head to ask about a warrant and that's when I heard '2, 1' and then the leg sweep, the tackle and punching.”

Reading the arrest report from that night, Deputy Michael Taylor wrote: 'I observed Lawrence Faulkenberry push Sgt. Yost with the left side of his body and elbow into a tree causing him to fall and injure his left shin.'

Even slowed down, in the grainy video it's hard to see where Faulkenberry might have pushed - and where the sergeant's leg sweep put everyone off balance.

In his report, Deputy Taylor conclusions were more concrete: 'I observed Faulkenberry forcefully resist deputies while attempting to lawfully detain him...'

Faulkenberry's criminal record shows no violent issues and he's been out of trouble for more than a decade.

Deputies charged Faulkenberry with:

    Felony Assault on a Public Servant
    Resisting Arrest - a Class A Misdemeanor
    Aggravated Assault with a Firearm

Deputies never recovered a handgun -- Faulkenberry says he doesn't own one.

Court records show bond was set at: $807,500.

. . .

“I called my attorney,” says Faulkenberry. “I told him 'I didn't do it.' He's like 'there's three officers who say you did. You got proof?' I was like 'yeah, I got a video.'

After ten days locked up at the Caldwell County Jail, Faulkenberry's lawyer says a court magistrate saw the video and dropped the bond. KXAN confirmed the DA's office declined to prosecute and Faulkenberry returned home.

There's more at the link.  I highly recommend reading the article in full.  It contains screen capture images from the video, as well as additional details suggesting that the Sheriff's Office may have problems all the way up the chain of command.

There may be those who claim that we shouldn't prejudge the situation, that the plaintiff may be lying, that the officers may have had reason for their actions, and so on.  However, that doesn't explain why such damning charges were filed, then withdrawn, or why bond was initially set at so stratospheric a level, only to be dropped precipitately (along with all the charges) as soon as independent, objective evidence was provided to disprove the officers' allegations.

Frankly, this stinks.  I hope the lawsuit goes to trial rather than being settled out of court, so that all the evidence can be heard and weighed in the balance.  If it can be proved that the officers in question lied about their actions, and pressed false charges, then they need to be behind bars themselves - along with everyone in their chain of command who supported them, covered up for them, and/or encouraged them to believe that they could get away with this sort of thing.  Even if there's no way to jail them, we should at least demand that they never again be trusted with or permitted to exercise law enforcement authority.



Divemedic said...

The problem here is that cops will lie and defend each other, no matter what. As more and more people see this happen, it erodes the confidence that the people have in the police.

Those few cops who try and break ranks to do what is right are attacked and threatened by the other cops. This has changed the culture of the police to one of a street gang with qualified immunity.

I for one know that I will support any measure that cuts police budgets and power. Why? Because I am a law abiding citizen, but I don't call the police because those few occasions where I have had to, the police treated me with disrespect and threats, rather than as the citizen I am.

Glen said...

Sheriff is an elected position. There is a great need for a new Sheriff in that county.

Andrew B said...

Similar to "physician, heal thyself," we have here "police, police yourselves." So very frustrating to see good officers align themselves to protect those who clearly don't belong in the professions. I served in the military, and understand the need and desire to cover your partner's back, but I also understand the concept of war crimes and their relations in civilian policing.

The career of being a police (or corrections) officer appeals to those who are, at heart, bullies. That's a trait that needs to be stamped out ruthlessly, and those who use their badge as a club driven out or jailed.

Bob said...

Law enforcement is at war with itself and we are the casualties.

There is, and has been for some time, an attitude of "us or them" in police ranks that has poisoned relations between police departments and the citizenry. Officers today consider every citizen as a law-breaking suspect... of something. Add to that, we have allowed department standards for officers to be reduced to the point that almost anyone can become an armed enforcer.

Police and Sheriff departments are now heavily staffed with officers and deputies who have become such not for any idealistic goal to uphold the law and protect the community, but to revel in the Adrenalin rush involved in having unanswerable power to impose on hapless citizens.

They are yesterday's street and school bullies now armed and very dangerous, supported by the government and their fellow officers.

You talk of "good" officers trying to do their job as we expect them to, but they are NOT good officers if and when they support those in their ranks who use their power and weaponry illegally against citizens for the kicks involved.

The problem as I see it is that today's police departments consist of a majority of individuals there strictly for the power trip and ego boost being a police officer provides.

So, Glen's suggestion that a new sheriff is needed is not the solution. The solution - if it were even remotely possible - would be to completely clean house of those who abuse their position of power and authority, and reinstate standards that would go a long ways to weed out those who join their ranks only for the gun, the siren, the flashing lights, the high speed chases, all those Adrenalin providing thrills.

Good luck with that. The "them or us" attitude is far to embedded into police ranks everywhere to even try. That's why your "good" cop has no chance whatever to persevere, and is in actually, an enabler of the bad.

Our only reasonable option today is to learn how to not get the attention of these uniformed thugs, and if one does enter into your life for any reason, hope that he is one of the few remaining "good" cops.

Our other option is to get rid of them all, but that calls for open rebellion and revolution, which in my view is coming anyway, not because of bad cops, but because of bad government.

It must be very conflicting being in your position, one who sees the evil all around you but because of your past associations have your hands tied.

Being a fence-straddling moderate can be tough, but one day soon we will all have to take a real stand, or go down n history as gutless worms.

I personally hope to be long dead before this happens, and at 77, I just may get my wish.

What a deal.

Anonymous said...

I used to support the police but not anymore. They have decided that they alone hold the right to life and death and they act like lords with an absolute right to order the peasants around. I'm not a peasant. If I am ever summoned to jury duty again and it comes down to the police offering their view and a citizen offering his or her view of an incident, I'm siding with the citizen against the police. I've reached such a low tolerance for police that I can see why people shoot them out of pure self defense.
That reads pretty ugly but I'm willing to watch passively as the cops clash with the people who are going to go to Cleveland to protest democracy at the RNC and I no longer care what happens to either side. That's a hell of a long way from my old position on rioters and police.

Pawpaw said...

There are still those of us who believe that we serve the people, and yes, there is a war going on in law enforcement. A war of philosophy, and I've been on the front lines of it for over 30 years.

In my career I have either been actively, or tangentially on the arrest and prosecution of four police officers. All were convicted, all did hard time.

I abhor bad police work.

The answer lies at the top, and it seems to me that the Sheriff of Caldwell may be due for replacement. Unless, of course, he immediately fires and prosecutes the deputies involved. It's really a simple political matter that The People can remedy at any time.

Jon said...

Welcome to small town Texas. You can have good policing (our county does) or bad policing. But when it's bad, it is bad across the board. If you have a bad sheriff, you almost always have a bad DA as well. And the combination is toxic. If you can get rid of one, getting rid of the other almost always happens.

We need more people to actually pay attention. While you can blame the sheriff (and I do) you need to blame the people of Caldwell county for going along with it.

Bibliotheca Servare said...

Remind me why we don't tar and feather people anymore? It seems those deputies, the sheriff, and possibly the DA would be especially eligible for such treatment. Despicable pieces of human filth. 10 to 1 odds that nothing happens to them. By the way, what the hell is wrong with that kid, telling the police his father was drunk and waving a gun around? I mean there's stupid, then there's crazy stupid. That was crazy stupid.

Gorges Smythe said...

A late neighbor of mine used to say that there's no such thing as an honest cop. He said that half the cops were criminals themselves and belong behind bars. The other half know it and do nothing about it, thus NONE are truly honest. I tend to agree with him, though I know a few individual cops that I like (those are Christian.)

Anonymous said...

If you want to see/hear what peace officers have become in the US, primarily because of the so-called war on drugs, you owe it to yourself to Google up the case of Lester Eugene Siler. Listen to the audio recordings surreptitiously made during his torture session and shakedown. Those sorts of things and far worse are done in your name all the time. I've seen it myself from observing from the government side and from the prospective of watching it happen to close friends. It's sickening.

Oh and some of Siler's torturers were convicted but received little more than slaps on the wrist and are all out of jail now I believe. Wouldn't surprise me to learn that they still get their pensions.

Tal Hartsfeld said...

Aren't the police, essentially, merely "ambassadors for the socially favored and over-privileged"?

Judy said...

Well don't hold your breath. I sincerely doubt much of anything will happen. There have always been bad cops; we just talk about it these days.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Cleveland. I think with Trump it will be far uglier than anything the mayor and city signed up for because the people who hate him have money, opportunity and motive. They won't just riot. You see, I think the SDS et al have learned from '68 and will put business before pleasure. They'll be here in force and they represent the likes of Bill Ayres. He's their mentor. He's their guide.

Pawpaw, I can see taking down a few of them but let's be honest, the other poster nailed it. Half the cops are filthy scum who need to be tarred and feathered but there are laws against that. The DAs are lost to the people who believe Ayres was on point when he bombed and killed cops but now they have the whip and it's a different story.

Mayberry was never real but spend time with people who are arranging to pay off the Court $50/month because that's all they have. We would write a check for the full amount and settle it but that isn't ever an option when one has NO money. Read about 652,000 people wanted by cops in California because they could not pay the $490 in fines plus $480 in court costs for simply getting pulled over by the friendly cops who know that their money comes from the State who only makes money when the cops pull people over on any flim flam of a reason and the citizen ends up in court.

Law Enforcement now is a disease. It blatantly steals from the people it pulls over when it confiscates cash, cars, assets, smashes down doors on the wrong house, face bombs babies in their cribs and denies responsibility for its actions.

No. I don't think we'd be better off without cops. I think it is time the Marines got involved and did what Mexico does. Shitcan them all until they prove worthy and patrol the streets with an eye out for the real criminals. A simple little hint for the cops out there, the real criminals don't get choked to death by 9 cops for selling cigarettes. The real cops don't shoot chained dogs. The real cops NEVER send drugs to the Mayor's house and then treat him like a criminal and abuse his family for hours.

See the difference?

Dan said...

The same thing will happen here that happens in 99.99999% of such instances.
The TAXPAYER will be robbed to pay the settlement and the criminals pinned
to badges will not even get a reprimand let alone suffer ANY real consequences.
They will be left on the streets to continue their lie of crime and they WILL
do this again....and next time after the crime they will compound their acts
by illegally searching for cameras and destroying the evidence of their crime.

The ONLY unknown here is if they will settle before trial or will they double down
hoping they can get a bootlicker packed jury to suck their balls and rob the plaintiff.

Inconsiderate Bastard said...


It's really a simple political matter that The People can remedy at any time.

I'll agree with that, but.....Just as We, The People, are expected to manage our behaviour in such a manner as to minimize offense to our peers, so should The Authorities manage theirs to avoid the increasingly frequent abuses. The oft repeated requirement for externally-sourced correction to such abuses ignores the responsibilites inherent in occupying a position of responsibility.

We, The People, expect reasonable behavior and performance from those whom we have charged - and who have willingly accepted that charge - with certain responsibilities (I am, at present, unaware of any law enforcement official who has been elected into office against his or her will), and, yes, we will - eventually - have it.

Introspection is a difficult, and frequently ignored, task; those in positions of authority would do well to consistently engage in it, as voluntary retirement is usually more personally beneficial than a similar condition abruptly enforced by enraged voters.

Anonymous said...

When the police became law enforcement officers rather than peace officers attitudes changed.