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Category Archives: police brutality

View profile 9th Circuit ruling favorable for Occupiers to hold police, gov’ts accountable for excessive force

Daily Kos
July 2, 2012
By  Joe Shikspack

A three judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals filed an unanimous ruling in Nelson v. City of Davis. The student plaintiff, Timothy Nelson was seriously and permanently injured by the excessive use of force by police in a 2004 incident at UC Davis.

The Court found that the police actions violated a basic constitutional right, the Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable seizure and invalidated qualified immunity for the police, meaning that police could be held liable for damages.  This ruling should offer considerable support to Occupiers pressing suit against police and governments for their often brutal and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.


The incident is described in the decision and some of the details are strikingly similar to reports of police attacks on Occupiers – emphasis in quoted portion is mine:

Timothy Nelson, a former student of the University of California at Davis (“U.C. Davis”), suffered permanent injury when he was shot in the eye by a pepperball projectile fired from the weapon of a U.C. Davis officer when U.C. Davis and City of Davis police attempted to clear an apartment complex of partying students. Officers shot pepperball projectiles in the direction of Nelson and his friends as the students stood in the breezeway of the apartment complex, attempting to leave the party and awaiting instruction from the officers. The officers did not provide any audible warning prior to shooting towards the unarmed and compliant students, and never informed the young partygoers how to appropriately extricate themselves from the apartment complex in order to avoid becoming the target of police force.

The officers gathered in front of a breezeway in the apartment complex that was described as a “very narrow and confined space.” A group of fifteen to twenty persons had congregated in this breezeway on the ground floor, including Nelson and his friends. The students were attempting to leave the party but the police blocked their means of egress and did not provide any instructions for departing from the complex.

A pepperball launched from one of the officers’ guns struck Nelson in the eye. He immediately collapsed on the ground and fell into the bushes where he writhed in pain for ten to fifteen minutes. Although unable to see, Nelson heard the officers proceed past where he lay, but none of them provided assistance. Some time later, Nelson was removed from the scene and driven to the hospital. Later that evening, Lieutenant Pytel, the incident commander at the scene learned that an individual was injured during the dispersal of persons at the apartment complex and sent Wilson to the hospital to ascertain whether that individual was injured by the officers’ use of force and whether that individual had committed a chargeable offense. The officers were unable to find any crime with which to charge Nelson — thus no charge was ever filed against him.

The court ruled that the use of force against Nelson was excessive and that police officers may be held liable for injuries caused by non-lethal weapons used for crowd dispersal in cases of excessive use of force.  The court stated that a reasonable officer would have known that the conduct engaged in and similar conduct would be unconstitutional (emphasis mine):

In LaLonde v. County of Riverside, 204 F.3d 947 (9th Cir. 2000), and Headwaters I and II, we held that the use of pepper spray, and a failure to alleviate its effects, was an unreasonable application of force against individuals who were suspected of only minor criminal activity, offered only passive resistance, and posed little to no threat of harm to others.

Full Article Here – http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/01/1115561/-9th-Circuit-ruling-favorable-for-Occupiers-to-hold-police-gov-ts-accountable-for-excessive-force 

Anaheim protest: Crowd chants ‘Am I next?’ outside police station

Los Angeles Times
July 29, 2012

Tempers continued to flare in Anaheim on Sunday afternoon as a group of about 250 protesters stood directly in front of the Police Department, the latest demonstration the city has seen after two fatal police shootings last weekend.

About 45 minutes after the protest began, demonstrators congregated in front of police headquarters as officers on foot and horseback told them to stay off the private sidewalk directly in front of the building. Some protesters moved to the edge of the adjacent public sidewalk and held out their arms in an effort to keep their fellow demonstrators back.

“These are our weapons,” Renee Balenti, 39, shouted at police, pointing to her mouth and head before joining the chain of demonstrators.

PHOTOS: Protests against Anaheim police shootings


The crowd — whose chants included “The whole system is guilty” and “Am I next?” — included members of Occupy Orange County and Kelly’s Army, a protest group formed after the fatal police beating of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton last year.

Anaheim, Orange County’s largest city, has seen a series of protests after Manuel Diaz, 25, was shot and killed by police July 21. Authorities said the unarmed man was avoiding arrest.

The fatal officer-involved shooting was the first of two that occurred that weekend; a day after Diaz was killed, Anaheim police shot and killed Joel Acevedo, 21, who authorities say fired on officers during a foot chase. A third such shooting occurred Friday, when officers opened fire on a robbery suspect, but the suspect was not hurt.

Full Article Here – http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/07/anaheim-crowd-chants-am-i-next-outside-police-station.html 

Several Arrested After Anaheim Police Protest Swells Into Streets

NBC Los Angeles
July 24, 2012
By and Vikki Vargas

Shortly after 9 p.m., a disperal order was issued to a group of demonstrators that began gathering outside Anaheim City Hall around 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon to rally against recent fatal officer-involved shootings, police said.
Officers used pepper balls and bean bags to subdue the crowd, which continued to demonstrate late into the evening. A group of protesters could be seen fleeing from the intersection of Anaheim Boulevard and Broadway after officers reportedly shot pepper balls at their feet, police said.
Several fires broke out near the scene of the protest — one in a trash bin, another near a bus bench, according to aerial footage. It was not immediately clear if the fires were related to the protest or how they started.


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At least one person was transported to the hospital after being shot in the head with a pepperball and five people were arrested in the skirmish, including one man who was booked for resisting arrest after officers received a call that he may have a gun in his waistband, said Sgt. Bob Dunn with Anaheim police. No weapons were found.
Law enforcement was on high alert as the protest turned violent, with demonstrators throwing rocks, bricks and traffic cones at officers and squad cars, Dunn said, adding that at least one person — a print reporter — appeared to be injured in the melee, possibly struck with a rock.
Tuesday’s demonstration was the latest sparked by a recent spate of fatal police shootings. Crowds started gathering around 4 p.m. to urge councilmembers to investigate those shootings and reform the city’s police force, which residents have accused of racial profiling.
The council chamber reached capacity and police in riot gear blocked access to the meeting.
The demonstration swelled into the streets at about 6:30 p.m. While the protest escalated outside, the Anaheim City Council continued to meet.
Law enforcement from several surrounding cities descended on the area to provide mutual aid, police said.
Skirmish lines established by officers in riot gear attempted to corral demonstrators near the 200 block of South Anaheim Boulveard.
Within an hour, much of the police presence had dissipated from the area immediately around City Hall and the crowd moved — some on foot, others on bicycles — down Anaheim Boulevard waving flags, carrying signs and speaking into passing cars.
As of 8:30 p.m., a crowd continued to mill about around City Hall and a separate group appeared to gather near the scene of one of the deadly shootings, setting up a candlelight vigil, according to aerial footage.
By 9 p.m., officers in riot gear again stepped up patrols near Broadway and Anaheim Boulevard in what appeared to be preparation for their dispersal order.
Officials say there have been eight officer-involved shootings in the city this year, including two fatal incidents during the weekend.
Manuel Angel Diaz, 25, was shot and killed Saturday after a foot pursuit through an alley in the 700 block of North Anna Drive – an area where police say they’ve noticed an increase in gang and 
narcotics crimes.

That shooting sparked protests during the weekend, including one on Saturday in which a trash bin was set on fire and a small group of people threw rocks and bottles at police. Three people were detained, officials said.

Full Article Here – http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Skirmish-Lines-Attempt-to-Contain-Anaheim-Protests-Police-Shooting-163638466.html 

Protesters storm Anaheim police station in wake of fatal shooting

Los Angeles Times
July 22, 2012

A group of protesters stormed the lobby of the Anaheim police station Sunday, about half an hour before Police Chief John Welter was scheduled to reveal more details about a fatal officer-involved shooting the night before that sparked a confrontation between an angry crowd and investigators.

Chanting “No justice, no peace” and holding signs that read “Justice for Manuel,” a group gathered outside the department at noon, the Orange County Register reported. About an hour later, they were in the lobby.

The group was outside again by about 1:40 p.m., the newspaper reported. It was not immediately clear if the chief’s media-only news conference — originally scheduled for 1:30 — would still take place.


Tensions were high after Saturday’s shooting, which resulted in the death of a man identified by family as Manuel Diaz, the newspaper reported. Authorities have not confirmed the victim’s identity.
Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn told The Times the incident began Saturday when two patrol officers tried to approach three men in an alley in the 600 block of North Anna Drive about 4 p.m.

It was unclear why the officers first approached the men, but Dunn said they gave chase and one of the officers followed one of the men to the front of an apartment complex in the 700 block of North Anna, where the shooting occurred about 4 p.m.

The man was taken to a hospital, where he died about 7 p.m., authorities said.

Police remained at the scene to investigate the shooting, Dunn said, and were encircled by a group of people who began throwing things, including bottles and possibly rocks, at the officers. At one point, the crowd also pushed a dumpster holding burning trash toward police, reports said.

Officers used non-lethal rounds and pepper balls to control the crowd, Dunn said. A police dog also got free from an officer’s car and charged at several people before it was pulled back, he added.

Full Article Here – http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/07/protesters-storm-anaheim-police-station.html

Officer’s intent key for jury; protesters demand answers

Houston Chronicle
May 18, 2012 
By Brian Rogers

As hundreds converged on Houston’s criminal courthouse Thursday demanding answers about a verdict that cleared a former police officer of wrongdoing in the beating of Chad Holley, the jury’s reasoning became public for the first time.

The jury believed Blomberg was acting as a “reasonable police officer” and used his foot to “sweep” the teen’s arms, not stomp his head, said defense attorney Dick DeGuerin.

Blomberg, 29, was acquitted Wednesday of official oppression after a misdemeanor trial in which he testified he did not stomp the 15-year-old’s head during his arrest on March 24, 2010.


DeGuerin said Thursday that the jury told him there was no single deciding factor in their decision, but at least two members of the panel believed Blomberg was sweeping with his foot, not stomping.

“A couple of the jurors said they definitely saw the ‘pull back motion’ of Andrew’s foot” that his client described on the stand, DeGuerin said.

Blomberg said on the stand that he wedged his boot into the crook of the teen’s arm to try to get his hands behind his back. Holley can be seen on a security video lying on the ground on his stomach with his hands on his head after falling while fleeing police.

Blomberg, the first officer to reach the teen, is seen raising his foot over Holley’s head. An expert for the prosecution said he then stomped the teen’s head or neck.

On video for 4 seconds

Blomberg is visible near Holley for about 4 seconds, then is seen running to deal with another suspect as several officers converge on the teen. Jurors, who have declined to speak publicly, spoke to DeGuerin and prosecutors after the trial.

State District Judge Ruben Guerrero has sealed the names of the jurors.

DeGuerin said the jury told him they acquitted because of what they saw and because prosecutors did not prove Blomberg’s intentions.

Assistant Harris County District Attorney Clint Greenwood declined to comment on what the jury had told him.

DeGuerin’s insight into the jury’s process came as black activists and the Houston Police Department criticized the verdict.

“I understand the jury’s verdict, I just have to respectfully disagree,” Police Chief Charles McClelland said Thursday.

Full Article Here – http://www.chron.com/news/article/Officer-s-intent-key-for-jury-protesters-demand-3567606.php

Watchdog blasts ‘excessive’ policing at G20 Toronto summit

AFP
May 17, 2012

OTTAWA — Canadian police used “excessive force,” ignored civil rights and made “unlawful” mass arrests in cracking down on unruly protests at a G20 summit in Toronto two years ago, a watchdog said Wednesday.

Gerry McNeilly, head of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, in a scathing 300-page report blamed poor planning for widespread breaches of civil liberties at the back-to-back June 25-27, 2010 summits of the Group of Eight and G20 nations in the Toronto region.

Authorities had been extra vigilant ahead of summits, with some 20,000 policemen from across Canada securing summit sites in Toronto and Huntsville, north of the metropolis.


But once it began, things quickly spun out of control in the streets as leaders of the world’s top economies gathered in Toronto.

McNeilly said orders by a Toronto deputy police chief to “take back the streets” late on June 26 following a day in which police lost control and saw storefronts smashed and a police car set ablaze, aggravated the situation, leading to more than 1,100 arrests.

“What occurred over the course of the weekend resulted in the largest mass arrests in Canadian history,” McNeilly said in the report.

“These disturbances had a profound impact not only on the citizens of Toronto and Canada generally, but on public confidence in the police as well.”

The reports states, “Some police officers ignored basic rights citizens have under the Charter and overstepped their authority when they stopped and searched people arbitrarily and without legal justification.”

“Numerous police officers used excessive force when arresting individuals and seemed to send a message that violence would be met with violence,” it adds.

“The reaction created a cycle of escalating responses from both sides.”

The report also concluded that mass arrests outside a downtown hotel were “unlawful” and that a raid on a university residence in which several people were roused from their sleep at dawn and arrested at gunpoint was done without a proper warrant.

Full Article Here – http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iw23WJJvGNxpE15hl2MR9rtbYPRA?docId=CNG.b20eb4c3b3cdcd7379bb356046b35637.251

Police brutally beat mentally ill California man in released video

Raw Story
May 8, 2012
By Stephen C. Webster

Video revealing the circumstances of how a mentally ill homeless man in Fullerton, Calif. died last July was finally published Monday, revealing a stunningly brutal police assault that left Kelly Thomas bleeding, broken and near death.

In the video, one of the officers can be heard telling Thomas, who was schizophrenic, “See my fists? They’re getting ready to start fucking you up.” When he doesn’t immediately comply and instead stands up, another officer charges in and hits him with a baton, and a scuffle ensues.


For the next approximately eight minutes, Thomas is pinned by the two officers, then up to as many as four more arrive and pile on. As Thomas pleads for mercy and complains that he cannot breathe, he’s tased and punched repeatedly. The treatment continues until Thomas’s cries morph into inaudible grunts and moans.

He was comatose after the beating, and died five days later after being taken off life support. Needless to say, the video is not for the faint of heart.

The cause of death, officially, was compression of his thorax. Two officers were charged in the case, one of them with second-degree murder.

Full Article Here – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/08/mentally-ill-california-man-brutally-beaten-by-police-in-released-video/

Oakland police may face sanctions over handling of Occupy protests

Reuters
May 1, 2012
By Mary Slosson


A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the city of Oakland and its police department to submit a plan within a week to address a backlog of complaints stemming from their handling of Occupy protests, threatening sanctions if they fail to do so.

The mandate by District Judge Thelton Henderson follows the release of a report by an outside monitor that said Oakland police used “an overwhelming military-type response” to the demonstrations.

The report also confirmed, for the first time from an official source, that an Oakland police SWAT team member fired a beanbag round at an Iraq war veteran during clashes in October.

Former U.S. Marine Scott Olsen was critically wounded by what protesters said at the time was a tear gas canister fired by police.

Olsen’s case reinvigorated the Occupy movement against economic inequality, and the confrontations with police in subsequent protests turned Oakland into a focal point for the movement as demonstrators rallied against what they described as police brutality.


Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Oakland on Tuesday as part a nationwide movement against economic inequality. Demonstrators clashed with police, who fired multiple rounds of tear gas and flash bang grenades. At least nine people were arrested.

The Oakland Police Department has been subject to court-ordered external monitoring and review since the 2003 settlement of what was known as the Riders case, in which four officers were accused of planting evidence, fabricating police reports and using unlawful force, according to the Oakland police.

“It would be problematic enough if, as seems inevitable, (Oakland police’s) compliance levels were to backslide as a result of their failure to address the Occupy Oakland complaints in a timely fashion,” Henderson wrote in his three-page written order.

“Such failures would be further indication that, despite the changed leadership at the City of Oakland and its police department, (Oakland police) might still lack the will, capacity, or both to complete the reforms to which they so long ago agreed,” he wrote.

Full Article Here – http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/02/us-usa-occupy-may1-oakland-idUSBRE84104T20120502

UC Davis to release report on pepper-spray clash

Associated Press
Apr. 11, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The University of California is set to release a long-awaited report on the pepper-spraying of student demonstrators by UC Davis police last fall.
The university plans to publish the document online at noon Wednesday, a day after an Alameda County judge approved its publication without the names of most officers involved in the Nov. 18 clash.
The task force that wrote the report originally planned to release it on March 6.

But the UC Davis police officers‘ union sued to keep the document under wraps, saying that naming officers would violate their privacy and subject them to harassment.

Kids Say Fresno Cops Tasered & Drowned Dad

Courthouse News
Apr. 10, 2012
By MATT REYNOLDS

FRESNO, Calif. (CN) – Fresno police drowned a man by Tasering and hogtying him, then sticking a garden hose “onto (his) face and mouth” when he pleaded for water, the man’s two children claim in Federal Court.

The two minor children, I.R. and H.R., claim that in the summer of 2011 Fresno police restrained their father, Raul Rosas, at a friend’s house while responding to a domestic disturbance call.

The children say their father was not armed and “had not committed a crime.”

After an altercation with a John Doe officer, police pepper-sprayed Rosas and then Tasered him a “countless number of times,” the complaint states.

The children claim their father was Tasered “for eight to ten more minutes,” then he was “hogtied with his ankles tied to his handcuffs behind his back.”

The complaint continues: “Decedent was then slammed onto a table in the residence’s backyard face down. An officer was observed with his knee on decedent’s back while decedent was hogtied, handcuffed, and face down.


“Decedent stated that he couldn’t breathe and that he needed water; an officer ran water from a hose onto decedent’s face and mouth to the point of making it more difficult for decedent to breathe. Decedent tried to move his mouth away from the water and gasp for air. A witness yelled ‘He can’t breathe, you’re drowning him,’ but the officer continued running water over decedent’s face.

“After turning the water off, the Doe Officer(s) continued to press his knee against decedent’s back and continued to put pressure on it. Witnesses repeatedly asked officers to let decedent get up because he couldn’t breathe, but their cries for help were ignored.

“By now there were in excess of 15 deputies and officers on the scene.

“After some time passed, decedent had clear spit bubbles coming out of his mouth.

“Witnesses yelled at officers that decedent was not breathing and pointed to the clear spit bubbles but again were ignored. Doe officer claimed decedent was ‘faking it.’”

“Officers, after much pleading from witnesses, checked decedent’s pulse and discovered he had stopped breathing after not feeling anything when they touched decedent’s neck.

Full Article Here – http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/04/10/45478.htm