Douchebag Seattle Washington TSA Agents Targeted Woman Dying From Leukemia For Embarrassing Public Search – Denying Her Right To A Private Screening With A Witness Present

October 9, 2012

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – A dying woman says a a security pat-down at Sea-Tac Airport left her embarrassed in front of crowds of people.

Michelle Dunaj says screeners checked under bandages from recent surgeries and refused to give her a private search when she requested one.

Dunaj, who is dying of leukemia, carried a large amount of prescription drugs through Sea-Tac to head to Hawaii for what would be one of the last trips of her life.

She called Alaska Airlines ahead of time to request a wheelchair and to ask how her medicines should be separated for the security line.

“I did everything they asked me to do, so I didn’t think it would be an issue,” she said.

But Dunaj says nothing went right at the security checkpoint.

A machine couldn’t get a reading on her saline bags, so a TSA agent forced one open, contaminating the fluid she needs to survive.

She says agents also made her lift up her shirt and pull back the bandages holding feeding tubes in place. Dunaj needs those tubes because of organ failure.

With other passengers staring, Dunaj says she asked for privacy and was turned down.

“They just said that it was fine; the location we were at was fine,” she said.

TSA spokesperson Ann Davis said “Officers are trained to perform pat downs in a dignified manner and, at any point, passengers can request a private screening with a witness present.”

However, Dunaj says her request for a private screening was denied, and she does not want others with special needs to run into the same problem.

“When somebody wants to take a trip, especially what I call an ‘end-of-life trip’ because you want to see your family and friends, then it becomes more important than just taking a trip,” she said.

Davis said it is against policy for passengers to be denied privacy if they ask for it. The agency is responding to a request by KOMO News to look into the incident.

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DashCam Video Catches Crazed Washington State Police Officers Beating Two Innocent Brothers – Jailed Refused Them Due To Injuries, Told Officers To Take Them To Hospital – Officers Cleaned Them Up And Drove Them Around For Hours Before Taking Them Back To The Jail, Where They Were Imprisoned On Bogus Charges

September 26, 2012

WASHINGTON – A Washington state police department is investigating a report of police abuse after the beating of two brothers was caught on camera.

The DashCam recorded police beating and arresting the men in Tukwila, Washington.

Officers claim the men resisted arrest, but the video seems to show them raising their hands before officers approached.

The two brothers, Charles Chappelle and Jahmez Amili, say it all happened so fast.

“I was thrown to the ground,” Amili said. “I didn’t have no idea what was going on. I was like, I can’t believe he just started punching me.”

The incident happened at 2:43 a.m. on Saturday, May 12.

“Once I was on the ground, I was pinned to the ground by several people,” Chapelle said. “People’s hands and knees were on my hands and back, and I was getting hit continually in the face.”

The officers reportedly pepper-sprayed them, too.

According to the police report, officers were responding to a fight near the Southcenter Mall when they spotted the two brothers walking near the edge of the road.

“The pair was intoxicated, showing erratic behavior and were refusing orders,” the report read.

The brothers admit they’d been drinking, but they say they were not arguing with the officers.

“I had my hands raised in the air,” Amili said. “I was complying with the officer’s demands.”

The video shows Chappelle holding his hands up. And with the video slowed down, you can even see him start to go to the ground before the officer gets to him.

Once handcuffed, the two were walked to the patrol cars, where you can clearly see Amili’s bloodied face.

“I was just trying to make sure I stay alive, because I was really like feeling like I was about to die,” Chapelle said. “I couldn’t breathe at all.”

The two brothers were arrested for investigation of obstruction of justice and resisting arrest. Police say they also assaulted the officers during the struggle.

But when the two men were taken to jail, the guards turned them away and told police they needed to be taken to the hospital instead. That was at 3:47 a.m.

According to Chappelle and Amili, they never got treatment at Highline Hospital, like it said in the police report.

They say the officers washed off their faces in a garage at the Tukwila Police Department, then drove them around with the windows down.

Finally, at 5:47 a.m., three hours after they were first approached by police, Chappelle and Amili were taken to the jail and booked.

Both of the men have previous criminal convictions for drugs and assault.

The charges against Amili in this case were recently dismissed by a judge, but they are still pending against Chappelle.

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Former Washington State Police Officer Jack McCullough Found Guilty Of Kidnapping And Murdering 7 Year Old Girl In 1957

September 15, 2012

SYCAMORE, ILLINOIS – A 72-year-old man was convicted Friday in the 1957 murder of a 7-year-old girl, with spectators letting out a deafening cheer as the verdict was announced in one of the oldest unsolved crimes to eventually get to court in the United States.

The sound of sobbing overtook the room as the cheers and applause faded after Judge James Hallock pronounced Jack McCullough guilty of murder, kidnapping and abduction in Maria Ridulph’s death.

McCullough was about 17 years old on the snowy night in December 1957 when the second-grader went missing in Sycamore, about 60 miles west of Chicago. McCullough later enlisted in the military, and ultimately settled in Seattle where he worked as a police officer in the state of Washington.

Maria’s playmate the night she disappeared, Kathy Chapman, was a star witness in the case. She testified that McCullough was the young man who approached the girls as they played, asking whether they liked dolls and whether they wanted piggyback rides.

“A weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” said Chapman, 63, said outside on the courthouse steps. “Maria finally has the justice she deserves.”

It all happened in an era when child abductions, if not unheard of, rarely made headlines.

This one did.

President Dwight Eisenhower and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover asked to be kept apprised of the search for the girl, which lasted five months and ended when her decomposed body was found in a forest 120 miles from her hometown.

McCullough’s half sister told the court that their mother, Eileen Tessier, said on her death bed in 1994 that McCullough — whose name was then John Tessier — had killed Maria.

“She grabbed my wrist and said, ‘Those two little girls, the one that disappeared, John did it,'” Janet Tessier said.

Chapman said she was playing on a street corner with Maria on Dec. 3, 1957, when a young man calling himself “Johnny” approached and talked to them. Maria ran home to get a doll; Chapman went to get mittens. When Chapman returned, her friend and the man were gone.

She never saw Maria again.

A prosecutor laid out black-and-white photographs of similar-looking men, and Chapman pointed to one of McCullough, saying she was sure he was the man who called himself “Johnny.”

Irene Lau, a Seattle investigator who interviewed McCullough last year, said McCullough remembered Maria, calling her ‘stunningly beautiful.” But he maintained he had nothing to do with her disappearance or death.

McCullough was on a list of suspects in 1957. But he had an alibi, saying that he had traveled to Chicago that day to get a medical exam before enlisting in the Air Force.

The case was reopened after his old girlfriend contacted police with evidence calling his alibi into question — she had found his unused train ticket from Rockford to Chicago on the day Maria disappeared. He was arrested on July 1, 2011, in Washington state at a retirement home where he worked as a security guard.

McCullough waived his right for a jury trial and opted for a bench trial.

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Two Trigger-Happy Seattle Washington Police Open Fire On Unarmed Man – Every Shot Missed

September 4, 2012

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – A wanted felon who once told police he was addicted to stealing was shot at by two Seattle officers Monday after he drove an SUV toward one of them, according to investigators.

The incident began about 1:40 p.m. Monday after two bike officers working the Bumbershoot detail saw the man exit the broken window of a car he’d just prowled, Detective Jeff Kappel said.

The man got behind the wheel of a white Dodge Durango and “posed an imminent threat,” causing both to fire their department-issued handguns, Kappel said. The man wasn’t hit and sped away in the damaged SUV, investigators said.

Several officers were called to the area, and the pursuit led from Denny Way and Taylor Avenue to the parking lot of the Hurricane Cafe – the former Dog House restaurant – at Seventh Avenue and Bell Street.

Noah Martin, who saw the police converge in the Hurricane Cafe parking lot said several officers had guns drawn on the white Durango.

“The cops were – they were here and reacting fast,” he said. “It was a pretty intense experience to watch.”

The suspect ditched his Dodge Durango and fled on foot until officers surrounded him at Westlake Avenue and Blanchard Street.

Kappel said he didn’t know if the Durango belonged to the suspect or another person. Police did not say the suspect was armed, but vehicle uses in similar cases have been considered deadly force.

Court records show the suspect wanted for a malicious mischief warrant for an ongoing King County Superior Court case. Prosecutors have described him in court documents as a prolific vehicle prowler.

The suspect has been booked into King County Jail more than 40 times since 1994 – not including the Monday booking – and has had at least 49 warrants, records show. After he broke into a motor home at Seattle Center in 2008, he allegedly told police he was addicted to stealing.

Court records show the suspect has at least 10 felony convictions, though he is not eligible for the three-strikes law because those felonies don’t count as strikes. He has at least 20 other non-felony convictions, court documents show.

The suspect’s ongoing malicious mischief case came after a suspected car prowl April 9 in the 600 block of Second Avenue North – across the street from Seattle Center.

The suspect is expected to be charged for the Monday incident by Thursday. does not typically name suspects until they’re charged.

The officers who fired are expected to be put on routine, paid administrative leave during the investigation and a Firearms Review Board will be convened.

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Chewelah County Washington Health Inspector Targets 12 Year Old Boy Raising Money For WWII Veterans – Health District Board Members Personally Pay His Fine Using Their Own Money

August 10, 2012

CHEWELAH– A Chewelah student who has raised more than $25,000 dollars for World War II Veterans is facing a hefty fine for his good deeds.

12-year-old Justin Peterson holds fundraisers year round for the Honor Flight Program. Last Saturday, he held another fundraiser at the Chewelah City Park.

While selling hamburgers, a health inspector stopped by Peterson’s booth and fined him $170 for not having the proper food permit.

Peterson said, “She charged us for it and I was kind of sad. I was just trying to raise money for vets.”

The Tri County Health District said the inspector was only following policy. Administrator Dave Windom added, “You don’t want someone in the field making judgment calls on what they consider a worthy cause and cutting people slack. It opens the door for accusations of favoritism.”

The Health District isn’t forgiving the fines, but board members have agreed to pay them off using their own money.

Windom said, “Because of this particular cause and our board’s personal connection to this cause, we thought this could be a good case where we could help with that.”

Peterson said he is glad to make a difference in the lives of our veterans. “It’s kind of cool and it’s kind of cool to know I’m inspiring other people.”

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Tacoma Washington Police Officers Ryan Koskovich And Michael Young Attacked Innocent Deaf Woman With Taser Weapon After She Called 911 For Help – Jailed Her 3 Days On Bogus Charges Without An Interpreter

August 7, 2012

TACOMA, WASHINGTON – KIRO TV’s investigative unit has discovered Tacoma police used force to arrest and handcuff an innocent deaf woman after she called 911 for their help.

Instead of an apology, she ended up bloody and in jail for nearly three days without an interpreter before a prosecutor declined to press charges.

After months of digging, investigative reporter Chris Halsne found significant discrepancies in the official police version of events leading up to Lashonn White’s arrest.

Late in the evening on April 6, White said she called for police assistance after a guest reportedly attacked her in her own apartment.

Deaf since birth, White used a special video-equipped phone, connected to a TV and a Web camera, to call 911. A certified American Sign Language interpreter on the other end verbally relayed White’s pleas for help to a Tacoma police dispatcher.

“I said, ‘Please hurry! There’s a person here beating me up,’” White explained to Halsne during a television interview last month.

A recording of White’s 911 call from that evening reveals her urgency.

“Right now! This is serious!”

“She’s fighting at me, then she chokes me. She’s coming right at me!”

Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) logs show Tacoma police officer Ryan Koskovich and his partner, Michael Young, were outside White’s apartment complex in about six minutes.

It also reflects that officers received texts along the way stating, “Person doing the hitting is a Sophia” and “Vict. is Lashonn White.”

In addition, it appears from internal police records obtained by KIRO Team 7 Investigators, Koskovich and his partner were repeatedly given information that the victim could not hear a thing.

On the 911 calls, White herself made it perfectly clear.

“I’m deaf. I can’t hear if they’re out front knocking or whatever … I can’t—are they going to the front or back? Where are the police at?”

Dispatch: “They want her to go outside the front door.”

“Oh, they’re here? Okay, I’m on my way to meet them. I’m going right now.”

White showed our investigative team the route up to the front door from her basement apartment. It’s only one flight of stairs — a 30-second trip.

To her, what happened next defies common sense — especially, for a woman with no criminal record, no arrests and just one minor driving violation on her record.

Within seconds of running outside to meet police, Officer Koskovich pulled his Taser and fired a two-barbed electric wire into White’s ribs and stomach.

“All I’m doing is waving my hands in the air, and the next thing I know, I’m on the ground and then handcuffed. It was almost like I blacked out. I was so dizzy and disoriented,” White said.

Witnesses said White began bleeding heavily from her knuckles and the right side of her face swelled up immediately after she hit the pavement following the Taser jolt.

Pictures acquired by Team 7 Investigators also show injuries to her cheek, chin, ribs, neck and arms.

Worse yet to White was the incredible confusion that came with suddenly being handcuffed, under arrest and without the ability to communicate with Tacoma officers, who had no sign language skills.

“The next thing I know, they took me to jail. Told me to stand up, you’re going to jail. I said, ‘What? What have I done?’ I couldn’t figure it out. I had no idea what was going on,” said White.

Officer Koskovich and his partner submitted nearly identical descriptions of the arrest in their reports.

Koskovich wrote in part: “I yelled for White to ‘stop’ and held my right hand up to signal for White to stop. White ignored my commands.”

He added, “White was making a loud grunting noise, had a piercing stare in her eyes and had a clenched right fist in the air.”

Team 7 Investigators canvassed the area near the Taser incident for witnesses because Koskovich and White’s stories are so vastly different.

Margaret Sims’s apartment is right over the spot where White fell to the ground after being tased. She said it was around 11:30 at night and dark, but she heard Lashonn screaming in pain and ran to the balcony.

“I hollered down and said, ‘She’s deaf and can’t speak!’”

Sims says she went down to the street and spoke with officers while Lashonn was still in handcuffs. She told us during an on-camera interview that the police officers at the scene admitted there was a misunderstanding.

“They had tased her because he thought she was coming at him, but what she was doing was running to him. But he said, ‘stop’ and he didn’t put his hand up. He just said, ‘stop’ and she couldn’t understand that,” replied Sims.

Another apartment tenant, Geraldine Warren, said she also heard the commotion and talked to police.

“They just told her to halt. She kept running, she can’t hear—she’s deaf. I said, ‘Aren’t you supposed to say halt like that?’” asked Warren holding up her right hand.

Tacoma police arrested Lashonn on two criminal charges, simple assault and obstruction of a public servant (law enforcement officer). Then they carted her off to jail. She spent 60 hours there – also without an interpreter- before a city prosecutor reviewed her case and asked that charges not be filed at all.

We asked KIRO TV police conduct consultant and former Bellevue police chief Don Van Blaricom to review the conflicting witness and officer accounts of Lashonn’s arrest, plus the officer’s official reports.

He told Halsne the officer’s reports “were obviously written in concert, after the fact, to CYA.”

“The question to ask yourself is: why would she run at police in an assaultive manner when she had asked for them to be there and was going out to meet them?” Van Blaricom wondered aloud.

“A Taser is a very useful device under circumstances which necessitate its use, but it’s too easy to use and frequently used too quickly. This looks like one of those cases,” Van Blaricom told Halsne during an interview.

State law on the employment of ASL interpreters for deaf suspects is clear.

RCW 2.42.120 (4)requires law enforcement agencies conducting an investigation to “appoint and pay for a qualified interpreter throughout the investigation.”

RCW 2.42.120 (5) states “If a hearing impaired person is arrested for an alleged violation of a criminal law, the arresting officer or the officer’s supervisor shall, at the earliest possible time, procure and arrange payment for a qualified interpreter for any notification of rights, warning, interrogation, or taking of a statement. No employee of the law enforcement agency who has responsibilities other than interpreting may be appointed as a qualified interpreter.”

White said despite her repeated requests to police for a certified ASL interpreter, one was never provided.

The story is complex and the officers at the scene clearly had a different point of view. KIRO 7 Investigators have tried to get their explanation for six weeks and while we’ve talked to Tacoma Police on the phone they would not respond to the allegations. We’ve also sent them emails and left several messages.

If Tacoma police want to explain their side of the story, we’ll have a follow-up.

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Seattle Washington Targets Residents Children’s Sandbox With $500 A Day Fine – City Calls Neighborhood Gathering Place For Children And Parents It A “Structure”

August 4, 2012

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – When Paulo Nunes-Ueno moved with his family onto a residential street between Wallingford and Green Lake in June, he brought along an 8-by-4-foot wooden sandbox he’d built for his two young children at their previous home.

On the new block, where the number of kids is estimated at between 15 and 20, and where many of the front yards are postage-stamp size, the sandbox became an instant gathering place for youngsters and their parents.

But not everyone approved. The city received an anonymous complaint about the sandbox, located at the end of the Nunes-Ueno driveway, violated city rules about play structures too close to the street.

The city sent him a warning he would be fined $500 a day if he didn’t remove the sandbox.

The city now has, if not a fight, at least a debate on its hands. Nunes-Ueno, a transportation and sustainability director for Seattle Children’s hospital, wants to nudge the city toward more varied uses of the street, planting strip and sidewalk. That means at least considering some streets could become as safe for kids to play on as for cars to drive.

He’s already had conversations with Seattle’s director of street use, two City Council members, and an urban sustainability group in hopes of changing the city prohibition against sandboxes on the planting strip, the area between the street and the sidewalk.

“I told them this is a silly rule. We should be encouraging neighbors to get together and children to play outside,” he said.

What’s particularly ironic to Nunes-Ueno is that his next-door neighbor has two planter boxes on the planting strip that look a lot like the sandbox, minus the corner seats.

In fact, neighbors along Northeast 52nd Street have suggested he tell the city his is also a planter box, one where the seeds have yet to sprout.

“It just seems ridiculous and totally contrary to everything this city is about,” said Nekole Shapiro, another neighbor. Aren’t we trying to create community?”

Sandbox task force

On Friday, after conversations with Nunes-Ueno and a call from The Seattle Times, the Transportation Department said it would put together an internal task force, to include the city traffic engineer and the legal department, to examine the issue.

“Given that we have never permitted a sandbox in the right of way before and we have questions about how to do so safely, we are going to allow this one to temporarily remain as we consider whether a change is needed to allow this sort of use,” said Rick Sheridan, spokesman for the department.

The city says current law doesn’t permit play structures in the right of way and must allow access for people getting in and out of cars, said Barbara Gray, director of street use and urban forestry within the city Department of Transportation.

“The concern is safety when you put kids close to the travel lane,” she said. Both the city and the homeowner could be legally liable if children were hurt because they were playing near the sandbox. The city also prohibits stand-alone basketball hoops because of the danger of kids running into and actively playing in the street, and it has sent similar warning notices.

But Gray also notes that until 2008, the city didn’t allow planter boxes on the planting strip. They are now allowed if the homeowner gets a free permit from the city and meets the requirement for public access and car-door clearance, she said.

She said there has been a debate among pedestrian advocates and urban planners about the benefits of “front-yard” activities and whether they help activate neighborhood streets and make them more people-friendly.

“We want to be both innovative and prudent when making these decisions,” she said.

Sandbox debate

The Sightline Institute in Seattle, which advocates green public policy, sees the sandbox debate as an opening for the city to reconsider how it prioritizes street use, particularly away from major arterials.

Clark Williams-Derry, research director, points to Scandinavian countries where, on some designated streets, pedestrians and cyclists have equal right to the street and cars can’t go faster than walking speed.

He gives a local example, Pike Place, the brick road through the center of the Pike Place Market, where people wander and the cars move slowly to avoid them.

“When the cars don’t own the road but are sharing the road, its actually safer for pedestrians,” he said. “The notion that the only way to keep kids safe is to separate them from the street is contradicted by evidence,” he said.

He agreed it would be a tragedy if a kid ran out into the street and were hit by a car, but he said not having a sandbox doesn’t eliminate the risk.

City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, a former Sierra Club leader, said the city should try to balance creating more public spaces for kids to play with keeping them safe.

“The safest place for the sandbox is in the backyard, but then you lose out on all the community building,” O’Brien said. “Planting strips are an underutilized space. There’s a public-safety benefit when people on a street know each other and look out for each other.”

Slowing down traffic

Several of Nunes-Ueno’s neighbors said parents on the street frequently have talked about how to slow down traffic. Cars cut through from a busy nearby arterial, often going faster than seems safe, they said.

“The traffic circle doesn’t really slow people. What are you going to tell the kids? Don’t go out and play? They’re all friends. They walk up and down the street to each other’s houses,” said the neighbor, Shapiro.

Nunes-Ueno got the news Friday that the city would allow the sandbox to stay in place while it studies whether some play structures can be safely permitted.

“I’m so excited. This is wonderful news,” he said.

He said ceding all the streets to cars creates a vicious cycle: nobody is on the street, the cars use it like a speedway, and nobody goes out there because it isn’t safe. He said he’s inspired by some of the international thinking about how to create “outdoor rooms” that slow down traffic as well as provide more public space.

“We can have a conversation as a city about how to help create friendly gathering spaces in front of houses,” Nunes-Ueno said.

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Veteran Seattle Washington Police Officer Clayton S. Powell Suspended After Video Uploaded To YouTube Catches Him Brutalizing Man

August 4, 2012

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON — A 19-year veteran Seattle police officer has been suspended after other officers said he used excessive force as they investigated a drive-by shooting involving a pellet gun.

A YouTube video shot at the scene Thursday night shows an argument that involves an officer pushing a man. Seattle police say the officer allowed himself to be baited into unprofessional conduct by an angry crowd.

One person was arrested but later released.

The Seattle Times says police confirm the officer placed on paid leave while the incident is investigated is 51-year-old Clayton S. Powell. The Times reports Powell declined comment Friday.

Police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb says other officers reported the incident immediately and the acting chief learned of it within 90 minutes. Whitcomb says the police chain of command took immediate action.

Just last week, Seattle officials agreed to an independent monitor and court oversight of the city’s police department as part of a deal with the federal Justice Department following a report that found officers routinely used excessive force.

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Microsoft Makes Skype Chats And Video By Its 600 Million Users Readily Accessable To Law Enforcement

July 26, 2012

REDMOND, WASHINGTON – Skype, the online phone service long favored by political dissidents, criminals and others eager to communicate beyond the reach of governments, has expanded its cooperation with law enforcement authorities to make online chats and other user information available to police, said industry and government officials familiar with the changes.

Surveillance of the audio and video feeds remains impractical — even when courts issue warrants, say industry officials with direct knowledge of the matter. But that barrier could eventually vanish as Skype becomes one of the world’s most popular forms of telecommunication.

The changes have drawn quiet applause in law enforcement circles but hostility from many activists and analysts.

The changes to online chats, which are written messages conveyed almost instantaneously between users, result in part from technical upgrades to Skype that were instituted to address outages and other stability issues since Microsoft bought the company last year. Officials of the United States and other countries have long pushed to expand their access to newer forms of communications to resolve an issue that the FBI calls the “going dark” problem.

Microsoft has approached the issue with “tremendous sensitivity and a canny awareness of what the issues would be,” said an industry official familiar with Microsoft’s plans, who like several people interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly. The company has “a long track record of working successfully with law enforcement here and internationally,” he added.

The changes, which give the authorities access to addresses and credit card numbers, have drawn quiet applause in law enforcement circles but hostility from many activists and analysts.

Authorities had for years complained that Skype’s encryption and other features made tracking drug lords, pedophiles and terrorists more difficult. Jihadis recommended the service on online forums. Police listening to traditional wiretaps occasionally would hear wary suspects say to one another, “Hey, let’s talk on Skype.”

Hacker groups and privacy experts have been speculating for months that Skype had changed its architecture to make it easier for governments to monitor, and many blamed Microsoft, which has an elaborate operation for complying with legal government requests in countries around the world.

“The issue is, to what extent are our communications being purpose-built to make surveillance easy?” said Lauren Weinstein, co-founder of People for Internet Responsibility, a digital privacy group. “When you make it easy to do, law enforcement is going to want to use it more and more. If you build it, they will come.’’

Skype was slow to clarify the situation, issuing a statement recently that said, “As was true before the Microsoft acquisition, Skype cooperates with law enforcement agencies as is legally required and technically feasible.”

But changes allowing police surveillance of online chats had been made since late last year, a knowledgeable industry official said Wednesday.

In the United States, such requests require a court order, though in other nations rules vary. Skype has more than 600 million users, with some in nearly every nation in the world. Political dissidents relied on it extensively during the Arab Spring to communicate with journalists, human rights workers and each other, in part because of its reputation for security.

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Rainier School District Washington School Bus Driver Claims Caffeine Made Him Molest Women And Children – Gets A Slap On The Wrist

July 5, 2012

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – A school bus driver who was convicted of assault for groping teens and women claims an excessive intake of caffeine drove him to the acts.

Kenneth Sands, 51, tried to explain himself at his sentencing on Tuesday.

Sands, a driver for the Rainier School District, has been convicted of molesting three high school volleyball players and two women during a volleyball game in Onalaska on Oct. 18.

According to the Lewis County sheriff’s office, Sands was at the game as a spectator and was not the bus driver. During the game, he allegedly touched a 46-year-old woman’s breasts three different times and later grabbed her butt as she was trying to get away from him.

After the game, he grabbed a 15-year-old girl’s butt outside of the bus and slapped a 16-year-old girl’s butt as she was getting onto the bus, according to the sheriff’s office.

Once on the bus, Sands allegedly touched another player in an inappropriate manner before the bus driver kicked him out, according to the sheriff’s office.

Sands said it was caffeine that had driven him to act out of character.

“That caused a psychotic episode,” he told the court. “My son-in-law and daughter had never seen that kind of behavior from myself.”

Sands’ words did little to calm the angry mother of one of his victims. In court, the woman read a letter her daughter had written.

“Ken left me with nightmares that would leave me sleepless for nights, afraid to fall asleep. I’ve had dreams of him hurting me and my family in violent ways over and over again,” the letter said.

Sands was sentenced to 30 days for each of the five counts of fourth-degree assault.

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Study Published In A “Scientific Journal” Claims Those Who Believe In Heaven, Hell, And God Commit More Crimes – Based On A Survey And Crime Rates Instead Of Individuals Who Commit Crimes

June 23, 2012

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON — Believing if you are on a “highway to hell” could impact whether or not if you commit a crime.

A study published in the scientific journal PLoS One by University of Oregon’s Azim Shariff and University of Kansas’s Mijke Rhemtulla finds that people who believe in hell are less likely to commit a crime while people who believe in heaven more likely are to get in trouble with the law.

The two professors collected data for belief in hell, heaven and God from the World and European Values Surveys that were conducted between 1981 until 2007 with 143,197 participants based in 67 countries. They compared the data to the mean standardized crime rate in those countries based on homicides, robberies, rapes, kidnappings, assaults, thefts, auto thefts, drug crimes, burglaries and human trafficking.

“[R]ates of belief in heaven and hell had significant, unique, and opposing effects on crime rates,” Shariff and Rhemtulla found in the study. “Belief in hell predicted lower crime rates … whereas belief in heaven predicted higher crime rates.”

They also found that a recent social psychological experiment found that Christian participants who believe in a forgiving God gave themselves more money for the study.

“Participants in the punishing God and both human conditions overpaid themselves less than 50 cents more than what they deserved for their anagrams, and did not statistically differ from the neutral condition, those who wrote about a forgiving God overpaid themselves significantly more-nearly two dollars,” the study found.

Shariff and Rhemtulla believe that the study raises “important questions about the potential impact of religious beliefs on global crime.”

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Veteran Edmonds Washington Police Officer Daniel Lavely Arrested After Sex With A Prisoner

June 17, 2012

EDMONDS, WASHINGTON – An officer with the Edmonds police force has been arrested after he allegedly had sex with a woman in his custody last month, officials said.

The officer, Daniel Lavely, 46, was arrested by Everett police Thursday morning and booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of first-degree custodial sexual misconduct, a felony, following a month-long investigation.

Authorities originally launched the investigation May 9 after receiving an allegation that Lavely reportedly had sexual intercourse three days earlier with a 28-year old Seattle woman who was in his temporary custody while he was on duty.

“My understanding is that she was not free to go, but she wasn’t handcuffed in the back of the patrol car,” said Everett police spokesman Aaron Snell.

Due to the seriousness of the allegation, the officer was immediately placed on administrative leave and his law enforcement authority was suspended, said Sgt. Mike Blackburn of the Edmonds police.

The Everett Police Department investigated the allegation at the request of Edmonds police officials and determined there was probable cause to believe that criminal conduct had occurred.

“Any time that someone’s in custody with a police officer, consensual sex or any time of sex is off the table; it’s not allowed,” said Snell.

According to that investigation, Lavely initially stopped the 28-year-old Seattle woman for jaywalking on Highway 99 in Edmonds on May 6.

The woman was released shortly afterward, but she was contacted again by Lavely later that evening on an unrelated call. This time, Lavely allegedly took temporary custody of the woman, put her in his patrol car and drove her to a remote location where the two had sexual intercourse, according to the investigation.

The woman reported the incident to law enforcement a few days later.

Lavely, a 7½-year veteran of the Edmonds police force who was assigned to patrol duty, was arrested at 11:10 a.m. Thursday.

Formal criminal charges are expected to be filed by the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney.

A determination as to Lavely’s employment status with the city of Edmonds will be made after an Edmonds Police Department review of the entire investigative file.

“We will get to the bottom of this, and there will be appropriate action taken,” said Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan.

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US Cities Doing Everything They Can To Starve The Homeless And Make Sure They Have No Place To Sleep

June 10, 2012

US – A growing number of cities across the United States are making it harder to be homeless.

Philadelphia recently banned outdoor feeding of people in city parks. Denver has begun enforcing a ban on eating and sleeping on property without permission. And this month, lawmakers in Ashland, Ore., will consider strengthening the town’s ban on camping and making noise in public.

And the list goes on: Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami, Oklahoma City and more than 50 other cities have previously adopted some kind of anti-camping or anti-food-sharing laws, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.

The ordinances are pitting city officials against homeless advocates. City leaders say they want to improve the lives of homeless people and ensure public safety, while supporters of the homeless argue that such regulations criminalize homelessness and make it harder to live on the nation’s streets.

“We’re seeing these types of laws being proposed and passed all over the country,” said Heather Johnson, a civil rights attorney at the homeless and poverty law center, which opposes many of the measures. “We think that criminalization measures such as these are counterproductive. Rather than address the root cause of homelessness, they perpetuate homelessness.”
Vagrancy laws

Cities that have adopted laws affecting the homeless:

• Atlanta
• Denver
• Los Angeles
• Miami
• New York
• Seattle

• Phoenix
• Orlando
• Cleveland

A number of organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia this month in response to its feeding ban.

Mark McDonald, press secretary for the city’s mayor, Michael Nutter, said the measures are about expanding the services offered to the homeless, adding dignity to their lives and about ensuring good public hygiene and safety.

“This is about an activity on city park land that the mayor thinks is better suited elsewhere,” he said. “We think it’s a much more dignified place to be in an indoor sit-down restaurant. … The overarching policy goal of the mayor is based on a belief that hungry people deserve something more than getting a ham sandwich out on the side of the street.”

If people come inside for feeding programs, they can be connected with other social service programs and possibly speak with officials such as substance abuse counselors and mental health professionals, McDonald said.

Critics argue that bans on feeding and camping often leave people with no where to eat or sleep because many cities lack emergency food services and shelters. Meanwhile, citing people who violate such ordinances costs cities money when officials try to follow up on such cases and hurts people’s ability to get jobs and housing, because many develop criminal records.

In 2007, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty filed a lawsuit against Dallas contesting its ordinance that restricted locations where groups could share food and prohibited many groups from providing food in locations where they had served homeless people for years. A trial is scheduled to begin this month.

“It is a good thing when you see municipal governments paying attention to the homeless population and trying to find a number of solutions to the crisis,” said James Brooks, the National League of Cities’ program director for community development and infrastructure. “Cities have an obligation not only to the people in the parks but to people in the wider community to prevent a public health problem.”

Brooks’ group supports the ordinances and said they are holistic approaches to solving a problem that will not simply end by giving people shelter. The key to helping homeless people is to get them indoors where social service workers can help them, Brooks said.

An opponent of the measures, Neil Donovan, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, sees the ordinances as possible signs of “compassion fatigue.”

“People are getting frustrated and getting angry at the issue,” he said. “The person who is asking for money outside a coffee shop, the person who is camping just outside the ballpark, the chronically homeless are getting the brunt of this anger.”

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Edmonds Washington Police Officer Daniel Lavely Arrested, Suspended, And Charged After Sex With Woman In Custody Who Jaywalked – Used Patrol Car To Drive Her To Remote Location

June 7, 2012

EDMONDS, WASHINGTON – An officer with the Edmonds police force has been arrested after he allegedly had sex with a woman in his custody last month, officials said.

The officer, Daniel Lavely, 46, was arrested by Everett police Thursday morning and booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of first-degree custodial sexual misconduct, a felony, following a month-long investigation.

Authorities originally launched the investigation May 9 after receiving an allegation that Lavely reportedly had sexual intercourse three days earlier with a 28-year old Seattle woman who was in his temporary custody while he was on duty.

Due to the seriousness of the allegation the officer was immediately placed on administrative leave and his law enforcement authority was suspended, said Sgt. Mike Blackburn of the Edmonds police.

The Everett Police Department investigated the allegation at the request of Edmonds police officials and determined there was probable cause to believe that criminal conduct had occurred.

According to that investigation, Lavely initially stopped the 28-year-old Seattle woman for jaywalking on Highway 99 in Edmonds on May 6.

The woman was released shortly afterward, but she was contacted again by Lavely later that evening on an unrelated call. This time, Lavely allegedly took temporary custody of the woman, put her in his patrol car and drove her to a remote location where the two had sexual intercourse, according to the investigation.

The woman reported the incident to law enforcement a few days later.

Lavely, a 7½-year veteran of the Edmonds police force who was assigned to patrol duty, was arrested at 11:10 a.m. Thursday.

Formal criminal charges are expected to be filed by the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney.

A determination as to Lavely’s employment status with the city of Edmonds will be made after an Edmonds Police Department review of the entire investigative file.

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US Government Department Rules That Illegal Immigrant’s “Civil Rights” Were Violated When Forest Service Called Border Patrol For Help

June 5, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – A federal department ruled last week that the Forest Service violated a Spanish-speaking woman’s civil rights by calling the Border Patrol to help translate during a routine stop, saying it was “humiliating” to Hispanics and an illicit backdoor way to capture more illegal immigrants.

The ruling by the Agriculture Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights could change policies nationwide as law enforcement agencies grapple with how far they can go in trying to help the Border Patrol while not running afoul of racial profiling standards.

Assistant Secretary Joe Leonard Jr. said calling the Border Patrol automatically “escalates” encounters between Hispanics and law enforcement. He ruled that the Forest Service cannot routinely summon the Border Patrol for assistance and said the agency now must document suspected racial profiling nationwide.

“Given the increased risk of being questioned about immigration status during an interaction with [Border Patrol], the policy of using BP for interpretation assistance is problematic in all situations because it places a burden on [limited English proficient] individuals that non-LEP individuals do not experience,” Mr. Leonard ruled.

The case stems from a 2011 incident in Olympic National Forest in Washington in which a Forest Service officer encountered a Hispanic couple who he said appeared to be illegally harvesting plants on the federal lands.

The couple didn’t speak English and he didn’t speak fluent Spanish and, anticipating that situation, he called the Border Patrol for backup and translating.

But when a Border Patrol agent arrived, the couple fled. The woman was apprehended, but the man jumped into a river to try to escape and drowned. The Border Patrol took the woman into custody but released her several days later, reportedly on humanitarian grounds.

The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project complained to the Agriculture Department, which oversees the Forest Service, and last week’s ruling was the result.

Matt Adams, legal director of the project, said the Border Patrol has been expanding its reach in the Northwest and that has meant more encounters well away from the border.

“They’ve got nothing to do out there as far as their traditional mission, that is enforcing people coming through the border. So in order to justify those expanded numbers, they utilize these other tactics,” Mr. Adams said. “At the end of the day, they can drag in bigger numbers, but it’s not focused on the border.”

His group is challenging other federal agencies’ use of the Border Patrol for translation services, and has filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act seeking logs for how often agents are used for translation.

Last week’s ruling relies in part on an executive order issued during the Clinton administration that says language is interchangeable with national origin, which is protected by federal law.

Groups that push for English-language policies in the U.S. called the new ruling illegal and said the government appeared to be granting special language rights to illegal immigrants.

“The ACLU and illegal alien rights groups are well aware that American courts have never upheld their argument that language and national origin are equal, so they battle out these disputes in private between the agencies in order to come to a settlement where both the courts and the taxpayers are absent from the table,” said Suzanne Bibby, director of government relations for ProEnglish. “This is their new strategy because they know they will lose in the courts.”

A spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol, said the agency is reviewing the ruling but is committed to civil rights.

The union that represents Forest Service employees didn’t return a call seeking comment.

In the proceedings, the Forest Service fought on behalf of its officer. It pointed to an operational memo with the Border Patrol that said they are allowed to back up each other. Since Forest Service employees generally are not trained in Spanish, Border Patrol agents are particularly helpful in backing up encounters with Hispanics, the agency said.

Mr. Leonard’s 40-page ruling underscored deep mutual distrust on both sides in the town of Forks, in northwestern Washington.

Town residents who told the review board that the Forest Service officer involved in the 2011 stop was known for harassing Hispanics and for working with the Border Patrol.

Meanwhile, the Forest Service officer said he felt like the Hispanic community had been “tracing” his movements.

Mr. Leonard was skeptical of the officer’s reasoning and said he found the complaints from the community more convincing.

The ruling doesn’t reveal the names of those involved.

Underpinning the ruling were some key legal arguments: First, that the complainant was entitled to visit the national forest; second, that a law enforcement stop affects the availability of the service provided by the national forest; and third, that the Forest Service must take steps to protect those with limited English, including making them not feel unduly threatened.

“A policy that causes individuals to actually flee from the service being provided does not provide meaningful access,” Mr. Leonard wrote.

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Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Cases Involving Attacks By Police Using Taser Weapons – Pregnant Woman Who Wouldn’t Sign Ticket Assaulted

May 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The US Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to take up the appeal of a pregnant woman who was shocked three times with a police Taser after she refused to sign a traffic ticket for driving 32 miles per hour in a 20 m.p.h. school zone.

The woman, Malaika Brooks, was seven months pregnant and was driving her 11-year-old son to school in Seattle at the time of the speeding violation.

At issue in the case was whether police acted reasonably in deploying the Taser after Ms. Brooks refused to sign the speeding ticket and then refused to voluntarily exit her car to allow officers to place her under arrest.

The justices were being asked to examine under what circumstances police use of a Taser device crosses the line from acceptable law enforcement tactic to excessive force.

The high court also declined to hear a second police Taser case involving a woman in Maui, Hawaii, Jayzel Mattos, who was intentionally shocked with a Taser as police attempted to arrest her husband, Troy, following a domestic abuse allegation.

Both Brooks and Ms. Mattos filed suit against the police, alleging they violated their Fourth Amendment right to be free from the use of excessive force. Lawyers for the police officers argued that the officers were protected from such lawsuits by qualified immunity.

In both cases, federal judges ruled that the police officers were not entitled to qualified immunity, and that the cases should proceed to a trial.

The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that even though the actions by police amounted to the excessive use of force, the law was not established clearly enough at the time of both incidents to give police fair warning that their actions were unreasonable and unconstitutional.

“We conclude that Brooks and the Mattoses have alleged constitutional violations, but that not every reasonable officer at the time of the respective incidents would have known – beyond debate – that such conduct violates the Fourth Amendment,” the Ninth Circuit said.

The high court decision not to take up the two cases allows the Ninth Circuit decision to stand.

The Taser incident with Brooks took place in November 2004. The 33-year-old expectant mother was pulled over by a police officer and issued a ticket for driving too fast in a school zone.

Under Seattle law, traffic violators are required to sign their tickets upon receipt. Failure to sign the ticket is itself a violation of the law.

After stopping at the side of the road, Brooks told her son to walk the rest of the way to school. She then told the officer that she did not believe she was speeding in the school zone and that she felt signing the ticket was an admission of guilt. She told the officer she wished to contest the charge.

Another officer and a police sergeant soon arrived on the scene. The officers insisted that unless Brooks signed the ticket she would be arrested and taken to jail. As further incentive an officer produced a Taser.

Brooks told the officer she did not know what a Taser was. She added: “I have to go to the bathroom, I am pregnant, I’m less than 60 days from having my baby.”

The officers attempted to physically remove Brooks from the car, but she held tightly to the steering wheel. One of the officers then used the Taser to deliver an electric shock to Brooks, first to her thigh, then her arm, and finally to her neck. The three shocks took place within 42 seconds.

She was then pulled from the car to the ground, handcuffed, and taken to jail.

A jury later convicted her of refusing to sign a traffic citation. No verdict was reached on a resisting arrest charge.

Brooks gave birth to a healthy baby girl in January 2005. Brooks has permanent burn scars at the Taser contact points, according to briefs filed in the case.

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Marysville Washington Police Officer Derek Carlile Charged In Shooting Death Of His 7 Year Old Daughter – Moron Left Loaded Handgun With Safety Off In Car Full Of Kids

May 26, 2012

MARYSVILLE, WASHINGTON – Prosecutors charged a Washington state police officer Tuesday in the accidental death of his 7-year-old daughter, saying it was unconscionable for him to leave his loaded handgun loose in the family van, where the girl’s younger brother grabbed it and shot her.

Marysville police officer Derek Carlile could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of second-degree manslaughter, a charge that involves criminal negligence.

Carlile “failed to heed … a substantial risk that death would occur when he placed and left his loaded, unsecured revolver in an enclosed van with four children inside,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Lisa Paul wrote in charging papers.

“Though the undeniable tragedy and grief that has stricken the defendant and his family is staggering, compassion must be balanced with accountability,” she wrote.

The shooting occurred March 10 while the van was parked at a store in Stanwood. Carlile and his wife were outside the van when the 3-year-old, who had a fascination with guns, got out of his booster seat, grabbed the weapon and shot his sister Jenna in the torso, investigators said. The safety of the gun was off, they said.

Carlile’s attorney, David Allen, said the family was disappointed in the charging decision. Carlile takes full responsibility for his daughter’s death, but his actions weren’t criminal, Allen said.

“This is a double tragedy for the Carlile family that not only lost Jenna, but now also faces the possibility of losing Derek to prison,” Allen wrote in a news release.

The charging papers say the 31-year-old Carlile, a police officer since 2009, had worked until 2 a.m., then woke up that morning to go antique shopping with a friend. He was late returning from the shopping trip, and he and his family had to rush to get ready to attend a wedding reception.

When he got into the van, he placed his personal .38-caliber revolver – not his service weapon – in a bin on the floor between the driver’s and front passenger’s seats, a space typically reserved for cups and keys, the deputy prosecutor wrote.

His wife asked what he was doing because he usually wore the gun or placed it in a locking compartment on the driver-side door. She later told investigators that she assumed he moved the gun after she brought it to his attention.

On the way to the wedding, the family stopped at the art studio and store in Stanwood. Carlile’s wife, Forrest, went inside, and Carlile spoke with the owner, the same friend with whom he had gone antique shopping that morning.

Carlile heard the gunshot, and another daughter, age 5, got out of the van, saying something about the boy, Jenna and the gun. Carlile ran to the van, opened the sliding door, and saw Jenna slumped over, still wearing her seatbelt. He tried to save her life, but she died at a hospital.

Carlile later refused to let detectives speak with his other children, and prosecutors used a special court proceeding to compel the testimony of the 5-year-old. She told them she and her older sister remained in their seats while the 3-year-old ran up and grabbed the gun, the documents state.

“She said she heard a boom and saw smoke coming from the victim,” Paul wrote.

Detectives did not interview the 3-year-old because of his age. The other child in the car was a 1-year-old.

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Three Seattle Washington Police Officers Assaulted By Handcuffed And Naked Woman Wearing Pink Duct Tape

May 21, 2012

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – A half-naked woman wearing hot pink duct tape attacked and injured three police officers in a bizarre incident Saturday night outside a lower Queen Anne bar, police said.

The outlandish drama began at about 8 p.m., when the woman began stripping off her clothes inside the bar and sticking hot pink duct tape on her upper body area, said Seattle police spokeswoman Renee Witt.

The bartender ordered her to leave the bar, but she refused.

She then grabbed the bartender’s arm, injuring him. After that, she attacked another female customer by clawing and scratching her face and eyes, Witt said.

Police were called. As they pulled up, the woman ran outside and down the street, ducking into a nearby KFC/Taco Bell restaurant and hiding in the women’s rest room.

Officers found her and brought her outside, putting her in handcuffs. But as officers tried to place her inside the patrol car, she suddenly “freaked out,” Witt said.

She began kicking at the legs and head of one officer. As police tried to pull her back inside the patrol car she suddenly did an over-the-head back flip and tumbled out the other side of the car.

Once outside the patrol car, officers tried to get her under control. She kicked one officer in the head, causing a slight concussion.

Another officer was kicked in the hand, which severed the tendon in his right pinkie finger.

The third officer was kicked in the jaw, causing swelling and slight dislocation, Witt said.

All three officers and the suspect were taken to Harborview Medical Center. At the hospital, the suspect again went out of control and had to be given medication that eventually knocked her unconscious.

The officers were treated and released. The suspect also was treated for minor injuries, then booked into King County Jail for investigation of assault.

Appeared HereWhen the Brown County, Wis., Drug Task Force arrested her son Joel last February, Beverly Greer started piecing together his bail.

She used part of her disability payment and her tax return. Joel Greer’s wife also chipped in, as did his brother and two sisters. On Feb. 29, a judge set Greer’s bail at $7,500, and his mother called the Brown County jail to see where and how she could get him out. “The police specifically told us to bring cash,” Greer says. “Not a cashier’s check or a credit card. They said cash.”

So Greer and her family visited a series of ATMs, and on March 1, she brought the money to the jail, thinking she’d be taking Joel Greer home. But she left without her money, or her son.

Instead jail officials called in the same Drug Task Force that arrested Greer. A drug-sniffing dog inspected the Greers’ cash, and about a half-hour later, Beverly Greer said, a police officer told her the dog had alerted to the presence of narcotics on the bills — and that the police department would be confiscating the bail money.

“I told them the money had just come from the bank,” Beverly Greer says. “We had just taken it out. If the money had drugs on it, then they should go seize all the money at the bank, too. I just don’t understand how they could do that.”

The Greers had been subjected to civil asset forfeiture, a policy that lets police confiscate money and property even if they can only loosely connect them to drug activity. The cash, or revenue from the property seized, often goes back to the coffers of the police department that confiscated it. It’s a policy critics say is often abused, but experts told The HuffPost that the way the law is applied to bail money in Brown County is exceptionally unfair.

It took four months for Beverly Greer to get her family’s money back, and then only after attorney Andy Williams agreed to take their case. “The family produced the ATM receipts proving that had recently withdrawn the money,” Williams says. “Beverly Greer had documentation for her disability check and her tax return. Even then, the police tried to keep their money.”

Wisconsin is one of four states (along with Illinois, Kentucky, and Oregon) that prohibits bail bondsmen. So bail must be paid either in cash, with a registered check, cashier’s check or credit card. In fact, Donna Kuchler, a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney based in Waukesha, said police aren’t allowed to insist on cash.

“I would be suspicious of why they would do that,” Kuchler says. “I had a case last year in Fond du Lac County where they tried to say my client could only pay in cash. My guess is that they probably intended to do the same thing that happened here. We brought a cashier’s check anyway, and they knew they had to accept it.”

But the Greers still fared better than Jesus Zamora, whose family and friends continue to fight for police to return their bail money. Zamora was arrested in January on misdemeanor drug possession and a misdemeanor gun charge. A judge set his bail at $5,000.

“My girlfriend borrowed some money from her sister and mother and a few friends, and they came to bail me out,” Zamora says. “But then they started asking her if she had brought drug money. They took the money away and said they were going to have the drug dogs sniff it. She asked them when I would be let out, and they told her, ‘He isn’t going anywhere’.”

The police then seized Zamora’s bail money, just as they did with the Greers’. “I stayed in jail for, I think, another 11 days. I lost count. I had never been arrested for drugs before. And this was for a really small amount. Seventeen painkillers, for which I had a prescription, and a small bag they say had traces of cocaine. And they say my girlfriend and I just had $5,000 in drug money lying around.”

Zamora’s girlfriend borrowed more money from friends and coworkers, which she promised to pay back out of her mother’s tax return. They waited until Zamora had a court date, and this time posted his bail in front of a judge, with a cashier’s check. Wisconsin law enforcement officials also are required to provide a receipt when they confiscate property under forfeiture laws. Beverly Greer and Jesus Zamora both said they were never given receipts.

Brown County Drug Task Force Director Lt. Dave Poteat says the dog alerts were not the only factors. According to Poteat, the Greers and Zamora’s girlfriend appeared nervous when they brought in the bail money. “Their stories didn’t add up. Their ATM receipts had the wrong times on them. And they were withdrawing from several different locations. The times just didn’t correspond to their stories.”

Poteat says an additional reason Zamora’s bail money was confiscated was because during calls from the jail to multiple people, he indicated that the money was drug-related. “Mr. Zamora made a number of calls in which he appeared to be trying to disguise or hide where the money was coming from,” Poteat says. “At one point, he even said to another party, ‘of course the money is dirty.'”

According to Poteat, all inmate calls from the jail are recorded, and both the inmate and the party they call are warned before the call begins.

Zamora says he was merely telling his girlfriend where to get the bail money. “There’s a guy who still owes me money from a car I sold to him. And where I’m from, everyone has a nickname. So I was telling her who she could go to that might be able to give her some money for my bail. I used nicknames because I didn’t want the police to visit their houses.”

Zamora says he was not attempting to disguise where the money was from, only telling his girlfriend and sister to find someone else to bring in the money so they wouldn’t be interrogated. “I know how police do this. My sister just got her immigration papers. I didn’t want them harassing her or threatening to deport her or to change her immigration status. I just wanted to protect them, so I told them to find someone else to bring in the money.”

Civil asset forfeiture is based on the premise that a piece of property — a car, a pile of cash, a house — can be guilty of a crime. Laws vary from state to state, but generally, law enforcement officials can seize property if they can show any connection between the property and illegal activity. It is then up to the owner of the property to prove in court that he owns it or earned it legitimately. It doesn’t require a property owner to actually be convicted of a crime. In fact, most people who lose property to civil asset forfeiture are never charged.

The laws were created to go after the ill-gotten gains of big-time dealers, but critics say they’ve since become a way for police departments to generate revenue — often by targeting lower-level offenders. In 2010, the Institute for Justice (IJ), a libertarian law firm, rated the forfeiture laws in all 50 states, assigning higher grades to states with fairer policies. The firm gave Wisconsin a “C.” When there’s less than $2,000 at stake, law enforcement agencies in the state get to keep 70 percent of what they take. If more than $2,000 is taken, departments can keep half.

But in all states, police agencies can contact the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), making the case federal, and under federal law, local police departments can keep up to 80 percent of forfeiture proceeds, with the rest going to the Department of Justice. The institute reports that between 2000 and 2008, police agencies in Wisconsin took in $50 million from this “equitable sharing” program with the federal government. According to Williams, the DEA recently filed a claim on Zamora’s money in federal court, to take possession of the money through federal civil asset forfeiture laws.

But even in the odd world of asset forfeiture, the seizure of bail money because of a drug-dog alert raises other concerns. In addition to increasing skepticism over the use of drug-sniffing dogs, studies have consistently shown that most U.S. currency contains traces of cocaine. In a 1994 ruling, for example, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals cited studies showing that 75 percent of U.S. currency in Los Angeles included traces of narcotics. In 2009, researchers at the University of Massachusetts analyzed 234 bills collected from 18 cities, and found that 90 percent contained traces of cocaine. A 2008 study published in the Trends in Analytical Chemistry came to similar conclusions, as have studies by the Federal Reserve and the Argonne National Laboratory.

Zamora says he was referring to the common presence of drugs on money when he told his girlfriend, “of course the money is dirty.” “I had talked to my attorney about how all money has some drugs on it,” Zamora says. “So I was trying to tell her what to say if they told her a dog alerted to it. That she was supposed to say, ‘Of course the money is dirty — all money is dirty.'”

Stephen Downing, a retired narcotics cop who served as assistant police chief in Los Angeles, says it isn’t surprising that a drug dog would alert to a pile of cash, since it usually has traces of drugs.

“I’d call these cases direct theft. They’re hijackings,” says Downing, who is now a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organization of former police and prosecutors who advocate ending the drug war.

Downing says he recently consulted a medical marijuana activist in California who was told to bring his bail money in cash, despite the fact that state law allows payment with a cashier’s check, a registered check or a credit card. “It makes me wonder if this seizing of bail is a new idea getting shopped around in law enforcement circles.”

Poteat says he’s aware of some studies from the 1980s about traces of narcotics on most U.S. currency, but that he didn’t know about the more recent research. “Our dogs are trained with currency that’s taken out of circulation. So they wouldn’t alert to bills that have the same traces most other bills have.”

Steven Kessler, a New York-based forfeiture attorney and the author of the legal treatise “Civil and Criminal Forfeiture: Federal and State Practice,” said he had never heard of simply confiscating bail. “It’s abhorrent. You can reject bail if you suspect the money is dirty. But you don’t simply take it and hand it over to the police department.”

Virginia attorney David Smith, who also wrote a book on forfeiture, says he has seen other cases in which authorities have confiscated bail money, but adds, “No courts have ordered forfeiture simply on the basis of a dog alert. There has to be other evidence.”

Forfeitures like these may not hold up in court, but failed cases wouldn’t necessarily discourage police departments from continuing the practice. If the defendant never challenges the seizure, the department generates revenue. If the defendant challenges and wins, the department loses little.

Indigent defendants, in particular, may decide not to pursue a forfeiture case due to the expense, particularly if they’ve already used their savings on bail, or are more concerned with fighting pending criminal charges. In many cases, the amount of cash seized would be exceeded by the costs of hiring an attorney to win it back anyway. In addition, under Wisconsin law, indigent defendants are not entitled to a public defender in civil asset forfeiture cases.

“I would think that one of these cases would be the perfect opportunity for a court to impose punitive damages against the police department,” Kessler says. “You need to make it clear that it would be damaging for the police to attempt this sort of thing in the future. Considering how appalling these cases are, I don’t see why a court couldn’t do that.”

Poteat says it “isn’t unusual” for his task force to seize bail money under forfeiture laws. “I’d say we’ve done it maybe eight or nine times this year.”

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Seattle Washington Police Object To Reforms That Would Help Eliminate Random Beatings By Officers, Often For Minor Offenses

May 16, 2012

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – The Seattle Police Department is objecting to reforms proposed by the Justice Department as wildly unrealistic and expensive, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

The DOJ presented its confidential settlement proposal to the city at the end of March, after finding that Seattle police regularly used illegal force, often for minor offenses. The DOJ threatened to sue unless the problems were fixed.

The AP reviewed a copy of the proposal Tuesday, which shows the DOJ wants the city to change policies, add training for officers and hire more sergeants to supervise patrol officers. The city must also agree to the appointment of an outside monitor, at city expense.

A Seattle Police analysis of the DOJ’s proposal, also reviewed by the AP, takes issue with the cost of the reforms — $41 million, according to a preliminary estimate — as well as the four- to six-month timelines for many of them. It complains that the 1-to-6 ratio of sergeants to patrol officers that prosecutors are seeking, as opposed to the department’s current ratio of 1-to-8, is not a standard found in most major city police agencies, and would take, conservatively, two to three years to accomplish.

“Plainly stated, the overwhelming majority of programs proposed by DOJ cannot be implemented in less than one to three years, if at all,” the analysis reads. “These timelines can only be described as impossible and prompt serious questions about the analytical thoroughness and organizational experience of those who proposed them.”

The DOJ’s proposal calls for reaching the 1-to-6 ratio of sergeants to officers in six months, but appears to give some flexibility by saying that before that, the city and police department should evaluate the ratio to determine whether the suggestion is appropriate.

In the first year, the analysis said, officers would be recruited and trained to fill in for promoted sergeants. The sergeant exam must be announced a year in advance, according to civil service laws, and by city rules, the exams are given every other year. Any shortcut to the rules can result in appeals, and typically no more than 20 percent of those taking the exam are promoted.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is due to present his response to the DOJ’s proposal this week, which he expects will be followed by “good-faith negotiations” between the city and DOJ. If no agreement is reached by the end of the month, the city expects to face a lawsuit from DOJ on June 1.

Last week, the DOJ sued tough-talking Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Ariz., over allegations that his department racially profiled Latinos. It was only the second time since the verdict in the Rodney King police brutality case and Los Angeles riots that the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against a law enforcement agency with which it was unable to reach an agreement.

McGinn first announced the cost estimate of $41 million on Monday, prompting the U.S. attorney’s office in Seattle to describe the figure as inflated. The city is facing a budget hole of about $30 million.

“The budget numbers being projected by the city are simply wrong,” Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Bates said in a written statement Monday. “The cost of any agreement will not be remotely close to the figure cited today. We are confident that once the city understands our proposed agreement, it will conclude that what we cannot afford is further delay.”

The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment Tuesday.

The Justice Department launched its formal civil rights investigation early last year, following the fatal shooting of a homeless, Native American woodcarver and other incidents of force used against minority suspects.

Surveillance cameras and police-cruiser videos captured officers beating civilians, including stomping on a prone Latino man who was mistakenly thought to be a robbery suspect, and an officer kicking a non-resisting black youth in a convenience store.

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Pertussis Epidemic Spreading Across Washington State

May 4, 2012

WASHINGTON – Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire is tapping into emergency funds to help contain a whooping cough epidemic spreading throughout the state.

The $90,000 in crisis cash will be used to boost vaccination awareness.

“These actions will help state and local health leaders get vaccine into people’s arms so we can stem the tide,” Gregoire said Thursday in a statement.

Washington has seen more than 1,130 cases of whooping cough this year, up from 117 cases in the same stretch last year.

“I’ve been following the epidemic closely and the continued increase in cases has me very concerned about the health of our residents. I’m especially concerned about the vulnerable babies in our communities that are too young to be fully immunized,” Gregoire said.

Whooping cough is unofficial for pertussis, a contagious bacterial infection that causes uncontrollable coughing interrupted by whooping gasps for air. The infection is preventable with the dTap vaccine, a series of five shots that boost immunity against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

The first dose of dTap is given two months after birth, making infants particularly vulnerable to whooping cough from unvaccinated adults. About 75 percent of newborns who come down with whooping cough catch it from a family member, studies found.

“Pertussis is very serious, especially for babies. It’s vital that teens and adults are current on their immunizations because they’re often the ones who give whooping cough to babies,” state Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said in a statement.

The state Department of Health has pledged an additional $210,000 to the vaccine awareness effort.

“In my 13 years as secretary, this is the first time I’ve had to use the word ‘epidemic’ about disease in our state,” Selecky said. “We’re headed for unprecedented numbers of cases. We’ve got to keep spreading the word to help prevent the spread of illness.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved the redirection of federal funds designated for other immunizations to buy more than 27,000 doses of pertussis vaccine for adults who are uninsured or underinsured, Gregoire said.

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Babysitters To Accompany Secret Service Agents To Keep Them From Overdrinking, Bringing Whores To Their Hotel Rooms, And Out Of Sleazy Bars

April 28, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Embarrassed by a prostitution scandal, the Secret Service will assign chaperones on some trips to enforce new rules of conduct that make clear that excessive drinking, entertaining foreigners in their hotel rooms and cavorting in disreputable establishments are no longer tolerated.

The stricter measures, issued by the Secret Service on Friday for agents and employees, apply even when traveling personnel are off duty.

The policies, outlined in a memorandum obtained by The Associated Press, are the agency’s latest attempt to respond to the scandal that surfaced as President Barack Obama was headed to a Latin American summit in Cartagena, Colombia, earlier this month.

The embattled Secret Service director, Mark Sullivan, urged agents and other employees to “consider your conduct through the lens of the past several weeks.”

Sullivan said the rules “cannot address every situation that our employees will face as we execute our dual-missions throughout the world.” He added: “The absence of a specific, published standard of conduct covering an act or behavior does not mean that the act is condoned, is permissible or will not call for — and result in — corrective or disciplinary action.”

“All employees have a continuing obligation to confront expected abuses or perceived misconduct,” Sullivan said.

Ethics classes will be conducted for agency employees next week.

The changes were intended to staunch the embarrassing disclosures since April 13, when a prostitution scandal erupted in Cartagena involving 12 Secret Service agents, officers and supervisors and 12 more enlisted military personnel who were there ahead of Obama’s visit to the Summit of the Americas.

But the new policies raised questions about claims that the behavior discovered in Cartagena was an isolated incident: Why would the Secret Service formally issue new regulations covering thousands of employees if such activities were a one-time occurrence?

“It’s too bad common-sense policy has to be dictated in this manner,” said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “New conduct rules are necessary to preventing more shenanigans from happening in the future, and whether these are the best, and most cost effective, rules to stop future misconduct remains to be seen.”

The rules did not mention prostitutes or strip clubs. But they prohibit employees from allowing foreigners, except hotel staff or foreign law enforcement colleagues, into their hotel rooms. They also ban visits to “nonreputable” establishments, which were not defined. The State Department was expected to brief Secret Service employees on trips about areas and businesses considered off-limits to them.

During trips in which the presidential limousine and other bulletproof vehicles are transported by plane, senior-level chaperones will accompany agents and enforce conduct rules, including one from the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., praised the new rules as “very positive steps by the Secret Service to make clear what is expected of every agent and also makes clear what will not be tolerated.”

The Secret Service has forced eight employees from their jobs and was seeking to revoke the security clearance of another employee, which would effectively force him to resign. Three others have been cleared of serious wrongdoing. The military was conducting its own, separate investigation but canceled the security clearances of all 12 enlisted personnel.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano assured senator this week that the incident in Colombia appeared to be an isolated case, saying she would be surprised if it represented a broader cultural problem. The next day, the Secret Service acknowledged it was investigating whether its employees hired strippers and prostitutes in advance of Obama’s visit last year to El Salvador. Prostitution is legal in both Colombia and El Salvador.

“If they are true, the emergence of these anecdotes about past Secret Service misconduct is precisely why our committee will be trying to determine if such behavior is widespread,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman, R-Conn., who heads the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The committee has asked Sullivan for information “related to misconduct by agents on assignment,” he said.

In a confidential message to senators on Thursday, the Secret Service said its Office of Professional Responsibility had not received complaints about officer behavior in El Salvador but would investigate.

On Capitol Hill, early signs surfaced of eroding support for the Secret Service director. Grassley said Sullivan’s job could be secure if the scandal were an isolated incident. “But if it goes much deeper, you know, nothing happens or nothing’s changed in Washington if heads don’t roll,” Grassley said on CBS “This Morning.”

The White House said the president remained supportive of Sullivan and confident in the capabilities of the Secret Service.

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September 11, 2001 Attack Victims Remains Burnt And Tossed In Trash

February 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Some human remains recovered from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pa., were incinerated and dumped in a landfill, the Defense Department said Tuesday in the latest revelation about mishandled body parts at the Dover Air Force Base mortuary.

A new Pentagon review of the troubled mortuary disclosed several other problems — including fresh allegations of fraud and misplaced remains — over the past decade despite previous assurances by Air Force officials that they had adequately investigated operations at the base.

The revelation that “several portions of remains” recovered from the Pentagon and Shanksville ended up in a landfill was mentioned briefly on the latter pages of a report released Tuesday after an investigation led by retired Army Gen. John P. Abizaid.

The report said that the Sept. 11 remains in question “could not be tested or identified,” apparently because they were too small or charred to allow for DNA analysis. The remains were cremated and then mixed with biomedical waste at the Dover mortuary, where they were given to a contractor who incinerated them and dumped the residue in a landfill.

The report cites Army and Air Force memos from July and August 2002 directing that an unspecified number of “remains from the Attack on the Pentagon” be incinerated.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Abizaid said he didn’t know many details on what happened to the remains of Sept. 11 victims.

“We did not spend a great deal of time and effort and energy looking into what you’re talking about,” he said in response to a reporter’s questions. “That was not our charge. Our charge was to look forward.”

Abizaid declined to release the memos or other documentation on the matter, saying, “I have no authority to release anything.”

Late Wednesday, the White House issued a statement saying it was “deeply concerned” about the landfill disposals and about “the unacceptable handling of remains at Dover.” The statement said President Obama had been briefed about Abizaid’s review and that he “strongly supports the Pentagon’s efforts to make needed systemic structural changes so that these types of incidents never happen again.”

The report indicates that unidentified remains from the hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, were disposed of in a similar manner. But the Pennsylvania coroner who oversaw the handling of remains from that attack said no body parts from Shanksville were ever sent to Dover or taken to a landfill.

Wallace Miller, the Somerset, Pa., county coroner, said in news reports on Tuesday that all unidentified remains from Shanksville were buried in three caskets on Sept. 12 at a memorial site for Flight 93 as part of the 10th anniversary of the hijacking.

Seeking answers

Members of Congress pressed the Pentagon to offer a more detailed account of the handling of victims’ remains.

“The heroic passengers on United Flight 93 gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, and their families deserve to know the fate of their remains,” Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), wrote in a letter Tuesday to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta. “It is critically important that we get to the bottom of this matter, clear up any remaining doubts, and ensure that those responsible for any mishandling of remains be held accountable.”

In November, The Washington Post reported that the Dover mortuary for years had disposed of incinerated portions of remains of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in a Virginia landfill. The practice involved unidentified or unclaimed body parts; it was not made known to troops’ family members.

The Air Force later acknowledged that it had dumped the incinerated partial remains of at least 274 service members in the landfill between 2003 and 2008, when the practice ended in favor of a new policy of burying ashes at sea.

At the time, Air Force officials said their mortuary records went back to only 2003 and that they did not know when the landfill dumping began.

On Feb. 6, however, in response to news reports about the landfill dumping, Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.) wrote a letter to Panetta asking: Could the Defense Department confirm that “no 9/11 victims’ remains were incinerated, mixed with medical waste and sent to a landfill?”

The Pentagon has not responded, according to Holt.

In an interview Tuesday, Holt accused the Pentagon of stonewalling. He said defense officials didn’t understand the importance of clearing up questions about the remains of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“They don’t even seem to understand the gravity of the scandal,” he said. “They don’t have the degree of chagrin or embarrassment they should have.”

The top civilian and military leaders of the Air Force — Secretary Michael B. Donley and Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the chief of staff — both said they did not know until Tuesday that some cremated partial remains of some Sept. 11 victims were ultimately taken to a landfill.

The Air Force leaders said they were focused on fixing the problems at Dover. They said they did not have any immediate plans to follow up on the disclosure about the Sept. 11 victims.

“There will be a decision, I suppose, at some point on what more time should be invested in this work,” Donley said.

George Little, a spokesman for Panetta, said the defense secretary has asked the Air Force leadership to review Abizaid’s report “and to take all steps necessary to improve operations at Dover.”

Panetta has previously told reporters that he wanted Abizaid to look into reports that troops’ body parts were cremated and sent to the landfill. But Little declined to say whether Panetta would order a further investigation into the fate of the remains of Sept. 11 victims.

“The secretary never would have supported a landfill policy,” said Little, noting that the practice ended in 2008, years before Panetta took office in 2011. “Our focus now is on ensuring that lapses that occurred in the past do not happen in the future.”

Family members of victims of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center have previously alleged that some remains of their relatives were taken to a Staten Island landfill. Family members filed a lawsuit in 2005 to force New York to search for the remains, but a federal judge ruled that the plaintiffs could not successfully prove that they had a claim to any remains.

Other incidents reported

In Abizaid’s report, an appendix lists several previously undisclosed incidents of mismanagement, mishandled body parts and other botched cases at the Dover mortuary.

In August 2009, the Air Force opened an investigation into allegations of fraud at the mortuary. The report did not disclose the nature of the alleged fraud but said the case remains open and that federal prosecutors are still deciding whether to file charges.

In January 2008, the report said, the Air Force paid a $25,000 settlement to the unidentified widow of a Marine “for mental anguish and medical costs due to loss of personal effects” that were “inadvertently destroyed” along with the Marine’s remains.

Separately, in July 2006, remains from four military personnel who died in an airplane crash were “cremated and disposed of as medical waste rather than being interred in group burial.” Abizaid’s report blamed “poor communication” among branches of the military but did not give details.

In September 2005, an Air Force investigation found that “human remains were mis-routed in a fashion constituting dereliction of duty,” according to the report, which again did not give details.

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Nutcase Seattle Washington Police Officer Brad Richardson Beat, Arrested, And Threatened To “Make Stuff Up” About 2 Innocent Men – Dash Camera Video Missing…

February 16, 2012

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – Two friends who had planned to visit a Seattle sports bar claim they ended up being kicked, arrested at gunpoint and held in jail for several hours by a cop who said he intended to “make stuff up.”

Part of the arrest of Josh Lawson, 23, and Christopher Franklin, 22, on Nov. 16, 2010 is caught on tape by the officer’s dashboard camera.

But key moments of the arrest that should have been captured on video are missing and it was unclear whether the officer intentionally neglected to turn on the dash cam. None of the released footage shows the officer in the moments he made the stop or kicked Lawson.

The accusations against Richardson are among many that have put a spotlight on the Seattle Police Department and it comes after the release of a Department of Justice report in December that said “serious concerns about practices that could have a disparate impact on minority communities” were raised by its review.

The recording of the arrest was released after ABC News affiliate KOMO began an investigation into missing police dashboard camera videos.

The recording of the arrest of Lawson and Franklin — who were picked up for allegedly assaulting and robbing a man a short time earlier — shows the suspects being helped from the ground and into the patrol car of Officer Brad Richardson.

The officer’s uniform microphone also records Richardson telling the suspects, “Yeah, I’m going to make stuff up.”

The Seattle Police Department called Richardson’s comment “banter” and the officer was exonerated of any wrongdoing after a use of force review was conducted, along with an investigation by the Seattle Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability.

“Clearly if the officer had made stuff up he would have been in hot water,” Sgt. Sean Whitcomb of the Seattle Police Department told

Lawson and Richardson said the dash cam did not record crucial moments of the arrest that they said left them with facial bruises and swelling. They claimed they were manhandled and kicked in the face by Richardson, while the officer maintained that he only kicked Lawson in the chest to make him comply with an order to get on the ground.

“I don’t know who was recording what,” Whitcomb told “Officers should record, [but] it’s not a violation not to.”

Lawson and Franklin, who are African-American, were arrested after a 911 call came in from a few blocks away alleging a man had been the victim of an assult and robbery. The two suspects were described as black males in their late twenties, tall, skinny and wearing jeans.

Franklin is 5-foot-9. Lawson, who is six feet tall. Instead of jeans, he was wearing white sweat pants.

“The only thing they had to fit the description was black males,” said the pair’s attorney, Lizanne Padula. “This was like a meteor dropping down on them.”

When they found out why they were being arrested, the two men became alarmed.

“It felt like no one was going to believe us,” Franklin told “We were just going to be another statistic.”

Richardson’s written report described a different situation. The officer wrote in the police report that the men continued to approach his car even after he yelled at them to stop.

“The male wearing the hoodie continued to keep his hands in his hoodie pockets. With the strong possibility both of these males were the assault suspects and they were ignoring commands to stop, I again advised, ‘Stop, Police, show me your hands and get on the ground.'”

According to Richardson, the two men got closer, so he drew his weapon.

Lawson said they complied with the officer’s order.

“I got on the ground. I sat with my hands up frozen because I had a gun pointed at me,” Lawson said. “I had to come back into myself and understand there was a gun on me. I was in shock.”

Richardson said that Lawson stayed in a crouch position, not fully laying on the ground.

“I used a flat foot, front push kick to the center of the male chest knocking him backwards and flat to the ground,” he wrote.

The robbery victim positively identified the two men, while a witness said she was uncertain. No charges were filed at the victims’ request.

The two men want changes in the Seattle Police Department. They have also filed a complaint for damages, possibly the first step in a lawsuit.

“We’re terrified of hanging out in our own city,” Franklin said. “These officers have seen our faces. They know our names. We can’t trust people.”

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Douchebag Pierce County Washington Sheriff Paul Pastor Used Crimestoppers Funds To Buy Burial Sites To Keep Man From Being Burried Next To His Children

February 16, 2012

WASHINGTON – A sheriff and his sergeant in Washington state have bought burial plots next to Josh Powell’s boys in order to block family members from burying him next to them, according to a media report Wednesday.

“The bottom line is, Josh Powell will not be near those two boys,” Pierce County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ed Troyer said in an interview with a Seattle-area radio program called the Ron and Don Show.

Josh Powell’s surviving relatives wanted him to buried at the same cemetery as the two sons he killed, the city manager in Puyallup said earlier Wednesday.

But that does not look like it is going to happen.

Troyer and Sheriff Paul Pastor used their personal money and funds from Crimestoppers Tacoma-Pierce County to buy plots that are on either side of the boys, according to a report on the radio station’s website that was confirmed by Troyer on Twitter:

Crimestoppers is soliciting money on its website for the purchase of the plots.

“It’s disgusting that a murder suspect would be buried next to his victims,” Pastor said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Powell’s relatives visited the public Woodbine Cemetery and selected a plot about 25 feet from the boys, City Manager Ralph Dannenberg told The Associated Press earlier Wednesday. They haven’t paid for it yet, and any sale is being put on hold because the parents of Powell’s missing wife have promised legal action.

“We don’t have any rules or procedures regarding refusing plots to anyone,” Dannenberg said. “We’re going to wait to see what the outcome is in court.”

Powell was a suspect in Susan Powell’s 2009 disappearance from their home in West Valley City, Utah. He later moved with his sons to near Tacoma, Wash., to be close to his parents. On Feb. 5, he attacked his sons with a hatchet and set his rental house on fire, killing himself and his sons, Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5.

The boys were laid to rest at Woodbine on Saturday. Attorney Anne Bremner, who represents Susan Powell’s parents, Charles and Judy Cox, says she would seek a temporary restraining order to block Josh Powell from being buried there.

“For him to be buried near those kids is just unthinkable,” Bremner said. “For God’s sake, for them to lose Susan first, and then the boys, and now this? Just give these people a break.”

Powell’s sister Alina did not return an email from the AP seeking comment.

Meanwhile, Powell’s father, Steve Powell, who is awaiting trial in Pierce County, Wash., on voyeurism and child pornography charges, filed a motion with the court saying he does not wish to speak to the FBI or other law enforcement about his son’s case or the disappearance of his daughter-in-law.

Mark T. Quigley, Steve Powell’s attorney, told the Salt Lake City Tribune that the notice, filed Tuesday, was common in criminal trials to protect rights against self-incrimination. It was prompted by a visit last week in which Steve Powell reportedly rebuffed FBI agents.

“It’s simply a statement to law enforcement that says my client doesn’t want to talk,” Quigley told the paper. “That’s [Steve Powell’s] right. I don’t think belligerent has anything to do with it.”

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Investigation By Feds Finds That Beatings At The Hands Of Seattle Washington Police Officers Are Routine And Widespread

December 16, 2011

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – A federal civil-rights investigation into the Seattle Police Department has found routine and widespread use of excessive force by officers, and city and police officials were told at a stormy Thursday night meeting that they must fix the problems or face a federal lawsuit, according to two sources.

The meeting, attended by Mayor Mike McGinn, Police Chief John Diaz, members of his command staff and others, ended in raised voices and bitter accusations by city and police officials, upset at the Justice Department’s findings, the sources said. One source said the language in the agency’s report, to be officially released Friday, is “astoundingly critical” of the department.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, who heads the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, flew to Seattle from Phoenix on Thursday and will address a 9:30 a.m. Friday news conference alongside U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan.

The sources confirmed the city will get a chance to work with the Justice Department to address the issues, or it will face a federal lawsuit that could result in fines, penalties and even the appointment of an outside special master to oversee the Police Department.

McGinn, reached Thursday night, declined to discuss the report until its official release. He disputed that the meeting was contentious.

Thomas Bates, the executive assistant U.S. attorney in Durkan’s office, confirmed the meeting but declined to characterize it or discuss the contents of the report.

Friday’s announcement comes 11 months after the Justice Department launched a preliminary review of Seattle police at the request of Durkan and others. Evidence uncovered in that review led to a full-scale civil-rights investigation, announced March 31, to examine whether Seattle police engaged in “systemic violations of the Constitution or federal law.”

The investigation focused on the use of force and allegations of biased policing against minorities.

Three weeks ago, the Justice Department issued a sharply worded letter urging the Police Department to immediately address a policy that allows officers to invoke their protections against self-incrimination in even the most routine use-of-force issues. Justice officials said the policy made prosecutions of errant officers difficult and undermined public confidence.

Last week, in response to the letter, Diaz ordered sweeping changes in how the Police Department develops standards and expectations of officers, and created new panels to monitor and oversee the use of force by police.

Diaz has invited the Department of Justice to participate in a top-down rewrite of his department’s policies and procedures.

The Department of Justice investigation is civil, not criminal. Its goal is to bring the Police Department in compliance with the Constitution and federal law if police practices are determined to be in violation. That could be done through a variety of means, ranging from a negotiated consent decree to a lawsuit.

The downtown King County Jail underwent a similar investigation in 2007 and the Justice Department required it to make significant changes in its care and treatment of inmates, under threat of a federal lawsuit.

Such investigations often take years to complete. The jail investigation lasted nearly two years.

Justice’s most recently announced findings, released Thursday and detailing widespread racial profiling by the Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff’s Office, took more than three years.

Perez announced the findings of the Arizona investigation via a conference call with reporters. He will announce the Seattle findings in person.

The FBI and Department of Justice investigators interviewed police officers, their commanders and citizens. Assistant Chief Jim Pugel, who was a liaison between Seattle Police and Justice, said the department turned over tens of thousands of documents.

Records show the Department of Justice also obtained dash-cam videos in connection with a number of use-of-force complaints.

The federal agency initiated its review in the wake of several highly publicized confrontations between officers and minority citizens, including the fatal shooting of First Nations woodcarver John T. Williams in August 2010 by Officer Ian Birk. The shooting was found to be unjustified and Birk resigned.

The shooting prompted a letter calling for the investigation, authored by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and endorsed by 34 community groups.

The Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into the Williams shooting. No charges have been filed.

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Crazed Everett Washington Safeway Security Guard Tried To Get 4 Year Old Toddler To Read And Sign Form Saying She Is Banned From Store

November 24, 2011

EVERETT, WASHINGTON – A Safeway security guard is taking heat for the way he questioned a 4-year-old shoplifter in Everett.

Little Savannah Harp recently took a trip to the grocery store with her dad. While they were shopping, Savanna took a package of dried fruit from a shelf.

“She grabbed a bag of apricots – dried apricots – opened them, ate a couple, put it back and the security guard watched her do it,” said the girl’s mother, Alissa Jones.

Savannah’s father didn’t notice his daughter’s sticky fingers, but a store security guard did.

The guard stopped the pair as they left the store and led them back to a break room.

“He proceeded to tell them, ‘Your daughter stole and she’s banned from the store, and we’re pressing charges. And she needs to sign this form saying she understands she can’t come into any Safeways,'” Jones said.

Savannah can’t read or write, but the guard, whom Safeway had hired under contract, had her scribble on the paper just the same.

“It’s pretty troubling,” Jones said. “It’s not like she even knows what she was doing.”

Savannah’s parents aren’t the only ones concerned about the way the situation was handled. Company officials said they are outraged by the incident and have fired the security guard.

“Our policies on shoplifting are intended to protect our customers, but built on common sense. And everyone understands what common sense is,” said company spokesperson Cherie Myers. “We are as appalled as the parent is. Our division president was absolutely appalled, called the mom and apologized.”


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First Amnesty For Illegal Aliens, Now US Border Patrol Stops Checking Busses, Trains, And Airports On Northern Border With Canada

October 29, 2011

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – The U.S. Border Patrol has quietly stopped its controversial practice of routinely searching buses, trains and airports for illegal immigrants at transportation hubs along the northern border and in the nation’s interior, preventing agents from using what had long been an effective tool for tracking down people here illegally, The Associated Press has learned.

Current and former Border Patrol agents said field offices around the country began receiving the order last month – soon after the Obama administration announced that to ease an overburdened immigration system, it would allow many illegal immigrants to remain in the country while it focuses on deporting those who have committed crimes.

The routine bus, train and airport checks typically involved agents milling about and questioning people who appeared suspicious, and had long been criticized by immigrant rights groups. Critics said the tactic amounted to racial profiling and violated travelers’ civil liberties.

But agents said it was an effective way to catch unlawful immigrants, including smugglers and possible terrorists, who had evaded detection at the border, as well as people who had overstayed their visas. Often, those who evade initial detection head quickly for the nearest public transportation in hopes of reaching other parts of the country.

Halting the practice has baffled the agents, especially in some stations along the northern border – from Bellingham, Wash., to Houlton, Maine – where the so-called “transportation checks” have been the bulk of their everyday duties. The Border Patrol is authorized to check vehicles within 100 miles of the border.

The order has not been made public, but two agents described it to the AP on condition of because the government does not authorize them to speak to the media. The union that represents Border Patrol agents planned to issue a news release about the change Monday.

“Orders have been sent out from Border Patrol headquarters in Washington, D.C., to Border Patrol sectors nationwide that checks of transportation hubs and systems located away from the southwest border of the United States will only be conducted if there is intelligence indicating a threat,” the release says.

Those who have received the orders said agents may still go to train and bus stations and airports if they have specific “actionable intelligence” that there is an illegal immigrant there who recently entered the country. An agent in Washington state said it’s not clear how agents are supposed to glean such intelligence, and even if they did, under the new directive they still require clearance from Washington, D.C., headquarters before they can respond.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman, Bill Brooks, repeatedly insisted that any shift in enforcement tactics does not amount to a change in policy as local commanders still have authority to aggressively pursue illegal immigrants near the border and at transportation hubs.

“It’s up to the local commander to position his agents the way he wants to position them. What we’ve done is gone to a risk-based posture,” he said.

In a separate statement, the agency said, “Conducting intelligence-based transportation checks allows the Border Patrol to use their technology and personnel resources more effectively, especially in areas with limited resources.”

Shawn Moran, vice president of the union that represents agents, was outraged at the changes.

“Stated plainly, Border Patrol managers are increasing the layers of bureaucracy and making it as difficult as possible for Border Patrol agents to conduct their core duties,” the National Border Patrol Council’s statement said. “The only risks being managed by this move are too many apprehensions, negative media attention and complaints generated by immigrant rights groups.”

The Border Patrol, which patrols outside the official ports of entry handled by customs officers, has dramatically beefed up its staffing since 9/11, doubling to more than 20,000 agents nationally. Along the northern border, the number has jumped from about 300 in the late 1990s to more than 2,200.

At the same time, the number of Border Patrol arrests nationwide has been falling – from nearly 1.2 million in 2005 to 463,000 in 2010, and 97 percent of them at the southern border, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics. The office cited the recession as a likely factor in the drop.

Along the northern border last fiscal year, the agency made 7,431 arrests. It was not immediately clear how many stemmed from routine transportation checks. The public affairs office for the Border Patrol’s Blaine sector said it doesn’t break down the data that way.

But of 673 arrests in the sector, roughly 200 were from routine transportation checks, according to a Washington state-based Border Patrol agent who has been with the agency for more than 20 years and spoke to the AP.

Until receiving the new directive, the Bellingham office, about 25 miles from the Canadian border, kept agents at the bus and train station, and at the local airport 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Now, the agents have little work to do, the agent said.

The situation is similar in upstate New York, where an agent told the AP – also on the condition of anonymity – that a senior manager relayed the new directive during a morning roll call last month. Since then, instead of checking buses or trains, agents have spent shifts sitting in their vehicles gazing out at Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, where few illegal immigrants cross.

“They’re already bored,” the agent said. “You grab the paper every day and you go do the crossword.”

In the Buffalo sector, where there were more than 2,400 arrests in fiscal 2010, as many as half were from routine transportation checks, the agent estimated.

The change was immediately obvious to Jack Barker, who manages the Greyhound and Trailways bus station in Rochester, N.Y. For the past six years, he said, Border Patrol agents boarded nearly every bus in and out of the station looking for illegal immigrants.

Last month – one day after the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and all of the hype that surrounded it – the agents stopped coming. They haven’t been back since, Barker said.

“What’s changed that they’re no longer needed here?” Barker asked. “I haven’t been able to get an answer from anybody.”

Doug Honig, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, welcomed the news.

“If the Border Patrol is indeed not boarding buses and trains and engaging in the random questioning of people, that’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “People shouldn’t be questioned by government officials when there’s no reason to believe they’ve done anything wrong.”

Kent Lundgren, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, said the transportation checks have been a staple of the agency for 60 years. His organization has heard from agents around the country complaining of the change, he said.

Gene Davis, a retired deputy chief in the Border Patrol’s sector in Blaine, Wash., emphasized how effective the checks can be. He noted that a check of the Bellingham bus station in 1997 yielded an arrest of Palestinian Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer. Abu Mezer skipped out on a $5,000 bond – only to turn up later in Brooklyn, where New York police shot him as he prepared to bomb the city’s subway system. Davis also noted that would-be millennium bomb suspect Ahmed Ressam was arrested at the border in late 1999 when he left a ferry from British Columbia to Washington in a rented car full of explosives.

“We’ve had two terrorists who have come through the northern border here. To put these restraints on agents being able to talk to people is just ridiculous,” Davis said. “Abu Mezer got out, but that just shows you the potential that’s there with the transportation checks.”

The Border Patrol informed officials at the Bellingham airport on Thursday that from now on they would only be allowed to come to the airport “if there’s an action that needs their assistance,” said airport manager Daniel Zenk.

“I’m shocked,” Zenk said. “We welcome the security presence the Border Patrol provides.”

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Seattle Washington Police Officers Target Innocent Motorists With $144 Ticket For Honking In Support Of Protesters

October 8, 2011

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – Police experimented with a new tactic Friday night as they responded to a weeklong Occupy Seattle demonstration at Westlake Park — ticketing drivers who honked in support of protesters.

Starting at 11 p.m. Friday, police started pulling over and ticketing drivers who honked as they drove past protesters.

When the first car — a taxi — was pulled over, the protesters followed and shouted at police who then formed a blockade around the driver’s cab.

The cab driver was then given a $144 ticket — and protesters ended up handing him money afterwards to help pay for his fine.

“I’m really sorry this happened to you tonight, man,” one protester said to the cab driver.

The protesters also encouraged the driver to go to court and challenge the ticket.

The driver, Ayad Agila, later said he was only trying to show his support for the protest and was shocked when he got the ticket.

“That’s no good,” he said. “I was surprised. I’ve never seen it before in my life. … I’m not happy with it, but I’m happy to show support.”

A few minutes later, officers pulled over and ticketed another cab driver, with the same result.

Now Occupy Seattle protesters say they’re trying to warn drivers not to honk.

They quickly put up an impromptu sign that said “Don’t honk! After 10 p.m. you will be ticketed.”

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Auburn Washington Police Arrest And Jail Innocent Man For Trying To Cash Valid Check

July 8, 2011

AUBURN, WASHINGTON – When the US government mailed Ikenna Njoki an $8,000 check for being a first-time home owner, he knew right away what it was going to go towards.

“I was really excited. For the first time, I actually got to buy a lawn mower, mow my lawn and everything,” the 28-year-old Washington State native tells Seattle’s King5 News.

Trying to get that lawnmower, however, costs Njoki his car, his job and his freedom. He spent a weekend in jail trying to cash that check.

Clerks at the Auburn, Washington Chase bank branch that Njoki went into thought the check was a forgery. After going over the document for half an hour, Njoki had to run but said he’d be back later. When he returned the next day to the bank, the cops were there waiting for him.

“He had two forms of valid ID, a check issued by Chase, he walked in there during normal business hours. I don’t see any valid basis for suspicion in the first place,” Njoku’s attorney tells King5 News.

Njoku said he was embarrassed by the misunderstanding but it only got worse when he was arrested.

He sat in a cell over the weekend and couldn’t call in to his job. When he was let out of jail, he was also let off of work. And when Njoku went to go get his car that he parked days earlier at the bank, he learned it wasn’t there. It was towed and ended up sold at auction while Njoku was still unable to cash the cashier’s check, a check that was issued itself by Chase.

“It shouldn’t take them a day and a half to research a check,” he said.

And it shouldn’t take a weekend behind bars for Njoku to get his lawnmower either. A year later with no apology, Njoku’s lawyer is considering filing claims against Chase that they discriminated against his client. Njoku was born in Washington State but his mom and dad emigrated from Nigeria. Now he borrows his mother’s car when he can pick up part-time construction gigs.

Felix Luna is representing Njoku and thinks that Chase may have broken federal law by discriminating in banking transactions on the basis of race or presumed national origin. A letter was recently issued by his legal team asking for “full and fair financial compensation” for the “unlawful conversion” of Njoku’s property and the resulting damages. They offer the bank ten days to respond. A week later a Chase rep say’s they’re reviewing the situation.

If it takes them as long as they did to apologize, Njoku might be waiting awhile. It took over a year for someone from Chase to say they’re sorry. Writing to King5, a bank rep says, “We are working quickly to understand all the details so we can reach a fair resolution.”

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Murder Conviction Tossed After King County Washington Prosecutor James Konat’s Racist Comments Attacking Defense Witnesses

June 10, 2011

KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON – The state Supreme Court has thrown out a man’s murder conviction in a 2006 gang-related shooting in Pioneer Square, ruling that the prosecutor who tried the case resorted to “racist arguments” to attack defense witnesses.

The court, in an 8-1 ruling, found that James Konat, a veteran King County deputy prosecutor now trying a high-profile murder case, engaged in “prosecutorial misconduct” in questioning witnesses during the trial of Kevin L. Monday Jr., who was convicted in 2007 of first-degree murder and first-degree assault, and sentenced to 64 years in prison.

During the trial, Konat questioned witnesses, many of them black, about a purported street “code” that he claimed prevented some from talking to the police, according to the Supreme Court’s majority opinion written by Justice Tom Chambers. In questioning some witnesses, Konat made references to the “PO-leese,” the justices found.

During his closing argument to jurors, Konat also said that while witnesses denied the presence of such a code, “the code is black folk don’t testify against black folk. You don’t snitch to the police,” according to the Supreme Court decision.

Monday, 25, is black; Konat is white.

Monday appealed the conviction on a number of grounds, claiming that Konat “made a blatant and inappropriate appeal to racial prejudice and undermined the credibility of African-American witnesses based on their race,” according to the Supreme Court.

The state Court of Appeals agreed that Konat had appealed to racial prejudice during the trial, but upheld Monday’s conviction.

But the Supreme Court, in Thursday’s ruling, cited Konat’s comments as grounds for the conviction to be overturned, saying that they cast doubt on the credibility of the witnesses based on their race. One justice called the deputy prosecutor’s comments “repugnant.”

“Defendants are among the people the prosecutor represents. The prosecutor owes a duty to defendants to see that their rights to a constitutionally fair trial are not violated,” Chambers wrote.

“The State repeatedly invoked an alleged African American, anti-snitch code to discount the credibility of his own witnesses … it is deeply troubling that an experienced prosecutor who, by his own account, had been a prosecutor for 18 years would resort to such tactics,” the ruling said.

The justices contend that the only reason that Konat used the pronunciation “PO-leese” was to “subtly, and likely deliberately, call to the jury’s attention that the witness was African American.”

Justice James M. Johnson, the lone dissenter, said that even if Konat’s comments “arguably tainted the jury’s impressions,” the murder case still was proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Seattle police said that Monday fired at least 10 shots at Francisco Roche Green near the corner of Yesler Way and Occidental Avenue South in the early hours of April 22, 2006. Monday was also accused of firing gunshots at a vehicle and wounding the driver and a passenger. The incident was caught on video by a street musician who was in the area when shots were fired.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said he spoke with Konat after the trial and told him his comments were unacceptable. In response, all deputy prosecutors have been through retraining about potential prosecutorial misconduct, Satterberg said on Thursday.

Konat, 53, could not be reached Thursday to comment.

He is lead prosecutor in the trial of Isaiah Kalebu, who is charged with aggravated murder in the slaying of Teresa Butz and the rape of her partner in their South Park home in July 2009.

A spokesman for Satterberg’s office said Konat was not formally disciplined.

Konat’s words “do not represent the view of this office. It was regrettable,” Satterberg said. He called Konat’s method of explaining the so-called “code” in which witnesses don’t talk to prosecutors or police “inartful and offensive.”

But in response to Monday’s appeal in 2008, the Prosecutor’s Office maintained that Konat hadn’t done anything wrong.

“The prosecutor’s comment in final argument that ‘Black folk don’t testify against black folk’ was nothing more than a summary of evidence in the case, consistent with the realities of the lack of cooperation and hostility by most of the transactional witnesses who testified. This was not prosecutorial misconduct,” according to the filing written by now-retired Senior Deputy Prosecutor Lee Yates.

Satterberg said Monday will be retried, but a different deputy prosecutor will be assigned to the case.

Sarah Dunne, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Western Washington, which filed a brief in support of Monday’s appeal, said Konat’s “behavior undermined the right to a fair trial.”

Defense attorney Nancy Collins, who represented Monday in his appeals, said in an email Thursday that it’s “unfortunate that any prosecutor needed to be reminded of these basic principles in our justice system.”

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Interrogation Of 7th Grader Without Parents Consent Included Secret Service And Tacoma Washington Police

May 17, 2011

TACOMA, WASHINGTON – A Tacoma seventh grader faced federal interrogation at school for what he posted on his Facebook page. His mom said it all happened without her knowledge or permission.

Timi Robertson said she had just finished lunch with a friend Friday when she got a phone call from her son’s school.

“I answered it, and it’s the school security guard who’s giving me a heads up that the Secret Service is here with the Tacoma Police Department and they have Vito and they’re talking to him,” Robertson said.

After Osama bin Laden was killed, 13-year-old Vito LaPinta posted an update to his Facebook status that got the Feds attention.

“I was saying how Osama was dead and for Obama to be careful because there could be suicide bombers,” says LaPinta.

A week later, while Vito was in his fourth period class, he was called in to the principal’s office.

“A man walked in with a suit and glasses and he said he was part of the Secret Service,” LaPinta said. “He told me it was because of a post I made that indicated I was a threat toward the President.”

The Tacoma school district acknowledged a Secret Service agent questioned Vito and that it was a security guard who called Vito’s mom because the principal was on another call. The school district said they didn’t wait for Vito’s mother to get there because they thought she didn’t take the phone call seriously.

“That’s a blatant lie,” Robertson said.

The teen’s mom says she rushed to Truman Middle School immediately and arrived to discover her son had already been questioned for half an hour.

“I just about lost it,” she said. “My 13 year-old son is supposed to be safe and secure in his classroom and he’s being interrogated without my knowledge or consent privately.”

The seventh grader said that once his mom showed up, the agent finished the interview and told him he was not in any trouble. Now he’s more careful about what he posts online.

His mother says she isn’t financially able to take legal action but hopes her family’s story raises awareness about the treatment she said her son endured.

The Seattle branch of the Secret Service did not respond to requests for comment.

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Scientists Dispute TSA Claims Over Safety Of Full Body X-Ray Scanners In Airport

May 16, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – The Transportation Security Administration says its full-body X-ray scanners are safe and that radiation from a scan is equivalent to what’s received in about two minutes of flying. The company that makes them says it’s safer than eating a banana.

But some scientists with expertise in imaging and cancer say the evidence made public to support those claims is unreliable. And in a new letter sent to White House science adviser John Holdren, they question why the TSA won’t make the scanners available for independent testing by outside scientists.

The machines, which are designed to reveal objects hidden under clothing, have the potential to close a significant security gap for the TSA because metal detectors can’t find explosives or ceramic knives, which can be just as sharp as the box cutters that hijackers used on 9/11.

They are also important for TSA’s public relations battle over the alternative, the “enhanced pat-down,” which has bred an epidemic of viral videos: A 6-year-old girl is touched from head to toe. A former Miss USA says she was violated. A software programmer warns a screener, “If you touch my junk, I’m going to have you arrested.”

After the underwear bomber tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day 2009, the TSA ramped up deployment of full-body scanners and plans to have them at nearly every security line by 2014.

There are two types of body scanners. Millimeter wave machines emit a radio frequency similar to cellphones. Backscatters work like a fast-moving X-ray. In the latter, the rays bounce off the skin and create a fuzzy white image of the passenger’s body. Because the beam doesn’t go through the body, most of its radiation is received by the skin.

The TSA says the backscatter technology has been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute for Standards and Technology and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Survey teams are using radiation-detecting dosimeters to check the machines at airports. The TSA says the results have all confirmed that the scanners don’t pose a significant risk to public health.

According to the agency and many radiation experts, the dose is so low, even for children or cancer patients, that someone would have to pass through the machines more than a thousand times before approaching the annual limit set by radiation safety organizations.

But the letter to the White House science adviser, signed by five professors at University of California, San Francisco, and one at Arizona State University, points out several flaws in the tests. Studies published in scientific journals in the last few months have also cast doubt on the radiation dose and the machines’ ability to find explosives.

A number of scientists, including some who believe the radiation is trivial, say more testing should be done given the government’s plans to put millions of passengers through the machines. And they have been disturbed by the TSA’s reluctance to do so.

“There’s no real data on these machines, and in fact, the best guess of the dose is much, much higher than certainly what the public thinks,” said John Sedat, a professor emeritus in biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF and the primary author of the letter.

The same group stirred controversy last year when it sent a letter to Holdren arguing that while the overall dose to the body may be low, the TSA hadn’t quantified the dose to the skin. Last fall, FDA and TSA officials released a study that estimated the dose to the skin to be twice the dose to the body, though still extremely low.

In the most recent letter sent to Holdren on April 28, the professors note that the Johns Hopkins lab didn’t test an actual airport machine. Instead, the tests were done on a model built by the manufacturer, Rapiscan, and configured to resemble a system previously tested by the TSA.

The researchers’ names have been kept secret, and the report on the tests is so “heavily redacted” that “there is no way to repeat any of these measurements,” they wrote.

The physics and medical professors also took issue with the device used to measure the radiation. Although the device, known as an ion chamber, is commonly used to test medical equipment, they argue that the detector gets overwhelmed by the amount of radiation the backscatter deposits in a short time and might not provide accurate readings.

Helen Worth, a spokeswoman for the Johns Hopkins lab, referred questions to the TSA.

Part of the trouble is that there is no ideal device for measuring the radiation dose given by backscatter X-rays, said David Brenner, director of the Columbia University Center for Radiological Research. The machines emit a pencil beam that rapidly moves across and up and down the body, he said.

“We are one of the oldest and biggest radiological research centers in the country, and we find this to be a very hard technical problem,” said Brenner, who was not involved with the letter.

Another issue is that there is a lot of uncertainty with the model used to estimate cancer risk from radiation exposure to the skin, said Rebecca Smith-Bindman, a UCSF radiologist who also was not involved in the letter.

Smith-Bindman, who has testified before Congress about excessive radiation from medical scans, studied the TSA reports and said she wasn’t concerned about the airport X-rays.

The risks are “truly trivial,” she wrote in an article for the Archives of Internal Medicine. A passenger would have to undergo 50 airport scans to reach the level of a dental X-ray, 1,000 for a chest X-ray, and 4,000 for a mammogram.

Though imperfect, the available models predict that the backscatters would lead to only six cancers over the course of a lifetime among the approximately 100 million people who fly every year, Smith-Bindman concluded.

“There’s really unnecessary fear related to these scans,” she said. “What I’m not as comfortable with is that there has not been access to these machines. They are not being tested on the same regulatory basis that we see on medical equipment.”

After her article was published, Smith-Bindman was contacted by a TSA public affairs officer. During the conversation, she suggested that she or other outside scientists be allowed to test the machine. The official was shocked by the suggestion and said such access could tip off people who want to avoid detection, Smith-Bindman said.

“It was not appreciating that there’s legitimate scientific questions that have to be balanced against the security questions,” she said.

The TSA did not respond to ProPublica’s questions about why it wouldn’t allow outside testing. But at a congressional hearing in March, Robin Kane, assistant administrator for security technology, said doing so would expose a lot of sensitive information the agency wouldn’t normally share publicly. The machines had already been tested several times, he said, and if set up securely, the agency would allow more testing.

The available information leaves scientists with little to work with. Peter Rez, the Arizona State physics professor who signed the letter to Holdren, has tried to calculate the radiation by examining the handful of backscatter images that have been released publicly.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a civil liberties group, sued the Department of Homeland Security, TSA’s parent agency, in federal court seeking release of 2,000 backscatter images used in testing. But it has not been successful.

The few images that have been made public do not reveal faces or detailed private features. The TSA says the images Rez used are out of date, but Rez says the current image on TSA’s website is unusable.

Using the earlier images, Rez concluded in the Radiation Protection Dosimetry journal that it was highly unlikely the machines could have produced such high-quality images with doses of radiation as low as those described by TSA. He estimated the dose, while still very small, is 45 times higher than the results measured by Johns Hopkins.

Applying Rez’s numbers, Brenner wrote a paper for the journal Radiology, estimating that 100 additional cancers would develop for every 1 billion scans.

For Rez, the real danger occurs if the machine stops in the middle of a scan, allowing the beam to focus on a tiny area for several seconds. Given that the backscatter works with a wheel rotating at a high speed, and that the agency plans to use the scanners continuously 365 days a year, mechanical failures are likely, he said.

The TSA says that the scanners have safety systems, such as automatic shutoffs and emergency stop buttons, that will kill the beam in the event of any problem that could result in abnormal radiation. How those fail-safe systems work isn’t entirely clear.

When Johns Hopkins researchers visited the Rapiscan facility, the automatic termination appeared to work. But the full results of the shutoff tests are redacted.

What’s more, the test system didn’t have an emergency stop button.

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Burning Taxpayer Dollars The Whole Way, Crazed Cheney Washington Prosecutor Julie McKay Took 99 Cent “Theft” Case To Jury Trial – Jury Took 5 Minutes To Return Not Guilty Verdict

April 27, 2011

CHENEY, WASHINGTON – Call it the great hot dog caper. Or maybe the greatly overblown hot dog caper would be more accurate.

One day last December, Eastern Washington University student John Richardson got himself a German sausage at the self-serve counter at Mitchell’s IGA in Cheney. He ate it as he shopped for peanut butter (crunchy), jelly, bread and other items. When he left, he forgot to pay for the 99-cent dog – though he did pay for more than $28 in groceries.

Store managers approached him once he left the store, refused his efforts to pay for it, and held him for the police to arrive when things got heated. Thirteen weeks later, Richardson was found not guilty by a baffled jury with a minimum of deliberation.

“From all the testimony, you’d have to be an idiot to not realize that the guy simply forgot,” said juror Patrick Reeves. “It took the jury about five minutes to come to a verdict.”

Five minutes would have been about the right time to devote to the case, start to finish. Instead, the taxpayers of Cheney paid for the full legal megillah: The officer who arrived, cuffed the protesting Richardson, and wrote a report in which he described the “stolen” property as a “bronze” German sausage; the prosecuting attorney, who said Richardson’s demeanor and a 12-year-old shoplifting charge on his record persuaded her to pursue the case; the public defender; the judge; the jury pool …

“To me it’s an outrage,” Richardson said. “I just think it was a frivolous thing.”

From the perspective of a store owner, a certain zeal about shoplifting is understandable. In the grocery business, margins are slim, and theft takes a big toll. In a family-owned business like Mitchell’s, the owners can take it even more personally. But it’s hard to understand why this zeal wasn’t tempered somewhere along the way.

Cheney Municipal Prosecutor Julie McKay said she simply doesn’t buy Richardson’s claim that he forgot to pay. She said that it isn’t unusual for someone to steal something while purchasing something else, that a lot of people accused of a crime deny it, and that the fact that Richardson was arguing with the store managers after they confronted him influenced her decision.

“Did I want to try that? Certainly not,” McKay said. “From my perspective, he took something without paying for it. … The jury didn’t feel he was guilty. I disagree with that.”

Everyone seems to agree that Richardson offered to pay for the hot dog when he was confronted by store employees outside the store. The one exception to this is the police report, in which a store manager is quoted saying Richardson refused to pay for the hot dog. According to Reeves, Richardson and public defender Don Richter, that was at odds with testimony at the trial from everyone, including store employees.

“When my client was confronted, he immediately said ‘I’m sorry, I’ll pay for it,’ ” Richter said.

To the store owners, the question of intent was beside the point. Someone who leaves without paying for something has stolen. If you let this slide, where do you draw the line? But that’s simply not the way the law works – a person must intend to steal something for it to be theft.

McKay said the reason this ended up before a jury is that Richardson refused to accept a deal. Here’s an example of a deal he was offered: In exchange for the charges being dropped, he’d pay restitution for the sausage, and pay the store owners a $200 civil penalty.

“So now the $1 hot dog was a $201 hot dog,” Richter said.

The case went to trial Feb. 25. Richardson said that he was committed to proving his innocence, and because he knew that the specter of a shoplifting conviction can hang over you – as his conviction as an 18-year-old had done. But he was adamant that he did not steal the hot dog. After he got it, he walked around the store and ate it in full view of everyone, planning to pay for it with his groceries at the cashier, he said. The managers were watching him closely, and he was aware of them watching – which would make him a pretty poor thief indeed, if it wasn’t an oversight. When he was confronted outside the store, he said the store employees taunted and insulted him, and refused to accept either his explanation or his money.

One of them said, “It’s too late now. We got you,” Richardson said. “It was very humiliating.”

Store officials declined to comment, but it’s clear from court records and interviews that they view this confrontation differently, and say that Richardson was uncooperative and instigated conflict rather than trying to resolve it.

I think it’s safe to say that nobody wanted the case to wind up before a jury, but nobody was willing to budge. Richardson wanted to be cleared, and the prosecutor wanted to send a message – or at least not send the wrong kind of message.

In the end, though, the jury wasn’t on board.

“If you really want to send a message,” Reeves said, “get a good case.”

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Veteran Seattle Washington Police Officer Scott Moss Remains On The Job After Drunk Driving Arrest

April 22, 2011

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – The Seattle Police officer arrested for DUI earlier this month will stay on the job, at least for now. Police spokesman Sean Whitcomb says that the Office of Professional Accountability has opened an investigation but the criminal case has to be complete before any discipline could be imposed.

The arrest occurred on Interstate 405 near Bellevue. It was 5 a.m., and the trooper saw an SUV weaving across the white line onto the narrow shoulder.

Once stopped, the trooper realized that the driver was Scott Moss – a 16-year veteran of SPD – who often appeared as the face of the department, until he was arrested in 2005 for DUI. That charge was later amended to negligent driving.

Moss made sure the trooper knew he was a police officer – handing over his driver’s license and his Seattle Police ID.

Was Moss given special treatment?

“Everything I read in the report appears to be very standard. I don’t see any special treatment or anything out of the ordinary,” said Trooper Julie Startup.

Moss agreed to take a field sobriety test.

Moss failed the horizontal gaze nystagmus test – considered a bellwether for impairment. During the test the trooper looks for an involuntary jerking or bouncing of the eyeball that occurs when a person is impaired by alcohol. But the trooper did not administer two other roadside tests – walking and balance – that are usually done.

“All three of the standardized tests are typically performed, but it’s always at the discretion of the officer to determine if that’s necessary,” said Trooper Startup.

According to the trooper’s report, Moss “appeared shocked” and “frustrated’” when he was put in handcuffs.

But he wasn’t breathalyzed right away. The trooper’s portable unit had a dead battery. And nearly two hours elapsed before a blood alcohol test was done at a nearby police department. By then his readings were .069 and .075 – below the legal limit of .08.

When challenged, the trooper told Moss that by extrapolating backward and dong the math, it was easy to tell that Moss was over the legal limit at the time he was stopped for weaving on the freeway.

Moss was not booked into jail. An SPD commander was called to come and get him.

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US Taxpayers Stand To Lose $11 BILLION In GM Bailout

April 19, 2011

NEW YORK, NEW YORK –  A report that the US government plans to sell off much of its remaining stake in General Motors this year despite the firm’s lackluster share price caused investors to flee the stock Tuesday.

After the Wall Street Journal reported a government sale could come within the next six months, GM’s shares fell by nearly 1.3 percent to end at $29.59.

The government sale would “almost certainly” mean that US taxpayers would take a loss from a politically controversial $50 billion rescue of the auto giant in 2009, according to the paper.

The government would need to sell its roughly 500 million shares for $53 dollars each in order to break even, but GM’s stock is currently hovering at a price of just under $30 per share.

At the current price, the government would lose more than $11 billion, but the Obama administration is willing to accept the loss in order to cut its last ties to the auto manufacturer, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.

The summer sale would make it more likely that the government could unload the remainder of its shares before the 2012 election season.

But officials said planning is still at an early stage and the Treasury Department was still considering options that would protect taxpayers while ending its stake in the company as soon as practicable.

The paper added that GM would back the sell-off because it would lift restrictions on executive pay that remain in place as long as the government is part owner.

Marking its successful emergence from bankruptcy in July 2009, GM raised $23.1 billion last November in the largest public offering in history.

It posted a 9.6 percent increase in US auto sales in March, but it has also been hit by rising gas prices and its stock has suffered since the exit last month of chief financial officer Chris Liddell, a key architect of the revival.

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Charges Dropped Against 3 Men After Seattle Washington Police Officer Garth Haynes Refuses To Testify – Video Shows Officer Assaulting Handcuffed Man

April 12, 2011

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – Charges have been dropped against three men who were arrested in December and charged with assaulting an off-duty Seattle police officer outside a bar in Ballard after the officer declined to testify in the case, according to court documents.

A lawyer for one of the men said he thought the officer refused to testify because he is being investigated for his use of force against the man.

The incident happened December 12 outside the Bal/Mar restaurant and nightclub. Seattle police Officer Garth Haynes, who was off duty and out with a friend at the time, confronted a woman who he believed stole his jacket. Haynes allegedly identified himself as a police officer, but the men who were arrested said he didn’t do that. A fight ensued between Haynes and the three men, and Haynes suffered a concussion.

A police car dashboard camera showed Haynes pushing his foot into the head of one of the men, Jake Clary, who was handcuffed on the ground at the time. The shove appears to make Clary’s head bounce off the sidewalk.

Sgt. Rich O’Neil, who is Haynes’ union leader in the Seattle Police Guild, said the man on the ground in the video was never injured and that what’s seen on tape is only a fraction of what happened. O’Neil said there has been no action taken against Haynes because he was the only victim in the fight.

Clary’s attorney, Tim Leary, had a different view of the incident.

“He didn’t deserve to be kicked in the head,” Leary said. He also said that Clary would be willing to testify if charges are brought against Haynes.

The Seattle Police Department declined to comment.

Prosecutors told The Seattle Times that if Haynes changes his mind about testifying, charges against the men could be refiled.

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Spokane County Washington Deputy Sheriff Daniel Knight Arrested For Drunk Driving After Stop For Speeding – Lead Firearms Instructor For Department

April 1, 2011

SPOKANE, WASHINGTON – The lead firearms instructor for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving last weekend in Coeur d’Alene.

Deputy Daniel Knight, 42, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19 and 0.188 during breath tests administered after his arrest early Sunday. The legal limit for driving is .08.

Coeur d’Alene police Officer Jared Reneau said he was about to turn into the police substation on Fourth Street and Foster Avenue when he noticed a silver truck driving an estimated 40 mph on Fourth, where the speed limit is 25 mph.

Reneau caught up with the truck and noticed it drifting “from side to side” in the lane before turning right onto East Margaret Avenue and crossing the center lane.

Reneau stopped the truck in the 600 block of East Margaret about 12:10 a.m.

Reneau said Knight smelled of alcohol, and his eyes “were extremely bloodshot and watery”

Knight said he had a “couple of beers” and seemed to have a difficult time removing his identification, according to a police report.

Knight “nearly lost his balance” while exiting his truck and had difficulty maintaining his balance during field sobriety tests.

He arrived at the police station about 12:34 a.m., where he submitted the two breath samples.

He was booked into jailed for drunken driving and release on $500 bond. He pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor driving under the influence charge on Monday.

Knight, who lives in Coeur d’Alene, was hired by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office in August 2006 and patrols unincorporated areas of Spokane County.

As lead firearms instructor, he teaches training courses and is one of several who reviews officer-involved shootings.

Knight is on his scheduled days off, said Sgt. Dave Reagan, spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office is still determining “if there were any sheriff’s office policy violations,” Reagan said.

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Former King County Washington Deputy Sheriff Kristopher Kizer Arrested, Charged With Keeping Drugs Used To Train Drug Dog

March 9, 2011

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – A former King County sheriff’s deputy and K-9 handler is accused of keeping cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and Ecstasy tablets he’d been given as training aids for his dog, Kuva.

Deputy Kristopher Kizer, who resigned from the sheriff’s office in February and moved to Arkansas, was arrested Wednesday morning at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Star City, where he’d gone to inquire about a job working with a narcotics task force for the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, said King County Sheriff Chief Deputy Steve Strachan.

“His stupidity was exceeded only by his nerve,” Strachan said of Kizer, 30.

Investigators also are trying to determine if Kizer, who was hired by the sheriff’s office in September 2005, ever worked while under the influence of drugs.

Strachan said two King County sheriff’s detectives flew to Arkansas on Tuesday, where U.S. Marshals had Kizer under surveillance at the request of officials here. Kizer was booked into the Lincoln County Jail on suspicion of first-degree theft, pending his extradition to Washington, Strachan said.

“The minute we became aware there was an issue with the missing narcotics, we very aggressively pursued it as a criminal case,” Strachan said. “It’s very, very important to us, when a violation of the public trust occurs, that we pay full attention to it because public trust means everything to us.”

The felony theft warrant was issued this week, and Kizer was charged with first-degree theft in King County Superior Court.

According to the probable-cause statement filed in the case, Kizer received cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and Ecstasy from the Bellevue Police Department and the King County Sheriff’s Office with a combined street value of approximately $44,000. Additionally, Kizer is suspected of failing to turn over marijuana seized in a traffic stop, the statement says.

Asked if Kizer is suspected of using the narcotics given to him to help train his K-9 partner, Strachan said: “That would seem to be a reasonable conclusion, but we don’t know that for a fact yet.”

The criminal investigation outlined in the probable-cause statement paints a picture of a young deputy in crisis: His father was murdered in North Carolina in May, his six-year marriage was ending, and his personal problems were apparently impacting his work performance.

The probable-cause statement, authored by Sgt. Kathleen Larson, outlines the investigation into Kizer’s conduct over the past 18 months:

In October 2009, Kizer was transferred from patrol to the Eastside Narcotics Taskforce, a multiagency unit based at the Bellevue Police Department.


Later that month, Kizer was issued cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $23,897 from the drug inventory stored at the Bellevue office of the Eastside Narcotics Taskforce, the statement says. His sergeant advised him that the drugs were not to be taken home or stored in his patrol car, and Kizer showed the sergeant the safe under his desk where he’d placed the drugs.

After complaining that the narcotics were “getting old,” Kizer was issued crack, powder cocaine, methamphetamine and 135 Ecstasy pills in July 2010 from the King County Sheriff’s property-management unit, the statement says.

Kizer violated policy by failing to return the narcotics he got in October 2009 to Bellevue police, according to the statement. Though some of the Bellevue drugs were later recovered from the safe under Kizer’s desk, there was no sign of the narcotics issued to Kizer from the sheriff’s office.

Kizer resigned from the sheriff’s office Feb. 7 and moved to Arkansas to be with his family, the statement says. Kizer’s estranged wife was moving out of the house the couple had shared in Milton when her father contacted sheriff’s officials March 1, after finding a cooler in the rafters of the garage, the statement says.

Inside the cooler, investigators found a bag of marijuana along with other plastic bags and containers with “coke” and “meth” written on them in black marker, the statement says. “A number of bags recovered listed as containing narcotics were empty,” it says.

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Seattle Washington 911 Operator Denies Help After Calls Reporting Attack On Bus

February 21, 2011

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – Bus riders called for help as a teenager was being attacked aboard a bus.

But dispatch refused to send a deputy. Investigators claim the callers were unclear.

Trouble broke out as the Route 128 Metro bus headed to Seattle from South 122th Street and Military Road. Four large men surrounded 14-year-old Dafarus Coleman and began commenting on his jacket.

“The suspect asked (the victim), ‘What’s up with your Northface (jacket)’ numerous times,” said the police report. The victim did not respond until the man said, “Give me your jacket,” the report said.

When the teen refused, the man “grabbed his jacket, pushed (the victim) back on to the seat, stole the jacket, and ran off the bus,” according to the report. Three others also ran off the bus.

During the incident, Coleman saw one woman dial her cell phone.

“She was calling. I heard her talking to people,” he said. “She was telling them that a kid’s getting robbed on the bus, and she was crying.”

That caller is Kat Gray. She called 911 to report the incident, but she didn’t get any help. KOMO News obtained recordings of the 911 calls.

911 dispatcher: “911, what are you reporting?

Gray: “I’m reporting a theft and robbery on a bus.”

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Alaska Lawmaker Stands Up To Crazed TSA Agents – Refuses Pat-Down After Full Body Scan Reveals Mastectomy

February 21, 2011

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON — An Alaskan state lawmaker is returning home by sea after refusing a pat-down search at a Seattle airport, a spokeswoman said..

Rep. Sharon Cissna underwent a body scan as she was preparing to leave Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Sunday and was then required to undergo the pat-down by Transportation Safety Administration officials, said Michelle Scannell, her chief of staff.

Scannell said that TSA called for the pat-down because the scan showed Cissna had had a mastectomy. But it wasn’t immediately clear from statements by the lawmaker’s office and TSA why that would necessitate the further search.

Scannell described the pat-down search as “intrusive,” but did not elaborate on the Anchorage Democrat’s decision.

TSA spokesman Kwika Riley was asked to respond to Cissna’s comments when contacted by The Associated Press. But a general statement issued later did not mention her or her claims, saying the agency is “sensitive to the concerns of passengers who were not satisfied with their screening experience and we invite those individuals to provide feedback to TSA.”

Both full body scanners and pat-down searches have come under increasing criticism as the TSA has stepped up its airport security measures.

Cissna, who had undergone medical treatment in Seattle, is traveling by ferry from Seattle to Juneau, Scannell said.

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Seattle Washington Firefighter Mark Jones Awarded $13 Million Despite Video Of Him Chopping Wood, Playing Horseshoes, And Dancing – City Lawyers Took Too Long To Investigate Mans Injury Claims

October 19, 2010

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – A King County Superior Court judge refused Monday to vacate a nearly $13 million award to a Seattle firefighter who was injured at a fire station in 2003.

The city of Seattle appealed the award after an investigator it hired captured Mark Jones on surveillance video dancing, chopping wood, playing horseshoes and bocce ball this past spring.

But in Monday’s ruling, Judge Susan Craighead said the city had ample time and means to have pursued evidence of Jones’ condition since the case was brought forward in 2006, but failed to do so.

“The city devoted little effort to investigating this case until its third set of lawyers was retained in early 2009,” Craighead wrote in her ruling. She wrote that the city never asked to have Jones examined independently by any medical doctors to verify any of his physical complaints, instead relying only on evaluations from Labor and Industries physicians.

“The city cannot now take a second bite of the apple because it failed to make the most of the first,” Craighead said.

The city had also claimed the video proved Jones was fraudulently portraying the effects of his injuries to the jury, but Craighead said proving fraud requires a very high level of proof, and the video could not conclusively prove Jones was not suffering from mental effects that were a large part of the documented injuries relevant to his claim.

In 2009, a jury agreed Jones was permanently disabled at a fire station when he fell 15 feet through an opening near the fire pole in the middle of the night. He was awarded nearly $12.8 million, which included almost $2.5 million for lifetime medical care and assistance. Jones claimed he was permanently disabled and in constant pain.

“That’s what my day consists of. It’s just such a struggle from the point when I get up, I’m trying to get going through it,” Jones said during testimony.

But Jones’ attorney, Dick Kilpatrick, claims it has always been accepted that his client could perform daily tasks; it was his brain injury that called for such a large award, he said.

“We never claimed at trial, like the defense is trying to show, that he somehow is unable to do most things of daily life. The jury was told he was able to do most things of daily life,” Kilpatrick said after the city’s appeal was filed. “There was bleeding in two parts of his brain that were documented at Harborview (Medical Center). So that’s what the case was primarily about. It wasn’t about a person who’s practically an invalid, or whatever.”

The attorneys representing the city said Monday they had no comment on the substance of the court’s decision.

“We stand by the materials we filed on behalf of the City in superior court. We expect this ruling will become part of the City’s appeal from the judgment, which is already pending in the court of appeals.”

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Washington Department Of Corrections Officer Loses Handcuffed Man

October 11, 2010

LONGVIEW, WASHINGTON – A 26-year-old Longview man managed to escaped from a Department of Corrections car while handcuffed.

Police aren’t just looking for him. They also want him to be charged with stealing the handcuffs.

The Daily News of Longview reports that Eric Mitchell Lair was arrested Oct. 1 on a felony warrant. He was handcuffed behind his back, but still was able to open the door of the car that was taking him to Cowlitz County jail and run off.

Officers from several agencies searched the area but couldn’t find him, and a judge issued a warrant Thursday for his arrest on suspicion of first-degree escape.

Police say the handcuffs are valued at $29, and stealing them would constitute third-degree theft.

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Clallam County Washington Sheriff’s Department Investigation Finds Jupiter

October 2, 2010

PORT ANGELES, WASHINGTON — If you see a shiny object in the night sky hovering just above the southeast horizon, don’t worry.

It’s just Jupiter.

The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call early Thursday morning from a Blue Mountain Road resident who was concerned about an unidentified flying object spotted on the horizon, said Undersheriff Ron Peregrin.

“We took a look at it through our binoculars,” he said, and determined that it was Jupiter, the largest plant in the solar system.

Peregrin said dispatchers received several more calls that morning from people mistaking Jupiter for a UFO, although he didn’t know how many.

Jupiter last week was the closest it has gotten to the Earth in decades, said John Gallagher, who heads Port Angeles High School’s astronomy club. It passed 368 million miles away, its closest pass since 1963.

Jupiter dominates the evening sky in October, appearing low in the southeast after sunset in the early part of the month, then higher and higher as the month progresses.

Look for the nearly full moon above Jupiter on the evening of Oct. 19.

“Last night was clear and beautiful, so lots of people were noticing it,” Gallagher said in an e-mail on Thursday.

“It will continue to be big, bright and beautiful this fall.”

Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and by far the largest.

Jupiter is more than twice as massive as all the other planets combined (the mass of Jupiter is 318 times that of Earth).

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US Pisses Away Tax Dollars Targeting Some Canadian Guy Who Sold Pot Seeds – Now, 5 Years Of Imprisonment Added To US Taxpayers Burden

September 11, 2010

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON — Sentenced to five years behind bars, Canada’s Prince of Pot Marc Emery was led off to an American penitentiary Friday repenting his seed-selling sins and professing love for his wife.

“I love you Jodie!” he mouthed silently to her as he was led away.

There may be a place for and time for a debate over the legalization of marijuana the judge told him, but this is not the time or the place — marijuana is illegal.

In a beige prisoner’s jumpsuit, Emery sat throughout the 15-minute hearing with his hands folded under his chin.

His wife Jodie Emery sat stoically the public gallery with about 40 supporters, press and undercover law-enforcement officers.

Seeds traced to grow houses in every region of the U.S. were linked to Emery according to the prosecution, and the original DEA press release called Emery one of the “most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets — one of only 46 in the world and the only one from Canada.”

Judge Ricardo Martinez, of the western Washington district court, told the 52-year-old Vancouver businessman that he had grown up along the Canadian border and was saddened by what illegal drugs have done to both countries.

“I regret the example we set,” Emery told him, “and I won’t be doing that again.

“I’d like to point out though that it made it sound like I’m a bad guy . . . but I had very good intentions and wanted to be considered a proper participant in our society. I do believe that these prohibition laws create a lot of problems and create organized crime.”

It was a sad emotional end to a 30-year public career by the staunch libertarian most Canadians considered a benign and charismatic political prankster.

The U.S. prosecutors said he was the “largest [pot seed] distributor in North America and at least the largest into the United States . . . .no doubt he sold millions of marijuana seeds that produced millions of marijuana plants in the U.S.”

Outside the federal courthouse, a small group protested his sentence.

Emery said he now realizes that some of the methods he chose to fund his efforts to repeal the marijuana prohibition were “ill-conceived and ultimately destructive.”

In a letter given to the judge prior to sentencing, Emery said he was “over-zealous and reckless” and “acted arrogantly in violation of U.S. federal law.

“I regret not choosing other methods — legal ones — to achieve my goals of peaceful political reform.”

It sounded as sincere as Galileo’s confession.

Emery has been a political activist for three decades — fighting Sunday business-closing laws in Ontario, Canada’s national ban on drug literature and, of course, the marijuana prohibition.

A Canadian citizen and president of the B.C. Marijuana Party, Emery has run for office several times.

In furtherance of his goal of legalizing cannabis, for many years he sold marijuana seeds around the world through catalogue sales.

“This was not a business that operated underground, or even in the shadows,” Richard Troberman, Emery’s lawyer told the court.

“On the contrary, Marc openly operated his seed distribution business (“Marc Emery Direct”) from a storefront in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, as well as over the internet; through telephone sales; direct mail sales; and though other media outlets. Revenue Canada gladly accepted taxes on all of his sales, which were duly reported to the appropriate taxing authorities. Virtually all of the profits from the business went to funding lawful efforts to legalize marijuana in Canada and the United States through the political process.”

Crown counsel in Canada refused to prosecute Emery but under the former Republican presidency the U.S. ramped up its war on drugs and targeted Emery because of his political profile.

“The Attorney General’s true motive — which was to silence Mr. Emery’s political activity — could not be more clear,” Troberman said.

Emery was indicted in Seattle on May 26, 2005 for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and arrested in Halifax on an extradition warrant a few days later.

He was held in custody from Aug. 2 through Aug. 5, 2005. Emery remained free until Sept. 2009 when a tentative plea bargain was reached and he surrendered himself into custody Sept. 28.

He remained imprisoned in Canada until Nov. 18, when he was released to await the Justice Minister’s final determination of his extradition.

On May 10, Emery was told the minister had refused his last-ditch appeal and went back into jail.

He was transported to the U.S. May 20 and has remained imprisoned since.

Emery admitted selling more then 4 million seeds, 75 per cent to U.S. customers.

He asked to be housed in the federal correctional institution at Lompoc, Calif., so he can continue to be visited by his wife. The judge recommended that.

After his sentencing, Emery’s lawyers delivered a request to the Canadian consul for a prison transfer to Canada.

His B.C. lawyer Kirk Tousaw said that if all went well, Emery could be serving his time in a Canadian institution within a year.

“I received hundreds of letters and emails, most of them favourable to you,” Judge Martinez said.

“One in crayon,” he quipped, “others quite well written, very thoughtful, making some very interesting points. I know five years is a long time. I wish you the best.”

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Seattle Washington Police Officer Will Now Think Twice About Leaving Keys And Unattended Suspect In Patrol Car

September 10, 2010

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – A burglary suspect who was arrested and put in the back of a Seattle police patrol car managed to escape Thursday morning when he slid through the partition into the front seat and drove off.

Seattle police said the officer had “stepped away from the patrol vehicle for a minute” leaving the suspect and, apparently, the keys.

Police said they don’t know whether the screen divider inside the patrol car had been down or if the suspect was able to lower it.

With the help of K-9 units, a helicopter and other police, the vehicle was found near a park in the area of 51st Avenue South and South Ruggles Street, according to police.

The car was undamaged and no weapons were taken, police said.

The man, 33, was arrested about four hours later when he was found, still handcuffed, near his home, police said.

He had originally been arrested while police were investigating the burglary of an elementary school in the 3700 block of South Kenyon Street.

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US Offers Spy Satellites For Misuse By Local Law Enforcement Agencies

August 31, 2010

Oak Harbor Washington Police Officer Patrick Horn Admits He Is Full Of Shit, Returns To Work After Year Of Paid Leave

August 16, 2010

OAK HARBOR, WASHINGTON – An investigation by the Washington State Auditor’s Office into an Oak Harbor police officer’s inaccurate time sheets concludes that the exact amount of public funds lost is impossible to determine.

The report of the auditor’s special investigation was made public last week and likely spells the end to a controversy that has cost the city many tens of thousands of dollars. The auditor started the investigation in November of 2008 after learning that Oak Harbor Police Officer Patrick Horn was accused of providing false information on his time cards.

Horn was charged in Island County Superior Court with first-degree theft in connection with the timesheet inaccuracies, but the charge was later dismissed. Horn eventually returned to work after more than a year of paid leave under an agreement in which he admitted he falsified his time card, took 30 days’ leave without pay and agreed to be assigned away from patrol.

Also under the agreement, Horn was supposed to reimburse the city based on the investigation by the State Auditor’s Office. But the investigation concluded that auditors couldn’t determine the amount of the loss “because internal controls at the Police Department were not in place or were not being followed.”

“The auditor’s report really wasn’t helpful, from my point of view. But I understand their problem,” Oak Harbor Police Chief Rick Wallace said.

Without a number from the auditor, Wallace said the city prosecutor will have to negotiate with Horn’s attorney to decide the exact restitution amount. An investigator at the Island County Sheriff’s Office found that Horn was paid for 117 hours, totaling $3,443, for work that there was no evidence he performed.

The special investigation by the State Auditor’s Office concludes that Horn submitted time records that “did not reflect actual time worked from January 1, 2005, through August 12, 2008.”

The investigation finds that Horn recorded hours worked on time sheets when records show he had taken a day or partial day off; that he recorded vacation time on days he actually worked; that he did not always submit leave requests for time off; and that he did not comply with the overtime policy.

In addition, the auditors found that police supervisors did not enforce policies and procedures regarding payroll reporting and approval.

“Supervisors kept leave records that did not match the time sheets,” the investigation states. “They also approved timesheets for payment even when they noted discrepancies.”

Furthermore, the report states that the city, under state law, should have notified the State Auditor’s Office immediately after learning about any suspected loss of public funds.

The city’s response states that the city has implemented new internal controls over the payroll tracking process used at the police department. In addition, the police department staff received additional training about time sheets and leave requests.

According to Wallace, Horn was assigned to the jail after returning to work and has done a good job.

“He’s working his way back into a position of trust with the officers in the office,” Wallace said. “Time will tell.”

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Seattle Washington Will “Review Police Tactics” After Officer Ian P. Walsh Was Caught On Cellphone Video Beating A Young Female Jaywalker

June 15, 2010

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON — Seattle police say they’ll review police tactics and training after an officer was shown on video punching a young woman in the face.

Acting deputy police chief Nick Metz said Tuesday that the department’s civilian-led Office of Professional Accountability is investigating the 39-year-old officer’s actions.

Officer Ian P. Walsh was trying to cite several people for jaywalking just before Monday’s incident, which was captured on cell phone video.

Metz says two of the women who were stopped bear much of the responsibility for not cooperating and resisting arrest.

Seattle Urban League CEO James Kelly says the punch was an overreaction that brought to mind a video taken April 17 of two Seattle officers seen kicking a Hispanic suspect.

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Debt Collectors Turn County Jails Into Debtors’ Prisons

June 10, 2010

HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA – As a sheriff’s deputy dumped the contents of Joy Uhlmeyer’s purse into a sealed bag, she begged to know why she had just been arrested while driving home to Richfield after an Easter visit with her elderly mother.

No one had an answer. Uhlmeyer spent a sleepless night in a frigid Anoka County holding cell, her hands tucked under her armpits for warmth. Then, handcuffed in a squad car, she was taken to downtown Minneapolis for booking. Finally, after 16 hours in limbo, jail officials fingerprinted Uhlmeyer and explained her offense — missing a court hearing over an unpaid debt. “They have no right to do this to me,” said the 57-year-old patient care advocate, her voice as soft as a whisper. “Not for a stupid credit card.”

It’s not a crime to owe money, and debtors’ prisons were abolished in the United States in the 19th century. But people are routinely being thrown in jail for failing to pay debts. In Minnesota, which has some of the most creditor-friendly laws in the country, the use of arrest warrants against debtors has jumped 60 percent over the past four years, with 845 cases in 2009, a Star Tribune analysis of state court data has found.

Not every warrant results in an arrest, but in Minnesota many debtors spend up to 48 hours in cells with criminals. Consumer attorneys say such arrests are increasing in many states, including Arkansas, Arizona and Washington, driven by a bad economy, high consumer debt and a growing industry that buys bad debts and employs every means available to collect.

Whether a debtor is locked up depends largely on where the person lives, because enforcement is inconsistent from state to state, and even county to county.

In Illinois and southwest Indiana, some judges jail debtors for missing court-ordered debt payments. In extreme cases, people stay in jail until they raise a minimum payment. In January, a judge sentenced a Kenney, Ill., man “to indefinite incarceration” until he came up with $300 toward a lumber yard debt.

“The law enforcement system has unwittingly become a tool of the debt collectors,” said Michael Kinkley, an attorney in Spokane, Wash., who has represented arrested debtors. “The debt collectors are abusing the system and intimidating people, and law enforcement is going along with it.”

How often are debtors arrested across the country? No one can say. No national statistics are kept, and the practice is largely unnoticed outside legal circles. “My suspicion is the debt collection industry does not want the world to know these arrests are happening, because the practice would be widely condemned,” said Robert Hobbs, deputy director of the National Consumer Law Center in Boston.

Debt collectors defend the practice, saying phone calls, letters and legal actions aren’t always enough to get people to pay.

“Admittedly, it’s a harsh sanction,” said Steven Rosso, a partner in the Como Law Firm of St. Paul, which does collections work. “But sometimes, it’s the only sanction we have.”

Taxpayers foot the bill for arresting and jailing debtors. In many cases, Minnesota judges set bail at the amount owed.

In Minnesota, judges have issued arrest warrants for people who owe as little as $85 — less than half the cost of housing an inmate overnight. Debtors targeted for arrest owed a median of $3,512 in 2009, up from $2,201 five years ago.

Those jailed for debts may be the least able to pay.

“It’s just one more blow for people who are already struggling,” said Beverly Yang, a Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation staff attorney who has represented three Illinois debtors arrested in the past two months. “They don’t like being in court. They don’t have cars. And if they had money to pay these collectors, they would.”

The collection machine

The laws allowing for the arrest of someone for an unpaid debt are not new.

What is new is the rise of well-funded, aggressive and centralized collection firms, in many cases run by attorneys, that buy up unpaid debt and use the courts to collect.

Three debt buyers — Unifund CCR Partners, Portfolio Recovery Associates Inc. and Debt Equities LLC — accounted for 15 percent of all debt-related arrest warrants issued in Minnesota since 2005, court data show. The debt buyers also file tens of thousands of other collection actions in the state, seeking court orders to make people pay.

The debts — often five or six years old — are purchased from companies like cellphone providers and credit card issuers, and cost a few cents on the dollar. Using automated dialing equipment and teams of lawyers, the debt-buyer firms try to collect the debt, plus interest and fees. A firm aims to collect at least twice what it paid for the debt to cover costs. Anything beyond that is profit.

Portfolio Recovery Associates of Norfolk, Va., a publicly traded debt buyer with the biggest profits and market capitalization, earned $44 million last year on $281 million in revenue — a 16 percent net margin. Encore Capital Group, another large debt buyer based in San Diego, had a margin last year of 10 percent. By comparison, Wal-Mart’s profit margin was 3.5 percent.

Todd Lansky, chief operating officer at Resurgence Financial LLC, a Northbrook, Ill.-based debt buyer, said firms like his operate within the law, which says people who ignore court orders can be arrested for contempt. By the time a warrant is issued, a debtor may have been contacted up to 12 times, he said.

“This is a last-ditch effort to say, ‘Look, just show up in court,'” he said.

Go to court — or jail

At 9:30 a.m. on a recent weekday morning, about a dozen people stood in line at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis.

Nearly all of them had received court judgments for not paying a delinquent debt. One by one, they stepped forward to fill out a two-page financial disclosure form that gives creditors the information they need to garnish money from their paychecks or bank accounts.

This process happens several times a week in Hennepin County. Those who fail to appear can be held in contempt and an arrest warrant is issued if a collector seeks one. Arrested debtors aren’t officially charged with a crime, but their cases are heard in the same courtroom as drug users.

Greg Williams, who is unemployed and living on state benefits, said he made the trip downtown on the advice of his girlfriend who knew someone who had been arrested for missing such a hearing.

“I was surprised that the police would waste time on my petty debts,” said Williams, 45, of Minneapolis, who had a $5,773 judgment from a credit card debt. “Don’t they have real criminals to catch?”

Few debtors realize they can land in jail simply for ignoring debt-collection legal matters. Debtors also may not recognize the names of companies seeking to collect old debts. Some people are contacted by three or four firms as delinquent debts are bought and sold multiple times after the original creditor writes off the account.

“They may think it’s a mistake. They may think it’s a scam. They may not realize how important it is to respond,” said Mary Spector, a law professor at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law in Dallas.

A year ago, Legal Aid attorneys proposed a change in state law that would have required law enforcement officials to let debtors fill out financial disclosure forms when they are apprehended rather than book them into jail. No legislator introduced the measure.

Joy Uhlmeyer, who was arrested on her way home from spending Easter with her mother, said she defaulted on a $6,200 Chase credit card after a costly divorce in 2006. The firm seeking payment was Resurgence Financial, the Illinois debt buyer. Uhlmeyer said she didn’t recognize the name and ignored the notices.

Uhlmeyer walked free after her nephew posted $2,500 bail. It took another $187 to retrieve her car from the city impound lot. Her 86-year-old mother later asked why she didn’t call home after leaving Duluth. Not wanting to tell the truth, Uhlmeyer said her car broke down and her cell phone died.

“The really maddening part of the whole experience was the complete lack of information,” she said. “I kept thinking, ‘If there was a warrant out for my arrest, then why in the world wasn’t I told about it?'”

Jailed for $250

One afternoon last spring, Deborah Poplawski, 38, of Minneapolis was digging in her purse for coins to feed a downtown parking meter when she saw the flashing lights of a Minneapolis police squad car behind her. Poplawski, a restaurant cook, assumed she had parked illegally. Instead, she was headed to jail over a $250 credit card debt.

Less than a month earlier, she learned by chance from an employment counselor that she had an outstanding warrant. Debt Equities, a Golden Valley debt buyer, had sued her, but she says nobody served her with court documents. Thanks to interest and fees, Poplawski was now on the hook for $1,138.

Though she knew of the warrant and unpaid debt, “I wasn’t equating the warrant with going to jail, because there wasn’t criminal activity associated with it,” she said. “I just thought it was a civil thing.”

She spent nearly 25 hours at the Hennepin County jail.

A year later, she still gets angry recounting the experience. A male inmate groped her behind in a crowded elevator, she said. Poplawski also was ordered to change into the standard jail uniform — gray-white underwear and orange pants, shirt and socks — in a cubicle the size of a telephone booth. She slept in a room with 12 to 16 women and a toilet with no privacy. One woman offered her drugs, she said.

The next day, Poplawski appeared before a Hennepin County district judge. He told her to fill out the form listing her assets and bank account, and released her. Several weeks later, Debt Equities used this information to seize funds from her bank account. The firm didn’t return repeated calls seeking a comment.

“We hear every day about how there’s no money for public services,” Poplawski said. “But it seems like the collectors have found a way to get the police to do their work.”

Threat depends on location

A lot depends on where a debtor lives or is arrested, as Jamie Rodriguez, 41, a bartender from Brooklyn Park, discovered two years ago.

Deputies showed up at his house one evening while he was playing with his 5-year-old daughter, Nicole. They live in Hennepin County, where the Sheriff’s Office has enough staff to seek out people with warrants for civil violations.

If Rodriquez lived in neighboring Wright County, he could have simply handed the officers a check or cash for the amount owed. If he lived in Dakota County, it’s likely no deputy would have shown up because the Sheriff’s Office there says it lacks the staff to pursue civil debt cases.

Knowing that his daughter and wife were watching from the window, Rodriguez politely asked the deputies to drive him around the block, out of sight of his family, before they handcuffed him. The deputies agreed.

“No little girl should have to see her daddy arrested,” said Rodriguez, who spent a night in jail.

“If you talk to 15 different counties, you’ll find 15 different approaches to handling civil warrants,” said Sgt. Robert Shingledecker of the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office. “Everything is based on manpower.”

Local police also can enforce debt-related warrants, but small towns and some suburbs often don’t have enough officers.

The Star Tribune’s comparison of warrant and booking data suggests that at least 1 in 6 Minnesota debtors at risk for arrest actually lands in jail, typically for eight hours. The exact number of such arrests isn’t known because the government doesn’t consistently track what happens to debtor warrants.

“There are no standards here,” said Gail Hillebrand, a senior attorney with the Consumers Union in San Francisco. “A borrower who lives on one side of the river can be arrested while another one goes free. It breeds disrespect for the law.”

Haekyung Nielsen, 27, of Bloomington, said police showed up at her house on a civil warrant two weeks after she gave birth through Caesarean section. A debt buyer had sent her court papers for an old credit-card debt while she was in the hospital; Nielsen said she did not have time to respond.

Her baby boy, Tyler, lay in the crib as she begged the officer not to take her away.

“Thank God, the police had mercy and left me and my baby alone,” said Nielsen, who later paid the debt. “But to send someone to arrest me two weeks after a massive surgery that takes most women eight weeks to recover from was just unbelievable.”

The second surprise

Many debtors, like Robert Vee, 36, of Brooklyn Park, get a second surprise after being arrested — their bail is exactly the amount of money owed.

Hennepin County automatically sets bail at the judgment amount or $2,500, whichever is less. This policy was adopted four years ago in response to the high volume of debtor default cases, say court officials.

Some judges say the practice distorts the purpose of bail, which is to make sure people show up in court.

“It’s certainly an efficient way to collect debts, but it’s also highly distasteful,” said Hennepin County District Judge Jack Nordby. “The amount of bail should have nothing to do with the amount of the debt.”

Judge Robert Blaeser, chief of the county court’s civil division, said linking bail to debt streamlines the process because judges needn’t spend time setting bail.

“It’s arbitrary,” he conceded. “The bigger question is: Should you be allowed to get an order from a court for someone to be arrested because they owe money? You’ve got to remember there are people who have the money but just won’t pay a single penny.”

If friends or family post a debtor’s bail, they can expect to kiss the money goodbye, because it often ends up with creditors, who routinely ask judges for the bail payment.

Vee, a highway construction worker, was arrested one afternoon in February while driving his teenage daughter from school to their home in Brooklyn Park. As he was being cuffed, Vee said his daughter, who has severe asthma, started hyperventilating from the stress.

“All I kept thinking about was whether she was all right and if she was using her [asthma] inhaler,” he said.

From the Hennepin County jail, he made a collect call to his landlord, who promised to bring the bail. It was $1,875.06, the exact amount of a credit card debt.

Later, Vee was reunited with his distraught daughter at home. “We hugged for a long time, and she was bawling her eyes out,” he said.

He still has unpaid medical and credit card bills and owes about $40,000 on an old second mortgage. The sight of a squad car in his rearview mirror is all it takes to set off a fresh wave of anxiety.

“The question always crosses my mind: ‘Are the cops going to arrest me again?'” he said. “So long as I’ve got unpaid bills, the threat is there.”

Appeared Here

Thurston County Washington Deputy Sheriff Uses Taser Weapon On Man After Finding Couple Having Outdoor Sex

June 9, 2010

THURSTON COUNTY, WASHINGTON – A Thurston County sheriff’s deputy tased a man twice early this morning after he interrupted the man having sex with a woman outside a home in the 14000 block of Vail Cutoff Road, according to the sheriff’s department.

Patrick Bergin, 21, of Yelm, was placed under arrest on suspicion of third-degree assault, Thurston County Chief Criminal Deputy James Chamberlain said.

According to Chamberlain:

The incident began around 2 a.m. when a deputy was responding to a complaint of loud music outside a residence on Vail Cutoff Road. As the patrol car approached the residence, its lights passed over a couple having sex on the lawn.

The couple began to put their clothes on, and the deputy approached them to ask for identification. The woman who was with Bergin screamed and tried to run away. Bergin approached the deputy, and ignored commands to sit down. Both the man and the woman appeared “highly intoxicated.”

The deputy believed that Bergin was taking an aggressive stance, and believed that he would be assaulted, so he shot the barbs from his Taser at Bergin. Bergin ripped the barbs of the Taser from his chest, and continued to approach the deputy. As Bergin continued to approach the deputy, the deputy reloaded the Taser and shot it again. The Taser’s barbs struck Bergin in the arm. Bergin was subdued and placed under arrest for third-degree assault.

Chamberlain said Tuesday that it is very unusual for a person to be able to rip the barbs from a Taser off of his or her body while receiving an electrical jol

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