LOL: Pakistani Protester Dies From Inhaling Smoke From Burning American Flags At Rally Against United States, Another Killed By Beating By Police After The Animals Set Fire To A Press Club, And Yet Another Killed After Hundreds Broke Through Barricade To Get To US Consulate

September 18, 2012

PAKISTAN – In an apparent case of red, white and blue revenge, a Pakistani protester died yesterday after inhaling smoke from a burning American flag during an anti-US rally.

Abdullah Ismail succumbed at Mayo Hospital in Lahore a day after attending the fierce protest at the city’s Mall Road, where an estimated 10,000 people rallied.

Witnesses said Ismail had complained of feeling ill after breathing fumes from burning flags, Pakistan’s Express Tribune reported.

Another Pakistani protester was killed during clashes with police yesterday after demonstrators set a press club ablaze, apparently angry that their protest of an anti-Islam film wasn’t getting enough media coverage.

Hundreds set fire to the club in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Upper Dir area, authorities said. Police said cops charged the crowd, beating them with batons.

The mob then set a government office ablaze.

The protester died and several were wounded when police and the demonstrators exchanged gunfire, police said.

Also yesterday, a man died after being shot in the head Sunday during a march in which hundreds of people broke through a barricade to get to the US Consulate in the southern city of Karachi.

There were more clashes in Karachi yesterday as demonstrators from the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami party tried to reach the consulate.

Police lobbed tear gas, fired rounds in the air and made 40 arrests. No injuries were reported.

Pakistanis have also held many peaceful protests against the film, which critically portrays the prophet Mohammed. One held in the southwest town of Chaman yesterday was attended by about 3,000 students and teachers.

The chief justice of Pakistan’s supreme court ordered the state telecommunications authority to block the film on YouTube because it is considered blasphemous.

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Homestead Florida Police Officers Sgt. Lizanne Deegan, Giovanni Soto, And Sgt. Jeffrey Rome Arrested After String Of Beatings

July 4, 2012

HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA – Three Homestead police officers were arrested Monday night on charges stemming from a series of alleged attacks — two of which were caught on video — on men outside a bar last year.

The main target: Sgt. Jeffrey Rome, who, according to arrest warrants, beat or pepper-sprayed at least three men outside Celio’s Latin Quarter Bar. At least two of the incidents were caught on videotape by undercover detectives who had the bar under surveillance for an unrelated investigation into human trafficking.

The other officers are Sgt. Lizanne Deegan and Giovanni Soto, who are accused of misconduct involving a man who was beaten up outside the bar and later was hospitalized in February 2011.

Rome, 56, is charged with battery, false imprisonment and abuse of an elderly adult. Soto, 40, is charged with battery and official misconduct, while Deegan, 44, is charged with official misconduct.

The three were suspended with pay in April 2011. They were formally arrested on Monday. They later were released from a Miami-Dade County Jail after posting bail, hopped a wall to avoid members of the press and then climbed into a waiting black SUV, which sped away.

“After 15 months, I believe in my client’s innocence,” said C. Michael Cornely, who is representing Rome. “I believe at the end of the day, he will be vindicated.”

According to the arrest warrants, Rome worked off-duty outside the bar, 38 NE Ninth St., frequented by a crowd of mostly Hispanic migrant workers who live and work in Homestead.

In April 2011, according to the court documents, detectives witnessed a man speaking with Rome before leaving. He walked back a short time later and Rome pepper sprayed him three times outside the bar, the warrant said.

Detective Antonio Aquino and Ricky Rivera later rushed to his aid, offering him medical help. He refused, the warrant said.

The man later told detectives and prosecutor Breezye Telfair that someone had tried to rob him as he walked away and that he went running back to Rome to seek his help. He identified Rome in a photo lineup.

On another occasion in April 2011, Aquino and Rivera saw Rome drag an elderly man away from the bar, kicking him in the head — an altercation also captured on video. Rome was seen pouring water on the man, who had been lying down for seven minutes, the warrant said. The man later told detectives that two men had tried to rob him of his bicycle and that he had sought out Rome for help.

Rome also is accused of pepper spraying another man, the warrant shows. As for Deegan and Soto, they were charged in connection to an alleged beating outside Celio’s Latin Quarter Bar.

The man claimed Soto beat him up, and then dropped him off at his home “like he was a dog and was refused medical treatment.”

According to an arrest warrant, Soto called 911 and an ambulance took the victim to Homestead Hospital.

Deegan followed him to the hospital, took photos and gave him her card with a case number on it. But prosecutors say she covered up the case by failing to write a report on the incident.

Richard Sharpstein, her lawyer, said Deegan, charged with official misconduct, believed that the drunken man had been in a bar fight and that she had no legal obligation to author a report.

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Twin Rivers California Police Officer Branche Smith, Charged With Beating Handcuffed Inmates, Has Two Drunk Driving Convictions – Last Was With Blood Alcohol Level Three Times Legal Limit

June 23, 2012

SACRAMENTO CALIFORNIA – The Twin Rivers Unified School District officer arrested Thursday on four misdemeanor counts of assaulting detainees has two convictions for driving under the influence, including as recently as 2005 when his blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit.

Branche Smith, 37, was released Thursday on his own recognizance, and is scheduled to appear on the assault charges at an arraignment July 10. He faces up to four years in jail and a fine of $10,000 if found guilty on all four counts.

“We look forward to fighting them and putting on a vigorous defense,” said Christopher Miller, Smith’s attorney.
Call The Bee’s Melody Gutierrez, (916) 326-5521. Follow her on Twitter @MelodyGutierrez.
The Twin Rivers District Police Department works to change their image. – File: Corporal Branche Smith with the Twin Rivers District Police Department places crystal meth and other evidence on his police cruiser after removing it from the recreational vehicle, right. The driver of the RV – who was arrested – was parked adjacent to Kohler Elementary School for an extended period of time raising suspension from observers.

In response to Smith’s previous DUI convictions, Miller said Smith paid penalties and served his probation.

“He was hired as a Twin Rivers officer with the district having full knowledge of those charges,” Miller said.

In 2005, Smith pleaded no contest to drunken driven charges in which he had a 0.21 blood-alcohol level. The legal limit is 0.08. Smith had pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 1997 with a blood-alcohol level of 0.19.

Earlier this month, Smith filed a tort claim against Twin Rivers Unified, in which he said he was subjected to hours of interrogation by the Sacramento Police Department about the allegations of excessive force, despite the expiration of a one-year statute of limitations for a public employer to investigate and propose discipline on an officer.

“The Twin Rivers Police Department was aware of these allegations when they occurred back in September 2010 and May 2011,” Miller said. “They elected not to investigate those allegations.”

In the tort claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, Smith said he was placed on leave one day before he was subpoenaed to appear before a Sacramento County grand jury and that he has been retaliated against for being black.

The embattled Twin Rivers Police Department has been making sweeping changes following intense scrutiny over the past eight months. The department and the school district are the subject of a grand jury investigation, the results of which will be released next week.

“For the size of the Police Department, I get more calls about them than any similarly sized department,” said attorney Stewart Katz, who is well-known for his lawsuits against law enforcement for use-of-force issues.

Katz represents Lawonda Bailey, who is suing the Twin Rivers school district and district police Officer Jason Smith over allegations that Smith used excessive force following a traffic stop. Officer Jason Smith is not related to Officer Branche Smith.

The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office filed charges Thursday against Branche Smith, accusing him of choking Demonte Kelly, then 18, and Andrew Latshaw, then 21, and threatening Austin Westall, then 20, with a stun gun.

The men were detained with two others at the Twin Rivers Police Department pre-booking facility about 3 p.m. Sept. 17, 2010, according to court documents.

The five subjects were arrested on Longdale Drive as suspects in various crimes, including obstructing an officer, assaulting an officer, conspiracy, inciting a riot and resisting arrest.

No charges were filed against Kelly, Latshaw or Westall, according to online court records.

Acting Twin Rivers Police Chief Scott LaCosse said Smith was not at the scene during the incident that led to the five subjects being arrested. Smith entered the pre-booking facility later while the subjects were being detained, LaCosse said.

A case summary filed in court documents indicate there were numerous Twin Rivers police officers in pre-booking when Smith entered the room. An officer digitally recorded the events.

The case summary said the accounts of the detained subjects and police officers who witnessed the incidents are consistent in saying that Smith choked Kelly and Latshaw while they were handcuffed and threatened Westall by holding a Taser inches from the suspect’s chest.

In a separate incident May 30, 2011, Smith is accused of kicking Jacob Paul, then 25, in the head while the subject was on the floor at the Sacramento County jail.

Smith originally arrested Paul, a parolee-at-large, after Paul ran when Smith stopped to talk to him, according to the case summary against Smith.

Paul told investigators that Smith pulled over on the side of the freeway and choked him for moving too much in the back seat of the patrol car.

While at the county jail, Smith allegedly entered Paul’s cell and slammed the inmate’s head into a wall. Smith said Paul was resisting, according to court documents.

After entering the cell, a deputy said, “Officer Smith ‘booted’ Paul in the face as Officer Smith walked out the cell.”

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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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Pack Of Savage Beasts Robbed And Beat People Leaving Newark New Jersey Concert

May 9, 2012

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – Authorities says a pack of roving teens waged a two-minute crime spree that left five people robbed and beaten following a concert in New Jersey’s largest city.

The wave of violence broke out as nearly 20,000 people left Newark’s Prudential Center after Saturday’s Red Hot Chili Peppers show.

Three teenagers and two adults were targeted, including a 23-year-old Pennsylvania man, who suffered a fractured eye socket.

Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio tells The Star-Ledger of Newark the suspects appeared to be a band of 10 or 15 “thugs.” No arrests have been made.

Prudential Center officials say they wish the victims a speedy recovery, and praised the work of the Newark Police Department

DeMaio tells the newspaper 23 officers were assigned on Saturday, despite the city ordering a recent reduction.

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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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Widespread Abuse Of Illegal Immigrants By U.S. Border Patrol Agents – Beatings, Denied Food And Water, Death Threats, Torture, Etc.

September 22, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Back in 2006, volunteers with No More Deaths, a humanitarian organization dedicated to helping migrants along the Arizona-Mexico border, began hearing the same stories from many who had been in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Thwarted would-be unauthorized immigrants spoke of being denied water or food during their custody. Others said they were beaten.

The organization started properly documenting these allegations, and the stories added up to nearly 13,000 testimonies whose results were released in a report this week.

The findings went beyond denial of food and water. Migrants held by the Border Patrol spoke of being exposed to extreme heat or cold, sleep deprivation, death threats, and psychological abuse such as blaring music with lyrics about migrants dying in the desert.

A previous report by No More Deaths in 2008 raised the same concerns, but now the number of recorded cases point to a systematic problem.

“By this point, the overwhelming weight of the corroborated evidence should eliminate any doubt that Border Patrol abuse is widespread,” the report states.

The Border Patrol responded with a statement highlighting the fact that respect for detainees is taught in training and consistently reinforced during an agent’s career.

“Mistreatment or agent misconduct will not be tolerated in any way,” the statement said. “We appreciate the efforts of individuals to report concerns as soon as they arise and we will continue to cooperate fully with any effort to investigate allegations of agent misconduct or mistreatment of individuals.”

The interviews were conducted with migrants in Naco, Nogales and Agua Prieta, in Mexico’s Sonora state who were in border patrol custody. Although No More Deaths conducted thousands of interviews, in places like Nogales they could only speak with a fraction of the migrants who crossed. This raised the issue of how representative their sample was, said Katerina Sinclair, a statistical consultant on the report.

But in Naco, a smaller town, they were able to speak with enough migrants to have a representative sample. So the report stays away from making conclusions about percentages except for the subset of interviewees from Naco. But despite the difficulties with such an ambitious project, the authors say that the numbers on their own are cause for concern.

Some 2,981 people reported they were denied food, and more than 11,000 said they were given insufficient food by the Border Patrol, the report states.

The report found that 863 people, many of whom were already dehydrated, were denied water.

There were nearly 6,000 cases of overcrowding reported, and almost 3,000 people had at least some personal belongings not returned, the report states.

In addition, 869 people — including 17 children and 41 teenagers — reported that they were split from their families and deported separately.

No More Deaths also recorded instances of sleep deprivation, death threats, and the forced holding of strenuous positions.

“There’s no question that there is systematic abuse of people in Border Patrol custody,” Danielle Alvarado, one of the report’s authors, told CNN.

Although the research focused on migrants in the Arizona border area, the findings are consistent with reports from Border Patrol sectors across the country, she said.

“This systematic abuse must be confronted aggressively at the institutional level, not denied or dismissed as a series of aberrational incidents attributable to a few rogue agents,” the report states.

In its statement, the Border Patrol responded that, “on a daily basis, agents make every effort to ensure that people in our custody are given food, water, and medical attention as needed.”

“The sad reality is that between what they say on paper and the day-to-day reality there is a big disconnect,” Alvarado said.

Brandon Judd, president of Local 2544, the Tucson branch of the National Border Patrol Council, said that it is No More Deaths’ report that is disconnected from reality.

Border patrol agents are law-abiding citizens who believe in accountability, he said. “If these allegations are true, these are crimes,” he said.

There are 3,000 agents in the Tucson Sector of the Border Patrol, Judd said, and one complaint every two weeks would be considered a lot. Agents also police themselves, he said.

“I can tell you that our agents are the ones who report mistreatment if they see it,” he said.

He was skeptical about the types of questions that were asked and the credibility of the interviewees who were freshly repatriated.

“There’s some glaring weaknesses in the story,” he said.

But Sinclair said that care was taken to make sure that all conclusions were drawn from the Naco sample, which also happened to report the lowest rate of incidents. The questions were also phrased in a way to give credit to the Border Patrol where due.

“We gave them every benefit of the doubt,” she said. But their research shows that “it only gets worse from here.”

“It just doesn’t ring true,” Judd said.

The reports of abuses come as the number of apprehensions along the border has decreased. Increased border enforcement and a slow economic recovery in the United States have reduced the amount of illegal traffic across the border.

Also, No More Deaths reported, the demographics of those being deported have changed. A number of the migrants they interviewed were older and had been in the United States longer. One sample of 100 migrants revealed an average of 14.4 years of living in the United States before deportation.

In light of its report, its authors argue for legally enforceable standards, and a tougher oversight mechanism.

From October of last year to the present, about 115,000 migrants were apprehended by the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector.

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