Cops Becoming Robbers – Stealing Property From Innocent People Not Charged With A Crime

June 1, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Something is desperately wrong with our legal system when the government can take property from innocent people who have never been charged with a crime. It’s happening all over the country thanks to the surreal doctrine of civil forfeiture, through which courts hold inanimate objects guilty of crimes, instead of going after the actual owners who – as actual people – would be entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Dispensing with that vital presumption has proved to be highly profitable for law-enforcement agencies, which are allowed to keep some or all of the value of a seized asset. On Wednesday, Minnesota’s state auditor released a comprehensive report on $5 million worth of property grabbed in the state. A regular audit was put into place after a prior investigation revealed a police gang task force allowed seized cash and automobiles to go “missing.” Oregon’s Forfeiture Oversight Advisory Committee revealed on May 21 that cops had seized $1.8 million in cash and property last year.

After federal law was amended in 1984 to expand the use of asset seizure to combat the drug war, forfeiture cases have exploded. In 2008, the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Fund had more than $1 billion in assets. Where state laws place a limit on the use of seized funds, federal law provides a work-around. Consequently, forfeiture funds now are a significant budgetary source for many agencies, increasing the incentive to seize property.

The system is ripe for abuse, as a recent comprehensive report by the Institute for Justice (IJ) details. In 27 states, the government only needs to make its case with a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which is far below the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard prosecutors must meet for a criminal conviction. Some states even use the lowest possible standard – “probable cause” – in seizure cases.

That stacks the deck heavily against the property owner. Even though state and federal laws offer an “innocent owner” defense, the owner bears the burden of establishing innocence – a complete reversal of the usual burden of proof. This has resulted in shocking abuses of power.

In Massachusetts, the feds and the local police are acting in concert to seize the motel owned by Russ Caswell because there might have been some drug-dealing in some of the rooms, even though the owners were unaware of it and are cooperating with the police. Perhaps the worst example comes from Wisconsin, where, as detailed by the Huffington Post’s Radley Balko, police seized the bail money of a mother who tried to get her son out of jail. The Brown County Sheriff’s Office did so by alleging the cash she had just withdrawn from ATMs smelled of drugs.

All of this happens because there is little oversight over the process. Civil forfeiture has long since lost its original link to the drug war and money laundering. At a minimum, the time has come to restore fairness by raising the standard of proof for a seizure. Better yet, the laws need to be re-written to entirely eliminate the profit motive from policing.

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Former Columbus Ohio Police Officer Brad E. Hare Charged With Abduction And Robbery

May 27, 2012

COLUMBUS, OHIO – A Columbus man is speaking out about the encounter that lead him to chase down a former Columbus Police Officer now charged with abduction and robbery.

According to police, 39-year-old Brad E. Hare stole a car last Thursday before later having an altercation with a young woman in Iuka Park.

Jess Peacock lives across the street from the park. He says he frequently hears screams around his home but last Thursday, he heard a bone chilling scream that he knew was different.

When he went outside Peacock says he saw several people huddled around a young woman in the park. Brad Hare ran past Peacock. The people in the park indicated the woman was fine but to chase after Hare.

Peacock says acting on instinct he began chasing Hare, while barefoot. Peacock and a few other men eventually cornered Hare and waited until police arrived.

Hare is a former Columbus Police officer who was involved in a shooting back in 2006. No charges were ever filed against Hare or the other officer involved in the shooting.

Peacock says detectives came to interview him after the incident and told him that Hare had struggled in life since the officer involved shooting. Peacock says he has compassion for Hare.

“Not that he shouldn’t be held accountable for anything that he did…he has a sad story and it makes you feel for the guy. Looking at him I guess what I think is I hope he can find some sort of redemption,” Peacock said.

Hare is next scheduled to be in court on June 1st.

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Pack Of Savage Black Beasts Rob 7-11 Store In Baltimore Maryland And Beat Store Manager

May 24, 2012

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – Another mob of juveniles causes problems in downtown Baltimore. This time, it happens inside a 7-Eleven where dozens of kids came for free Slurpees but ended up stealing much more.

The entire incident was caught on video. But city police and managers at the 7-Eleven have refused to let WJZ see that video. But there are plenty of people in that busy area of town who saw it all unfold.

A nationwide 7-Eleven free Slurpee giveaway brought 35 to 40 kids into the Light Street store around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

“It was a lot of kids and they were out of control,” Kesha Chester, who was at the store at the time, said.

While some kids lined up for the free Slurpee, witnesses saw other kids raiding the candy shelves.

“They went in, they started going everywhere in the store, grabbing things and then they just run out. And I knew that they didn’t buy it because they just run out,” Kendra Mellerson said. “They ran that way and they ran that way. And the guy was trying to come out and stop them but they couldn’t because there was so many.”

After some kids ran away, a store manager blocked the door to keep the rest of the kids from leaving. But those kids got so mad that the door was blocked, they started punching the store manager.

“Yes, they really started hitting that guy and he couldn’t keep getting beat on so he eventually let them out. And then they just ran,” Mellerson said.

What happened at the store is the latest example of large groups of young people creating havoc in downtown Baltimore.

On St. Patrick’s Day, police broke up several fights and disturbances as crowds of teens gathered in the Inner Harbor.

That same night, another group beat and robbed a tourist. Cameras have spotted large groups of teens roaming streets in November and caught big fights on July 4, all of it upsetting to downtown workers.

“I’m really appalled at the behavior of these teenagers. When the kids are running rampant, running amok, where are the parents?” asked one person.

The juveniles were all wearing yellow shirts and khaki pants. Police are trying to figure out what school they came from.

Police declined to be interviewed for this story.

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Savage Black Beast Stabbed 2 Canadian Woman To Death During Unprovoked Attack In Atlantic City New Jersey – One Victim Was 80, The Other 47

May 22, 2012

ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY – Two female tourists were stabbed to death in what appears to have been a random and unprovoked attack in Atlantic City Monday.

At about 10 a.m., an officer on patrol in the 1900 block of Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City saw a 44-year-old woman, identified as Antoinette E. Pelzer, stabbing another woman. The officer drew his gun and ordered Pelzer to drop the knife. She complied and was taken into custody.

Police say an 80-year-old woman and a 47-year-old woman, both Canadian residents, were stabbed multiple times in the upper body region and taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center where they succumbed to their injuries.

It is unclear if the victims are related; their names are being withheld pending family notification.

Witnesses say Pelzer was attempting to rob one of the victims of her purse. There is no indication the victims and suspect knew each other, according to investigators.

Pelzer had a driver’s license from Pennsylvania and police are looking into where and how long she has been staying in Atlantic City. Those who knew Pelzer are shocked to hear of the news.

“She’s a very good girl, she’s very upstanding and has been a very good friend of mine,” said one woman who did not wish to be identified.

Pelzer is charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and robbery. She was also charged with two counts of aggravated assault, but it is anticipated that there will be additional charges due to the deaths of the victims. Bail was not set as of 6 p.m. Monday.

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Bedford New Hampshire Police Officer Charged With Stealing Vest As Police Motorcycle Club Robbed Store Dead After Committing Suicide At Home

May 19, 2012

BEDFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – A second police officer charged with stealing a vest last May from Brian Blackden’s North State Street pepper spray supply shop died at his home May 11, the day the complaints were filed in court.

Gary Norton, a 48-year-old Bedford police sergeant, had not yet been issued a summons for the misdemeanor theft charge, Concord police Lt. Timothy O’Malley said yesterday.

O’Malley said he couldn’t comment on Norton’s cause of death, but Assistant Safety Commissioner Earl Sweeney confirmed the sergeant’s death was a suicide, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Sweeney did not return calls for comment yesterday, and neither did Bedford police Chief John Bryfonski. An obituary published in the Union Leader yesterday said Norton, who worked for the Bedford police for 15 years, died at his home May 11.

Norton and Hill police Sgt. Jonathan Evans, 56, were charged with theft by unauthorized taking for allegedly stealing a vest last May from Blackden’s store at 485 N. State St., where Blackden says he was robbed and threatened by five members of a police motorcycle club.

The complaints, which were signed by the Concord police and filed in Concord’s district court, don’t provide any description of the incident beyond the allegations that Norton and Evans took a vest that belonged to Blackden. O’Malley has directed questions to the Cheshire County Attorney’s Office, where he said the case was transferred because of possible conflicts of interest.

The assistant Cheshire County attorney handling the case, John Webb, did not return calls for comment.

Blackden said he was robbed by men who belonged to the Road Dawgs, a motorcycle club for active and retired officers. The men, who were wearing the club’s colors, took the vest because they believed it belonged to them, Blackden said.

Evans said Thursday that he had been a member of the Road Dawgs but resigned from the club last year. He didn’t comment further on the allegations but said he “didn’t break the law doing anything of that nature.”

Evans’s employment status hasn’t changed since he was charged, and Chief David Kranz said he and the selectmen were confident Evans “had no wrongdoing in the incident.” He is due in court June 18.

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US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer Robbed Twice In Three Months

May 18, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Less than three months after he was robbed at his vacation home in the Caribbean, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has been targeted again — this time by burglars at his Washington, D.C., house.

Breyer’s property was raided May 4, The Washington Post reported Thursday, with cutlery and candlesticks worth about $3,500 taken.

Unlike the February robbery in Nevis — where Breyer and his house guests were threatened with a machete by a gardener who took $1,000 — no one was home during the Washington robbery. A housekeeper discovered the crime scene.

A Supreme Court spokeswoman said no court documents were taken.

The robbery comes a month after Congress allocated nearly $1 million to hire 12 new Supreme Court police officers, according to The Hill.

Breyer had been among the group pushing for that greater protection after U.S. District Judge John Roll was among six people killed in a gunman’s rampage at a Tucson shopping mall last year, which seriously wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and 12 others.

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US Army Soldier Brutally Beaten And Robbed By Savage Black Beasts In Tampa Florida

May 15, 2012

RAMPA, FLORIDA — Police want your help finding four men who teamed up to beat a young U.S. Army soldier in a South Tampa street.

It was an awful welcome to Tampa Bay for a young soldier. Police say the victim of a violent beating caught on camera is 24 years old and has lived in Tampa for less than a month.

Photo Gallery: Soldier beaten and robbed in South Tampa

He’s a U.S. Army soldier assigned to MacDill Air Force Base and lives not far from the base at Dale Mabry Hwy. and Interbay Blvd.

Police say Sunday morning, at around 3 a.m., the soldier’s car broke down a few miles from home along Westshore Blvd.

The attack came when he was walking home and using Iowa St. to get from Westshore to Dale Mabry. At the intersection of Iowa and Renellie Dr., the man came into the view of a neighbor’s motion-activated security camera.

A group of three young men is seen walking ahead of the soldier. Police say one of the men in the group doubled back and asked to soldier to borrow a dollar. When the soldier reached for his wallet, the first punch flew.

The first, tremendous sucker punch laid the victim onto the ground. The other two men joined in, punching and kicking the soldier.

A fourth man comes sprinting into view from the left edge of the video. The new attacker — a man the soldier said he had walked past earlier — joined in the beating.

Tampa Police officers say the crooks stole the soldier’s wallet and cell phone, then took off south on Renellie Dr. When he eventually got to his feet, the victim had to knock on doors to find someone to help him call 911.

See Also: Video shows young soldier severely beaten

The soldier was taken to Tampa General Hospital with cuts and bruises on his face and head. Police say he is expected to make a full recovery.

Police say they haven’t gotten many useful details about the suspects from the video.

The victim was not able to tell police much more: they’re all in their late teens to early 20’s. Two were black men with an average build, police said. One attacker was possibly Hispanic, also with an average build. The fourth man was also black, but with a heavier build.

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