The Police Accountability System: 1
Highway robbery, destroyed evidence, and retaliation.
Farmers “arrest” local sheriff attempting to evict a Michigan woman from her farm, 1952.
The Miami Beach Police Department earned itself a hat-trick earlier this month after video evidence caught its officers lying for a third time in recent weeks, forcing prosecutors to drop charges against a New York woman. All three incidents are tied to the same city ordinance passed earlier this summer that was sold as a way to protect officers from rowdy tourist crowds.
Activists and legal scholars warned that police would use the law to harass onlookers who wanted to film the police, a constitutionally protected right under the First Amendment, and, of course, arrest minorities, but the police union pinky-promised this wouldn't happen.
So far, more than half of the 13 people arrested under the ordinance—at least eight—were recording police, according to The Miami Herald. All have been young Black men or women.
Prosecutors are mum on whether the officers are facing charges for falsifying police reports. However, the best way to avoid getting caught for your alleged crimes is to destroy any evidence of having committed any.
That's what Minnesota State Police did last summer after responding to the George Floyd protests that erupted after police extrajudicially murdered the innocent American. The department has been accused of not only intentionally targeting journalists but also of using excessive force.
They also deleted a lot of emails and text messages, leaving open questions about their conduct during the protests. Good officers would not hide evidence of their good behavior.
It's much harder, though, to destroy $87,000 in cold hard cash. This is the conundrum Nevada Highway Patrol found itself in after former Marine Stephen Lara found a lawyer. He needed one so he could sue the department after they robbed him along the roadside earlier this year.
Police initially told Lara that they had stopped him for following another vehicle too closely, though the officer then admitted that he'd pulled Lara over for potential drug smuggling. Police found no drugs or any evidence of wrongdoing, but that didn't stop officers from taking what wasn't theirs and stealing his money protected by a badge and a gun.
But it's not all bad behind the Thin Blue Line. In Joliet, Sgt. Javier Esqueda discovered a startling cover-up. Department officers failed to follow proper department procedures during a January 2020 arrest, their alleged negligence leading to an innocent man's death. There is a 62-minute video of the incident, too, but no evidence of any consequences for the two officers.
Esqueda leaked it to a local news station after agonizing over what to do. Within days of the leak, officers made a swift arrest—Esqueda's. He's now facing 20 years in prison on felony charges of official misconduct.
The officers that neglected the man who died in their custody have so far faced no known consequences, though one of them was arrested on domestic battery charges in July.
He was placed on paid leave, and is set to be fired, but he's appealing to keep his job. And history shows he’s likely to succeed.
This Week’s Tort Tally: $7.85 Million
Colorado City, Colorado — $3 Million
Austin, Texas — $2.25 Million
Camden, New Jersey — $1.4 Million
Eau Claire, Wisconsin – $725,000 + $325,000
Arvada, Colorado — $100,000
Portland, Oregon — $50,000
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