One Of Six Omaha Cops Fired For Excessive Force, Illegal Search And Seizure Is Already Back In Uniform

from the you-can't-keep-a-bad-man-down dept

As we covered very recently, the city of Omaha is being sued by the ACLU on behalf of a family whose house was raided by 20+ cops (sans warrant) in order to seize cellphone footage taken of their arrest tactics (read: excessive force) deployed to detain someone asking questions about a vehicle being towed. Despite the multitude of police officers swarming the neighborhood, a person filming the incident from across the street went unnoticed.

By the time it was all said and done (and footage released to the press), 32 police officers had been named as co-defendants, and six of those officers had been fired. But like many police officer firings, it didn’t take.

Omaha police officer Bradley D. Canterbury has been reinstated after being fired for a rough arrest at 33rd and Seward last Spring.

Canterbury is the one in the video who seems to throw Octavius Johnson to the ground.

Not only did Canterbury throw Johnson to the ground, but he got in a few swings when (he thought) no one was looking. Here’s the video for a refresher. The throw happens about 11 seconds in. At 2:55, Canterbury looks around for watchful eyes, and seeing none, punches Johnson a few times.

An arbitrator decided that those punches don’t count, even if Canterbury suspiciously omitted them from his report.

According to the TV report, an arbitrator decided in a 38-page ruling that Canterbury’s use of force was justified, calling the strikes “hammer hits” and noting he didn’t kick or elbow Johnson. The arbitrator also decided the city didn’t have enough evidence to show Canterbury purposely failed to mention the second series of strikes, against an already subdued Johnson, in his report, even as two of the officers are facing charges related to the cover-up of the incident.

Now, it’s unclear to me how a “hammer hit” differs from “repeatedly punching” a prone, subdued suspect, but I’m not in the business of putting bad cops back on the street. What it looks like is Canterbury extracting a little “aggravation pay” from the person who kicked off this whole debacle. Finding the street clear of fellow officers (who were warrantlessly storming a house to illegally seize cellphone footage, injuring a wheelchair-bound woman in the process) and, more importantly, citizens with phones, Canterbury “hammer hit” Johnson to remind him who was in charge. Then he submitted a report that glossed over his “hammer hits.”

I’m not sure what evidence the city would need to show a reasonable human being that Officer Canterbury purposely failed to include the extra punching in his report other than:

a.) Canterbury’s report that doesn’t detail the hammer hitting, and

b.) the above video footage.

Perhaps the city should have mentioned that the illegal seizure and destruction of camera footage was indicative of a coverup. Actually, I’m sure it did, considering it used that claim to get rid of the cops in the first place. If cops are covering something up, omitting tiny details like bonus blows is just par for the course.

Now, if Canterbury can get his job back after being caught on tape and caught omitting details, then it stands to reason the other five fired cops have a chance to reclaim their badges. This isn’t a great way to weed out bad cops. In the private sector, most fired people stay fired. But on the other side of the blue line, being canned for violent acts or violating rights is often little more than a momentary setback.

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Comments on “One Of Six Omaha Cops Fired For Excessive Force, Illegal Search And Seizure Is Already Back In Uniform”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

…and noting he didn?t kick or elbow Johnson.

‘Well you see your Honor, while I did beat the suspect just a little, to the point where I perhaps broke a bone or two, I could have shot them, so obviously it doesn’t count.’

… yeah, it takes a pretty screwed up person to excuse a badge toting thug beating on someone they’ve already thrown to the pavement, by saying they could have done more but didn’t, meaning what they did do shouldn’t count.

Crap like this is why more and more people distrust cops, even when they get caught breaking the law and/or abusing their authority, and evidence is provided proving it, all they seem to get is a slap on the wrist before being sent right back out, badge, gun, and legal immunity still intact.

David says:

Re: Re:

If people approached by police will tend to shoot at sight, I doubt that this will lead to more appropriate police behavior.

No, the only viable road is to fire all policemen unfit to engage in respectful and proportionate behavior.

The idea of having a police force is to have fewer rather than more thugs roaming the streets.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re:

its like anything else these days: THEORETICALLY you have that ‘right’, in reality, fugiddaboutit…

it don’t matter you have kops on video k-k-k-konspiring to kill you, and then go to kill you, THEY WILL GET OFF, YOU WILL BE LOCKED UP (because somethingsomethingsomething your babies will die in a fire!)

THAT is the new world odor, get used to it, peasants…

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Union Rules, ya know...

I disagree. The union’s job is to represent their workers collectively in terms of how they’re treated by management. It’s not the union’s job to defend their members against legitimate charges. The union should feel as much pressure to get rid of bad cops as everybody else. Their presence makes all cops look terrible, after all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hey, how about that pedophile cop who retired with full benefits? Is he going to get his job back?
I mean, here we’ve literally got armies of cops breaking into houses to destroy evidence of their previous misbehavior, getting caught (again), a few of them got fired, and apparently they’re not going to have any trouble being rehired.
Why not rehire the pedophile? Give him a cushy desk job. Maybe a 14 year old secretary. If you’re going to be cartoonishly evil, why hold back?

OldGeezer (profile) says:

It angers me when you hear about bad cops because they are the ones making the headlines and not the vast majority of good officers who are risking their lives every day to protect us. When you get situations like this where there are so many from one department it means that the higher ranking officials there have failed to set standards and discipline cops who get out of line. I have seen many examples over the years of our local department suspending, firing and even prosecuting cops who violate policy. The Wichita police chief would never tolerate what these cops did. Heads would roll.

halley (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Take these two points:

* there are only a few ‘bad apples’ on the force
* each good cop knows one or more of those ‘bad apples’ on the force

Any cop who protects a bad cop is a bad cop.

If those good cops want respect, they will arrest and prosecute the bad cops, and they won’t let arbitrators or unions get them off the hook. Period.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

halley (profile), Jan 31st, 2014 @ 4:31am

Take these two points:

* there are only a few ‘bad apples’ on the force
* each good cop knows one or more of those ‘bad apples’ on the force

Any cop who protects a bad cop is a bad cop.

If those good cops want respect, they will arrest and prosecute the bad cops, and they won’t let arbitrators or unions get them off the hook. Period.


Good cops are weeded out by the bad ones for a reason!

The only way to get good cops back on the team will be to fire the entire current one and to hire a new one to replace it. Including a new union along with it.

Good luck getting these things to happen without blood shed. Corrupt people in power like to keep their power.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The only feasible way to reign in a corrupt police force is from above, at the state or even federal level.

The State of Texas has more than once fired a town’s entire police force for misconduct. I think the city of Iowa Colony was the last to take such a hit, and that was 20 years ago.

But Iowa Colony’s problem was not beating up poor people (which is generally much safer politically) but running a speed trap scam that got the ire of a few wealthy people traveling between Houston and their beach-front mansions and passing through a remote section of highway the town annexed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

In the case of what he is describing, it is which is a little different for a couple of reasons.

1. It’s a very small police force for what really isn’t even a town but rather more of a suburb located between Houston and Galveston, so the likelihood that the corruption permeates the entire force is very high.

2. The situation he is describing is something that is orchestrated from the top down and is planned from the beginning. It’s not the same sort of problem as an officer with a chip on his shoulder who in reaction to having his authority questioned during a particular incident, steps over the line and abuses that authority which is then covered up by others who don’t want to deal with the backlash from the outrage. One is premeditated. The other is a lack of self control and judgement. Two very different situations.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yay for Wichita, then! But that seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

“it means that the higher ranking officials there have failed to set standards and discipline cops who get out of line.”

True. But it also means that all those “good cops” are failing to police their coworkers. Standards-setting by higher ranking officials doesn’t mean that much of the standards aren’t enforced by the rank and file as well.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Several of you have pointed out the code of silence prevalent in so many police departments. Sad but unfortunately true. Even good cops don’t like snitches. I don’t have an answer of how to change this except for offering better protection for whistle blowers.

I still have comfort in knowing if someone breaks into my house and I call 911 that cops will show up and come in not knowing if the intruder is armed and they will become the next entry on the Officer Down web site.

One good thing is I believe the Wichita police chief is a man of integrity and has shown this on many occasions. If something like what happened in Omaha occurred here I think most of these guys would be quickly suspended or fired.

Crusty the Ex-Clown says:

Re: risking their lives

If you look at actuarial tables, police work is somewhat more dangerous than the average job but far, far below the level of risk seen by miners, loggers, commercial fishermen, and even farmers.

The good police officers I have know displayed a level-headedness seemingly unperturbed by risk or stress.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

Re: Re: risking their lives

Yes, those are dangerous occupations. Accidents do happen but they occour unexpectedly. Working at Boeing would be considered a reasonably safe job but in my years there I know of 4 accidental deaths. None of them had a clue when they came to work that a crane load would fall or they would be hit by a fork lift. The difference is police officers knowingly go into dangerous situations. They get a call of shots fired or a holdup in progress they move in even though it could mean they could be killed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: risking their lives

Well sure, They have bullet proof vests and combat gear and numbers that their force is insurmountable. Then, they shoot first and handcuff the dead/dying guy and then THINK about asking questions. Although in every video of armed/unarmed shooting of people, never have I seen them question a down guy or render care only handcuff and let them bleed out. I guess that’s so they know the person will never tell HIS SIDE of the story and that they’ll never have to deal with him again. I’m so proud of what the police have become (sarcasm, in case you missed it).

Paul Somebody (profile) says:

The problem

It seems to me the root of the problem is

“we protect our own.”

I see at least one video like this every few days.

Planting evidence (drugs, drugs and drugs)
Excessive force
Aggravating a situation instead of calming things down.

The way police are being trained and the illegal activities accepted from them, it is an us and them situation.

Anonymous Coward says:

OFF-TOPIC QUESTION: I just submitted a story about a typical abuse-of-authority issue, but what should I select in the pulldown that says “Please select the closest topic”?

Is the all-encompassing “Legal Issues” category the closest Techdirt category for an abuse-of-authority, police-state, or bad-cop story?

Considering how often Techdirt reports abuse by government authorities (“police” and otherwise) that hold the power of law over our heads, maybe an additional category might be considered.

Anonymous Coward says:

also consider that the other officers involved wont be fired now anyway and there is no footage of the guy who was assaulted being anything except subdued. he didn’t throw any punches but, as has been seen many times now, the police did. they have the availability of being able to use any amount of force even when a member of the public is doing nothing to represent any threat at all. not good guys! if it were these officers on the receiving end of something, for doing nothing, while on holiday or at an airport, for example, they would be causing all sorts of grief!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh, stop whining. At least he wasn't

shot in the back, despite surrendering with his hands in the air:

No doubt that bully, thug, liar, and coward Canterbury WOULD have shot him in the back…but he probably wasn’t bright enough to think of that at the time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Oh, stop whining. At least he wasn't

Unarmed citizen, not fighting, not running, just standing there … so the cops just start shooting, and even after the suspect turns away from them and puts his hands in the air, they keep on firing until the guy is absolutely dead?

And what’s with the cop trying over and over to break the arm of a completely-limp corpse?


Now how about a video of something that never happens in America — police showing so much restraint, it’s shocking to watch.

Bryan Dreyfus says:

'qualified Immunity'

Why don’t these guys charge them with violating their right(s) and suing them individually?
Ex Parte Young 209 US 123 (1908), Harlow v. Fitzgerald, Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 341 (1986) & more outline the ways cops actions strip ‘qualified Immunity’ from police officers.
I think the only way we will see these members of THE BLUE Gang start acting civilized is to take their money away when they don’t.

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