Cops Seize Car When Told To Get A Warrant, Tell Owner That's What He Gets For 'Exercising His Rights'

from the 'to-seize-and-retaliate' dept

Yeah, so you’ve read the headline. No criminal activity. No charges brought. And a cheap shot fired across the bow of the Fourth Amendment, not to mention Vermont’s own Constitution.

But let’s travel back further to set this up. Twenty-one-year-old Gregory Zullo was supposedly pulled over for having his license plate registration sticker (incidentally) covered by a small amount of snow.

Not a crime. From the ACLU filing [pdf link]:

At all times relevant to this action, it was not a violation of Vermont law to drive a car on which the validation sticker on the rear license plate – but not the numbers and letters of the license plate itself – was touched by snow, leaves, or any other material.

The lawsuit notes that the officer who stated this was the reason he initiated the event spent no further time on that subject. He didn’t bother to brush the snow away from the registration sticker or have Zullo do it, despite the fact that both spent over 30 minutes no more than a few inches away from the offending plate.

Officer Hatch spent most of his time trying to talk Zullo into allowing him to search the vehicle without a warrant. Hatch seemed to be convinced that Zullo was involved with the heroin traffickers he was searching for. Hatch tried everything, including lying.

More than once, the defendant’s employee told Mr. Zullo that Mr. Zullo should consent to a search because the police dog in the back of his truck smelled something.

But the police dog in Hatch’s truck was not a drug detection dog, and, at all times during the encounter between Hatch and Mr. Zullo, the dog remained in the truck with the truck’s windows rolled up.

This isn’t just a mere allegation based on Zullo’s statements to the ACLU. It’s confirmed during the few minutes of actual dialog captured by the dash cam’s mic. (Interestingly [or not, depending on your particular faith in law enforcement], Officer Hatch was wired for sound, but either his body mic wasn’t activated or was buried so far beneath his winter gear it was rendered useless.) At no point does the non-drug dog appear outside the vehicle. About 30 minutes into the recording, Hatch returns to his vehicle to inform his precinct that Zullo wouldn’t agree to warrantless search, so “he’s [Hatch] just going to take it [Zullo’s car].”

During that same call, the defendant’s employee admitted that he did not have a drug detection dog with him, but would have access to one at the state police barracks. App. A at 33:59

As the officers and Zullo waited for the tow truck, they continued to try to get his permission for a search. Zullo held firm, so the cops ditched him miles from home in 20-degree weather.

Mr. Zullo asked Hatch if he could retrieve his money and cell phone from his car, because he did not know how he would get home without either item.

Hatch refused, saying that getting home was “not my problem,” and warned Mr. Zullo that if he attempted to retrieve those items from the car he would be arrested. When Mr. Zullo walked towards his car, Hatch placed his hands on Mr. Zullo to restrain him from reaching the car.

After the tow truck arrived and took Mr. Zullo’s car, Hatch and the second state trooper left the scene, leaving Mr. Zullo stranded on the side of Route 7.

After being seized, Zullo’s car was searched by Officer Hatch using an actual drug dog and an actual warrant [pdf link]. Nothing illegal was uncovered. Hatch found both a pipe and a grinder with “marijuana residue.” Again, no laws were broken by Zullo’s possession of these items.

On June 6, 2013, Governor Shumlin signed the bill, and the relevant parts of the enactment became effective on July 1, 2013. 2013 Vt. Acts & Resolves 669. As a result, at the time of the events giving rise to this suit, Vermont law deemed possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by a person over the age of twenty-one a civil offense, punishable by no more than a fine contestable in the Judicial Bureau. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 18, §4230a(b)(1).

That part of the state statutes reads:

Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person 21 years of age or older who possesses one ounce or less of marijuana or five grams or less of hashish or who possesses paraphernalia for marijuana use shall not be penalized or sanctioned in any manner by the State or any of its political subdivisions or denied any right or privilege under State law.

Both the drug angle and the registration sticker angle dead end into a search and seizure based on non-criminal actions. The state does have an out (one that will likely be deployed in its defense against Zully’s lawsuit) that still allows law enforcement to search for marijuana, even if what’s discovered isn’t a criminal amount.

This section is not intended to affect the search and seizure laws afforded to duly authorized law enforcement officers under the laws of this State. Marijuana is contraband pursuant to section 4242 of this title and subject to seizure and forfeiture unless possessed in compliance with chapter 86 of this title (therapeutic use of Cannabis).

But this should have resulted in something better than the response given to Zully when he finally made his way to the precinct to retrieve his vehicle (as well as being told he was responsible for the towing fees).

When Mr. Zullo asked the defendant’s employee why he had to pay for the tow, the defendant’s employee told him that the tow cost was Mr. Zullo’s fault for exercising his rights.

There’s the now-familiar lesson: exercise your rights and cops will make you pay — one way or another — for making their jobs difficult. This was plainly stated by an LAPD member shortly after the situation in Ferguson blew up: be anything but compliant and you’ll be hurting. If you have problems with us steamrolling your rights, sue us. That attitude brings us to this. Another lawsuit filed against a law enforcement agency simply because a police officer couldn’t handle being told, “No.”



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Comments on “Cops Seize Car When Told To Get A Warrant, Tell Owner That's What He Gets For 'Exercising His Rights'”

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131 Comments
New Mexico Mark says:

General corruption?

There will always be bad apples in any organization. The response of that organization to an incident will reveal whether corruption is rampant or not. In this case, at a minimum, there should be a public apology, meaningful disciplinary action of the officers involved, and voluntary reimbursement of ALL expenses incurred. (In an ideal world, that would come out of the officers’ and supervisors salaries to they can begin to understand the pain they are inflicting on others with this abuse of authority.)

Nom says:

Re: Re: General corruption?

Wow, I can’t believe you would want someone to do that to you. You must be some kind of masochist.

Seriously though, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Tit-for-tat is far more likely to lead to escalation than prevent it. Entertaining thoughts of revenge might make us feel better, but it’s better to focus on how to fix problems. Don’t let your rage control you.

Nom says:

Re: Re: Re:2 General corruption?

That’s not much of a solution. Then again, neither is visiting the same injustice upon cops. Both are extreme responses to the same problem that are more likely to exacerbate the situation than anything else.

I sincerely hope you are not so cynical and jaded that those are the only two responses you can muster.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 General corruption?

“Both are extreme responses to the same problem that are more likely to exacerbate the situation than anything else.”

Oh, so because the cop may take the law into his own hands and retaliate the solution is to not punish him for his bad deeds? That’s like saying that reporting a criminal that broke into your place is a bad idea because he might retaliate and cause you more harm. That’s not how the law should work. The law should punish him enough to seriously discourage him from doing anything like that again or retaliating and the punishment for any attempted (or even suspected) retaliation should be enough to ensure it doesn’t happen again. These are law enforcement officers and we need to make sure the powers we give them are used responsibly. If they can’t handle the power it should be taken away.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 General corruption?

and one of the reasons law enforcement officers get off light is because it’s often their first offense. Which is fine to some extent but their punishment should still be harsher than that of a civilian first offender. but it should be made very clear that a second offense will be much harsher than a civilian second offender.

DogBreath says:

Re: Re: Re:5 General corruption?

You just need to find a big enough cannon… to fire the cop out of.

Oh yea, no safety net. It is not your responsibility to provide one, and the cop should have brought his own net.

Even if he did bring one, it will have to be taken from him for not being up to code (needs fire marshal inspection, smelled marijuana on it, or some other made up bull), and will need to be immediately confiscated. It is only property and therefore has no rights. Oh, the cop will get it back, just not in time to catch him on the way down.

Also, he will be solely responsible for his own hospital bills, because if he didn’t want to hit the ground he should have exercised his wings.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 General corruption?

It has already been established that exercising your rights will get you shot or ruined. This includes requesting for appropriate penalties or fighting to get laws changed or citizens more protection. You see it regularly in the threads – if citizens weren’t so criminal the police wouldn’t have to shoot them.

There’s no reasoning with a brick wall. The brick wall will wear you out, then crush you under its weight.

TAB says:

Re: Re: Re:3 General corruption?

It’s not injustice to make a criminal pay for their actions. That jerkoff stole his property and left him out in conditions that he KNEW could kill him. That makes him guilty of grand larceny and attempted homicide.
Evil people do not see your servile appeasement as attempts to sue for peace. They see you as what you are: an easy victim.
The only thing he deserves is a grave.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 General corruption?

I don’t think think the “eye for an eye” or False Dilemma really rise to this occasion.

For simplistic problems where people are not losing body parts or facing significant loss then getting what you have given (like a walk home in the cold) are fairly good methods of justifiable retribution. Now, the problem here is that the Cop deserves more than just a “walk home in the cold” because he abused his authority. The Officer should be straight up Fired for showing the willingness to take things too far over so little!

Gracey (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 General corruption?

Rights? What rights?

It appears that any written rights once afforded citizens are already burned to ash. All that’s left is to sweep away the remains of the burned paper.

Rights appear to be a fluid commodity, offered or not, at the whim of whatever authorities you aren’t able to avoid.

And it’s not just the US that suffers from this.

Nom says:

Re: Re: Re:2 General corruption?

For endangering someone’s life because they would not yield to your authority? Sounds like they should be stripped of that authority at the very least. In other words, losing his job.

If the guy would have died, possibly negligent homicide for leaving him alone without money or his cellphone. I am not sure if there is a non-death related crime of which the officer could be tried.

Other than that, the police department should get some encouragement to ensure such things will not happen again. A civil lawsuit might do the trick, though there are other ways.

Personally, I would like to see the officer get charged a small fee as well, though I am not sure what the long term effects of such a system would be. I would like to see some research into the matter regardless.

Editor-In-Chief says:

Re: Re: Re:3 General corruption?

The attitude is that of murder, so he should be charged with attempted murder and since the evidence is that he did if fact leave the young man out there to die, be found guilty and placed in a maximum security prison for life as he was in a position of authority when he rendered illegal judgement of a death sentence on the young man. This is the procedure the law enforcement agencies use, so they should be facing the same consequences.

If all you think is that he should be fired then you don’t understand that the police officer had premeditated murder as his motive of action.

David Oliver Graeme Samuel Offenbach

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: General corruption?

In this situation the cop should not only be forced to pay compensatory damages they should be forced to pay punitive damages that go beyond the damages the officer incurred to the person being searched.

Furthermore the warrant probably should have never been granted in this case in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 General corruption?

They seized his car without a warrant (before getting a warrant) which, AFAIK, is still illegal.

The cop would argue that if he didn’t seize the car immediately, the guy would drive off and dispose of any evidence once he was out of sight. (Which is actually true.) The seizure was necessary if the search was going to be done, and I think that part was legal.

So that by itself isn’t the problem. The problems include the cop pulling him over for something that isn’t illegal in the first place, leaving him on the side of the road as retribution, and making him pay for the tow after not finding that a crime had been committed.

And on a side note, I understand why warrants are generally done with only one side present. But in cases like this one where the evidence is impounded before getting the warrant, there is absolutely no reason why the other side shouldn’t be allowed.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 General corruption?

“The cop would argue that if he didn’t seize the car immediately, the guy would drive off and dispose of any evidence once he was out of sight. (Which is actually true.) The seizure was necessary if the search was going to be done, and I think that part was legal.”

Except that the cop had literally no indication that the car contained drugs. In the absence of some kind of minimal standard — even as minimal as “reasonable suspicion” — then this can’t possibly be legal. Saying it is would be saying that cops can seize literally any car they want at any time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 General corruption?

I’m sure he was tipped off by some of that non existant NSA to DEA to local law enforement information trading. Assuming something was in his vehicle, the chain of evidence can easily be whitewashed and another one goes to club fed to enrich the pockets of those private companies that profit from the war on drugs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 General corruption?

Except that the cop had literally no indication that the car contained drugs

Not quite. The cop said (before the search, so it wasn’t an after-the-fact justification after they found the pipe, and to another cop, so it may not have been just an attempt to get him to consent) that he could smell weed. Given the circumstances I do believe the cop that far. He can’t know whether the amount is greater or less than 1 ounce before doing the search.

Whether that’s probable cause is up for debate, but it is at least a “reasonable suspicion.” Certainly it’s something more than “literally no indication”.

Uriel-238 on a mobile device (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Cops smelling weed

Don’t buy it. My personal experiences with Law Enforcement includes a pat-down in Berkeley since they were looking for some robber allegedly matching my description. Officer Pat swore up and down that I smelled like weed amd wanted badly to have me confess as much.

Alas I was sober and empty handed.

Giving Officer Pat the good-faith benefit of the doubt, maybe he smelled the grass (as in turf) on my costume in a duffle. More likely, he was lying to try to secure a confession.

This guy didn’t smell pot, he saw black skin and smelled blood.

And this is not the first time that the secret, magical language between a cop and his dog was used to invoke “reasonable suspicion.”

Tomuchpower187 says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Cops smelling weed

Exactly hidin trigger for dog to alert they train there own dogs a flick of leash no one is the wiser and they are in your car or pockets anywhere don’t find anything oh well dog alerted I’m sorry lol but they find something they are hero s your word versus there’s it’s like fighting god and u resisted by trying to exercise your rights and u are face down on road arm twisted till shoulder blows out all your money somehow dissipear s it’s crazy how far they can go and u can’t sue them complaining go s no where courts won’t convict them presidents are easier to fire wtf

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 General corruption?

The cop said [snip] that he could smell weed

The article says he could smell something, not necessarily weed and the cop claims to have been looking for heroin. And even assuming it were true that he could smell weed it still leaves 2 problems:

First, for what reason did he pull Mr Zullo over in the first place? Could he smell weed from his car while driving? Or are the police just allowed to pull over people committing no motoring or other offence when they feel like it?

Second, it’s still thin as a reason since, absent any other evidence, it seems “smelling weed” is not a very good reason to suspect a criminal offence is occurring, personal possession being legal and all…

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 General corruption?

The article says he could smell something, not necessarily weed and the cop claims to have been looking for heroin.

Does heroin even have a strong odor?

First, for what reason did he pull Mr Zullo over in the first place?

There’s always something they can pull you over for. You were “weaving”. You failed to signal for the full 600 feet before turning. In this case his license plate was partially obscured, though he didn’t do a good job following through with that pretext.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 General corruption?

The sticker on his plate was obscured, but that is NOT a violation, actually, according to the original post.

What I’m wondering is, does it matter? If the stated reason for pulling someone over isn’t justified, does that mean anything that happens subsequently can’t be used as evidence?

Derek Balling (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:10 General corruption?

It should matter.

If you proceed from an assumption that the LEO knows the statutes (which – since they write tickets and arrest for such, they should), then the LEO should know that the obscured sticker is not a violation.

Thus:

1.) That was not sufficient cause to pull over the car
2.) He has falsified official documents, by stating that this was his justification, as it is just as valid a justification as “that car was red”.
3.) It indicates a clear intent to simply fish for evidence of unrelated crimes, as opposed to enforce evident violations/crimes.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:10 General corruption?

What I’m wondering is, does it matter?

Does it matter? Probably not – as many others have pointed out authority will always find a way to justify its actions.

Should it matter? Isn’t it kind of the point of living it a “free country” that it’s supposed to? Especially one that has it written right there in the alleged basis of their laws.

Sure you can re-define the word “reasonable” to mean anything you like…. but by any “reasonable” definition of the word this isn’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 General corruption?

They certainly can pull you over for anything. I remember a few years back I was driving through a small town in Arkansas on my way to Kansas City. The only way up was a state highway unfortunately. It widened out to what I thought was two lanes for passing so I decided to get over to let the cop behind me pass (have out of state plates will make them ride your bumper like a prom date trying to get some backdoor action) I was pulled over for being “left of center” and then the citation I was given said “swerving to the right”….which is it officer, left of center or swerving to the right? I let it go and tossed the citation at the next gas station I found.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 General corruption?

The seizure was necessary if the search was going to be done, and I think that part was legal.

Seizing the car, and leaving the person unsearched does not make sense if searching for a small quantity of drugs, which could be as easily on the person as in the car,therefore the search was probably illegal.

clown says:

Re: Re: Re:4 General corruption?

The cop never developed reasonable suspicion of a crime as he didn’t even have a drug sniffing dog and the dog he did have never even got out of the truck. The cops have no case. The reasonable suspicion that they DID develop occurred after they searched the car. Not only the cop is a criminal but the judge that signed the warrant with a rubber stamp is no doubt complicit as well. Civil forfeiture was the goal here. The cop was looking to become a hero on the blackasphalt website. Wanted to become a top narco seizing top dog regardless of what laws he has to violate to do it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 General corruption?

“The cop would argue that if he didn’t seize the car immediately, the guy would drive off and dispose of any evidence once he was out of sight.”

The guy was out of the car already. If the guy was willing to wait for a warrant then the cop could have handled it differently. Perhaps he could detain the guy temporarily (if the guy consented) until they got a warrant (if he doesn’t consent to being detained … I’m not sure what the law is there if they can detain you for a period of time while getting a warrant). The cop presumably already has the guy’s license plate number (and communicated it to other cops) so running may not be wise. Alternatively the cop could have called for backup so that they can surround and ‘detain’/gridlock the car until they got a warrant.

but, as others have noted, whether or not they can do all this may depend on whether the cop had probable cause to begin with. If the cop didn’t have probable cause and they didn’t have a reason to pull him over in the first place then, technically, the cop is supposed to … let him go and he shouldn’t even be given a warrant (these things are too easy to get sometimes). Not having a reason to pull him over and not having probable cause may, rightfully, preclude the cop from detaining him (or his vehicle). In which case … yes, he should be allowed to drive off and not face any consequences because the cop has no legal reason to detain or search him.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 General corruption?

If the cop didn’t have probable cause and they didn’t have a reason to pull him over in the first place then, technically, the cop is supposed to … let him go and he shouldn’t even be given a warrant (these things are too easy to get sometimes).

Part of this that’s infuriating is what’s the big deal? It’s not as though the officer had reason to think this guy was dangerous. So somebody might get away with a minor drug violation. If he’s a regular drug user he’s probably going to get caught eventually anyway, or if he doesn’t it means he’s not bothering anyone. It seems like this guy was punished for contempt of cop.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 General corruption?

As long as he’s not ‘driving under the influence’ then I don’t really care. The problem is that when we ban it we don’t regulate it and so we don’t have any standard, quantifiable, standard to go by to determine what constitutes ‘driving under the influence’. It’s illegal period. Unlike with alcohol where we at least have blood alcohol level.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 General corruption?

don’t have any legal, quantifiable, standard *

You know what would be interesting though. Is if we had some sort of statistic on the percentage of times that a warrant is granted (almost always) that something is found. If, when a warrant is granted, there is a low probability that something would turn up then judges should consider the alleged probable cause submitted in future warrant requests so that they can be more careful not to grant warrants that are unlikely to yield anything. The police shouldn’t be allowed to just go on phishing expeditions.

Or, perhaps, a better idea is to fine the police every time they request a warrant that turns up nothing. Or, better yet, fine the judge/court for granting such warrants (that way the police don’t have as much incentive to directly plant something, though the real solution to that is to give the cops a greater burden to prove that anything found was originally there and not planted). That way the cops/courts have greater incentive to evaluate the likelihood that something will show up, to evaluate the probability of their cause, before requesting/granting such warrants.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 General corruption?

but, as others have noted, whether or not they can do all this may depend on whether the cop had probable cause to begin with.

Well, yes. The question then becomes whether there was probable cause.

The complaint says these were the reasons given in the warrant:

Smell of burnt marijuana from the car
Car had air freshener on the rear-view mirror
There were eyedrops in the center console
Zullo admitted to smoking marijuana in the past day
Zullo refused to answer questions about where he was driving

What do you think? Enough probable cause to seek a warrant? I see 2 reasonably good reasons and 3 not so good ones.

On a side note, that air freshener was clearly not doing its job because the cop still smelled the marijuana. 🙂

The guy was out of the car already.

Because they told him to get out of the car. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything.

If the guy was willing to wait for a warrant then the cop could have handled it differently.

Wait where? On the side of the road in freezing weather with the sun going down? And what does “willing to wait” even mean in this context? I don’t think he has a choice – the cops seized his car, and he can’t get it back until they either get a warrant and search it, or the warrant application is denied. If he wants his car back, he’s waiting, whether he’s “willing” to or not.

Perhaps he could detain the guy temporarily (if the guy consented)

Consent to be detained? The entire point of being detained is that it’s involuntary. Otherwise you’re just hanging around. Was there a reason they couldn’t give him a ride home, or to the station? I mean, you’d think they’d want the big bad criminal to be somewhere that they could find him instead of hitching a ride on the highway at dusk.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: General corruption?

no, YOU are the idiot here: as the other poster said ‘do unto others…’; IF the scumbag kop believes that, then certainly he has NO PROBLEM with being treated the same way he has treated others, richtig ? ? ?

get it, nom nuts ? ? ?

‘we’ are ONLY doing unto HIM that which HE HAS ALREADY DONE TO OTHERS, so -assuming the kop is not an amoral psychopath, by no means a foregone conclusion- THEN said kop would have NO OBJECTION to being treated like the scumbag has treated others…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 General corruption?

I don’t think you understand the proverb. The proverb is a personal reflection. It’s not “Do unto other as others do unto others.”

By you’re logic, you would be fine having a cop do the same thing to you as you are fine having it done to him. In which case, you support such abuses as acceptable. I think we both know that is not the case.

Ruben says:

Re: Re: Re: General corruption?

I don’t believe that’s what he was insinuating. I think what he was trying to say was that the cop should have taken his blinders off and exercised a modicum of empathy before leaving this poor guy on the side of the highway in the freezing cold with no means to call for or otherwise obtain transportation.

I absolutely believe that there should be some kind of restitution/retribution on behalf of Mr. Zullo. Police officers should be held to a higher standard, and Officer Hatch should be held to account for what he’s done.

Game Theory says:

Re: Re: Re: General corruption?

This has been debated for thousands of years but decades of computer simulation have shown that tit-for-tat is the most effective way to enforce an equilibrium and survive.

So yes, they must be punished in the same way they abused other people and more to discourage others.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 General corruption?

This has been debated for thousands of years but decades of computer simulation have shown that tit-for-tat is the most effective way to enforce an equilibrium and survive.

Actually generous tit for tat has outperformed straight tit for tat (at least in some circumstances). That is, a few betrayals are forgiven before retribution.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: General corruption?

Knowing that the actions of another officer are illegal, and allowing them to proceed is a crime.

What’s even more disturbing to me is the possibility that it’s legal. That there is some law that allows police to confiscate a car for essentially no reason. But I guess at least such a law could be found unconstitutional.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: General corruption?

Unlikely. The cops have cop-friendly judges who would never attempt to diminish police power, all the way up to the Supreme Court. Until one of them has a wife or daughter that gets thrown belly-first to the street while pregnant or molested or beaten by a cop during an illegal search and seizure, they’re not going to change the system.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: General corruption?

“There will always be bad apples in any organization. The response of that organization to an incident will reveal whether corruption is rampant or not.”

Really you think this may be corruption? What response would you want? A slap on the wrist? A Naughty Naughty dont do that again?

“In this case, at a minimum, there should be a public apology, meaningful disciplinary action of the officers involved, and voluntary reimbursement of ALL expenses incurred. (In an ideal world, that would come out of the officers’ and supervisors salaries to they can begin to understand the pain they are inflicting on others with this abuse of authority.)”

The only way to make a point with goons like these is to fire the lot of them and then take away their pensions, and to top it all off the city should be on the hook for millions so they will tell the rest of the GOONS not to be so stupid, but hey that would make sense.

Derek Balling (profile) says:

Re: General corruption?

When the bad apples start getting arrested by the good apples, I believe they’re just “A couple bad apples”.

But the volume of complaints these days tends to point towards “all these apples taste like ass, but there’s occasionally a couple apples that are good and tasty in the bushel”, but they’re just vastly outnumbered by the bad ones.

Rekrul says:

Re: General corruption?

There will always be bad apples in any organization. The response of that organization to an incident will reveal whether corruption is rampant or not.

I can tell you exactly what will happen: It will be decided that the cops did nothing wrong and that they followed all applicable police regulations. No punishment.

The city will settle the lawsuit and nothing will change.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Nah, thats just down right to obvious……..hence the peoples unbelief by said actions followed through by the feeling of anger once the realization of the world we live in, and finishing up with the frustration of a sense of inability, all the while seing it continue, for the lack of accountability that would make the next folks actually think before doing another thing so stupid……or we can get lucky and get a guy that is ignorant to their actions or just plainly doesnt give a fuck, …..yeah, lets give, those folks, manufactured power, and then let them do whatever the hell they want, sans accountability, what could go wrong

Dictated by the phony deluded self proclaimed “good guys”, ……fun times ahead /s

Tomuchpower187 says:

Re: Re: Re:

Agree completely history is full of examples where unrivaled unchallenged power has lead to the citizens being overjoyed by being eradicated exterminated enslaved slaughtered persecuted I mean stalen or cudaffi set feet examples of how awesome it could be u can’t sue them there records are sealed from the public unions get there jobs back if there fired courts don’t convict even when they shot kids in parks for having a toy gun plant guns drugs on people they shot in back 16 times unload a whole clip even three person was on ground and dead after second shot when we are scared when u see a cop car the fucking shit has stoped working for the people they serve not the law makers and mayors city council the people they are terrorizing start fucking over defund three mofo s

Anonymous Coward says:

seems there's another ongoing lawsuit against same officer

http://www.wptz.com/news/vermont-new-york/burlington/aclu-sues-vt-state-police-over-outrageous-traffic-stop/28194170
from transcript:

BUT WE’RE LEARNING IT’S NOT THE FIRST TIME TROOPER HATCH BEEN SUED THIS YEAR OVER HIS ROADSIDE TRAFFIC STOPS. A SECOND, PENDING IN RUTLAND FEDERAL COURT, SAYS HATCH STRIPPED TWO MEN NAKED BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD – AND FOUND NOTHING. AS WITH ZULLO, NO CRIMINAL CHARGE FILED.

Anonymous Coward says:

If you don’t break the law , you better be damn sure we’ll get money from you somehow , court costs , loss of wages while preparing and going to court, time lost while recovering your illegally confiscated goods, towing and impound fees ,Not to mention degrading and belittling you, fuck that cop and all others who have power and use it to bully and push people down.

pyrosf (profile) says:

Assult

This is Assault with a deadly weapon.

The weather, in some cases, is weapon enough to cause harm or injury (see frostbite). Intentionally depriving someone of Identification, cash, and method to call for assistance after you placed that person in distress is to intentionally attempt to inflict environmental damage to said person.

I would also agree with the attempted murder, if the driver was ill equipped for the exterior weather, the act of placing someone in an exposed state with a long distance from any support would be a big deal.

Better yet, imagine the 911 call when he finds a farm house and needs assistance due to the condition he was left in.

John Cressman (profile) says:

Good lesson

Good take away lesson… don’t get out of your car without your money, cellphone and anything else you need to survive since apparently the cops no longer “serve and protect” unless you drop your pants at their whim… in which case, the “servicing” you get might leave you unable to sit for a few days.

Public flogging and reimbursement from their own pockets would stop these abuses and overreaches.

ryuugami says:

Re: Re: Good lesson

If you get out with your phone on your person, they’ll be able to put their hands on it as they search YOU, and then commit all sorts of violations on the data contained on that as well.

That’s far from the worst case scenario, though. So the cop pulls you over, you reach for your cellphone and wallet before getting out… and the officer hair-trigger shoots you dead because “I thought he was reaching for a gun and was afraid for my life”.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Holding Responsible

I agree that holding the individual officers responsible is the way to go, but with the collective bargaining provisions in place, the officers are often given paid administrative leave, and even if fired, are often given their jobs back, or just go to work for another department. I think holding the unions financially responsible (suing the government just raises taxes as we wind up paying for any fines or settlements anyway) is imperative. On top of that, any collective bargaining agreement should not allow protections for officers disciplined for cause.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Holding Responsible

And when the taxpayers get to vote in police that are forced to admit ‘yeah, I suppose I am the kinda guy who would leave someone in the snow to freeze to death if he annoyed me’, then I might agree with you.

Since, as far as I know, the public doesn’t know the future, and doesn’t get veto rights over individual officers, no, the police themselves are the ones responsible and need to be punished personally.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Holding Responsible

The voters do elect the key people in police management, and, at least where I live, they vote to approve the police budgets. The way it works around here — and it has worked twice in the last couple of years — is that when the police do things that cause them to have to pay out a lot of money, that money is not made up for in the budget approvals, and the people in charge of running the police are voted out of office.

Tomuchpower187 says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Holding Responsible

Ya I’m a way it’s all of us that has allowed it to come to this out generation our parents grandparents because only the people that think they know what’s best for us all get involved the people that have picket fences perfect illusion of family some image of the perfect town city country the same people that call the cops if you have long hair or are black or have tattoos by not having voices heard we are being controlled held down jailed so they can hold the power control is to benefit them wake up people

Phoenix84 (profile) says:

Hatch refused, saying that getting home was “not my problem,” and warned Mr. Zullo that if he attempted to retrieve those items from the car he would be arrested.

Getting arrested, making your one phone call, and being released on bond (assuming they allowed that) would be faster (and probably safer, assuming the cops didn’t beat you), than being stranded on the roadside in winter.

Anonymous Coward says:

Then again if the defendant isn’t both a) Rich and b) white then the police force of vermont doesn’t give two shakes of a rats cock about him and probably thinks he deserves to die.

During the case I’d seriously recommend moving out of the area as he may be ‘accidentally’ shot in the head several times whilst they search for a completely different looking suspect.

Anonymous Coward says:

It's not attempted homicide

For all those who are saying it’s attempted murder: It’s not. Even though it’s conceivable that he would freeze to death or get run over, there’s no evidence they actually intended to kill him. They did, after all, allow him to take his sweatshirt. To call this attempted murder is to cheapen actual attempted murders.

However, according to Vermont law:

“A person who recklessly engages in conduct which places or may place another person in danger of death or serious bodily injury shall be imprisoned for not more than one year or fined not more than $1,000.00 or both. “

That might be a bit more reasonable. He didn’t have a hat or gloves in below-freezing weather, so frostbite would be a danger even if death was unlikely.

Editor-In-Chief says:

Re: It's not attempted homicide - oh but it is.

For all those who are saying it’s attempted murder: It’s not. Even though it’s conceivable that he would freeze to death or get run over, there’s no evidence they actually intended to kill him.

Hatch refused, saying that getting home was “not my problem,” and warned Mr. Zullo that if he attempted to retrieve those items from the car he would be arrested. When Mr. Zullo walked towards his car, Hatch placed his hands on Mr. Zullo to restrain him from reaching the car.

After the tow truck arrived and took Mr. Zullo’s car, Hatch and the second state trooper left the scene, leaving Mr. Zullo stranded on the side of Route 7.

On the evidence presented, you are wrong. To say that they had no intention of killing him and yet left him in a situation where the possibility of death was actually high says that they did internally hope/believe that he would come to serious harm, including death. As has been said before, if you aim a gun at someone, you intend to use it. This is, in effect, no different. They intended harm, they also expected that if he suffered death, there would be no way that they would be found culpable of his death.

This doesn’t cheapen any form of attempted murder. It is no different, they just think that they can paint it as a simple mistake.

Under the quote you make about Vermont law, you are assuming that this could be classified as reckless behaviour. On the evidence presented, it wasn’t reckless, it was deliberate. So we are back to intent to murder.

David Oliver Graeme Samuel Offenbach

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: It's not attempted homicide - oh but it is.

and yet left him in a situation where the possibility of death was actually high

It was below freezing, but it wasn’t below zero. He didn’t have a hat or gloves, but they did allow him the sweatshirt. They left him at the side of the road, but it was a US highway and not some side road where nobody would pass by to give him a ride. Death was a concern but not a likelihood.

As has been said before, if you aim a gun at someone, you intend to use it. This is, in effect, no different.

It’s funny you should use that analogy. You know what the very next sentence of the statute I cited is? “Recklessness and danger shall be presumed where a person knowingly points a firearm at or in the direction of another, whether or not the actor believed the firearm to be loaded, and whether or not the firearm actually was loaded.”

So, sure. It’s EXACTLY like pointing a gun at someone. The action itself is deliberate, the target could die or be seriously injured, and the perpetrator knows this and does it anyway.

Editor-In-Chief says:

Re: Re: Re: It's not attempted homicide - oh but it is.

So, sure. It’s EXACTLY like pointing a gun at someone. The action itself is deliberate, the target could die or be seriously injured, and the perpetrator knows this and does it anyway.

Murderous Intent. Point made.

Die polisieman se bedoeling was moordende.
Policajac je namjera bila smrtonosne.
L’intento del poliziotto è quello di uccidere l’uomo.

David Oliver Graeme Samuel Offenbach

BAALZAKK (profile) says:

Too much broken trust, abused authority

It is going to take decades to reverse the fear and mistrust the American people have for their local, State and Federal police officers. Time to show the people you’re supposed to “protect and serve” that you’re more than just a State-sanctioned gang of street thugs, who abuse the same laws they are sworn to uphold, while remaining above the law in almost any circumstances due to cronyism.

Greg says:

Bad Apples?

Hi just a quick reply here…..Bad Apples? We’re not talking about fruit here. We’re talking about a brotherhood which refuses to police itself but has no issues “policing” civilians. If the police break the laws which they are supposed to enforce then all you are left with is lawlessness! Come on you guys. You need to crack down on the dirty cops and not stand up for them when they are running rampant! Did I miss something? You need to hold your own accountable. I know there are good cops out there and I am astounded you guys (the good ones) suddenly can’t find your testicles when it comes to other members of the police running roughshod! Shame on you! It’s not difficult if you all stick together and clean up the police from these characters! Ok I guess it wasn’t a quick comment…lol…Where does this end?

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Bad Apples?

Bad Apples? We’re not talking about fruit here.

It’s called a metaphor, perhaps you’ve heard of them? 😉

You need to hold your own accountable. I know there are good cops out there and I am astounded you guys (the good ones) suddenly can’t find your testicles when it comes to other members of the police running roughshod!

Are they really good cops if they refuse to do anything about the bad ones?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Bad Apples?

To be fair, I can believe that the remaining good apples in law enforcement stay there out of desperation. It is still not easy to get a job, and I’m not sure if a cop’s resume, especially if he left due to moral objections, would provide him any other career opportunities.

So it very well may be that the good apples are laying low, trying not to cause too much damage, and trying to not get fired (which means in NYC conducting obligatory 140s). On the other hand, these good apples must know that they are aiding the further corruption of the system by functioning as part of it, and they must know they’ve ceased to qualify as good apples anymore.

I find it difficult to be empathetic and I find it difficult to not be empathetic, watching how terrible the brutality and abuse is, without any hint of justice or improvement in the foreseeable future.

It gives me mixed feelings about the whole Eric Frein affair, especially considering how massive the manhunt is and how he’s still at large.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If it was a “just a few bad apples”, there would be no problem for the Good Cops to put an end to the corruption.

Stopping internal corruption is only difficult when the bad guys greatly out-number the good guys and when the bad guys receive support and protection from a corrupt political and judicial system and the good guys do not.

Tomuchpower187 says:

Cops have been givin to much power discretion and we allowed it by not being involved they are in need of officers so anyone without a record can be a cop even if there personality doesn’t fit a job like a cop the power to ruin someone’s day life take a life is a worse drug then that weed there records are sealed u can’t see what they have done in past can’t sue them can’t fire them they are in unions they are literally untouchable I can’t think of any examples in history where unrivaled power led to good.outcomes my uncle was the chief of police in Swanton vt in 70 s but they would give u a ride home if u were drunk protect and serve ment something it wasn’t about ruining your neighbors life cause he had a beer on way home from 12 hr day paving rds or because he smokes a little weed u kick his door in have him on front page of the local paper like he is al Capone now that’s what it’s about a ticket citation conviction at all cost move your hand to fast u get shot 17 times unload a whole clip one two shots isn’t enough to subdue someone that’s what we as citizens have allowed to happen u shouldn’t be scared when u see a cop car having to relinquish your god givin rights so they don’t do everything they possibly can to make your life hell like a high school bully because they can’t get there way go back to the station and puff there Chest out tell story’s of how today they fucked 10 life’s up arrested a 90 year old grandmother because she did 10 below speed limit shot a kids dog it’s fucking unreal when they can search your car because u have a fucking air freshener in your mirror it’s time to stop this shit like yesterday St. Albans vt did same thing to me pulled over in rental with new York plates because I had snow on my plate in a snow storm with 6 inches on rds one cop became a five cruisers ask me out of car call me a heroin addict he can’t confirm that as truth nothing in sight wants to search car I say no gets dog it go’s around car no allert he turns it around so his back is to car me dog sits that’s an allert for real he made it sit plan as day but that’s enough to impound it drag me to station made him get warrant he says I always get the warrant and they do it’s fucking rigged tells me I had no license snow on plate and something else we are at station he tells me after I let him search me because I didn’t want to sit there for hrs cuffed to a wall that he will mail me the tickets lol we are at the fucking police station u can’t right them now no because I didn’t do anything had a license never got any tickets didn’t find shit in car but I had to pay tow rental car company took the car I can’t ever rent from them again almost exactly the same thing officer Malinowski St. Albans pd look him up dirty arrogant narcissist but chief is happy brings in money makes it look like crime is out of control need more money cruisers cops state gets revenue jails get they federal money it’s a business a scam to keep people down paying the man to scared to push back they will just make it worse for u if u can’t see that you got your head in sand really it’s people that think they know what’s best for us all pushing there shit on us all when u can get pulled over for fucking snow in a blizzard on a license plate it’s on everyone s plate the cops plate is covered probable cause to take your car is a tree on your mirror cost u 400 or more all that and u don’t get a ticket haha they are laughing at us all I lol fight back till I die because it’s not right but will anyone else if it doesn’t affect them directly it’s time we TAKE OUR LIFES BACK BEFORE ITS TO LATE

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