Docs Show Police Also Sought (And Obtained) Phone Records For Police Shooting Victim's Girlfriend

from the Sprint-totally-cool-with-indefinite-gag-orders dept

As we recently covered, Minnesota law enforcement tried to snatch victory from the expiring body of a black driver shot by a St. Anthony police officer by immediately asking an uninvolved social media company to turn over information on Philando Castile’s girlfriend. The reason for this? The “affiant” swore criminals often used social media services to discuss criminal activities. This was an attempt to mine for dirt that might be used to justify an unjustifiable shoot.

One warrant was served to Facebook, along with an indefinite gag order. Facebook challenged the gag order. Ill-prepared for pushback and having no solid reason to demand the release of Facebook posts and private messages, the warrant was rescinded.

Unfortunately, another company was far more compliant.

Facebook opposed the gag order and, after weeks of discussion between the BCA and a lawyer at Facebook, the warrant was rescinded altogether. Sprint, however, complied with the warrant, and turned over Reynolds’ call records, voicemails, and cell tower information that revealed her location.

Facebook, on one hand, has a policy of notifying users about law enforcement requests for their information. Sprint, apparently, does not. That’s why the gag order became a point of contention and resulted in the warrant being withdrawn. Sprint did not challenge the gag order and three days’ worth of phone records — including location info and text messages — were turned over to law enforcement whose primary interest was finding some reason for Officer Yanez to have shot a compliant Philando Castile.

This highlights a major difference between internet service providers and telcos. Sprint may be in the cellphone business these days, but it’s the offshoot of an 118-year-old phone company. The history of telcos’ close relationship with law enforcement is long and unseemly. Cell service providers are more than willing to act as proxy Stingrays and provide near real-time location info to law enforcement. Both AT&T and Verizon voluntarily handed over more than the NSA was demanding, paving the way for a successful exploitation of Section 215 until its recent shutdown. AT&T was behind the inadvertently-disclosed “Hemisphere” program, which allowed federal law enforcement agencies to warrantlessly trawl its millions of phone records to search for almost any form of criminal activity.

That Sprint would put up less of a fight than Facebook is disappointing, but it’s far from surprising. Similarly unsurprising is law enforcement’s kneejerk response to the killing of a citizen by a police officer: disparage the dead as quickly as possible using any means necessary.

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Companies: facebook, sprint

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Comments on “Docs Show Police Also Sought (And Obtained) Phone Records For Police Shooting Victim's Girlfriend”

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37 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Gangs, Gangs and more Gangs

It seems pretty clear at this point that a straight substitution of the cops for the hells angels would be a big step up, after all I’ve only every hear of one death of someone while they where on duty and that was back in the ’60’s and they where cleared by trial

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Gangs, Gangs and more Gangs

So maybe the hells angels should make up the civilian oversight?, though my comment may sound hyperbolic the fact is that cops live in a blue bubble, they rarely live in the communities they patrol and they have a huge class difference with most of the people they interact with, this isn’t true with hells angels, so in a sense I am serious they at least have real connection to the community.

I’m not suggesting that they are ideal arbiters of justice but they actually would be better that the current state of the Legal Industrial Complex(LIC)tm.

Bikers may kill you, bomb you and sell your kids meth, but they don’t mostly murder people because they are a-scared or slaughter uninvolved people because they can with no consequence, so in that sense they are a big step up from what is happening now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Gangs, Gangs and more Gangs

Well maybe that is a tick to how to solve the problem, don’t promote cops that do this sort of thing.. It will never happen since they are doing exactly their job, which is being mercenaries for the Dons for the 7000 or so people that own around 90% of the economic activity of the planet.

Hessian lives matter

Ninja (profile) says:

It’s incredibly how cops these days can’t stop digging. It was bad enough that the cop shoot the guy in front of her daughter for NOTHING but instead of going the “sorry, we got it wrong and we are ashamed” route they doubled down on bad by trying to protect the cop and then trying to smear the victims. No seriously, you deserve standing ovation for the outstanding crap you have become law enforcement.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Amazing

A shooting is justified or unjustified by what the officer — or anyone else — knew (or thought they knew) at the time they pulled the trigger. That’s the law.

Public opinion runs on a much lower standard of evidence however, allowing the cops to retroactively justify the shooting in the minds of the general public, even though it was completely unjustified at the time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sometimes a cop doesn’t have time to consider everything, it comes down to a split second decision. It is nice that armchair quarterbacks have the luxury of time and perspective, but when faced with a daily threat, sometimes mistakes are made.

If you don’t believe that, ask Miosotis Familia about the risks.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If they can’t handle the job they should find another. Any claims of split second decisions are most definitely belied by the well documented behavior starting immediately after the incident. This isn’t new. And general culture of police behavior is ridiculous much of the time whether or not there was a fatal shooting or even a citation written. They do whatever because they feel like it. And the better ones have to contend with that system.

If police feel under threat so much, it’s probably because they have a collective knowledge that they constantly provoke the public. Yeah, I’d feel threatened that something might happen and it could be any time if i constantly abused people or was part of a system that does.

Anonymous Coward says:

What Goes Around...

Some cop-chick got assassinated overnight in New York. One of the first news stories I saw this morning included remarks by some executive cop, saying that the killing was an “unprovoked attack.” “Unprovoked”? Cop types still not paying attention…no learning in progress. No matter what we might say about the individual assassins with badges, i.e., cowards, incompetents, fools, bullies, sadists, stupid, the fact that the cop commanders, peers, unions, prosecutors, and juries protect obviously overtly murderous cops constitutes provocation to lots of the angry and disenfranchised. That message will likely continue being sent in the fashion of the NY incident.

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