Please Join Techdirt In Celebrating 'National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day!'
from the [sound-of-celebratory-gunfire-being-pumped-into-family-pets-at-close-range] dept
In case you missed it by doing literally anything else, January 9th was National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day! The event was apparently created in response to the public’s reaction to a white police officer killing an unarmed black man.
In 2014, law enforcement in America was changed forever after an officer-involved shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. The violence and negativity aimed at law enforcement following that incident sparked C.O.P.S. to implement the first L.E.A.D. January 9 was chosen as a day to encourage citizens to do something special for their community’s peacekeepers and take the time to show their appreciation.
So… pretty fucking problematic. And this wording recasts the killing of an unarmed black man by a white cop as a watershed moment where the general public — for apparently no reason! — began hating on cops. Nothing says genuine appreciation like a fake-ass celebration of cops created by cops and their lobbyists. Nothing is more sincere than an industry congratulating itself, as someone once said about the Oscars. And I think that sentiment applies here.
But, hey, ThinBlueLiners and BlueBackers: do you really want to commemorate the year in law enforcement? Well, let’s take a look at the highlight reel for fiscal 2021:
January 5, 2021: City of Philadelphia pays out $9.8 million for wrongfully imprisoning a man for 28 years.
Chester Hollman III was 21, with no criminal record and a job as an armored-car driver, when he was pulled over in Center City one night in 1991 and charged with the fatal shooting of a University of Pennsylvania student in a botched street robbery. A judge ordered him released last year at age 49, citing evidence that police and prosecutors built their case on fabricated statements from people they coerced as witnesses and later withheld evidence pointing to the likely true perpetrators of the crime.
January 8, 2021: Eighth Circuit Appeals Court says cop who pulled over a driver for flipping him off isn’t entitled to qualified immunity.
Garcia’s raising his middle finger at Officer Baker is a rude and offensive gesture but nonetheless, under current precedent, is a constitutionally protected speech activity.
February 1 ,2021: Six more Houston cops involved in a botched, deadly drug raid predicated on a drug squad cop’s lies are now facing criminal charges.
That’s 12 officers, all under indictment, and all involved in the drug raid.
February 8, 2021: Appeals Court to cop: no reasonable officer would think it’s ok to tear gas journalists for performing journalism.
February 10, 2021: Accountability activists discover cops are now playing music on their own phones in hopes of triggering DMCA takedowns of activists’ recordings.
By the time Devermont is close enough to speak to him, the officer’s phone is already blasting “In My Life” by the Beatles — a group whose rightsholders have notoriously sued Apple numerous times.
February 26, 2021: Cop-friendly Fifth Circuit Appeals Court (following the Supreme Court’s lead) says it’s completely reasonable for cops to tase a man soaked in gasoline, which resulted in the person’s death and the destruction of his house.
March 8, 2021: Police whistleblower alleges Vallejo (CA) police officers celebrated killing people with bent badges and backyard BBQs.
At the time of [Captain John] Whitney’s firing, nearly 40% of officers on the force had been in at least one shooting, Open Vallejo research shows. More than a third of those had participated in two or more. The department employs about 100 sworn personnel.
March 22, 2021: Cop lies about a traffic stop, has his lies undone by home security camera footage.
Officer [Colt] Black’s report said, “Cordero immediately exited the driver door and began to charge towards my patrol vehicle.”
It also indicated Cordero approached the officer with closed fists.
After Cordero shared the footage with police, Officer Black wrote in another report, “I believe my perception was altered due to the high stress of the incident.”
March 25, 2021: Recording show California cops and prosecutors lied about protesters to in order to bring bogus gang charges against them.
April 5, 2021: Appeals Court says it wasn’t clearly established Denver cops couldn’t stop a citizen from recording them even though they had received specific training instructing them that recording cops was protected First Amendment activity years earlier.
April 14, 2021: Windsor, Virginia cops brutalize a black soldier for daring to seek a well-lit area to pull over in.
They told him to exit the vehicle. They also told him to keep his hands outside of his vehicle. Lt. Nazario’s seatbelt was still fastened. His door was locked. Complying with one order (exit the vehicle) would result in a violation of other orders (keep your hands outside of the vehicle).
You can’t win, as Lt. Nazario suspected. He pointed this out.
One officer said non-compliance of the conflicting orders would result in Nazario “riding the lightning,” presumably referring to the officer’s Taser.
April 14, 2021: Lying NYPD drug cops cost prosecutors over 100 drug convictions.
[Detective] Franco was charged in 2019 with 26 criminal counts, including perjury and official misconduct, after investigators in the Manhattan district attorney’s office said that he had testified to witnessing several drug buys that video footage showed did not happen or that he could not have seen.
April 16, 2021: Released body camera footage shows a Chicago cop shooting and killing an unarmed 13-year-old.
April 20, 2021: Appeals Court strips immunity from cops who punched a man hanging from a second story window and tased his injured body after he fell to the ground.
April 21, 2021: Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is sentenced to 22 years in prison for murdering unarmed black man George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nearly 10 minutes… and for three minutes after another officer failed to detect a pulse. The killing was caught on camera by several Minneapolis residents, immediately contradicting the PD’s first official statement.
This is how the Minneapolis PD originally described a white cop pressing his knee into the neck of an unarmed black man until he was dead:
Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction
May 25, 2020 (MINNEAPOLIS) On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress. Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.
Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.
At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.
No officers were injured in the incident.
April 26, 2021: Louisiana drug cops are so shitty at their job their target catches them placing a tracking device on her car.
May 3, 2021: Fifth Circuit gets one right, strips immunity from officers who “helped” a mentally ill man by restraining him to death.
May 13, 2021: South Dakota court says government not responsible for house destroyed by cops searching for a fugitive who wasn’t even in the home.
May 17, 2021: In what must be some sort of record, Chicago PD officers manage to rack up over 100 misconduct allegations while performing a single drug raid at the wrong address. But there’s always a chance the Chicago PD will top itself due to its inability to raid the correct residences…
Chicago police incorrectly raided the same family’s home three times over the course of four months this year, according to a federal civil rights complaint filed Friday.
The complaint was filed against the city and Chicago Police Department on behalf of Krystal Archie and her three children: 14-year-old Savannah, 11-year-old Telia and 7-year-old Jhaimarion, according to a statement from Archie’s attorney Al Holfeld.
May 20, 2021: Violent, bigoted police officer (but I repeat myself…) shocked to learn his violent, bigoted texts will be used as evidence in his criminal trial for [wait for it…] beating another police officer during protests against police violence.
June 3, 2021: Chicago PD’s predictive policing program manages to get an innocent Chicago resident shot twice.
June 3, 2021: Man sues after cop’s field drug test says his daughter’s ashes are meth and ecstasy.
June 4, 2021: Small town police chief threatens critic with bogus criminal charges, ends up facing real criminal charges.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Brian Buglio, age 45, of Lattimer Mines, Pennsylvania, was charged in a criminal information on May 27, 2021, with a civil rights violation.
According to Acting United States Bruce D. Brandler, the information alleges that Buglio, the Chief of Police for the West Hazleton Police Department, threatened a private citizen with criminal charges, in retaliation for social media posts created by the private citizen that were critical of Buglio and of the West Hazleton Police Department.
June 4, 2021: Louisiana State Police finally release body cam footage that shows troopers beating a man to death following a high-speed pursuit. Troopers had originally told police officials and coroners the injuries were the result of a car crash.
June 8, 2021: Reports, released footage undercut officer’s statements about his killing of a suicidal teen in 2018.
To make room for the disparagement of the dead teen, the investigators excluded crucial information from the report, like the initial supervisor’s notes from the shooting scene and any attempts made by the crime lab to reconstruct the shootings and track bullet trajectories. The latter would have shown Jenison fired from the side of the vehicle, rather than from the rear, calling into question his assertions that the reversing van was coming towards him.
Officer Jenison also did not know who was in the van at the point he started firing. All he knew was he was checking on a suicidal teen who might have been carrying a knife. Instead of verifying any of this, he opened fire on the driver of the van simply because he chose to reverse down the driveway like anyone would when pulling out of a garage.
June 21, 2021: Owner of a New York City Shake Shack sues NYPD officers and police union for falsely claiming his restaurant tried to poison a police officer.
July 6, 2021: Cops are still playing copyrighted music on their cellphones in hopes of blocking recordings and livestreams by citizens. And, in this case, the deputy openly admits to doing this just to fuck with uploads.
July 12, 2021: Utah cop arrests a person for “destroying” a “Back the Blue” sign posted near a local gas station. Adds “hate crime” enhancement because the person allegedly “smirked” while taking down the sign.
July 12, 2021: Five Palo Alto cops sue the city, claiming to have been “harassed” by a Black Lives Matter mural. They make this claim despite having to go more than a block away from the PD entrance to experience said “harassment.”
July 19, 2021: Officer who couldn’t handle being sworn at by a person ordered to pay $15,000 in legal fees.
July 21, 2021: Cop claims he can smell weed sealed in plastic bags under the seat of a moving car in traffic with its windows up. Court: something stinks here and we doubt it’s the mobile mary jane.
July 26, 2021: Sometimes doing less is doing more: Police union awards “Officer of the Year” to cop who spent the entire year suspended.
July 30, 2021: Florida sheriff’s department sends out letters welcoming residents to its (likely unconstitutional) pre-crime harassment program.
August 3, 2021: Oklahoma deputies perform shittiest magic trick* ever, making more than $10,000 disappear after seizing cash from guys just trying to buy some real estate.
They keep asking like do I have cash, do we have cash, many times, many times. I say, ‘Of course we have cash,’” Nang told News 4.
He said that’s when the deputy started searching their car and found the $141,500 in cash that they were going to use for the land purchase.
According to the court documents, only $131,502 was seized, which is $10,000 short.
August 10, 2021: Not-so-pseudonymous cop M.R. (Ryan Olthaus) continues to argue he should be allowed to sue his critics anonymously despite everyone and their activist brother already knowing who he is: Officer Ryan Olthaus of the Cincinnati Police Department.
September 1, 2021: Appeals Court apologizes for being unable to exercise jurisdiction over cross-border bullets fired by US officers. Try to die on our side of the border, court advises.
September 10, 2021: Cop who killed a suicidal man less than 11 seconds after entering his home is convicted of murder. A good cop testified against the murder and, realizing her days were probably numbered at this department, moved on to work for the FBI. Her honesty secured a conviction but might have cost her her career.
[Officer Genisha] Pegues, testifying for the prosecution, told the jury that she never felt threatened by Parker and that she didn’t need Darby to save her life. She testified that Parker told her he didn’t want to hurt her.
Robert Tuten, Darby’s lead defense attorney, went after Pegues.
Tuten asked whether Pegues put herself and other officers in danger by standing in front of an armed man with her gun pointed down, rather than at Parker.
“Dangerous is the job,” Pegues, who was a police officer for six years, replied. She said tensions rose during the encounter when Darby arrived.
September 17, 2021: Hey, Minnesota State Troopers, some of your officers are being sued! [OPACITY MACHINE GO BRRRRRR]
Minnesota State Troopers engaged in a massive “purge” of emails and text messages shortly after the agency was accused of using excessive force during the protests and riots over the death of George Floyd last summer, according to court testimony filed late Friday.
September 27, 2021: Minneapolis cops claim it’s impossible to do proactive — or indeed, almost any — police work now that one of their own has gone down on murder charges. They will, however, continue to collect paychecks for the work they’re no longer doing.
September 29, 2021: Court informs Sheriff that it’s quite obviously a Constitutional violation to send a deputy out to tell her to delete an Instagram post about her COVID status.
October 7, 2021: Court grants Florida deputy qualified immunity for his inability to drive by an “I EAT ASS” window decal without feeling obliged to get personally involved.
October 18, 2021: LAPD gets defunded so hard it only has an extra $20 million to blow on bullets, snacks, and surveillance tech.
October 22, 2021: Idaho’s top court smacks state’s drug dogs on the nose with a rolled-up Constitution, says uncontrolled sniffs of car interiors are rights violations.
November 1, 2021: Hawaii cops arrest a 10-year-old over an unflattering drawing of another student.
November 5, 2021: A homeowner’s association complains about lawn care to law enforcement. End result: a person killed by cops over unacceptable grass length.
November 18, 2021: LA Sheriff’s Department harasses tons of Latino bicyclists, claims it’s all about stopping crime. The Department, however, is unable to explain why its officers are unable to find any evidence of criminal activity.
November 23, 2021: Baltimore PD sued for lifting clothes, cash, and phones off the recovering bodies of shooting victims, apparently plans to mount “at least it’s not grave-robbing” defense at trial.
Plaintiff Amber Spencer is a 27-year-old Black woman who resides in the County of Baltimore, Maryland. Just before midnight on March 20, 2020, a stranger shot Ms. Spencer in the head and chest while she was attending a cookout near 1800 North Chapel Street in Baltimore, Maryland. After the shooting, Ms. Spencer was transported by ambulance to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where BPD officers seized her personal property without her consent, including her cell phone, jeans, shirt, shoes, car key, and approximately $400 in U.S. currency. These items remain in BPD custody.
November 29, 2021: Rack ’em up: another NYPD cop caught lying. Another 60 convictions go in the trash.
December 7, 2021: In a scene Martin Scorsese would have loved to have written, Newark police officer Luis Santiago struck and killed a 29-year-old nurse while driving in his personal vehicle. That alone would have been news. But what happened next is the sort of thing that stops presses:
After striking Dymka, who was a nurse, neither Santiago or his passenger, Albert Guzman, 25, of Newark, called 911 or tried to render aid.
“(The suspects) returned to the scene multiple times before Santiago loaded the victim into the Honda and removed him from the scene,” [Essex County Prosecutor Theodore] Stephens said. “Santiago then took the body to his home in Bloomfield where he, his mother and Guzman allegedly discussed what to do with the body.”
Eventually, Santiago drove Dymka’s body back to the scene of the crash, Stephens said.
December 13, 2021: For some reason, it takes a federal court ruling to make it clear to cops that framing someone for a crime they didn’t commit is a Constitutional violation.
December 27, 2021: Dallas PD brags about stealing money from someone at the airport. Bad move. Now its oversight board has questions and wants answers.
Another year in the books for the Blue Team. I’m sorry if this “appreciation” rings as hollow as your endless assurances you’ll do better this year. I’d meet you halfway, but I’m pretty sure that means I’d be making 100% of the effort. Cop culture can be changed. Unfortunately, there are few cops who want to change it. See you next year!