What If You Gave A (Drug) War And Nobody Came? Deputies Answer Rhetorical Question With Planted Evidence

from the internal-affairs-notes-crime-numbers-are-on-the-rise dept

Crime numbers are down. Police militarization is up. The War on Drugs continues to be fought with as much intensity as ever even as the country sides with legalization. So, when a lack of crime meets budgets, weaponry and expectations -- all primed for battle -- what's a poor law enforcement officer to do?

Former deputies Julio Cesar Martinez, 39, and Anthony Manuel Paez, 32, have been charged with two felony counts of conspiring to obstruct justice and altering evidence, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. Martinez faces two additional felony counts of perjury and filing a false report.
The two deputies had already had one charge -- possession of ecstasy -- but that apparently wasn't enough. Why settle for a low ball possession charge when you can add months or years to the sentence?
Before he got a search warrant, Martinez kicked a wall outlet and shut down power to the room, according to the complaint. Paez then allegedly opened a drawer, pulled out a gun and put it on a chair.

The complaint alleges Paez also planted a gun on top of an office desk, next to some ecstasy pills. At some point, Paez allegedly crawled under the desk and disabled the security camera system.
This led to Yang being charged with "possessing ecstasy in the presence of a firearm" (firearms are apparently very impressionable...), to which he pleaded no contest. Another person was charged with possession of an unregistered handgun.

One year later, after Yang had already served his sentence, Internal Affairs discovered the video from inside the pot dispensary was "inconsistent" with filed reports. Or worded more accurately, the deputies' reports weren't backed up by the unblinking security camera. The unnamed "suspect" was cut loose. Yang, however, had already spent several months in jail, time the Sheriff's Department can't give back to him. Both officers face up to seven years in jail if found guilty and are currently out on $50,000 bail pending arraignment.

Is this an outlier, one of the exceptions to the rule? Probably. But there seems to be way too many of these "exceptions."
A police car dash cam captured Santa Clara deputies plotting to plant drugs in a woman’s home after their first illegal search turned up nothing, the woman claims in court.

Allison Ross, who was arrested after the second search of her home, sued the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department, its crime lab, Sheriff Laurie Smith, and 12 of her officers, in Federal Court.
Once again, officers primed for the "War" found themselves faced with a dearth of combatants. No drugs and nothing to do but walk away empty-handed. For some reason, these deputies believed a lack of criminal activity would somehow be marked up as a loss in the War on Drugs. So, they decided to make a second "search" of the premises, this time while the fix was in.
Deputies then re-entered the home and ransacked it, opening and rummaging through drawers in the bedrooms and kitchens. They placed personal property from around the house into one area in an effort to make it appear that the items were in plain sight, the complaint states...

Because the deputies failed to find any drugs in the home, "they planted narcotics which were kept in one of the sheriff's vehicles. Statements to this effect can be heard over the vehicle dash camera on one of the defendant's vehicles," the lawsuit states...

[T[he officers are heard on the recording saying: 'the house is clean, there is no meth in the house', 'we're gonna spike that and we're gonna spike him.' 'I got the meth in the ——- car,'" the complaint states.
These LEOs must be learning from their FBI heroes. If criminal activity fails to present itself, feel free to manufacture it. Of course, the FBI's tactics are a bit more subtle and require months of leading the easily-led until they've fallen into the agency's "terrorism" traps.

These deputies apparently didn't have the time or willingness to play the long con. They had made two (apparently illegal) sweeps and still hadn't come up with anything actionable. So, they took it upon themselves to "find" the justification they needed for their actions.

Another outlier? Sure, if you still have an inordinate amount of faith in your fellow human beings and believe law enforcement officers are less likely to be swayed by perverse incentives than, say, the guy a couple of cubicles over. But humans do human things, and those with a lot of power and very little accountability do human things that seriously damage other humans. And they do it more often than we'd hope, as Radley Balko points out.
And it certainly wouldn't be the first time drug cops have been caught doing so. Nor would it be the first time a crime lab analyst has been caught faking the results of drug tests.
We know cops lie and that judges oblige them. Planting evidence is a physical lie and it's just as simple (simpler, even) as looking the defendant in the eye and telling him or her, along with the assembled court, things the person facing months or years in prison knows aren't true. And then going back to work, secure in the knowledge that if the suspect wasn't exactly guilty of what you claimed, they were probably guilty of something. They all are, even the ones that aren't -- and the cops have the tools, ability and access to ensure the "evidence" is exactly where it needs to be to make the charges stick.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:05pm

    What does this have to do with tech?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:15pm

    Re:

    As has been mentioned and explained a few times now, TD is primarily a tech focused site, but individual writers can still cover topics they consider interesting or important.

    There is as well a tech angle, as without tech, most of these corruption/abuse of power cases would likely never be reported or go anywhere, as it would be a case of the cop's(or cops') word against the accused, and given courts automatically assume that a cop is telling the truth(unless presented with iron-clad evidence to the contrary, and sometimes not even then), that would be the end of it 99% of the time.

     

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  3.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:19pm

    One law for me, and another for thee

    So, correct me if I'm wrong, but assuming the courts were actually remotely fair, and actually working, it seems that the following...

    'the house is clean, there is no meth in the house', 'we're gonna spike that and we're gonna spike him.' 'I got the meth in the ——- car,'

    ... would make for a slam-dunk conviction for possession of drugs, and intent to distribute, not even counting all the other charges involved in attempting to frame someone for those crimes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    James "The Clapp" Clapper (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:23pm

    Re:

    I think it is about the video surveilance system that my boys were able to gain access and control of, which we then told the FBI about who helped the local IA dorks with their parallel construction 'case one of those dirty cops was bad moutin' me!

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:26pm

    The tech question

    The tech you are asking about is the dash cams used to prove the police lied. Before these became mandatory, it was just our word vs theirs. Their word carries much more weight, even apparently to disprove video evidence in at least one case.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:31pm

    Re: One law for me, and another for thee

    … assuming the courts were actually remotely fair…

    Stop. What do you want the court to actually do?

    There are two special cases, neither of which apply here—
       • A crime occurs in the court's presence.
       • Someone voluntarily confesses in open court.

    But neither of those special circumstances has happened here. Rather, as you someone elliptically note, the alleged crime is remote from the court's presence. So what do you want the court to actually do? To be fair.

     

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  7.  
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    Patrick, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:38pm

    Re:

    It doesn't, however, it is dirt and still qualifies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re: One law for me, and another for thee

    Treat police that are found, or believed, to be in possession of drugs equally with non-cops.

    Like in that case, if a recording like that was recovered, where non-police were discussing both having drugs, and planning on planting them in someone else's house to frame them for it, they'd get the book thrown at them so fast it would break the sound barrier, so what I want is for that same punishment(if not more, when the gorram police are trying to frame someone for possession they deserve the maximum penalty possible) to be applied to them, no special treatment because of the fact that it's dealing with police 'officers'.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: One law for me, and another for thee

    … no special treatment…

    You know that the courts do not ordinarily go out looking for crimes or inquiring about reports of crime. You do know that?

    That's not the role of the court.

    Normally, the court only will hear cases which are brought before it, according to established processes.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Connor Clawson, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:49pm

    At this rate we really should start considering double penalties for out of line cops. Being a Law Enforcement Officer means exactly what the title says, Enforcing the law.

    Nothing more.
    Nothing less.

    To me at this point, being a cop is really just being a member of a street gang or mafia. there's a dark, cynical person inside me that thinks we'd be better off going back to wild west style lawlessness... but that would just make things even worse.

    If any cops read this, PLEASE On behalf of humanity. Have the courage and the wherewithal to enforce even your own brothers in blue.

    THIS S#!T NEEDS TO STOP!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:50pm

    Re:

    What does this have to do with tech?

    "police dash cam"

    "security camera system"

    "crime lab"

    Did you bother reading beyond the headline?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    ofb2632 (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:58pm

    I'm curious

    'I got the meth in the ——- car,'" the complaint states. So have the officers been charged with possession with intent? He clearly states he has the meth in his car and they intend to plant it.

     

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  13.  
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    jimb (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 3:59pm

    Cops are just like plain old people...

    I have a lot of faith in cops. I have a lot of faith in plain old human beings. My faith in cops, in that they are just like plain old human beings, includes faith that when bonuses, perks, and promotions are handed out to cops who excel in finding criminals and stopping them, while cops who don't find quite so many criminals (not that there would -ever- be a set number (aka 'quota') established, in writing, anywhere...) and stopping them... well, its just plain old human nature to want to excel, to want to get that promotion, to get that bonus, so, well, you do what you have to do. As long as you don't get caught, you get the promotion, the bonus (or in this job climate you merely keep your gainful employment a little longer...) as long as you don't get caught, you're golden. So, just like plain old people, cops cheat. Of course, since they're the ones -enforcing- "the rules", its most likely they don't get caught. Its much safer behind that thin blue line... just like gangstas know to not squeal, cops know it too. Nothing surprising about it, just plain old human nature, cops being plain old people.

     

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  14.  
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    jimb (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 4:03pm

    Re: I'm curious

    Seems like a grand jury is what is needed, an investigation, then with this evidence, the DA indicts the cops, for RICO, drug possession with intent to distribute, etc etc etc. Since this is my own home county, I'd sure like to see that happen...

     

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  15.  
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    Keroberos (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 4:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: One law for me, and another for thee

    That's not the role of the court.
    Yes, but if evidence of a crime by someone other than the defendant comes out in the course of a trial, you bet that it should and is reported to the proper authorities. Do you honestly think the courts are allowed to just ignore it?

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 4:32pm

    I'm installing hidden video cameras in every room of my house after reading this. I'm gonna need them on a backup UPS power supply. I'm also gonna need a decoy DVR recorder sitting out in the open, with a hidden wifi DVR recorder hidden under the floor.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 5:21pm

    This is why "possession" laws must be removed from the books

    It's very easy to drop a small item, like a few plant leaves or a SD card, and use it as justification to fuck up someone's life.

    Innocent citizens have no recourse; the item was in their possession. It does not matter that someone else put it there.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    zip, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 6:40pm

    cleaning house in the post- Lee Baca era?

    In the era of the ubiquitous video camera, the age-old "throw-down gun" trick -- a police tradition -- may require some serious reconsideration, even in a place as notoriously corrupt as the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department.

    I suspect that it may have been no coincidence that this years-old video surfaced so quickly after LA's corrupt-to-the-core Sheriff Lee Baca was forced to resign in disgrace. If this is a sign that LA is finally cleaning out the stables, it's certainly a promising sign.

     

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  19.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 11:49pm

    Re:

    In the alternative I think we could make headway if they faced the SAME as the little people.

    Days in court, not a secret board making a decision.
    Actual trials, not another board deciding the laughable punishment was wrong and rolling it back.

    If these officers faced the charges they should, were fired, lost benefits (that has to be in contracts, violating the oath means loss of the rewards), and went the hell to jail on the same level as others found guilty perhaps they might stop thinking they are untouchable.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 2:25am

    And how, exactly, does this differ from the behavior of the SS or the KGB (or our own government, for that matter)?

    You're not seeing the real reason - MONEY. Cities and states get paid by the supposed perps, as fines, or by the Feds for performance and grants. People who get citations, have to pay them, or they have to pay attorneys for defense. In any event, the people arrested end up losing money, and the system ends up gaining that money. It's all about revenue, folks.
    .

     

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  21.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 2:59am

    Due process. Make such warrantless searches be invalid regardless of being targeted at drug lords and law enforcement will adapt. Sure we lose in the first moments but it's a far greater win in the long run. Also, accountability has to be introduced for those who hold power. Badly. History shows that any human being will abuse any amount of power that's given them without checks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Paul Renault (profile), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 4:52am

    Sooo..the chief benefit of having a home security system with cameras...

    ..would protection from the law enforcement personnel and the, ahem, justice system?

    I see a whole advertising campaign. (Shouts out to the secretary in the other office.) "Mabel, can you see if that guy, what's his name..Randall Adams, is available? ... No? Ok, what about those cops up in Canada?"

     

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  23.  
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    me@me.net, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 5:01am

    this kinda crap

    is no better than a fireman who commits arson to justify his existence, same damn thing.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    alternatives(), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 6:28am

    Re: Re: One law for me, and another for thee

    There are two special cases, neither of which apply here—
    • A crime occurs in the court's presence.


    And what is SUPPOSED to happen when a crime like perjury happens.....a crime that is right in the Courts wheelhouse?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    alternatives(), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 6:30am

    Re:

    At this rate we really should start considering double penalties for out of line cops.

    The traditional penalty for fraud is treble damages.

    Why not fraud?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Just Another Anonymous Troll, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 7:26am

    Re: Re:

    Perhaps we should make your uninformed comment into an article. It is, after all, dirt and therefore qualifies.
    Techdirt covers a little more than just technology, genius.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Donnicton, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 7:34am

    Re: Re:

    "car"

     

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  28.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 8:20am

    Nothing to Hide

    So, where is everyone now saying that if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear? That statement is blown further away by the wind of situations like this. A police state is a horrible thing, no matter how much or how little or how much "nothing" you believe you have to hide.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 8:34am

    Re: Re:

    Lol

    That's now your excuse for your "I hate cops" tropes?

    Coming soon: organic gardening recipes on Techdirt.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 8:55am

    Cushing, how do you give a war? The only war is you against cops. Why do hate them so bad? You were beat up by them weren't you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    nasch (profile), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 9:02am

    Re: This is why "possession" laws must be removed from the books

    This is why "possession" laws must be removed from the books
    It's very easy to drop a small item, like a few plant leaves or a SD card, and use it as justification to fuck up someone's life.


    One of those laws to make things easier for law enforcement. Many don't realize that in a properly functioning free society, law enforcement must be a difficult job.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Michael, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 9:08am

    Is anyone else concerned that so many of our law enforcement offices are dumb enough to be doing this kind of thing on camera?

    Perhaps if we had a higher standard for the intelligence of our police officers, they would not have to resort to manufacturing evidence in the first place.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re: Re: One law for me, and another for thee

    • A crime occurs in the court's presence.
    And what is SUPPOSED to happen when a crime like perjury happens....?

    Perjury is its own special case.

    Although perjured testimony strikes at —injures— the integrity of the court's proceedings, it is, nevertheless, not so extraordinarily rare as to usually demand the full panoply of the court's inherent, extraordinary powers.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 9:53am

    The War on Stupidity is what is needed.

    Nothing surprising here at all.

    According to hundreds of accounts of retired cops from the 60s, 70s and 80s, the entire drug war was manufactured exactly this way. Since there was no drug problem, it simply had to be created from whole cloth.

    Bust a crook for theft, mugging, assault, whatever, and add a drug charge (preferably for marijuana) to insure the news was filled with a constant and continuous flood of drug busts, and to get a bonus paid vacation day as reward.

    Not a real crook!

    No problem.

    Just toss a joint on the floor and you can bust him and charge him with whatever comes to mind, and your bosses will praise you and promote you.

    Like the war on terror, the war on drugs was and is nothing more than a criminal government finding ways and means to improve its own lot at the expense of everyone else.

    Remember, government was once upon a time, just the biggest and richest gang in the hood.

    The mob has been paying its "taxes" in the form of graft to individual federal employees for decades and these employees and their minions have absolutely no desire to see this cash cow die.

    So its no surprise at all to see the minions out there, once again faking drug busts and planting evidence to get the news-worthy stories of faked rampant drug abuse back in the public's face now that the threats of decriminalization and legalization have raised their ugly heads in a serious effort to end the flow of illegal money to the mob and its federal employees.

    Legalize drugs and you will wipe out the illegal drug trade and its billion dollar a year profits over night.

    Instead, the fed supports the black market and organized crime, by maintaining the laws and insuring the black market has contraband to sell and that the prices remain high.

    Basically just the dinosaur protecting its food supply.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    DC, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 11:04am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So you don't hate cops who plant evidence?

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    DC, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 11:10am

    Re:

    So you have no problem with cops planting evidence?

     

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  37.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 11:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Indeed. The thing I find fascinating about the commenters who say that "Tim hates cops" is that the only time I have heard him talking about cops is when he's talking about the corrupt ones. People who say that those stories are indicative of hatred of all cops are in fact saying that all cops are corrupt.

     

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  38.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re: One law for me, and another for thee

    "What do you want the court to actually do?"

    If the court can't do anything about this sort of thing, then the legal system is even more corrupt than I thought. It means that cops can do pretty much anything they want without fear of legal repercussions beyond maybe losing their jobs.

    But I would argue that presenting falsified evidence in court and attesting that it is true evidence is, in fact, committing a crime in the court's presence.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: One law for me, and another for thee

    … committing a crime in the court's presence…

    May I submit that our recent law does not permit the court to call for its sword to cut the offender's head off on the spot. I mean that in a literal, bloody, physical sense.

    Ancient precedents notwithstanding, the court can't do that kind of justice anymore. There are modern limits.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Dumb and dumber

    Actually, if you were to look into the police hiring practices you would find that they specifically seek those who are less-than-bright and easily corrupted.

    As the saying goes, one good apple can spoil the graft-income for all the bad apples in the bushel.

    In any police state, the cops are indistinguishable from mobsters, muggers and murderers, because they are drawn from the very same strata of people.

    Every police state, regardless of the political affiliation they claim, is a fascist operation. Fascism is a business model, not a political ideal. A Police State is simply a means of redistributing wealth from the many to the few.

    Who else would work for such a system, save crooked assholes whose only concern is themselves and how much they can get?

    We have no shortage of those hanging about.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 12:41pm

    Re:

    Its always all about money folks.
    Its what makes the world go round.

    Those who state its all about power are correct, but money is the power they are talking about.

    There is no power without money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes of course, because lord knows Cushing isn't searching the web for bad cop stories and ignoring stories about good ones. No way. Uh huh.

    You were dropped on your head as a baby, weren't you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "ignoring stories about good ones"

    And why are "good cop" stories newsworthy? Why is not running them any indication of "cop hating"? The clear target is the bad ones. To say that's an indication of cop hating is still the same thing as arguing that all cops are bad cops.

    BTW, Tim actually has run articles here praising cops who performed exceptionally well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 4:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah, and all the major news outlets are so anti-car. You never hear any news stories about all the cars that aren't getting recalled, or aren't getting into accidents. Why do they hate cars so much?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    icon
    kyle clements (profile), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 9:56pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    What if it was a "DIY organic gardening" article about using a new technology to measure moisture content on the soil to power LED indicator lights?

    Glasses and shoes are technology. We just ignore everything that was invented before we were born and assume it is "natural".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 10:24pm

    Re: Re:

    Clearly Masnick needs to dox this guy then arrange to have something incriminating planted.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, May 2nd, 2014 @ 3:13am

    Re: Re: Re:

    There are recipes for gardening, now?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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