Dealing with law enforcement: Top Ten Posts

Jefferson City Criminal Lawyer

Some issues come up over and over:


Tasing the young, the old, the weak and the handicapped.

While taser use continues to kill people here and there, the most common abuses tend toward simple electronic attitude adjustment of people who apparently did not get the memo about bandying words with a cop. The variety of people who dare to differ with a police officer is fascinating: children, old ladies, pregnant women. Here are a just a few that have appeared recently. Don’t miss the last one!

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Let’s start with this pathetic deaf guy who was taking too long to use the toilet in a public restroom. They called the police.

The police–as always–demanded his identification.

Being deaf, however, he had trouble understanding all the commotion over his using the toilet. So . . . they tased him. Here it is:

Like the man said, “We were worried about his well-being and we want this man to be able to trust the police.”  So we broke into his stall while he was taking a dump, tased and maced him.

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This next one shows mom getting tased in front of the kids. She should have stayed in the car. This one is a great example of the principle that if the cop–however foolishly–says you are under arrest, then by heaven, no power can change it. The law enforcement principle here seems to be that if the motorist is upset, the cop’s job is not to de-escalate the situation, but instead to bring it to a boil . . . and use his taser. 

It seems this mom was having trouble with her 14 year old daughter and brought her to the police station “to get help” but the girl ran out to a nearby park, where the police chief caught up with her and tased her in the head and the probe went into her BRAIN. Here you go:

In this one, the police break up a kids family baptism party. Too noisy they said. They tased the grandfather who was “disorderly” and didn’t identify himself in his own backyard. Then they tased a pregnant mother who tried to help Grandpa when he went down.

Here is a tiny great-grandmother getting tased. She is a mouthy one. I can honestly say I’ve known a few cops who could have avoided tasing her, but not many.

Finally, this last one is not for the squeamish. I guess it’s easy to second guess decisions that officers have only seconds to make. You be the judge:

OK, just kidding.

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Harvard Professor arrested – why didn’t the cop just LEAVE?

The media is full of the story about the black Harvard University professor who was arrested for disorderly conduct after a Cambridge, Massachusetts police officer investigated a report of a break-in at the professor’s home. It turns out that the reported burglar was just the professor trying to get his own door open. Police Report is here.

The police argue that the officer was just doing his job, but the professor accused the officer of being racially motivated.

It seems as if Professor Gates ought to have been a bit more understanding (and appreciative) of neighbors and police who were only keeping a watchful eye on the neighborhood, including the professor’s house. But from his viewpoint, he was just minding his own business on his own property. Maybe he had a bad day at the office (leading up to an even worse evening at home).

The bottom line, however, is that at some point the police officer became satisfied that Professor Gates was the homeowner and that there had been no burglary. At that point, the officer’s business was concluded. He did well in walking out of the residence.

I understand that the officer probably felt that the Professor was an ungrateful jerk. What I cannot understand—and perhaps this will become clear at some point—is why the officer did not JUST KEEP ON WALKING and LEAVE.

The homeowner was irate and abusive and making racial accusations, but he was not violent. Once the police knew there was no break-in, they had no right and no authority to remain on his property at all.  I don’t know what they wanted to prove by arresting the professor for: 1)  yelling at them; 2) while on his own property; 3) after their business was finished.  There was no point in it, except to have the last word.

We all like to have the last word.  If you have a gun and a badge, I suspect you get it more often than the rest of us.

Trapster alerts phones to speed traps & red-light cameras

It will be interesting to see how popular the new website & service will become. Trapster is a smartphone application (iPhone, Blackberry, Android & Nokia) that lets drivers communicate the location of speed traps, cameras and checkpoints, all in real time.

Since the phone’s GPS sensors know where the phone is, a driver passing a radar speed trap can just push a button to tell the network where it is. Another driver, approaching that location will receive an alert about the upcoming trap.

Not all cops are happy about it: Police chief denounces ‘cowardly’ iPhone users monitoring speed traps

I notice that most of the flagged locations in the Jefferson City area seem to be reported as spots where police “often hide here.” If that is the case, then police should like it because people would slow down in those areas whether the police were around or not.

Here’s a video:

The website shows a million people signed up for the service. I suspect you would need a lot more than that to put a dent in traffic court revenues. We will see.

Obama wants to formalize imprisonment without trial

Remember the film “Minority Report” with Tom Cruise? Cruise worked for the Department of Pre-Crime. Pre-Crime was able to determine who was going to commit crimes in advance, so they were able to send Cruise out to arrest and lock up people before they had done anything wrong.

This is called preventive detention. It is unconstitutional; and is a mark of a totalitarian state. The US has been doing it for years. President Obama recently announced that–while George Bush had gone about it in a haphazard way–Obama would formalize the practice through a new “legal” framework.

This prolonged imprisonment of suspects in the “war on terror” goes on even though the government cannot prove that the prisoners have committed any crime.  [Note: as a point of reference, keep in mind that in the State of Missouri, no one can be held without formal criminal charges for more than 24 hours–even if the person is suspected of murder]

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Moberly pays $2.4 million for police taser homicide

The Associated press is reporting that the city of Moberly will pay millions to the family of a young man tasered to death after he resisted arest by arguing with Moberly police officers. Police had suspected him of driving while intoxicated. Story is here: Moberly to pay $2.4 million in Taser lawsuit settlement.

As I predicted back at the time of the incident–see Missouri man dies after Taser fired during traffic stop–the police tasering was found to be justified. Even though no criminal charges were filed, the city has suspended police use of tasers in addtion to paying the $2.4 million settlement.

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Video journalist jailed indefinitely for remaining silent

Jefferson City criminal defense lawyerAn interesting “criminal” case is brewing in a small New Hampshire town. The city of Keene, NH has a substantial number of libertarian activists who have cultivated the habit of carrying video cameras around whenever they have protests or other events involving the government (which they would like to see strictly limited or–depending on who you ask–eliminated altogether). One of those video activists will soon complete his first full month behind bars for not turning off his video camera after the local judge banned recording in the public lobby of the Municipal building.

Sam Dodson runs a YouTube channel for his videos called the Obscured Truth Network.  On April 13, 2009, he brought his camera to the public lobby of the city building in support of another activist who was being arraigned (also for the crime of videotaping in that same lobby).

The court’s marshall ordered him to stop–and when he refused–they arrested him for disorderly conduct. At this point he went passively limp and was then handcuffed and dragged to a waiting patrol car. [see video below]. Other friends of the man being arraigned that day were then ordered from the lobby–and when they refused–five more were arrested for disorderly conduct.

Police booked all the arrestees and released them later that day–all except Sam Dodson. Dodson refused to talk to the police and refused to identify himself. He has since been identified by police but the judge refuses to arraign him and has refused him a trial until he is willing to tell them his name. Dodson is on a hunger strike, only drinking liquids since he was jailed on April 13.

Writs of habeas corpus have been filed and rejected by the court.  The court explained that Dodson’s complaint was premature because he “may make the same challenges . . . as the criminal case proceeds.” But the case does not proceed.

It is quite possible that Dodson will eventually be found not guilty of the charges, but the state will not give him a trial until they have broken his will. He therefore remains in jail for the indefinite future.

More on the story here: Exercising Right to Remain Silent Lands Video Journalist in Jail Indefinitely and video here:

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Now that Sam Dodson has spent far longer in jail than any convictions would actually have cost him, this looks more and more like the authorities are just flexing their muscles with this guy.

Absolutely nothing would stop them from bringing him into court, reading the charges, setting the case for trial and releasing him until the trial date. It would cost them nothing. Instead, they seem intent on making martyrs.

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Is Governor Nixon intimidating Sunshine requestors?

Everyone has heard about the Missouri Highway Patrol & the Dept of Public Safety getting egg on their faces over the MIAC “confidential report,” they sent out to law enforcement agencies. The report noted that domestic terrorists are often supporters of Ron Paul, pro-lifers or 3rd party candidates.

One thing that has not been disclosed about this “confidential report” is where it came from. The MIAC claimed it was publicly available information. The so-called “publicly available information” sounded suspiciously like the materials of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The SPLC presents itself as a “tolerance” group (fighting “hate”) and have been quietly feeding their “domestic terrorism” material to law enforcement for many years. When I was a prosecutor I saw this first hand. They are perfectly happy with grouping their political enemies (conservatives and libertarians like Ron Paul) in with Nazis and the KKK.

The MIAC report was an outrageous bit of work and has no place in a free country. Most people agreed. The report was roundly denounced from ALMOST every direction, the exception being Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who originally supported the report even though he hadn’t read it. If you haven’t read it, you can read it here: Secret State Police Report: Ron Paul, Bob Barr, Chuck Baldwin, Libertarians are Terrorists

Last week, the State was forced to apologize and withdraw the report. Even Nixon was running away and pointing the blame at others. No surprise here.

But now a very disturbing report has come out of St Louis about a citizen who on March 23 faxed a Sunshine request to Governor Nixon’s office requesting information about the MIAC report.

Within six hours, two of the man’s friends were being questioned about his political beliefs by law enforcement. Within a few days, seven of the man’s friends had been interrogated by police, obviously because he had the audacity and imprudence to exercise his right to request information from the government. Read the story here: Is Nixon Abusing His Power?

Now, unless this fellow made threats in a sunshine request (which is hard to imagine) this behavior by the State is unconscionable. What’s next? Midnight shakedowns and no-knock warrants? No citizen should ever have to fear the government for exercising his statutory rights. Something must be done.

Dallas cop draws gun to stop family rushing to bedside of dying family member

Here’s a story about a Dallas cop who watched an SUV as it stopped at a red light just long enough to check for traffic before continuing on. Moments later the car–which had its hazard lights blinking–pulled in at a hospital emergency room. The family had been notified that they needed to hurry to the hospital if they were to see the wife’s mother before she died.

The cop immediately drew his gun and held the driver outside the emergency room as the driver begged the cop to write the ticket (for going through the red light) and let him go inside to his family. The cop decided the driver needed an extended attitude adjustment. The driver was NFL Player Ryan Moats, who–while obviously distressed–was unfailingly polite throughout the stop. The cop detained him for fifteen minutes while the family member inside died.

Here is the link with a video: Dallas police: Officer drew gun during traffic stop of NFL player outside hospital