Jerry L. Steering is a Police Misconduct Attorney who sues police officers and deputy sheriffs, for, among other things, false arrests, excessive force and malicious criminal prosecutions.
The following is basic information on false arrests by peace officers, why so many innocents, especially those arrested for “Contempt of Cop” crimes, are falsely arrested, and what you can and can’t do about your false arrest and your beating by police officers; the beating that brought you to this page. As shown below, police brutality, usually for sadistic motives, is alive and well in Surf City USA
FOR MOST OF YOU, IF YOU ARE READING THIS ARTICLE YOUR VIEWS ABOUT POLICE OFFICERS HAVE RECENTLY DRAMATICALLY CHANGED.
For most of you, prior to the incident that caused you to read this article you believed that police officers don’t do bad things to people who don’t deserve it. You previously believed that most claims of brutality by police officers are more media hype than real unlawful and cruel police behavior.
Now you know differently; not from me or from the media, but from the unfortunate experience that you, your loved one or a friend or relative has just suffered. Chances are that you would not have believed what a police officer did to you or another, if you had not seen it or experienced it yourself. People believe what they want to believe and most of us do not want to believe that overall, if you are a good law abiding citizen, the chances of you getting beaten or shot by a police officer are greater than your chances of getting beaten by someone who is not.
What most normal good citizen types have a very difficult time truly believing, is that a substantial minority of today’s police officers actually enjoying beating, tasing, pepper-spraying and otherwise torturing civilians. Some of them actually go out on patrol hoping that they get an opportunity to shoot someone. That minority of police officers are out there, patrolling your streets and just craving for an opportunity to beat and terrorize the public. It is not a racial thing. After all, the police don’t wear thirty pounds of equipment on their bodies to dance with you. These routinely use for upon civilians as a real and legitimate part of their jobs. That’s okay. That’s what they are supposed to do. The problems arise when some of these officer actual start enjoying what they are paid to do to guilty and dangerous people, and start using unreasonable force upon innocents; especially those who may have questioned their authority.
POLICE SADISM IN THE UNITED STATES; IT ROOT AND CAUSES.
With all due respect to racial minorities, for the most part, today’s police officers do not care what color you are or where you came from. When you “fail the attitude test” with today’s police officers you probably will minimally be arrested for some “resistance offense“. If you continue to “mouth-off” to the officer (i.e. lawfully protest being falsely arrested or tell the cop they are acting unlawfully) you are begging for a police beating and there is a substantial probability that you will get one. This is no joke. No police or prosecutorial agency is going to fault a cop for beating you unless there is a clear video recording showing some black and white use of unreasonable force upon you by the officer. That is reality. Accordingly, as a real practical matter, the police soon learn that they usually can beat you with impunity.
Although one my lawfully non-forcefully resist an unlawful arrest or detention, and may with reasonable for resist the use of unreasonable force upon you by an officer (See, People v. Curtis, 70 Cal.2d 347 (1969) ) if you do resist or protest you are likely to be beaten and falsely prosecuted for some “resistance offense”.
Some of this is unlawful and outrageous police violence and downright police sadism a natural product of using force upon civilians every day for a living; even legitimately.The police walk around every day with a “Sam Brown Belt” with which they carry items such as: 1) a pistol, 2) a taser, 3) a baton (usually these days collapsible ones or “asps”), 4) peppery-spray, 5) bullets, 6) handcuffs, 7) police radio 8) recording device and 9) handcuffs. That is a lot of hardware. They also now usually carry AR-15 high powered rifles, rather than the traditional police shotguns. So, the average cop is armed to the teeth.
Some of this is the result of the United States being in a war in the Middle East since 2001. The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and invaded Iraq in 2003. Because many of the United States Military personnel serving in those wars were Reserves, and because many of those Reserves were and are police officers, many of today’s police officers act as if they were in a war zone. When they perceive a potential threat to them, real, imaginary or contrived, they often just “take out” that threat. Frankly, who can blame them. The use of police SWAT teams is prevalent in this country, even for de minimis threats to anyone. Half of the time that SWAT team is basically practicing (on you; again, for fun). Modern police equipment is often indistinguishable for military garb.
Surprising to most, some of this police sadism and run-away use of unreasonable force is the result of civil and criminal juries constantly siding with the police. Law Enforcement Agencies never admit fault. They never admit that there officer wrongfully shot someone or unlawfully beat someone, or even unlawfully arrested someone. When juries excuse police outrages, the police now may come to believe that such conduct is now permitted. If their agency isn;t going to fault them and the juries won’t either, that really can do just about anything they desire with you. As Lord Acton stated some time ago: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
OFFICER’S SAFETY HAS REPLACED YOUR RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES OF YOUR PERSONS AND PROPERTY.
Police officers usually don’t go “hands on” any more unless the person is handcuffed, or there are multiple officers to beat the person, “in concert”. These days they usually don’t even use their batons. They either tase you or just shoot you. There are no real world consequences for police officers to even murder an innocent; that is so long as no one is lurking in the shadows with a cell phone who video recorded the murder in sufficient detail to not allow the police to make up some phony justification as to why the officer properly shot another. It is not coincidental that the largest Sheriff’s Department in the United States, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, does not have video recorders in their patrol cars, or video or audio recorders on their persons. They don’t record because the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is a truly brutal agency. It is really that simple. Again, however, if you had not seen or experienced the police outrage and you were just told about it by another, you just would not have believed it.
Moreover, thirty years ago if police officer pointed gun at a person’s head and ordered him to prone-out on the ground, the person was considered “under arrest”, not a mere “detention”. However, because judges in the real world are loathe to exclude incriminating from evidence from a criminal trials, they pervert the contours of those protections that at least used to be afforded to us by the United States Constitution. So, now pointing guns at persons heads and ordering them to prone themselves on the ground, and then kneeing them in their backs or necks or head, handcuffing them and placing them in the back of the police car, all as a precautionary measure for “Officer’s Safety”, is lawful; all because the Judge or Justices didn’t want to exclude the incriminating evidence found on the person when they are searched.
Here is an example. Say that a police officer gets call for a suspicious man wearing a red jacket at a park who is vandalizing park signs. When the police arrive at the scene they don’t have “probable cause” to arrest the man. They only have “reasonable suspicion” of criminality by man; sufficient to “detain” him to either confirm or dispel the officer’s suspicion that the man had vandalized park sign (know as an “investigative detention“).
When the police accost the man at the park point guns at his head, and order him to prone himself on the ground, and drop their knees down onto his back, handcuff him and place the man in the back seat of their patrol car; all as a precautionary measure for “Officer’s Safety”. As they place the man against the car before placing him inside, they entry out the mans pockets and find knife; a knife that happens to turn out to be the weapon that was used to rape and murder a little girl at the park. The police don’t even know that the man raped and murdered a little girl yet or even that there was a little girl murdered at all. The police arrest the man for carrying a concealed weapon and take him to jail.
After the police take the man to jail they learn that there was a little girl who was stabbed to death at the park that day. The police crime lab tests the knife and find a DNA match showing that the knife had the little girl’s blood on it.
The man is then charged with rape and murder by the District Attorney’s Office, and his criminal lawyer makes a motion to suppress (exclude) the knife from evidence at trial on the ground that the arresting officer didn’t have sufficient “probable cause” to have arrested the man at the park when they handcuffed him at gun point, proned him on the ground, kneed him in his back and placed him inside of the police car. Therefore, the full scale search of the man was unlawful because they only had ground to detain but not arrest him, and that knife should be excluded from evidence at trial because it is “the fruit of the poisonous tree“; evidence obtained in violation of the man’s fourth amendment right to be free from an arrest of one in the absence of “probable cause” to have arrested the man. If the knife is excluded from evidence the man will walk free. If the police restrained the man in a manner that exceeded that level of force allowed pursuant to an investigative detention, then he was technically “arrested” when the police pointed their guns at him, proned him on the ground, knee dropped him, handcuffed him and placed him inside of the patrol car.
What will the judge do? If the judge grants the motion to suppress the man walks free even though it is very clear that he was the rapist / murderer. Will the courts then find that the manner of restraint of the man exceeded that allowed pursuant to an investigative detention? Probably not. If they do then they must exclude the knife from evidence at trial and the man walks free, and the politicians (i.e Judges in this instance) are not inclined to do that. So, they usually will now declare that pointing guns at persons not suspected of violent crimes, proning them on the ground, handcuffing them, placing them in police cars and doing full scale searches of the persons and their property, is a reasonable manner of restraint for a detention.
The moral of our story is that case by case, issue by issue, year by year, the courts have allowed the police to use increasingly greater levels of force. Often because they don’t want to exclude evidence at criminal trials, and otherwise because Conservative Judges and Justices are bent on simply allowing the police to ignore longstanding search and seizure rights of the public in the name of officer safety.
POLICE BRUTALITY IS TOLERATED AND ENCOURAGED BY PUBLIC PROSECUTORS BY PROSECUTING INNOCENTS FOR RESISTANCE OFFENSES.
Ask any cop what percentage of Section 148(a)(1) cases (resisting / obstructing / delaying peace officer), Section 69 cases (prevent to deter public officer from performing duty of office via use or threat of violence) Section 243(b) and (c) cases (battery on peace officer) are legitimate, and off the record, they will tell you almost none; maybe one or two percent.
Section 69 is a “wobbler”; a charge that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. So, when the police beat you badly, or even shoot you, they will often charge you with felony violation of Section 69, for several reasons: 1) it (falsely) makes your conduct look more threatening to the police, the judge and the prosecutor, so as to justify their use of severe violence upon you; 2) since Section 69 can be charged as a felony, the police can require that you post bail before going to court; something that helps drain you financially, and something that often results in the person who was beaten-up by the police, pleading guilty to a crime against the officer, just to get out of jail; a guilty plea that precludes them from suing the officers later-on; 3) if the Section 69 charge is filed by the District Attorney’s Office as a felony, they often are able to get complete innocents to plead guilty to the misdemeanor offense of violation of Section 148(a)(1), which also will more often than not, legally preclude the victim of police violence from being able to successfully sue the police for the beating that they gave their victims.
The police procure your bogus malicious criminal prosecution for those resistance crimes as well as the other favorites; violations of Cal. Penal Code §§ 242 / 243(b) (battery on a peace officer [i.e the suspect struck my fist with his chin], and Cal. Penal Code §§ 240 / 241(c) (i.e. the suspect took an aggressive stance and clinched his fists, so I punched in the face three times and knocked him out), to beat you down; psychologically, emotionally, and especially, financially. After all, if you hire a private lawyer to represent you in court, and the lawyer actually knows how to defend such bogus criminal actions (i.e. “resistance offenses”), you are going to have to shell-out thousands of dollars; to defend your honor, and to prevent the police from using a bogus conviction for a resistance offense to preclude you from being able to successfully sue them in court. So, because you had the audacity to ask the police officer what’s going on, and why he wants you to prone yourself out on the ground, you not only get “gooned” by the police, but you get criminally prosecute for “resisting / delaying / obstructing a peace officer, battery on a peace officer, or some other “resistance offense.”
Now, that you’re charged with a crime against a police officer, when you were the victim of his bad day disposition, you get it; 99.9% of allegations of battery ON a peace officer, are, in reality, battery BY a peace officer. This is not joke, and no exaggeration. The police routinely procure, or a attempt to procure, the filing of at least a misdemeanor Count of violation of Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1); resisting / obstructing / delaying a peace officer engaged in the lawful performance of his/her duties. Section 148(a)(1) is otherwise known in police circles as “Contempt Of Cop“; (i.e. maybe not getting on the ground fast enough, or failing to walk-over to the officer fast enough; some type of failing the attitude test), is in itself, vague, ambiguous and unintelligible. It is used every day to oppress those who voice their dissatisfaction with the police; more often than not, because of abusive and disrespectful conduct by the police.
THE COPS ARE OUT OF CONTROL.
These bogus arrests of victims for “resistance crimes” or “obstruction crimes”, has become a national phenomenon. In a nutshell, the police procurement of bogus criminal charges against the victims, in most cases in the real world, with real people who don’t have unlimited monies to muster a real criminal defense, works. It works if the cops can lie well enough in their reports, to shift the blame to you; the victim of a bully with a badge. It works if the cops can get the District Attorney’s Officer (or City Attorney’s Office or, the Attorney General’s Office), to file a criminal “obstruction offense” against you. It beats you down financially. It causes truly innocent people to plead guilty to crimes against police officers, when they were the victims; often because they can’t make bail, and they would have to spend many months locked-up in jail before their trials.
If you’re convicted of any crime against a peace officer that requires that the officer be lawfully engaged in the performance of his duties; you are often legally precluded from suing to vindicate the violation of your constitutional rights, such as the right to be free from the use of excessive force on your person. These “obstruction crimes” usually almost always include a base allegation of violation of Cal. Penal Code §148(a)(1) (resisting / obstructing / delaying peace officer), since almost any conduct or contact between a civilian and a peace officer can be creatively twisted into some sort of legally peverse claim for violation of that statute. Other “obstruction crime” favorites are battery on a peace officer, Cal. Penal Code §§ 242 / 243(b) (i.e the suspect struck my fist with his chin), Cal. Penal Code §§ 240 / 241 (i.e. the suspect took an aggressive stance and clinched his fists, so I punched in the face three times and knocked him out), Cal. Penal Code §§ 242 / 243(b), and the felony favorite if the cops really don’t like you and want you to have to spend thousands of dollars on bail; Cal. Penal Code § 69 (threat or use of force or violence to deter / prevent public officer from performing duty of office].) The legal theory of your preclusion is two-fold; 1) the doctrine of collateral estoppel, and 2) the policy decision of the Supreme Court to stick-it to you and me; the Heck v. Humphrey preclusion doctrine.
IT REALLY HAS BECOME THAT BAD; CASE EXAMPLE, THE DESERT HOT SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT.
Case In Point; Desert Hot Springs PD:
In the mid-2000’s Desert Hot Springs (California) Police Department Lieutenant David Henderson used to bring two cans of pepper-spray with him during his duty shift, because one can of pepper-spray usually wasn’t enough. In order to get off of a new officer’s probationary period with Lt. Henderson and be a regular DHSPD police officer, one had to “engage”; to beat up someone; innocent or not, when no force was called for at all. They were usually handcuffed. Lt. Henderson eventually was convicted of torturing an arrestee with pepper-spray. He put red WD-40 straws on his pepper-spray cans and stuck the straw up the nose of his victim and then pull the trigger.
Lt. Henderson’s cohort, DHSPD Sgt. Anthony Sclafani was also convicted of torturing prisoners; a woman and a gangster. He stomped, pepper-sprayed and tased his victim and he ended up in federal prison. This was normal at DHSPD in the 2000’s.
DHSPD was so bad that in the Michael Sanchez in-custody death incident (a pursuit case by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department), after the sheriff’s deputies were done beating Mr. Sanchez they watched Lt. Henderson kick a beating and handcuffed Mr. Sanchez in his testicles (“Like kicking a field goal through the uprights”), and watched Mr. Sanchez die from that kick within a minute. They did nothing about that and neither did the FBI or the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, who both know the gory details of Mr. Sanchez’ murder in the desert by the police. This again is no joke. This really happened.
DHSPD was so bad that the department was divided into two camps; the “Meat Eaters” (used force for fun and glory) and the “Lettuce Eaters” (those who didn’t create excuses to beat and torture civilians). Two thirds of the agency were under FBI investigation.
DHSPD was once of the worst departments in the country, but the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department still to this day to not have either patrol car video recording systems, body cams, or even any policy requiring the deputies to audio record their detentions or arrests of civilians.
Other police agencies are not far behind, if at all, DHSPD.
Take the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The certainly have DHSPD beat in sheer number of total police outrages committed.
There is a “Blue Code of Silence“between and among peace officers throughout the nation, and everyone knows this. This is no startling revelation. The County of Los Angeles has itself released a report Commissioned by the Board of Supervisors, acknowledging the existence of, and actually condemning, the Sheriff’s Department’s own rogue gangs of sadistic jailers at the Los Angeles County Central Men’s
Jail. See, The Citizens Commission on Jail Violence September 28, 2012. A retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Captain reported to the Los Angeles Times, that the L.A. County Men’s Central Jail was, essentially, a torture chamber, run by these jailer gangs (tattoos of their gang symbols on their ankles and all) of sadistic sociopaths. Discipline for beatings was not existent, and torturing inmates was actually required for jailer gang initiation. See, “L.A. County sheriff’s official tells of jail brutality”, LA Times, July 7, 2012. See also, “L.A. County jail violence sheriff’s fault, panel says“, LA Times, September 28, 2012. Rival Sheriff’s Department jailer gangs even got into a rumble between the “3000 Boys” (the third floor jailers) and the “2000 Boys” (the second floor jailers)at a Sheriff’s Department Christmas party.
THE LAPD’S MOTTO IS “WE’RE THE BADEST GANG IN TOWN”.
A recent study of the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department (LASD) that was commissioned by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (“Report of the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence“) actually found that there is a culture within the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department of various “gangs of officers”, who routinely beat, torture, maim and kill members of the jails, and of the community, for fun; for the honor of the gang. Everybody is a scumbag, and have no rights.
One of those gangs was “the Vikings”, whose “colors” was the Minnesota Vikings Football Team log
tattooed on their lower legs. The Former Undersheriff, Paul Tanaka, was a Viking gang member when he was a Captain at the Lynwood Sheriff’s Station. The Vikings were found by United States District Judge Jesse Curits to be a Neo-Nazi / White Supremacist gang within the ranks of the Los Angles County Sheriff’s Department; See, Thomas v. County of Los Angeles, et al; 978 F.2d 504 (1992).
Some of the LASD gangs of these gangster deputies are: The 3000 Club (the deputies who worked the third floor of the L.A. County Men’s Central Jail), The Grim Reapers, The Little Devils, The Regulators, The Vikings and The Jump Off Boys.
Out Boys. After the FBI had announced that it had infiltrated the Los Angeles County jail and can now prove that the LASD Men’s Jail was essentially a torture chamber, with gangs of sick and sadistic guards, Paul Tanaka still showed his grit, as an LASD “gansta”, by addressing the command staff of the sheriff’s department, about the LASD internal affairs bureau. He mentioned that their were 45 LASD Internal Affairs Bureau investigators, and that was 44 too many (you’re got to have at least one to have a bureau.)
In 2014, six LASD Deputy Sheriffs were convicted of obstructing the FBI’s investigation of the torturing of prisoners at the Los Angeles County Jails. That’s not the end of it. Former LASD Deputy Sheriff Noel Womack pleaded guilty in June of 2015 to federal charges of lying to the FBI about systemic LASD torturing and framing of inmates at the Los Angeles County Jails.
On May 13, 2015 former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, along with a retired LASD Captain, were indicted on May 13, 2015 by a federal Grand Jury for Obstructing and Conspiring to Obstruct a federal Grand Jury investigation of the rampant torturing of inmates at the Los Angeles County Jail (See, Paul Tanaka Indictment of May 13, 2015.) Those Indictments also resulted in the resignation of Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, as Tanaka implicated Baca as having approved the LASD scheme to thwart the FBI investigation of tortures, beatings and murders of inmates by deputies at the L.A. County Jails.
On February 10, 2016, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca pleaded guilty to violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2); lying to FBI agents and federal prosecutors investigating the beatings of inmates and visitors at the Los Angeles County Jails. As part of a surprise plea deal with the U.S. attorney’s office, Sheriff Baca admitted that he took an active role in trying to stymie the federal probe into his deputies routinely beating and torturing inmates at the Los Angeles County Jails and in having his deputies hide an FBI informant – jail inmate from his FBI handlers. He admitted even approving a team of his deputy sheriff’s attempting to interfere with the government’s investigation by threatening an FBI agent at her home with arrest.
Thereafter, on April 6, 2016, former LASD Undersheriff was convicted by a jury of violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 (conspiring to obstruct justice) and 18 U.S.C. § 1503(a) (obstructing justice), for not only obstructing an FBI investigation into years of beatings and torturing of inmates at the L.A. County Jail, but also Tanaka and other high ranking Sheriff’s Department officials threatening one of the FBI agents involved in that investigation, with arrest for continuing that investigation. In his trial, Tanaka admitted that he still had the Minnesota Vikings Logo tattoo on his leg; a tattoo that he described as a member in a club; the “Vikings”; a tatoo that the federal courts have held is the gang taoo for a “neo-Nazi white supremacists gang within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. See, Thomas v. County of Los Angeles, 978 F.2d 504 (1992).
Thereafter, on July 18, 2016, United States District Judge Percy Anderson threw out a plea agreement that would have given former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca a maximum of six months in prison, saying the sentence was too lenient considering Baca’s role in obstructing an FBI investigation into the county jails. Addressing a downtown courtroom packed with Baca’s supporters, U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson said the deal “would trivialize the seriousness of the offenses … the need for a just punishment [and] the need to deter others.”
On December 19, 2016 a mistrial was declared in that federal criminal corruption case against Sheriff Lee Baca. During the two-week trial, prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office tried to convince jurors that Baca had played a central role in a scheme carried out by a group of subordinates to thwart an FBI investigation into abuses and corruption by sheriff’s deputies working as jailers. Baca’s lawyers countered he had been unaware of the ploy unfolding beneath him. The panel deliberated for days, with all but one of the 12 jurors ultimately voting to acquit Baca. After the panel announced it was deadlocked, Anderson declared the mistrial.
On January 10, 2017, federal prosecutors announced that they would retry Sheriff Baca. Judge Percy Anderson also granted a request by the U.S. attorney’s office to allow prosecutors to include the charge of making false statements to federal authorities in the retrial. U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson previously split that charge from the obstruction and conspiracy charges Baca faced at his first trial.
On March 16, 2017 Sheriff Lee Baca was convicted for his role in a scheme to block an FBI investigation into mistreatment of inmates in his jails.
One might think, why are these cops acting like Nazis; literally, not metaphorically? Why is this allowed to persist? Things have gotten so bad at the LASD that now the United States Department of Justice Indicted 18 LASD Deputy Sheriffs and their Supervisors on charges ranging from Obstruction of Justice and torturing prisoners.
Nonetheless, the body politic tolerates the existence, and the perpetuation of an ongoing unwritten agreement among and between peace officers, to falsely report, and, if necessary, to thereafter conspire with officers who they may not yet even know, to falsely testify, about event(s), if the potential or apparent criminal, administrative and civil liability of a fellow officer is at stake. After all, in the primary category of cases that truly are “false arrests” in the most malevolent sense of the word, “Contempt of Cop cases”, the only reason that there’s an arrest of a civilian at all, is because the Constable has violated another (i.e. beaten-up / torture); usually to self-medicate rather frail and easily bruise-able egos.
POLICE BRUTALITY, FALSE ARRESTS AND MALICIOUS CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS.
Wrongful police beatings, accompanied by their sister “false arrests”, are a common and every day occurrence. These beating / arrests are no longer limited to persons of color. Soccer Moms, airline pilots and school teachers, beware: because of the great (and ever expanding) powers being given to police officers by the Supreme Court, described below, in a very real way, you no longer have the right to question, protest or challenge police actions, since to do so usually results in your being physically abused and falsely arrested on trumped of charges of essentially, “Contempt Of Cop”; (i.e. maybe not getting on the ground fast enough, or failing to walk-over to the officer fast enough; some type of failing the attitude test.) These beatings of innocent by police officers is rampant and condoned and defended by the command structure of most, if not all, modern police agencies. See, Orange County Sheriff’s Department police torture videos, and other police beating videos throughout the Country. There is a “Blue Code of Silence” between and among peace officers throughout the nation, and everyone knows this. This is no startling revelation. The County of Los Angeles has itself released a public document, acknowledging the existence of, and actually condemning, the Sheriff’s Department’s own rogue gangs of sadistic jailers at the Los Angeles County Central Men’s Jail. See, The Citizens Commission on Jail Violence September 28, 2012.
IN CALIFORNIA, A POLICE OFFICER CAN BEAT-UP OR MURDER ANYONE THAT THEY WANT TO, ANY TIME THAT THEY WANT TO, WHILE ON-DUTY.
The use of unreasonable and unlawful force in America is so rampant, that in these modern times, at least in California, a police officer can murder anyone that they want to, any time that they want to. Juries are very reluctant to convict police officers for any sort of duty related actions, such as shooting civilians. In 2010, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Shot 15 Unarmed People To Death – “Perception Shootings”. See p. 56 of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department 30th Semi-Annual Report to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
All that the police officers need to say is the they were afraid for their lives because their shooting victim had his hands in his pockets, or that his hands were under his body and wouldn’t show them to the officer, or that he was reaching for his waistband area. The modern police line is that if an officer either can’t see your hands or if you reach for you waist or pockets, that it’s okay to shoot the person. This is no joke. None of the shootings of the fifteen unarmed people who were shot to death by the LA Sheriff’s Department in 2010 were found by the department to have violated department policy. Moreover, none of those deputies were criminally prosecuted for those shootings; even when witnesses have come forward and disputed the deputies’ claims as to what happened.
These homicides by police officer aren’t just limited to shootings. For example, on January 13, 2014, an Orange County, California, Superior Court jury acquitted two Fullerton Police Department officers of murdering / using unreasonable force on the mentally-ill son of a former Orange County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Sheriff; Kelly Thomas. The beating death was audio and video recorded, and no reasonable human being could have believed that the beating death was justified. The video recording shows two sadistic police officers, beat Kelly Thomas to death. However, the defense was able to show the jury two prior incidents that made the jury simply not care that Kelly Thomas was wrongfully beat to death; the testimony about his having previous struck his grandfather, and testimony about his mother obtaining a restraining order against him. Remember, this was a mentally ill young man, who had his moments. They were able to do this, because California Evidence Code Section 1103 permits a criminal defendants to show the character of the alleged victim of their crime, to prove that the victim has a certain character, and that the victim acted in conformity with that character during the incident complained of; the one that the criminal defendant is being prosecuted for.
The Los Angeles Police Departments (LAPD’s) motto is: Were the badest gang in town. One might think, why are these cops acting like Nazis? Why is this allowed to persist?
Nonetheless, the body politic tolerates the existence, and the perpetuation of an ongoing unwritten agreement among and between peace officers, to falsely report, and, if necessary, to thereafter conspire with officers who they may not yet even know, to falsely testify, about event(s), if the potential or apparent criminal, administrative and civil liability of a fellow officer is at stake. After all, in the primary category of cases that truly are “false arrests” in the most malevolent sense of the word, “Contempt of Cop cases“, the only reason that there’s an arrest of a civilian at all, is because the police officer has beaten-up / tortured another; usually to self-medicate rather their frail and easily bruise-able egos. If you’re reading this article, the odds are, that either you or a loved one or friend has been beaten-up by the police and are being criminally prosecuted for allegedly battering the officer or somehow “resisting” the officer.
Orange County, California had a Sheriff’s Department that was run by creepy Sheriff Mike Carona, who is presently in federal prison for witness tampering (instructing witness to lie to Grand Jury.) Until Sheriff Carona went to prison, Orange County was a fantasy assignment for those truly sadistic peace officers, who “get-off” on beating inmates and arrestees.
Modern police agencies are afraid of losing their “power” in, and over, a community. That “power” base (i.e. ability to influence the politicians and the public), is based in large part, on the public “supporting the police”. That popular support is based upon a belief by the body politic, that: 1) police officers are well trained and know and respect your Constitutional rights, 2) they’re basically honest, 3) that only a small percentage of them would commit perjury, 4) that the force that the police use on people is almost always justified (if not legally, then morally), and 5) that the police are capable of policing themselves. Although none of these beliefs are accurate, one cannot ignore the belief system of the majority of the white / affluent American populace, in understanding why police officers routinely, and without a second thought, falsely arrest civilians, and commit other outrages against innocents.
LEGALLY, WHAT IS EXCESSIVE / UNREASONABLE FORCE?
Prior to 1989, the federal courts looked to the substantive due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution to “pigeon hole” claims of excessive force by a peace officer against civilians. See, Johnson v. Glick, 481 F.2d 1028 (2nd Cir. 1973.) That standard was that the conduct of the police officer had to be “shocking to the conscience”; the standard still used for those uses of force by a police officer that don’t involve efforts by police to use force against civilians to seize them, such as arresting or detaining civilians. Johnson v. Glick involved the use of force by prison guards against a convict; not either a free civilian that an officer is trying to “seize” (detain or arrest), or a “pre-trial detainee“; someone who has already been “seized” (i.e. arrested, and in the County Jail; awaiting arraignment, other pre-trial proceedings, or trial.)
However, when it comes to a police officer using force to arrest or detain another, the standard for the use of force is decreed by the Supreme Court, to emanate out of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Thus, the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures is, since 1989, the legal standard by which to judge whether a police officer used excessive force when seizing a civilian.
What Is Excessive / Unreasonable Force?
The United States Supreme Court has defined “Eases, theft and embezzlement cases, towing industry cases, and the general spectrum of criminal violations. However, the overwhelming majority of Mr. Steering’s criminal law practice involves the defense of bogus criminal prosecutions for “resistance offenses” (i.e. resisting / delaying peace officer, battery on peace officer.) Unlike other areas of criminal law practice, almost every one of Mr. Steering’s resistance offense criminal case clients were factually and actually innocent.
Mr. Steering is an expert in defending your bogus criminal action, in a way to best protect, and to enhance, your ability to ultimately obtain some justice; reasonable compensation and redress, for your police beating, for your false arrest, for your unlawful search and seizure, and for your malicious criminal prosecution.