Wrongful Death Cases and Police Accountability in Modern America
Jerry L. Steering, Esq., is a Police Misconduct Attorney who sues police officers and other for Wrongful Death Cases, serving, among other places, Riverside County and the Riverside County cities shown below, as well as Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County. He has been suing police officers, and defending bogus criminal cases of crimes against police officers since 1984.
The majority of our firm’s law practice, is suing police officers and other government officials, for claims such as false arrest, police brutality / excessive force, malicious prosecution, and other “Constitutional Torts.” False arrests by police officers are almost always the product of either sheer incompetence (i.e. the police arrest another for conduct that isn’t criminal), or of the police officer attempting to justify his unlawful conduct, by arresting and then framing their victim (i.e. false police reports, perjurous court testimony, false convictions) of his federal criminal (18 U.S.C. § 242), and otherwise tortious misconduct (i.e. if the police use unreasonable / unlawful force on a civilian, the use of force is almost always followed by a false arrest.)
Mr. Steering has been suing police officers for constitutional violations and defending bogus criminal “resistance offense” cases since 1984. The Law Offices of Jerry L. Steering is proud to serve all areas of Southern California and other places in the United States.
THESE DAYS MERE RESISTANCE CASES OFTEN END UP WITH THE POLICE KILLING INNOCENTS.
Mr. Steering has been suing police officers, and defending bogus “resistance offense” criminal cases of crimes against police officers, since 1984. The majority of the Steering firm’s law practice, is suing police officers and other government officials, for “Constitutional Torts” such as false arrest, police brutality / excessive force and malicious prosecution. Because of institutional pressures (i.e. “ratting out fellow officer not a good career move), and the obvious political and practical consequences of not backing-up the their fellow officers (i.e. false testimony and false police reports), the norm in today’s police profession, is for peace officers to falsely arrest, and procure the bogus criminal prosecution (i.e. to literally “frame”) of those civilians, whose Constitutional rights and basic human dignity have been violated.
THE EVER GROWING NUMBERS OF DEATH OF CIVILIANS BY PEACE OFFICERS IN MODERN AMERICAN LIFE.
This author has seen many police shooting and killing cases over the years, and one thing among others stands out; that you don’t see police “throw down guns” anymore. The police don’t need them. Now, the police merely need say that they felt threatened, and they are allowed by our society to kill you. This is no joke.
These shootings when the dead guy ends up not being armed are called perception shootings. These days the police see just about any action by a civilian to be potentially threatening. A lot of this is the carry over from police officers also serving in the wars in the Middle East that the United States has been involved in since 2001. Even the Supreme Court of the United States has jumped in the fray and basically now permits just about any reason to justify police killings of innocents.
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.”
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
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).
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.
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.
WHEN CAN THE POLICE USE DEADLY FORCE?
If you want to know what do to if you’ve been falsely arrested, retaliated against for exercise of your constitutional rights, beaten-up by the police or maliciously prosecuted, please contact us at (949) 474-1849 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for visiting with us, and best of luck. Even if you have a legal question that’s important to you, and you just need lawyer input, we’ll be glad to answer your questions.
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Jerry L. Steering, Esq., Suing Bad Cops And Defending Bogus Criminal Cases Since 1984
Jerry L. Steering with Diane Sawyer, Co-counsel* Bob Dole, and former partner** Melvin M. Belli
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