Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Some of the "finest" liars around

A few days ago this blog, along with many others, published a video of an unprovoked attacked on bicyclist by a New York City police officer, Patrick Pogan. Publicity of this attack has brough forth lots more video and much of it has been compiled into the attached video. This video is actually more important than the Pogan video and allow me to explain why.

The shorter video showed how Pogan ran toward bicyclist Christopher Long. Long attempted to avoid the officer and swerved to the left. Pogan than intentionally body slammed Long to the ground and then, after he attacked Long, arrested Long for the offense. All charges were eventually dropped against the victim and Pogan relieved of duty.

But the longer video shows far more of what went on that night in New York City. Pogan was not acting alone. This video shows other officers doing similar things. More importantly this video is this spliced with the police incident reports. You see the event and then you see how the police officers invent lies on their incident report to cover up their own criminal actions.

You will see a man, filming the police attacks, ordered by police to leave the scene. The police seemed very concerned about removing as many cameras from the scene as possible. The man in questions walks away from the incident. He goes to the corner and actually crosses to the opposite side of the street. He is now some distance from the incident, having obeyed the policeman totally. After the man has obeyed orders which I'm not sure the officer had the right to give, the officer then chases the man dow and arrests him. The incident report then claims the man refused to leave, something the video showed to be a lie.

In another incident we see two different people arrested. Person #1 arrested first. A short time later person #2 is arrested. When the police file their report they justify the arrest of #1 by claiming #1 interfered with the arrest of #2, something which was impossible unless #1 was capable of time travel.

The new video certainly shows that Pogan was not alone. His fellow officers were behaving in a similar manner as he was. And now the New York Times shows that the police department pretty much turns a blind eye to police falsification of incident reports. While it is supposedly policy to dismiss any officer found to have lied about such incidents the Times reports that the overwhelming majority of officers who concoct facts on reports remain happily on the police force.

In one egregious case four officers were trying to "buy" an illegal firearm. Once again they got confused and went after four men who had nothing to do with the sale of the weapon. One of the officers took his gun and cracked open the back of the head of one of the innocent men. They eventually figure out that they got it wrong and release the three uninjured men. But the man who they assaulted is arrested "charged with assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest". The Review Board investigated and "found that the detective had trumped up the arrest charges to justify hitting the man." So what happened to the assaulting officer? He was docked vacation time and nothing else. Department policy says he should be dismisses, department reality says he should get the minimal punishment possible. At worst the dishonest, assaulting officer might have missed some time at Disneyland!

The Times wrote:
None of the cases in which officers were accused of making false statements to the review board wound up in criminal court, primarily because their interviews were not conducted under oath, said Franklin H. Stone, chairwoman of the review board and a former federal prosecutor.

Why should cops tell the truth if the rule against lying is, itself, a flimsy fiction?

“Police officers should tell the truth to the C.C.R.B. because it is their job to do so,” Ms. Stone said. “Beyond that, I have no comment.”
Watch the video. I suspect that I will get some commenters claiming that we shouldn't assume that "all" cops act this way and that it is just "a few bad apples". No doubt the same claim was made about Pogan and we know see that he was just one of many officers all acting in the same way that evening. More importantly the Times article shows how the police department itself helps cover up such incidents by typically refusing to take action, or serious action, against officers who falsify information.

In addition we have no idea how times officers concoct facts to justify an arrest and get away with it. I have seen this happen myself. Officers invent claims in court against someone they arrest. The judge and/or jury are told that the fine, truthful officers claim one thing and the vile suspect, who after all was arrested proving his criminal nature, says something else. Even when witnesses contradict the police we typically find the system ruling that the officers are believable while the "suspect" and witnesses are not believable or don't have the "keen" eye of experience that the officers have. Only in recent years, as more and more people have portable video devices, have we seen film after film proving that the officers routinely invent lies and act in precisely the manner that they have been accused of doing for many years. That later fact is one reason that the police today often try to prevent filming by harassing people with cameras.

Once film gets out the police can't get away with their lying as easily. So the idea is to stop the filming in advance. As one police officer told me, they don't mind making claims against people in court because "the courts are on our side". They are routinely believed and their testimony accepted as factual in spite of reams of evidence that they often falsify testimony.

Of course there are some honest police officers. Apparently they are few and far between if this video is any indication. All the police officers present that night worked to violate the rights of citizens. As far as I know none of the officers reported other officers who went too far. None testified against other officers. Only the video tapes that were made resulted in some justice being done. At the very least the "honest" cops remain accomplices after the fact with the guilty ones. The "thin blue line" refuses to be broken and that means covering up for bad cops. And the Times article shows that department policy is barely any different with little discipline being handed out to lying officers.