This Cop Conducted 3 Warrantless Searches in Under 3 Years. He Gets To Keep His Job.

A Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) officer will keep his job after conducting his third warrantless search in under three years.

Ken Camallo will be demoted from sergeant to corporal, The Advocate notes. He will also undergo a 75-day unpaid suspension.

But the officer will ultimately stay employed after racking up a slew of similar offenses and demonstrating a wanton disregard for the constitutional rights of those in his community.

BRPD declined to provide further comment.

Camallo’s conduct attracted significant national attention after a Reason report last month first released body camera footage of a traffic stop on January 1, 2020, set in motion by Camallo because he spotted a car driving “suspicious[ly].” He’d seen it parked at a “known drug house,” he said.

During that traffic stop, he and four other cops strip-searched a minor on a public street. In a recent press conference, BRPD said none of the officers will face discipline for that move.

But Camallo and Officer Troy Lawrence Jr. proceeded to conduct a warrantless search of the family’s home, resulting in disciplinary reviews. Lawrence’s is still ongoing.

Documents obtained by Reason show that this is not Camallo’s first offense, however. An internal affairs history of his time on the force shows that he has a stain on his record for another warrantless entry in 2019.

Yet even that wasn’t his first foray into unconstitutional searches. In 2017, a federal judge threw out all of the evidence in a case against a man indicted on illegal weapons charges after Camallo was found to have obtained the evidence earlier that year without a warrant. That case was eventually dropped.

Camallo’s disciplinary history shows no demerit against him for that misconduct.

His most recent warrantless search resulted in criminal charges against Clarence Green, then 23, who sat in jail for five months after Camallo found a firearm on his person during the traffic stop. Green was prohibited from owning one while he was on probation for possession of oxycodone, according to the initial incident report.

But those police reports would come to change almost a dozen times after Camallo and Lawrence illegally searched Green’s home—something that drew the scrutiny of a federal judge as he approved the state’s request to drop the charges against Green. One of the altered police reports notes that Tanya Green, Clarence’s mother, gave “written consent” to the search. She says that isn’t true, and the body camera footage shows no such exchange.

“The state agents in this case demonstrated a serious and wanton disregard for Defendant’s constitutional rights, first by initiating a traffic stop on the thinnest of pretext, and then by haphazardly invading Defendant’s home (weapons drawn) to conduct an unjustified, warrantless search,” wrote Judge Brian A. Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. “Such an intrusion, in abject violation of the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects citizens against unwarranted governmental intrusions in their homes, may justifiably be considered to be a trespass subject to prosecution under” Louisiana law.

Thomas Frampton, an attorney for the Green family, agrees. “The Supreme Court has said that officers may conduct a ‘frisk’—meaning a brief pat-down of the outer garments—if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the individual is armed,” Frampton told Reason last month. “The reason that’s okay, according to the Court, is because a properly conducted pat down is ostensibly non-invasive. A strip search on a public sidewalk, however, is something else altogether.” The family recently settled for $35,000 against the city of Baton Rouge.

But real accountability will apparently be elusive for the Greens. That entire sum will come out of taxpayer dollars and was only reached after the family agreed to drop a civil suit. Camallo will not have to explain his actions in civil court—and he gets to keep his job.

Instead, the city is trying to hold Frampton accountable for sharing the body camera footage with the press. During May’s BRPD press conference, the Parish Attorney’s Office for East Baton Rouge notified him that it would seek to hold him in contempt of court and jail him for up to six months for disseminating the video, although the government had already made it publicly available in November of 2020.

Holding a rogue officer to account is no easy feat. At the center of the debate is qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that prohibits victims of government abuse from suing state actors if the precise way a public official violated your rights has not been explicitly ruled unconstitutional in a prior court precedent. That explains, for instance, why the cops who allegedly stole $225,000 while executing a search warrant, or the cop who shot a man who’d been sleeping in his car, or the cop who led a botched drug raid on the wrong house were all protected from civil liability. The victims were not permitted to bring their claims before a jury.

Firing a bad cop is perhaps even harder. The process is mired in safeguards enshrined by labor precedents and police unions, which have a history of defending their workers’ most unsavory misdeeds. That is the purpose of any union, after all: to stick up for its people. That principle comes at a cost to the public they are supposed to protect, though, when considering that police unions represent the monopoly on state power.

The BRPD and the city of Baton Rouge did their best to produce the veneer of accountability. But in just two and a half months, Camallo will be back on patrol, protecting and serving.

via Criminal Justice –

June 24, 2021 at 11:44AM

This Week’s Corrupt Cops Stories

A DEA agent and his task force buddy get convicted of thievery, a Louisiana town cop gets busted for taking bribes from a drug dealer, and more. Let’s get to it:

[image:1 align:right]In Pearl, Mississippi, a state prison guard was arrested June 10 for smuggling drugs into the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility. Guard Brenda Denise Hicks is charged introducing contraband, possession of methamphetamine, trafficking methamphetamine and extortion.

In Kaplan, Louisiana, a Kaplan police officer was arrested and fired June 17 for taking bribes from a drug dealer. Former Officer Mitchell Guidroz allegedly took $500 from a local drug dealer to ignore his activities. He now faces charges of public bribery and malfeasance in office.

In Cordele, Georgia, a Crisp County sheriff’s detention officer was arrested Tuesday for allegedly smuggling drugs and cigarettes into the Crisp County Detention Center, Jhayvion Smith, 20, now a former guard, went down after he was spotted “exchanging items” with a person in the detention center parking lot. He is charged with bringing contraband across guard line to inmates, possession of a controlled substance, and violation of oath by public officer.

In New Orleans, a former DEA agent  and a former DEA task force officer were found guilty June 15 in a long-running scheme to rip-off cash and personal property from people he had arrested on drug charges Former Agent Chad Scott, 53, and task force member Rodney Gemar, 45, repeatedly stole the personal property of arrestees instead of logging it in as evidence. They also took money from the pockets of arrestees, lifted it out of wallets, and skimmed money off cash seizures made by the DEA. Two other former Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies who had been serving as DEA task force officers in New Orleans have pleaded guilty in this investigation. Karl Emmett Newman, 54, pleaded guilty to unlawfully carrying a firearm in furtherance of an August 2015 robbery, which was disguised as the execution of a search warrant, as well as misappropriating money confiscated by the DEA during another search. Johnny Domingue, 32, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and misappropriating money confiscated by the DEA.

In Spokane, Washington, a former state prison guard was sentenced June 10 to two months in prison after being convicted of smuggling drugs into the Airway Heights Correction Center last July. Former guard Michael Mattern, 46, got caught with 200 strips of Suboxone, the prescription medication used to treat opioid addiction that can also be abused. Investigators also found him in possession of 14.6 grams of methamphetamine and 2.9 grams of heroin at the prison. The drugs were hidden in a tobacco tin inside his lunch box.

via Criminal Justice

June 25, 2021 at 06:33PM

Police Train to Intervene in Fellow Officer Misconduct

Since the killing of George Floyd last May, more police departments have begun training police officers to intervene when their fellow officers use excessive force or engage in other misconduct, reports the Wall Street Journal. Many are using training called Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement, or ABLE, that was designed by policing researchers at Georgetown University Law School. While few departments seemed interested when the program launched in New Orleans in 2016, the number that have signed up since Mr. Floyd’s murder now totals 138, including in New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston. The training encourages officers to intervene well before a potential incident if a fellow officer is angry or depressed, all the way up to stopping someone from doing something that could cost them their job. 

ABLE offers train-the-trainer sessions to officers who then go back to their own departments. Agencies that want to sign up must train everyone from their chief to their newest recruits. Departments that sign up for ABLE are required to have a strong anti-retaliation policy on the books. Departments must also consider acceptance of an intervention by a colleague as a mitigating factor when disciplining officers. Because adoption of the training is so new, there aren’t studies yet on its effectiveness. A variety of antibias and de-escalation trainings have proven ineffective in the past, often because they often weren’t backed up by any changes in internal policy or because agencies dropped them once political pressure on police died down.

via The Crime Report

June 28, 2021 at 11:22AM

Colorado Cop Charged With Felony Assault After Fellow Officers Reported Him For Using Chokehold on Suspect

A Colorado police officer is facing felony assault charges after two of his fellow officers reported him for allegedly using an illegal chokehold on a suspect during an arrest earlier this month, several local news outlets reported.

Officer Ken Amick, who has been with the Greeley Police Department since 2006, was placed on unpaid leave after Weld County prosecutors filed second degree assault charges — a Class 4 felony — against him in connection with his June 7 arrest of suspect Matthew Wilson.

The Weld County District Attorney’s Office issued a terse three-sentence statement which confirmed the charges were filed.

According to the reports, Amick and several other officers responded to an alarm that had been set off at City Center North. Upon arriving on the scene, City Center employee informed the officers that a man had been threatening to set the building on fire. The officers located the suspect in the building lobby and identified him as Wilson.

Amick then learned that there was already an outstanding warrant for Wilson’s arrest. He proceeded to take the suspect into custody in the building lobby.

As Amick was walking Wilson out of the building, Wilson complained that the handcuffs were too tight around his wrists and became increasingly “agitated,” police said.

“Officer Amick suddenly placed (the man) into a chokehold,” the department said in a news release. “After several seconds, (the man) showed ill effects from this hold while being placed on the ground. A second officer attempted to intervene during this initial encounter.”

The other officers checked on Wilson’s condition and helped him back to his feet. While still handcuffed, Wilson then grabbed Amick’s hand. Amick then used his knee to strike Wilson in the leg several times as the suspect complained about being subjected to excessive force, the department said.

Matthew Wilson. (Image via Weld County Sheriff’s Office records.)

Wilson and two other officers who were on the scene all reported to police supervisors that Amick used excessive force in Wilson’s arrest. Amick was immediately removed from patrol duty pending an internal investigation. That investigation concluded that there was probable cause for the district attorney to bring charges against Amick, who has since been placed on unpaid leave from the department.

Colorado state lawmakers passed a law in June 2020 outlawing the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officers. That sweeping police reform law, SB20-217, was passed in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers in Minnesota; it requires Colorado officers to affirmatively intervene when witnessing a colleague using excessive force.  The bill reads, in relevant part:

(2.5) (a) A peace officer is prohibited from using a chokehold upon another person.

(b) (I) For the purposes of this subsection (2.5), “chokehold” means a method by which a person applies sufficient pressure to a person to make breathing difficult or impossible and includes but is not limited to any pressure to the neck, throat, or windpipe that may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air.

(II) “Chokehold” also means applying pressure to a person’s neck on either side of the windpipe, but not to the windpipe itself, to stop the flow of blood to the brain via the carotid arteries.

Under Colorado law, a Class 4 felony committed on or after July 1, 2018 is generally punishable by between two and six years behind bars and a mandatory period of parole of three years.

The Greeley Police Department did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Law&Crime for additional information on the incident.

According to the district attorney’s office, Amick will be in court on Aug. 23rd.  It is unclear if he has an attorney in this matter.

Aaron Keller contributed legal research to this report.

[image of Amick via GPD Facebook Page]

The post Colorado Cop Charged With Felony Assault After Fellow Officers Reported Him For Using Chokehold on Suspect first appeared on Law & Crime.

via Law & Crime

June 29, 2021 at 01:56PM

Officer Use-of-Force Sends Thousands to Emergency Room Every Year

Although there is almost no data on the nature or circumstances of their injuries, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that since 2015, more than 400,000 people have been treated in emergency rooms because of a violent interaction with police or security guards, reports NBC News. When police do use force, more than half of the incidents ended with a suspect or civilian getting hurt, according to a 2020 analysis, but it is unclear how serious those injuries are. San Jose, which requires officers to report injuries and encourages them to bring wounded suspects to the hospital, offers a glimpse of the scale of the issue, with roughly 1,300 people ending up in the emergency room after interacting with city police from 2017 to 2020, according to an analysis of the data. “Control holds,” twisting arms or holding people down, played a role in 60 percent of the cases.

Almost 20 percent of people who went to the emergency room were shot with stun guns, and 10 percent were hit with an “impact weapon” such as a baton. In those four years, city data show, encounters with San Jose police left 72 people “seriously injured,” which includes broken bones, dog bites and internal injuries. Nine more people died from gunshot wounds. Rough arrests have cost the city more than $26 million in lawsuit payouts for civil rights violations since 2010. 43 percent of use of force incidents in San Jose end with a trip to the hospital, among the highest of the nine cities tracked for the analysis. Some police departments may have a low percentage of emergency-room visits because they have loose reporting requirements and don’t make officers seek medical treatment for people who are hurt.

via The Crime Report

June 23, 2021 at 10:41AM

Video Shows Florida Cops Saving 20-Year-Old Woman Who Had ‘Every Intention’ of Jumping Off of a Bridge onto I-95

Fort Pierce Police Department officers are being credited with saving a woman they said had “every intention” of jumping off of a bridge onto I-95.

Video, intentionally blurred to obscure the identity of the 20-year-old woman, shows that she appeared determined to take her own life on Tuesday. Just as the “distraught” woman swung her leg over a barrier and appeared intent on jumping, two police officers on scene stopped that from happening.

The department posted a video on Tuesday of Officers Hayden Willis and Casey Miklosh narrating the events as body camera footage played in the background.

Office Miklosh described the woman as “agitated.” He said that he observed what appeared to be “recent scarring” from cuts on her arms. Officers were called to the scene after someone reported seeing a person “praying” on the edge of the bridge.

Thanks to the quick efforts of Officer Willis and Miklosh, a woman’s life was saved today. The two were able to halt traffic on the I-95 near the Okeechobee overpass while stopping the woman from jumping into oncoming traffic. A big thank you goes out to Florida Highway Patrol and Saint Lucie County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance.

Posted by Fort Pierce Police Department on Tuesday, June 15, 2021

“When she got to the wall, she threw one leg over. I was able to run up and I grabbed her by her torso and her pants and I was able to pull her back over the wall,” Miklosh said.

“Thanks to the quick efforts of Officer Willis and Miklosh, a woman’s life was saved today,” the department posted on Facebook. “The two were able to halt traffic on the I-95 near the Okeechobee overpass while stopping the woman from jumping into oncoming traffic. A big thank you goes out to Florida Highway Patrol and Saint Lucie County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a certified listener, call 1-800-273-8255.

[Image via YouTube screengrab]

The post Video Shows Florida Cops Saving 20-Year-Old Woman Who Had ‘Every Intention’ of Jumping Off of a Bridge onto I-95 first appeared on Law & Crime.

via Law & Crime

June 17, 2021 at 10:17AM

Cops Punched a Man Hanging From a Window and Tased Him After He Fell. They Got Qualified Immunity.

Jose Peroza-Benitez was asleep in his Pennsylvania apartment when the police broke through his door, executing a warrant for a drug raid. Startled, he fled. The officers went on to chase him through the neighborhood, into an abandoned building, and out a window. As Peroza-Benitez dangled from the ledge, one cop punched him in the head, allegedly causing him to fall to the concrete. Another officer then reportedly tased him as he lay on the ground.

Those cops—Kevin Haser of the Drug Enforcement Administration and Daniel White of Reading Police Department, respectively—were originally awarded qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that shields government officials from federal civil rights suits if the specific way they violated your constitutional rights has not yet found its way into a court precedent. In other words, a jury of Peroza-Benitez’s peers could not decide if damages were appropriate for the surgeries he received to address a broken leg and arm injuries.

In April, a federal court categorically rejected that argument. It was already “clearly established,” it said, that state actors may not beat an unarmed man hanging from a building and then tase him when he is unconscious.

“Here, Peroza-Benitez was unarmed, injured, covered in his own blood, and hanging from a second-story window by his hands, feet dangling, when [Criminal Investigator] Haser—knowing Peroza-Benitez to be unarmed—punched him ‘repeatedly’ in the head with a closed fist,” wrote Circuit Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Prior court rulings explicitly note that it is unconstitutional for police to “tase an individual who is positioned on an elevated surface at a height that carries with it a risk of serious injury or death, causing the individual to fall.”

As a testament to how granular qualified immunity can be, Haser responded that he opted to punch the suspect instead of tasering the suspect. The court declined to indulge that distinction. But qualified immunity cases often turn on minute factual differences. Consider the group of prison guards who were originally awarded qualified immunity for locking a naked inmate in two filthy cells—one covered in “massive amounts” of human feces, the other with a sewage leak bubbling up on the floor—because the exact amount of time the man lived in those cells had not been etched out in pre-existing case law.

The 3rd Circuit similarly reversed Officer White’s grant of qualified immunity. “There is a ‘robust consensus of cases’ that support the proposition that tasing a visibly unconscious person—who just fell over ten feet onto concrete—is a violation of that person’s Fourth Amendment rights,” noted Restrepo.

It is entirely possible that a jury will refuse to give Peroza-Benitez any damages whatsoever. There are disputes between the various officers’ accounts and Peroza-Benitez’s telling. Officer Michael Perkins, who was also on the scene, testified that the suspect “made a [lunging] motion like he was going to start running again” after he fell two stories, hitting a porch railing, and landing on the concrete stairwell. White says that Peroza-Benitez merely started to “sit forward.” Peroza-Benitez says he was briefly knocked unconscious. All concede that he was “tased either immediately or almost immediately upon landing.”

The important thing is that jurors will decide whether such force was justified. That’s their role. It is not the role of a few bigwigs on the judiciary. The Founders “viewed citizen juries as indispensable to the civic life of a liberal democracy,” Clark Neily, senior vice president for legal studies at the Cato Institute, told me last month. “The extent to which judges have almost completely marginalized [that], I think, is one of the most remarkable, and yet unremarked, developments of the modern judiciary.” This time, the court agreed with the Founders’ principle.

via Criminal Justice –

June 17, 2021 at 05:23PM

This Week’s Corrupt Cops Stories

A dope-slinging Michigan detective gets popped, a Tennessee constable was seizing drugs and training his drug dogs with it instead of turning it in, and more. Let’s get to it:

[image:1 align:right]In Highland Park, Michigan, a Highland Park detective was arrested last Wednesday on federal charges for allegedly selling fentanyl-laced heroin while on duty and in uniform. Detective Tiffany Lipkovitch, 45, went down after the FBI used an informant wearing a wire to record drug transactions with her. She is charged with distributing a controlled substance and conspiring to distribute controlled substances, and is looking at up to 20 years in prison.

In Rogersville, Tennessee, the Hawkins County Constable was indicted last Thursday for using drugs seized during traffic stops to train drug detection dogs. Constable William Creasy went down after the local DA sicced the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on him, and agents found that he had taken drugs from people during traffic stops, but didn’t turn them in, instead using them to train drug dogs. He is charged with official misconduct and drug possession.

In Brownsville, Texas, a Cameron County jail guard was arrested Monday for allegedly trying to smuggle drugs into the jail. Guard Juliet Gallardo went down after the state Criminal Investigation Department was called in. She is charged with attempted smuggling of contraband.

via Criminal Justice

June 9, 2021 at 07:52PM

Police Departments Avoid Sharing Use of Force Information

For the second straight year only about 27 percent of police departments have supplied data to the National Use-of-Force Data Collection program launched in 2019, reports the Washington Post. In 2019, only 27 percent of law enforcement agencies contributed information, covering 41 percent of all officers. For 2020, the total again was 27 percent of agencies, covering 42 percent of officers, the FBI’s website reports. In a statement, the bureau said it has been reaching out to departments to encourage additional participation and that final 2020 numbers, which are still being compiled, would cover 50 percent of officers nationwide. But the submission of such data by the police is voluntary. And attempts to induce the police to supply the numbers so far haven’t worked. Chief Steven Casstevens of the Buffalo Grove, Ill. Police Department, and a recent president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, advocated for tying the use-of-force data to federal grant funds.

However, a recent Congressional Research Service study found that many smaller jurisdictions don’t receive federal funds and that losing a portion of federal funds might be preferable to the time it took to compile the data. Last year, 5,030 out of 18,514 federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies nationwide provided use-of-force data, the FBI reported. In 2019, the number of agencies was slightly higher, 5,043 out of 18,514 agencies. In 2020, 29 out of 114 federal agencies participated, though the 29 contributors represented 74 percent of federal officers. With less than 60 percent participation, the FBI has said it will only release a list of who contributed data. With more, the FBI “may” publish ratios and percentages for individual states, and will release national level data at 80 percent participation. But at no stage will it release data for individual agencies.

via The Crime Report

June 9, 2021 at 10:14AM

Congress Divided Over Measure to End Police Qualified Immunity

Since the police murders of numerous Black citizens, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, ending police qualified immunity has been a policy goal for advocates across the country, The Hill reports. Qualified immunity allows officers to avoid liability in civil lawsuits unless “plaintiffs can show that their allegations amount to a violation of constitutional rights and that those rights are ‘clearly established’ law.” In order to show that a right is a “clearly established” law, there must be precedent from similar previous cases in which courts have sided with plaintiffs.

Qualified immunity represents a divide among Congress as they attempt to pass a comprehensive police reform bill. Introduced in June, The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act seeks to eliminate qualified immunity for police. Republicans, who have introduced their own police reform legislation, want to leave qualified immunity intact, but their proposed legislation does share other similar police reform policies with the Floyd Bill.

According to Inimai Chettiar, the federal director of the bipartisan Justice Action Network, lawmakers are considering the idea of a middle ground proposal that would hold police departments or municipalities accountable for misconduct committed by their police officers.

Supporters of ending qualified immunity argue it would hold police accountable for wrongdoing while many GOP lawmakers who oppose the measure argue it would cause the number of people interested in law enforcement to decrease and would make it more difficult for police to do their job.

Jeffrey Fagan, a professor at Columbia University’s law school who supports ending qualified immunity, said: “I’m sure there’ll be some people who will do that, who will not go into law enforcement. But I think a person who’s likely to reject law enforcement because of a qualified immunity issue has a certain picture of law enforcement — both of the necessity for violence and the inevitability of violence — that will get them into trouble.”

via The Crime Report

May 25, 2021 at 10:57AM