The events in Ferguson, New York, and Cleveland increased the distrust of law enforcement. The fact that Grand Juries failed to indict anyone in the police departments and all of law enforcement angered the public. Unfortunately that is the usual result when members of law enforcement are involved in the death of a suspect.
Poor and incomplete training, or disregard for the rules, results in misconduct by uniformed officers more frequently than most might believe.
In March of 2013, Jennifer Stelly was driving down a Texas highway when the car she was in was pulled over for speeding. With her was her boyfriend, Channing Castex, who was driving.
One of the officers told Castex that he smelt marijuana. He asked if he had been smoking. He admitted that he had been previously. They placed him under arrest, handcuffed him, and put him in the back seat of the patrol car. Then they began to search the vehicle he was driving.
Other officers had arrived at the scene. One of them decided that Ms. Stelly should be searched; they found marijuana in her purse. Without calling dispatch, they radioed a female officer who was nearby to execute a body cavity search. When she arrived she proceeded with the cavity search located on a major highway, and while it was being filmed by a police vehicle’s dash camera. Stelly said the female officer was ‘very thorough.’ She was the third woman from Texas in 2013 to complain about an unconstitutional body search.
In 2011 a Texas constable pulled over a man for speeding. He proceeded to viciously beat the man. The man’s parents, who were also in the car claim they were drug of the car as well and kicked in the ribs.
Last year in Philadelphia, police officer Johnathan Josey was accused of punching a woman in the face. The incident was captured on camera. Josey was suspended and then acquitted. He is back on the streets.
A lawsuit was filed in New Mexico last November. It involves an incident which occurred two years ago. Marlene Tapia was arrested for a parole violation. While at the police station, two officers performed a strip search, and then asked her to bend over at the waist. A plastic bag was protruding from her vagina. Instead of following procedures and having the bag removed by a doctor, one of them sprayed a chemical substance directly into her vagina.
A wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Michael Saffioti’s family in Washington State. The young man was arrested for possession of marijuana before it was legalized. He was placed in a jail cell where he died. It is believed that he was fed something which caused an allergic reaction. Although he called out for help several times, he was ignored by the officers.
The entire Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is being investigated for not screening new hires effectively. One deputy sheriff admitted he had kissed and groped a 14-year-old girl when he was 28-years-old.
Finally; although a Grand Jury refused to indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo for the choking death of Eric Garner in New York, the man who videotaped the incident is in jail. In retaliation for Ramsey Orta’s revelation of the murder of Mr. Garner, the police are claiming that he placed a .25 caliber weapon in the waistband of a teenage accomplice.
Fifty years ago law enforcement officers were respected by most Americans. Today that trust and support dwindles with every report of misconduct and the shooting of innocent men and women.
By James Turnage