Archive for the ‘Rage’ Category

Obit watch and random notes: September 14, 2017.

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Obit watch: Pete Domenici, former Senator from New Mexico.

Long, but kind of fascinating, NYT article about the hunt for test models of the Avro Arrow.

For those of you who are not Canadian, the Avro Arrow was a legendary Canadian jet fighter project of the 1950s. It was pretty cutting edge for the time, but the project was cancelled in 1959.

In the decades since the program was abruptly dropped, the Arrow’s story has become one of Canada’s greatest bits of folklore, and not just among the military or aviation buffs sometimes known as Arrowheads.

The Smithsonian’s Air and Space magazine ran a good article about the Arrow some time ago, but I can’t find it on their website or in Google. Sigh.

Full internal affairs reports on Payne and Tracy, obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune through a public records request, found both officers violated five policies: conduct unbecoming of an officer; courtesy in public contacts; a policy that states misdemeanor citations should be used instead of arrest ”whenever possible”; violation of the department’s law enforcement code of ethics; and a city-mandated standards of conduct policy.

Remember, folks: that’s Detective Jeff Payne and Lt. James Tracy of the Salt Lake City Police Department. Detective Jeff Payne also failed to file a “use of force” report, which is another policy violation.

Investigators wrote Payne’s conduct was ”inappropriate, unreasonable, unwarranted, discourteous, disrespectful, and has brought significant disrepute on both you as a Police Officer and on the Department as a whole.
“You demonstrated extremely poor professional judgment (especially for an officer with 27 years of experience), which calls into question your ability to effectively serve the public and the Department in a manner that inspires the requisite trust, respect, and confidence,” the report adds.

And as for Lt. James Tracy:

Investigators took a similarly critical view of Tracy’s actions. They noted Wubbels had told them in an interview that she felt Tracy was “ultimately responsible for this incident.”
“[Y]our conduct, including both giving Det. Payne the order to arrest Ms. Wubbels and your subsequent telephone discussions with Hospital administrators, was discourteous and damages the positive working relationships the Department has worked hard to establish with the Hospital and other health care providers,” the report states.

And more:

The report says neither Tracy nor Payne fully understood current blood draw laws or hospital policies, and — unlike the nurse, Wubbels — they did not seek legal clarification from the department’s attorneys or other sources.
It also outlines how Payne visibly “lost control of his emotions” and his “self-control” over the course of the incident — yet no other law enforcement officers at the scene, including those from Salt Lake City and the University of Utah, thought to intervene.

And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street.

This is intended to enrage you. (#8 in a series)

Friday, September 1st, 2017

I don’t post every “bad cop, no doughnut” incident here because I just don’t have time. There’s only 24 hours in the day, and I have to work to pay bills and sleep so I can go to work to pay bills and then there’s all that time I spend in the opium den. (Heroin is déclassé. The true gentleman smokes opium.)

But this one set my teeth on edge.

Utah cop wants to draw blood from a hospital patient who was badly injured in an accident. Patient is not under arrest, is not a suspect (his truck was hit head-on by a fleeing suspect who died in the crash), police officer has no warrant, and patient is unconscious so he can’t provide consent.

Nurse says, “I’m sorry, but you can’t do that. It’s against hospital policy, and it’s against the law.”

Cop arrests nurse.

“So why don’t we just write a search warrant,” the officer wearing the body camera says to Payne.
“They don’t have PC,” Payne responds, using the abbreviation for probable cause, which police must have to get a warrant for search and seizure. He adds that he plans to arrest the nurse if she doesn’t allow him to draw blood. “I’ve never gone this far,” he says.

After the arrest:

Another officer arrives and tells her she should have allowed Payne to collect the samples he asked for. He says she obstructed justice and prevented Payne from doing his job.
“I’m also obligated to my patients,” she tells the officer. “It’s not up to me.”

This is one of those things I hear a lot in my CPA classes and on the Internet: “Even if you think the officer is wrong, go ahead and comply. You’re not going to win the argument in the field.” And I can kind of agree with that. Sometimes.

But there are cases like this one where you have to take a stand. Even if it means being handcuffed. Even if it means going to jail. Even if it means a beating. Maybe this is part of your oath as a health care professional. Or just simply a matter of taking a stand when somebody else can’t.

And it wasn’t just a matter of hospital policy conflicting with the law:

In Thursday’s news conference, Wubbels’s attorney Karra Porter said that Payne believed he was authorized to collect the blood under “implied consent,” according to the Tribune. But Porter said “implied consent” law changed in Utah a decade ago. And in 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that warrantless blood tests were illegal. Porter called Wubbels’s arrest unlawful.
“The law is well-established. And it’s not what we were hearing in the video,” she said. “I don’t know what was driving this situation.”

The officer in question is Detective Jeff Payne. Remember that name: Detective Jeff Payne.

Salt Lake police spokesman Sgt. Brandon Shearer told local media that Payne had been suspended from the department’s blood draw unit but remained on active duty. Shearer said Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown had seen the video and called it “very alarming,” according to the Deseret News.

According to Reason:

Payne also said it was his watch commander, Lt. James Tracy, who told him to arrest Wubbels if she refused to draw blood.

Remember that name, too. Lt. James Tracy. (And Payne doesn’t get a pass because his watch commander said to do this: “I was just following orders” hasn’t flown since Nuremberg.)

Alex Wubbels, the nurse, is actually taking a more moderate position than I would.

For now, Wubbels is not taking any legal action against police. But she’s not ruling it out.
“I want to see people do the right thing first and I want to see this be a civil discourse,” she said Thursday, according to the Deseret News. “If that’s not something that’s going to happen and there is refusal to acknowledge the need for growth and the need for re-education, then we will likely be forced to take that type of step. But people need to know that this is out there.”

I hope she does sue. I hope she sues the department and Lt. James Tracy and Detective Jeff Payne in their individual capacities. I hope Lt. James Tracy and Detective Jeff Payne are stripped of their qualified immunity. I hope they are bankrupted and fired from the Salt Lake City police force. I would like to see them criminally prosecuted and stripped of their law enforcement licenses, though I’m not sure what charges could be brought against them. (Federal civil rights violations?)

This is intended to enrage you. (#7 in a series)

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Okay, the title may be somewhat of an exaggeration. I’m guessing the only people enraged by this will be:

But I’m willing to be proven wrong. Feel free to do so in comments.

Anyway. A long time ago – 1987, to be precise – a group of John D. MacDonald fans put up a plaque at what was Slip F602 at the Bahia Mar Marina. Slip 602 was also renamed Slip F18.

What was the significance of this? MacDonald’s most famous creation, Travis McGee, docked his houseboat, the “Busted Flush”, at Slip F18. I know it probably sounds kind of silly and trivial to a lot of you, but it always seemed to me to be a nice gesture in honor of a man who has influenced more writers than you could fit into a 1936 Rolls-Royce pickup truck. (Just a few names you may have heard of: Michael Connolly, Randy Wayne White, Lee Child, Carl Hiaasen, David Morrell, and some guy named Stephen King.)

But I ramble. My point now is: the plaque isn’t there any longer. It has been moved to the harbormaster’s office. I can’t really get a sense of how easy or hard it is to find from the photos online. But more to the point:

The relegation seems particularly poignant in 2016, McDonald’s centennial birthday year. Sarasota, where MacDonald lived, will be staging a big celebration in July. But there’s nothing going on in Fort Lauderdale.
“I had tried to contact the Bahia Mar offices to see if anything would be done to celebrate the 100th Birthday of JDM but I received no answer,” Calvin Branche told me via email. Branche, who runs the John D. MacDonald website and will be staging slideshow presentations in Sarasota this summer, suggested that the marina place the plaque somewhere more conspicuous. “But nothing came of it.”

It just seems kind of a lousy way to treat a good man and a great author.

(Hattip: Lawrence, via email.)

Kelly Thomas.

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Since I’ve started thinking seriously (as a grown-up adult, not a child) about criminal justice issues, I’ve maintained certain positions.

One of those positions is that the verdict of a jury deserves a certain amount of deference. Yes, I may disagree with the verdict the jury returns. But: they were there in the courtroom. I was not. They watched all the testimony in person. I did not. They were able to see subtle cues of tone and inflection. I was not. At best, what I am basing my judgment on is what I read in the newspaper or saw on TV. These things are subject to conscious and unconscious bias, as well as errors and omissions. How can I question the verdict a jury returns without all the information they had access to? George Zimmerman or OJ Simpson, I’ve always thought the jury should be respected.

But I’m having trouble reconciling that with the acquittals of Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli in the beating death of Kelly Thomas. (Previously. Also previously and graphic image warning.)

How does a jury return a verdict that says hitting a man in the face twenty times with a Taser is okay? How does a jury return a verdict that says telling a man “See these fists? They’re getting ready to [expletive] you up.” and then beating him until he can’t breathe and his blood is pooling on the sidewalk is not, at the very least, involuntary manslaughter? What evidence did they see that we did not?

And is it a compromise of my principles that I’m hoping the Justice Department indicts Ramos and Cicinelli?

Fiat justitia ruat caelum. But what is justice in this case?

This is intended to enrage you. (#6 in a series)

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Wednesday’s verdict in particular seemed to line up with what many of the officers on trial have argued: that these were unique events under extreme circumstances rather than, as the Justice Department and even some city officials have insisted, symptoms of a much deeper and broader dysfunction within the police force.

These “unique events under extreme circumstances” include shooting an unarmed man, beating and handcuffing three other men who drove the shooting victim to a police station, driving their car to a levee, and setting the car on fire with the shooting victim inside.

These “unique events under extreme circumstances” also include shooting even more unarmed people and covering those shootings up as well.

Random notes: December 10, 2013.

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

One bright and lovely morning in September, on the first day of school, three traffic lanes that went from the streets of Fort Lee, New Jersey, to the George Washington bridge were suddenly shut down:

Cars backed up, the town turned into a parking lot, half-hour bridge commutes stretched into four hours, buses and children were late for school, and emergency workers could not respond quickly to the day’s events, which included a missing toddler, a cardiac arrest and a car driving into a building.

The lanes were ostensibly closed for a “traffic study”:

But the workers testified that the Port Authority already collected data on how many cars traveled in each lane, so such a traffic study would have been unnecessary.
The director of the bridge, Robert Durando, testified that in 35 years at the Port Authority, he had never heard of lanes being closed down for a traffic study.

The lanes were shut down for a total of four days. The Port Authority controls the bridge, and gave the order to shut down the lanes. And the members of the Port Authority are appointed by Chris Christie.

The mayor of Fort Lee, a Democrat, complained in a letter in September that the lane closings were “punitive” — Mr. Christie, a Republican, was leaning heavily on Democratic mayors to endorse him for re-election so he could present himself as a presidential candidate with bipartisan appeal, but the mayor was not going along.

So now the New Jersey legislature is holding hearings, and it sounds like there’s very little paperwork documenting exactly why the Port Authority decided to hold a traffic study on one of the busiest days of the year. It also sounds like there’s a lot of…obfuscation, shall we say?

On the one hand, I want to give this the “NYT covers a Republican politician” discount. On the other hand, there seems to be no dispute that three access lanes to the busiest bridge in the United States were closed for four days, and not for emergency repairs. That to me is simply inexcusable; in a case like this, I would support individuals taking it upon themselves to reopen the “closed” lanes, as well as the liberal application of tar and feathers.

Speaking of tar and feathers, here are some excerpts from yesterday’s testimony in the Kelly Thomas trial that are designed to enrage you:

“That would not be good proper police procedure,” [John A. ] Wilson [testifying as a “use of force expert” – DB], a 26-year FBI veteran, said when asked hypothetically about a suspect being hit on the head. Such a blow “is going to cause serious bodily injuries.”

Prosecutors maintain that Thomas was struck repeatedly in the face with the front of [Jay] Cicinelli’s Taser and that the injuries contributed to his death. Audio from the night captures Cicinelli saying he hit Thomas 20 times in the face with his stun gun.

Wilson also testified that when the video captures [Manuel] Ramos putting on latex gloves and threatening to punch Thomas, it was a show of force by Ramos: “It indicates there’s going to be contact made, or blood or some body fluid may be exposed as a result of a violent contact.”

In the video, Ramos puts on the gloves and tells Thomas, “See these fists? They’re getting ready to [expletive] you up.”

Wilson said officers should have stopped hitting Thomas after he started complaining that he couldn’t breathe and a pool of blood started forming on the concrete.

Morning coverage of the Spaccia conviction:

Spaccia probably faces a sentence similar to the 10 years to 12 years in prison that her former boss, Robert Rizzo, is expected to receive, prosecutors said. Rizzo pleaded no contest to 69 corruption charges in October.

I promised more coverage of the LA County Sheriff’s Department indictments, but I’d be doing it anyway. There is a lot of “Wow” going on here.

The indictments allege two assaults on inmates and three on people who visited the jail. They also include claims that deputies wrote false reports to justify using force and conducted illegal arrests and searches of jail visitors.
A sergeant who supervised deputies in the visiting area of Men’s Central Jail was accused of encouraging violence and reprimanding employees “for not using force on visitors … if the visitors had supposedly ‘disrespected'” jail deputies, according to an indictment.

Remember, these aren’t inmates (not that it would be any better if they were): these are visitors. But wait, it gets better:

In one case, prosecutors say, an Austrian consul official trying to visit an Austrian inmate was arrested and handcuffed even though she had committed no crime and would have been immune from prosecution, the indictment said.

There’s even more. A crooked jailer smuggled a cell phone in for an inmate who was an FBI informant.

After the discovery, sheriff’s officials moved the inmate — identified only as “AB” in the indictment — and changed his name. They then altered the department’s internal inmate database to falsely say he had been released, prosecutors allege. Deputies continued to isolate the inmate even after federal authorities had told sheriff’s officials that a judge had ordered the inmate’s appearance before a grand jury, the indictment states.

Can you say, “obstruction of justice”? I knew you could. But it gets even better:

Stephen Leavins, a lieutenant in the unit that handles allegations of criminal misconduct against sheriff’s employees, was accused of directing two sergeants to confront an FBI agent working on the investigation outside her home. The sergeants — Scott Craig and Maricella Long — falsely told the agent that a warrant was being prepared for her arrest, prosecutors said in court records.

They tried to intimidate an FBI agent? Does LACSD make it a practice to hire and promote deputies who are dumber than a bag of hair?

For a while now, I’ve felt like the HouChron is trying to become more like BuzzFeed; if you look at their website, there’s a huge emphasis on slideshows and listicles. I generally don’t like linking to that crap (though the slide shows of fair food are often interesting) but here’s an exception: historical photos of Bonnie and Clyde. The HouChron isn’t kidding around with the “graphic photos” warning, either; there are a couple of photos of Bonnie and Clyde after the shootout. (There’s also some nice photos of a couple of their guns, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

(Yeah, it is tied to the mini-series, which I didn’t watch, but the photos are still interesting on their own.)

Edited to add: Grammar question. “A FBI agent” or “An FBI agent”? “A FBI informant” or “An FBI informant”?

SDC update.

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

I’ve been running way behind on these (life has gotten in the way) and am hoping to fix that soon.

In the meantime, I do have a post up about my experience last night at The Goodnight. The categories on this post might give you a hint as to how things went…

This is intended to enrage you. (#5 in a series)

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Back in April of 2012, I noted the convictions of five New Orleans police officers on charges stemming from the “Danziger Bridge” incident.

About that:

Citing “grotesque prosecutorial misconduct” on the part of federal lawyers here and in Washington, a judge on Tuesday threw out the 2011 convictions of five former police officers who had been found guilty in a momentous civil rights case of killing two citizens and engaging in an extensive cover-up in the days after Hurricane Katrina.

More from NOLA.com:

In a 129-page order that strongly criticized prosecutors in former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office, U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt pointed to “unprecedented events and acts” that “has taken the court on a legal odyssey unlike any other.”

And yes, this is a direct result of the anonymous comments scandal that led to Letten’s resignation:

The revelations and other instances of misconduct prompted Engelhardt to call for a criminal probe of former prosecutors Sal Perricone and Jan Mann, neither of whom were directly involved in prosecuting the Danziger Bridge case. Tuesday’s order alluded to additional misconduct uncovered by that probe.
The judge outed a third Justice Department prosecutor as an anonymous poster.

To be clear, I’m not enraged at the judge: I think he made the right decision, especially given the discovery of Karla Dobinski’s activities:

Ms. Dobinski had an important role leading up to trial, as the lawyer in charge of the so-called “taint team,” which among other things ensured that testimony given by police officers under immunity was not later used against them (the failure to do so is what fatally compromised the case in state court).

Ms. Dobinski is the third “anonymous” commenter. (Also: “taint team”. Ken White, call your office, please.)

I’m enraged at Letten, and at his office, for f—ing this one up. It looks like there will be retrials. I hope the defendants get a fair second trial. I also hope that Letten, and the other folks in his office responsible for this mess, face their own criminal trials, and receive appropriate punishment if they are found guilty of criminal acts.

Random notes: February 1, 2013.

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Nobody needs a high-capacity assault snowmobile. Actually, I’m not even sure the general public should be allowed snowmobiles; perhaps we need to limit those to the police and military, people who have had special snowmobile training.

This is intended to enrage you:

At the 11th hour of its deadline to do so, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration on Thursday asked a judge to allow it to withdraw from a federal consent decree aimed at implementing sweeping reforms in the New Orleans Police Department.

The request is based on three factors:

  1. The consent decree “failed to disclose costs to fix Orleans Parish Prison until after the NOPD consent decree was executed”.
  2. Former prosecutor Sal Perricone and the NOLA.com comments scandal.
  3. There are questions about whether the consent decree’s provisions regulating secondary employment for police officers are compliant with federal labor law.

Previously. I am still unable to find an execution date for Antoinette Frank.

Over the past several weeks, dozens of other sheriffs from across the country have reacted with similar public opposition to Mr. Obama’s call for stiffer gun laws, releasing a deluge of letters, position papers and statements laying out their arguments in stark terms. Their jurisdictions largely include rural areas, and stand in sharp contrast to those of urban police chiefs, who have historically supported tougher gun regulations.

“C’est un Nagra. C’est suisse, et tres, tres precis.” (I’m surprised that quote, or the English translation, isn’t on the IMDB page for “Diva”.)

Heh. Heh. Heh.

Nine current and former Philadelphia Traffic Court judges were charged with conspiracy and fraud Thursday, capping a three-year FBI probe into what authorities said was rampant ticket-fixing and pervasive corruption on the bench.

The judges are being accused of pretty much what you’d expect: taking bribes to fix tickets.

According to the indictment, [Fortunato] Perri [one of the indicted judges – DB] got free landscaping and a patio for assisting one unnamed contractor with “dozens of Traffic Court citations.” He also is accused of accepting free auto services, towing, and a load of shrimp and crab cakes from Alfano, whose company, Century Motors, ran a towing service.

You know, I like shrimp. I like crab cakes. I wouldn’t go to prison for them, though.

This is intended to enrage you. (#4 in a series)

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

What we do instead of doing something:

City of Austin and Travis County officials plan to take steps to ban gun shows on city- and county-owned property — and potentially even curtail them on private property within the city limits, the American-Statesman has learned.

Additionally, [Austin City Council member Mike] Martinez said the city will likely explore the possibility of enacting a law that would require a special permit — granted only by the City Council — for gun shows held on private property in Austin. Martinez said he will seek legal opinions on that idea. Eckhardt said she doesn’t think state law gives county governments such authority.

And:

“I can’t think of anything dumber,” [Texas Land Commissioner Jerry] Patterson, a supporter of gun rights, said of the proposals. “It’s absolutely not going to reduce gun violence.”

Time to make some phone calls Monday morning.

Edited to add: Giving this some more thought, Charles Harris of Storied Firearms (who is quoted in the article) deserves some praise. He could easily have thrown the gun shows under the bus. After all, that’d drive business to his place. But no.

…he sees the measure as “a feel-good thing. Politicians saying, ‘Look what we’re doing. We’re doing something to curb gun violence,’ when in reality, it doesn’t do anything to prevent crimes. Criminals can still get a gun on the streets anyway. I think there are other laws that can do a lot more good to get bad guys away from their guns.”

If you live in the greater Austin area, why not stop by Storied Firearms and pick up a little something? I visit there fairly regularly and find it to be a very nice shop. If you’re not in the Austin area, but support gun rights, there’s a contact form on their website that you could use to send a “thank you” to Mr. Harris.

Thugs. Pimps. Nazis. Ceridian Benefit Services.

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

My opinion is that Ceridian is not a “service,” it is a criminal enterprise run by thieves and engaged in systematic interstate mail and wire fraud. It is my opinion that Ceridian takes money from the recently unemployed, then, instead of passing the portion due onto the insurance company, takes that money and then fails to inform the insurance company.

Edited to add 8/26: Lawrence has pointed out to me that this is somewhat unfair. There are, more than likely, many pimps who are kind to their women, do not beat them unnecessarily, and in general do not deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Ceridian Benefit Services. So noted, and my apologies to the pimps.

This is intended to enrage you. (#3 in a series)

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

The Air Force dumped the incinerated partial remains of at least 274 American troops in a Virginia landfill, far more than the military had acknowledged, before halting the secretive practice three years ago, records show.