Articles Tagged with police misconduct

A new law that is causing a buzz in the state of California is S.B. 443 (Forfeiture of Controlled Substances). The bipartisan law, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and David Hadley (R-Torrance) failed to pass the assembly floor back in September 2015, and was recently amended in the state senate on April 6. The proposed law would require a conviction of a crime regarding controlled substances in order for police to seize one’s money and assets on the grounds it was suspected drug money. It would also prohibit state agencies from transferring these seized funds over to a federal agency and receiving an equitable share of those funds. A Tulchin poll found that nearly 80% of California voters would support such a law.

Despite bipartisan support and nearly unanimous votes at every previous juncture, law enforcement departments had deployed a variety of lobbying efforts and scare tactics back in September to defeat the bill.

What is Civil Asset Forfeiture?

In the latest incident of controversies involving the San Diego Police Department and accusations of bias against minorities, several community leaders protested at the preliminary hearing of Robert Branch at the Hall of Justice Thursday, March 10. Back in May of 2015, 25 year old Robert Branch, a security guard at the time, was accused of assaulting a sheriff’s deputy Paul Ward after an apparent road-rage incident.  Ward is described as a “loose cannon,” by his colleagues.

During the incident in question, Ward allegedly swerved to block Branch’s car from passing on an El Cajon onramp, sending Branch’s car into the shoulder lane. Ward then followed Branch for nearly ten miles. When Branch exited near San Diego State University, Ward pulled over Branch’s car in an unmarked and unidentified police vehicle. He was not in uniform, so Ward began recording with his cell phone. That led to Ward trying to restrain Branch, and Branch was charged with resisting arrest. Branch subsequently filed a civil suit for illegal detention.

Protestors with the National Action Network has accused District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis of selective prosecution of minorities intended to further her political ambitions.  

Resisting Arrest in California

Under California Penal Code § 148(a)(1), one may not willfully resist, relay, or obstruct an enforcement officer or emergency personnel from doing their job/ performing his or her duties. This is a vague definition which often leads to false allegations. Oftentimes, a cop will charge you simply for being dismissive, uncooperative in their eyes, or rude.

A conviction of resisting arrest is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.

Legal Defenses

Similar to battery on a peace officer, physically resisting an unlawful search, arrest or detainment or defending yourself against excessive force is does not constitute resisting arrest. Likewise, reasonable self-defense against excessive force does not constitute assault or battery on a police officer. Another legal defense is that it was a false allegation. You will need to prove that you did not intend on obstruct a cop’s duties.

Because these type of cases often turn to ‘he said/she said’ against police, it is always recommended you record your encounters with police (you do not even have to tell them you are recording if you fear retribution) and gather witnesses. Continue reading

Last April, the U.S. Department of Justice opened up a civil rights investigation over the death of Freddie Gray while he was in the custody of the Baltimore police. His neck was somehow broken and spinal cord severed whilst in transport to the police station.

Now, the trial of one of the six officers who have been charged in the case, William Porter, has resulted in a ‘mistrial. Mr. Porter faced four charges:

Back in April, we discussed the beating of Francis Pusok as he was trying to escape from police on horseback in the Southern California desert. Now, the three California deputies from San Bernardino County, Nicholas Downey, Michael Phelps, and Charles Foster will face criminal charges in the beating of Pusok. Each were charged with one count of assault by a public officer, and all three deputies are scheduled to appear in court for arraignment on Sept. 8. If convicted, each deputy faces between 16 months to three years in prison. They all remain on paid administrative leave pending the outcome.

Pusok’s attorney James Terrell believes eight of the 10 deputies should have been charged (not just the three involved in the incident). The other seven deputies who responded are not being criminally charged because of what was said on the voice recorders that the deputies carry on their belts. The helicopter footage that caught the incident indicated that Pusok appeared to have been kicked 17 times, punched 37 times, and struck with batons four times, a review of the video showed, and 13 blows appeared to be to the head. Mr. Pusok did file a lawsuit in response to the beating and settled it with San Bernardino County for $650,000. There has also been an internal probe of 10 deputies, along with an FBI civil rights probe.

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