Friday, September 4, 2009


The blogospher, or at least the blawgy part of it I've been following, is overflowing with outrageous tales of police misconduct, so I thought we'd take a dip into what's been happening across the country, and be grateful that, bad as things are wherever we are, they're bad elsewhere, too.

Jericho, Arkansas

Scott's the one who brought this tale to my attention (though only because I got to him today before I got to Turley).

In Jericho (where we can hope the walls might come tumbling down now, but don't hold your breath), there was this little courtroom kerfluffle. Here's how the AP story begins:
It was just too much, having to return to court twice on the same day to contest yet another traffic ticket, and Fire Chief Don Payne didn't hesitate to tell the judge what he thought of the police and their speed traps.
The response from cops? They shot him. Right there in court.
And in the back, by the way.

Jericho looks like an interesting kind of town. 174 residents, 7 cops (all of whom were in court for the shooting). They've had one police car and one fire truck repossessed for failure to make payments.

Judge Alexander, in whose courtroom (I assume there's only one judge, but with all those cops, you might wonder), responded by voiding all tickets issued by the Jericho cops - including those they wrote outside their jurisdiction, where they had no authority to write any.

Chief Payne, we can assume, will sue the bejesus out of Jericho, but a city that can't make the payments on the cop cars or the fire engines might not have the deep pockets to pay the damages. We'll see.

In any event, the Chief was taken to the hospital where he "remains in good condition."

Lawrenceburg, Indiana

When the cops get you in Jericho, you want to go to the hospital. But when they get you in Lawrenceburg, that's the last place you want to go. At least, if you're sober.

This time, Turley gets all the credit for finding this news on the website of WBPF-TV.

Seems that back in March, Jamie Lockard was arrested on suspicion of a DUI. Officer Brian Miller gave him a breathalyzer and don't you know, Jamie passed. Now, you might think that when they take you to the station and give you the test and you pass, you get to go home. You, of course, do not frequent Lawrenceburg.

Good officer that he is, Brian knew that breathalyzers can be unreliable (try telling that to the judge when it says you're over the limit), and Jamie was damn well drunk. So Brian took Jamie to the hospital where he was shackled to a gurney and subjected to a forced blood draw. And then, naturally, they inserted a catheter and took some urine. And damned if it didn't turn out that: He was sober.

So they charged him with obstruction of justice. I'm a little fuzzy about just what justice he obstructed, unless it's that he kept Officer Brian off the street for a long time.

Jamie is suing. Perhaps Lawrenceburg has more money in its coffers than Jericho does. Jamie can hope.

Toccoa, Georgia

Finally, there's this, from Radley Balko by way of Scott.

Jonathan Ayers, that's the late Jonathan Ayers, was pastor of Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Lavonia, Ga. He was doing his ministering, talking to a woman charged with possessing and distributing cocaine. He dropped her off in Toccoa, then went to a Shell station. He parked, went to the ATM in the convenience store, then returned to his car as a couple of undercover cops from the local drug task force pulled out of a black Escalade, guns drawn, ran up to the car, and then shot him to death when he didn't stop for them.

The woman was the target of the undercover cops. They just wanted to talk with Ayers because he was dropping her off. They never did get to ask their questions.

Is there a moral to this? Don't try to be a decent man? Don't comfort the afflicted? Don't ever fail to cooperate fully with armed men running at you with guns drawn? Or maybe, it's this: If you're a cop and just want to question a possible witness who hasn't done anything wrong, the best approach may not be threatening, and then taking, the witness's life.

On his blog, Pastor Ayers wrote, “I have three loves in my life: Jesus Christ, my wife Abby, and the Church." He and his wife were expecting their first child.

You can watch the surveillance video showing the whole thing (albeit without perfect detail) here, and read the details here.

The thing that's frightening about these stories is that they're nothing special. Just the ordinary workings of small town cops. Stories gathered over just a couple of days.

I don't think most cops are as vicious and incompetent and maybe corrupt as these folks in Jericho, Lawrenceburg, and Toccoa. Police have a tough, too often thankless job, under often horrible conditions. But we give them enormous power and then blink when they abuse it. Too much power, too little accountablility. And it's not just small towns.

Take this story from Cincinnati, where Officer Robert Kidd was fired six years ago for raping a drunk woman her drove home, then rehired, and now fired and rehired again for sending a woman a photo of his penis accompanied by the words, "Do u like?" He sent it while on duty. She was not amused (though perhaps the arbitrator who ordered his reinstatement, with back pay, was).

As Scott explained, you think someone's keeping an eye on these guys. You're wrong.

1 comment:

  1. If you look at the blawgosphere as a whole, you come to realize over time that there is a wonderful synergy at work between a variety of blawgs, from Turley to Balko to blawgs like mine and yours. Some fill the role of interesting news aggregator, while others are the op-editors, providing more discussion than mere mention. I prefer to let the other guys sift the wheat from the chafe, and then riff off their efforts.

    So rather than compete, we compliment each other, use each other, and provide far more by adding our virtues together than any one blawg could by itself. Of course, my contribution is far more valuable than the others, but I would never throw that in their faces.