Posts Tagged ‘Law Enforcement’
Okay, I know the title of this post seems to indicate that I am making a post about Police Corruption and Abuse; sorry to disappoint but this post is FOR the Police.
I am a staunch supporter of constitutional rights, just as much so as anyone else. I’d be the first to stand up and speak out when I see any type of Police Corruption and/or abuse. I think anyone that knows me, knows what I just wrote is true. But I do have a rant, and it is supportive of the Police; so please read on.
I am seeing a trend these days of people video taping the Police and confronting the Police over issues that they believe are unjust or just wrong. I am all for video taping, and as a Private Investigator I think I have a fairly firm grasp of privacy issues and what constitutes an expectation of privacy. Based on my knowledge as a Private Investigator I believe that video taping the Police in a public place is completely legal. However, I have a concern over the confrontations that I have seen occur in some of these video tapings, so let me address that one specific key issue.
I have seen a lot of citizen confrontations with the Police, and I have to say that rarely have I seen a discourteous, impolite and/or less than professional manner in which the Police Officer were communicating with the citizen he or she was having a confrontation with. As a matter of fact I have seen Police Officers tolerate more rudeness, belligerence, and down right verbal abuse than any citizen could be expected to tolerate. I have a real problem with this. Now, before I go much further I want to acknowledge and compliment the people that do remain courteous and respectful when confronting Police Officers, that is how you are supposed to communicate with another person and Police Officers are people too.
Who can fault a person for doing their job? Who can fault a public official for correctly doing what the citizens of their community pay them to do? While I will concede that the job of a Police Officer is often unpleasant, and is usually confrontational, and often enough ends up in someone going to jail, that does not seem like a reason to disrespect the people that work in the Public Safety profession across the board. These Police Officers are typically just responding to calls, and enforcing criminal procedure. I think that very, very rarely is that personal. I can’t for the life of me understand why people can’t treat the Police with the same respect in their communications that the Police seem to try hard to treat the citizens with. I know that some Police Officers can seem a bit abrasive at times, and that can be irritating; but there is a huge difference in being abrasive and being disrespectful.
Just because a citizen has taken it upon himself or herself to watch the Police does not give them any right to call the Police names and use foul and disrespectful language with the Police. I could not imagine a job where I had to look forward to being talked to in the worst possible way everyday I came into work. It is possible to be civil when a person is confronting a Police Officer, not only is it possible but it is far more effective and the Police Officer is far more likely to listen if one addresses them in a civil and polite manner. Personally speaking, I have never been addressed in a rude or belligerent manner by a Police Officer, as a matter of fact any time I have had a confrontation with a Police Officer he or she has never been less than professional with me.
My thoughts are this, let the Police do their jobs. If you think they are doing something wrong, video tape and document but remain courteous and cooperative. A citizen has many recourses available to them after the incident at hand is over with. If the Police Officer gives you an unlawful order or violates your rights, then document it, get an attorney and make them pay for it; but I see no need to communicate with the Police Officer in a less than civil manner. My observation has been that most Police Officers are just good people with a thankless job. I’ll acknowledge that there are some “bad Police Officers” out there; but one thing that may do everyone well to remember is that every Police Officer out there has the potential to be the one to save your life one day.
I don’t think it is asking too much to treat the Police with some civility and basic human respect when you are communicating with them.
Ricky B. Gurley.
Back in August of 2010 I did a series of articles on a young man named David Riley. You can reference these articles easy enough just by going to the tag cloud on the right hand side of the screen and clicking the name “David Riley” or just by clicking this link: David Riley. David Riley is a young man that went to a store one night to buy some beer, after he had already been drinking, he purchased his beer and he walked out to his car with his designated driver. On the way to his car he kicked a bottle across the parking lot, and drew the attention of what he would soon discover would be an undercover Police Officer. David Riley said some things to the Police Officer that were not very nice, and in return the Police Officer drew his firearm and proceeded to beat David Riley senseless, along with a few other Police Officers that responded to the undercover Police Officer’s calls for back up; all in full view of the store video camera. David Riley was then taken to the hospital where he was verbally humiliated by security staff and the Police. David Riley was then taken from the hospital to the jail after he received medical care, and charged with resisting arrest and some other “cover my ass charges” by the Police. David Riley then bonded out of jail, in horrible physical condition from the beating that he had just suffered. From there this incident basically ruined his life. He was coerced by a Prosecutor (actually I’d personally call it blackmailed by a Prosecutor) to plea to his charges and accept a conviction. He suffered some mental health issues, which in turn caused him to lose his auto dealership and his family. All and all, it was a fine years work of ruining a man’s life by the CPD and the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office; so that the CPD could keep it’s butt covered and looking like they’d never do anything improper.
When this incident first occurred, I got the call from the Defense Attorney the next day to start an investigation on this case. I knew where to start, at the scene of the incident. RMRI, Inc. wrote up a Notice To Preserve Documents and served it on the store that this incident took place at; and RMRI, Inc. actually received a copy of the video tape before the CPD did. RMRI, Inc. measured out the place where the incident occurred, how far the undercover Police Officer was from David Riley when the verbal exchange took place. RMRI, Inc. interviewed all of the store clerks that were working that night. RMRI, Inc. also requested any property that was taken from David Riley by the CPD the night of the arrest, on behalf of David Riley. Interesting enough the CPD returned a pocket knife that David Riley was carrying that night. Interesting because the CPD tried to claim that David Riley was trying to rob the undercover Police Officer; wouldn’t they have kept the knife as evidence if this had really occurred? As I conducted this investigation it became apparent to me that David Riley was a victim of Police Brutality. But let’s be fair and forthright here; David Riley was no angel. David Riley had some very serious criminal convictions in his background, be probably used alcohol a little too much. Sometimes he could be disagreeable and hard to deal with. But we should all understand that none of this precludes him from being a victim of Police Brutality. So, I took a special interest in this case. I have always felt very strongly about Police Abuse and Police Brutality issues. I don’t think that any citizen should have to suffer a beating at the hands of the Police, who are supposed to be protecting and serving the citizenry. Yes, there are times when the Police must get physical and quell a physical threat, but that is called self defense or defense of the public. So, in this particular case; I did all I could to make my community aware of what had happened to David Riley. I spoke at a City Council Meeting, I spoke at a Police Officer’s Review Board Meeting, I spoke to the media and I blogged about it.
Here is an article where the Columbia Tribune wrote about me trying to bring some awareness to this issue: Investigator Stirs Up Closed Case.
Well, I had some people that believed I was right and some people that thought I was using the media to get some attention for myself. I can understand how some people might feel that way, often times when a person is trying to bring some attention to an issue that they are involved in; it is hard to distinguish who they are trying to get attention for. I told the CPD spokeswoman at the time, that this case would wind up costing the city some money. The CPD spokeswoman responded as if the CPD did everything right, and there was no way that David Riley could ever be on solid ground to sue the CPD.
And there is a twist…….
In the last two weeks David Riley was offered a settlement of he received $55,000.00 by the City of Columbia, MO. to NOT go to Federal Court with his case, which he accepted. We don’t know what the amount of the actual settlement was, but you can bet it was more than $55,000.00, because that amount is what David Riley personally received, he also had to have money for his hospital bills, and of course his attorney had to get paid for his hard work. Here is the Columbia Tribune Article on the settlement: City Settles With Man Who Was Beaten During 2009 Arrest
All I can say is good for David Riley. I am glad that he got some money to try to get his life back on track with. I also hope that the City of Columbia, MO. realizes that the undercover Officer that beat David Riley that night and his cohort, just cost the City of Columbia a significant amount of money.
I also want to make something else clear. When this incident occurred, Chief Burton had only been Chief of the CPD for a few months. While technically speaking, Chief Burton was in charge, he was so new that he was having to rely on his staff to see how the CPD was structured, what the policies were at the CPD, what their strengths and weaknesses were, and just to get a feel for how the CPD functioned overall. We don’t see these incidents in Columbia, MO. anymore. Chief Ken Burton has made tremendous strides to try to prevent these types of incidents from occurring. Chief Burton has terminated the employment of Officers that have behaved this way in the past, at great personal sacrifice to himself. We now have a wonderful Chief of Police at the CPD that cares about the citizenry here in Columbia, MO., and is tough enough to make the hard decisions in his job. Chief Burton has bought these types incidents way down. And, I think it is fair that we don’t put the responsibility of this on him ; he was not at the CPD long enough when this incident occurred to really implement any change that would have prevented this.
For the past two days I have been in court in Boone County, MO. Tonight on 04/10/2012 I got out of court around 10:30 PM. I was there with one of my Technical Consultants on a very interesting case. I want to discuss this case a little here on this blog.
First of all; before I post about this case I think that there are some really outstanding people who need to be acknowledged. The Boone County Sheriff’s Department’s Cyber Crimes Task Force deserves a lot of recognition. My company has worked cases involving several Internet Crimes Units in Law Enforcement; and this team is by far the very best in the state of Missouri. Andy Anderson, Scott Richardson, Mark Sullivan, and Tracy Perkins are simply phenomenal Investigators that are highly skilled, well-organized, and impressively knowledgeable about their work. These Detectives are an example of what Law Enforcement should be. These Detectives make sacrifices that most people could not begin to comprehend, everyday! They see things that are beyond heart breaking, and somehow manage to keep their humanity and integrity intact; indeed they are very special people. They are incredible people who we should all be grateful to. These wonderful people are keeping our children safe in Boone County and the surrounding areas, and doing a most impressive job of it! They are honest, decent people that I am proud to have working as Law Enforcement in the county that I live in. We owe them a tremendous debt!
When I post about the types of cases that RMRI, Inc. often finds itself working, I have a policy that I never mention the name of the defendant on my blog. So, here in this blog entry we will simply call the person that was charged in this case “The Defendant”.
In the case that I am posting about tonight a person was charged with Possession of Child Pornography and Promoting Child Pornography, two very serious felonies that have a potential of sending the defendant to prison for thirty years if convicted of these two crimes. This person was a young college student when they were charged with these offenses. A college student doing what most college students did back when Limewire was a functioning piece of software. This person was downloading music and videos, and was curious about what they could get from Limewire. As you can imagine, as a college student this person’s curiosity was vast and even extended into wanting to view some adult content material. In the process of downloading files from Limewire this person also downloaded three files that can only be termed as “illegal content”. These three files are what constituted the charges that were filed against this person.
When the defendant in this case had their computer seized and had a computer forensics examination performed on their computer, there were literally hundreds for music and video files on the computer and three clearly identifiable illegal files on their computer. Due to these findings, the defendant was charged with Possession of Child Pornography for having the files on their computer and Promotion of Child Pornography for having these files in a shared folder on their computer.
Now there is no doubt that the defendant downloaded these files, there is no doubt that the defendant possessed these files, there is no doubt that these files resided on the defendant’s computer in a shared folder. These facts were well established by the The Boone County Sheriff’s Department’s Cyber Crimes Task Force . And I will say this, if that were all that it would take to be guilty of these crimes, then the defendant would be guilty. However, these cases are far more complex than this. In almost every crime there is an element of intent, except in a few crimes which are called “Strict Liability Crimes”. In these intent based crimes the Prosecution has to show that the Defendant knowingly intended to commit the crime. In this case that means the Prosecution has to prove that the Defendant intended to download thee files for the purpose of deriving some sort of sexual satisfaction by viewing these files.
In this case Tracy Perkins and Scott Richardson gave testimony as to their factual findings in this case. Both of these Detectives should be commended for giving honest, factual testimony with no embellishment whatsoever. I have come to expect that high level of integrity and honesty from the Detectives at The Boone County Sheriff’s Department’s Cyber Crimes Task Force .
Attorneys George Batek and Kathryn Benson questioned these Detectives on cross-examination thoroughly and these Detectives just relayed the facts of their case honestly and with no embellishment. George Batek and Kathryn Benson are two SUPER Attorneys too, they did not miss a beat in this case. George and Kathryn are simply two of the hardest working attorneys that I have ever met!
George Batek and Kathryn Benson contracted with RMRI, Inc. to aid them on the technical aspects of this case about forty-five days ago. I chose to bring Steve Turner in on this case due to his extremely extensive knowledge of computers, the Internet, and working with people from novice computer users to advanced computer users in instructing them on how to properly use their computers and maintain their computers for over twenty years. Steve Turner was able to quickly develop a profile on the level of sophistication that the defendant possessed with regard to computers and the Internet-based on how the defendant used their computer. Steve Turner was able to demonstrate that the defendant was only a novice computer user and easily made some mistakes on setting their computer up and maintaining the software on their computer. Steve Turner gave Expert Witness testimony on exactly how the defendant managed to get the three files in question, and how it was entirely possible that the defendant mistakenly downloaded these files due to making some mistakes that only a novice computer user would make. Steve Turner is simply a phenomenal person with an impressive amount of experience and knowledge when it comes to working with computers, servers, the Internet, mobile devices, and telecommunications devices.
It is first necessary to say that The Boone County Sheriff’s Department’s Cyber Crimes Task Force did nothing wrong or incorrect. Their methodologies are sound, they are thorough, and they have a very impressive knowledge of Digital Forensics and Digital Evidence issues. Their work was never at anytime in question. The question simply came down to this: Was a Jury ready to send a young adult to prison for a long time and negatively impact their life for a long time over what may have very well been a simple mistake made by a novice computer user? And this Jury had the humanity and the wisdom to refuse to do so and to return a verdict of Not Guilty on both charges.
I have to admit that when the verdict was read I made a “whooping sound” that I felt quickly ashamed of afterwards, but this was because I really had some reservations about the wisdom of the Prosecution in charging this young person with these very serious crimes over what even looks like on its face to be a completely unintentional. I know that the Prosecutor was doing her job. And I am grateful that she too is a very tough lady with zero tolerance for these types of crimes. I have just never been sure in this case if it was wise to charge a young person with such terrible crimes. I mean, I have a hard time understanding the benefit to society in negatively impacting someone’s life with these types of charges for over what even on its face looks to be an honest mistake. But, I will concede that this Prosecutor is smarter than I am about these matters, and she has a level of understanding about the law that far exceeds my understanding of the law.
Despite my reservations about this young person being charged with these crimes; I was happy to be a part of this case. I was surrounded by really good and decent people on this case; two SUPER Defense Attorneys, four WONDERFUL Detectives that are just consummate Professionals at what they do, one of my Technical Consultants that I have become so proud to call a friend, a colleague, and a work associate, and a really nice, family that bound together with love for one another and showed that through their support of their family member, the defendant! In my mind, this was not a “win or lose case”; this was a case that restores one’s faith in people, in Law Enforcement, in the Family Unit and there is simply no better feeling than that!