When you don’t know what to do, beat and kill.

I think I’m developing a reputation as the guy who doesn’t like it when the mentally ill or disabled get beaten.  At least it looks that way from the news stories my friends send over.  It might have something to do with my thoughts on that poor dude with downs syndrome who the police killed because he wouldn’t leave the movie theater.  Or the mentally disabled man that the police in Michigan made sing and dance like a chimp. Or the old man with the cane that the Park Forest cops killed. Or… you get the point.

I’m not going to re-hash everything I’ve already said about what is quickly becoming a cop-versus-the-weak epidemic.  I’ll just say, though, that the more we want our cops to act like the military, the less patience and more force they seem to be willing to exhibit towards the mentally ill. The police are trained to take control and exert their authority over any and every situation… not to wait for the man with downs syndrome, or the old man with the cane, or even the dog running loose to calm down.  Beat and kill first, it will all be justified in the end, right?

That’s why I say it’s an epidemic- there are too many cop-beats/batters/kills-disabled-man stories for me to deal with.  Sometimes I don’t even bother opening them because I find them so disturbing.  Tonight, after The Boss turned on Sale of the Century or whatever it is she’s into watching these days, I flipped back through some of the links people had sent.  I could use something to rile me up a bit.

I got as far as this video depicting the police “interaction” with Mario Crump.  Mr. Crump is a man who suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disordertwo things that, no doubt, can make him a very difficult man to deal with.  Mr. Crump’s family was, apparently, struggling to deal with his bad mood and called the police for help.  When they arrived, it looked like this: Continue reading “When you don’t know what to do, beat and kill.”

That Woodstock Cop Was Suspended for 30 Days and… Something Tells Me This One Isn’t Over.

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Update, December 5, 2013: The NW Herald ran an updated story today reporting that Amati has seemingly been demoted.  I’ve posted more about it here.

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Every once-in-a-while I read some crime related story and think to myself, “Hmmm… I’m not sure we’re getting the whole story.”  When I say, “every once-in-a-while” I mean it happens every single day, actually.

That’s not a gripe about media coverage, either.  Our friends in the press can only report on the trash they’re given.  The people “giving” them the information are typically the police or prosecutors office, as well.  There’s only so much detail you can report on when all of the information you have comes from an intentionally vague police report.

That’s not what happened with this story on the Woodstock Police Officer suspended for misusing the police database and asking for “sexy pics” from a 12 year old.  The story still left me wondering if there’s not a lot more to both the story and the reasoning behind the punishment, though.  As reported by the Northwest Herald in a story written by Kevin Craver (kcraver@shawmedia.com):

Woodstock cop gets 30-day suspension for texts, database misuse

WOODSTOCK –  The Woodstock Police Department’s spokesman has been suspended for 30 days after an investigation into inappropriate texts to his former girlfriend’s 12-year-old daughter also revealed misuse of a state law enforcement database to look up the girlfriend’s criminal record.
Sgt. Charles “Chip” Amati, a 24-year veteran of the force, was suspended without pay for 30 days by the city’s Board of Police and Fire Commissioners, Police Chief Robert Lowen said Wednesday. But he will not face any criminal charges for either texting the girl or misusing the Law Enforcement Agencies Data System to check her mother’s background…

Because of the nature of the request for the pics and the fact that, “[m]isusing the system in Illinois constitutes official misconduct, a Class 3 felony punishable by two to five years in prison” there has been a fair amount of outrage, to say the least.  Amati has not only not been charged with a crime, he’s only been suspended 30 days.

Here’s the part where, for me, it gets weird:

Lowen said he asked the Illinois State Police to investigate on Aug. 23 after the mother came forward with the texts. State police subsequently discovered that Lowen had used the LEADS system to run her background, and submitted its findings to McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi’s office. Attempts to contact the state police’s press offices in Chicago and Springfield were not successful Wednesday.

I’ve underlined the parts I find most interesting.  People are outraged at the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office for not filing charges.  The interesting part to me is that Bianchi’s office didn’t do the investigation.  The ISP did.  I don’t want to read too much into the article, either, but it might be significant if the thrust of their investigation focused more on Amati’s use of LEADS than the pics, as well.

I’ve noted before that there is, at times, no greater way to get intimidated than to be a witness to potential police abuse.  This is pure speculation on my part, but if the ISP conducted this investigation in the same manner I’ve seen them investigate other allegations of police abuse, it’s possible that the the findings they’ve turned over to Bianchi’s office on the “sexting” issue didn’t leave Bianchi’s office much to prosecute.  You can read into that what you’d like- I really have no idea what actually happened.

So, I’m going to venture a guess that there’s a lot more going on with this case than meets the eye. What, exactly, I have no idea.  It’s just pretty clear that it’s not going away any time soon.  It could get interesting.

Did the McHenry Police beat up a 17 year-old kid?

The recent past hasn’t exactly been kind to the McHenry City Police Department.  Some poor internal controls last year lead to evidence (drugs… possibly money, who knows) being stolen from their evidence lockup by one of their own.  It was bad enough that the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s office sent a letter to the defense bar notifying us that the poor control may have effected a number of drug cases.

The news today has nothing to do with that, but might be just as problematic.  The Northwest Herald reports that a 17 year old kid cited for underaged drinking alleged in a law suit that he was cuffed and beaten:

McHenry father says police unjustly beat 17-year-old

Published: Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 5:07 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 5:26 p.m. CDT
By STEPHEN Di BENEDETTO – sdibenedetto@shawmedia.com
McHENRY – A McHenry family is alleging that at least three McHenry County Sheriff officers grabbed their underage son by the hair and bashed his head against the pavement during an incident along River Road last weekend.
Police stopped the 17-year-old boy and his girlfriend while they were walking home along River Road in McHenry around 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 19, said Jerry Connor, a personal injury attorney at Albert R. Pino’s Law Offices who is representing the family.
An officer handcuffed the boy and cited him for underage drinking and then called for backup, Connor said. The officer and two others proceeded to beat the 140-pound boy, who suffered a detached retina and a concussion, he said.
The boy is currently receiving medical treatment and may be suffering from permanent brain damage, he said…

The article is accompanied by a picture of what appears to be some rather nasty damage to the kid’s eye and surrounding area.  Of course, if the kid has “permanent brain damage” (and I really, really hope he does not), the eye will be the least of his worries.

Allegations of abuse by the police happen all of the time. They are, typically, investigated by the Illinois State Police.  My experience with those investigations is that the I.S.P. rarely conclude somebody was wrongfully beaten.  I’ve also had numerous cases where the I.S.P. investigators will strongly suggest to witnesses of the police conduct that they or the person complaining of abuse could potentially face additional criminal charges for what they are telling the investigators.

Read into that what you will. The point is that for the number of allegations of police wrongdoing I’ve seen, law suits are rarely filed against the police. So, this will be an interesting one to keep an eye on.