Baltimore Police Officers Hoping Criminal Defense Attorney’s can help

The death of Freddy Gray has now led to the indictment of 6 police officers involved in his arrest. The officers had a motions hearing on Wednesday and their defense attorney’s lead the charge on some interesting procedures of criminal law. Police officers are usually on the opposing side of the bench when helping prosecutors dig up evidence in a case. Police are also used to the seemingly unlimited resources and media attention provided from the State to help them prosecute crimes and overwhelm typically indigent criminal defendants. This time, the indicted officers are forced to rely on the people they usually work against, the criminal defense attorney’s.

Each of the officers will have a separate trial and each will be tried in Baltimore. At the last hearing, the defense argued that the jury pool in Baltimore had been tainted by prosecutor Marylin Mosby’s comments to the media. When talking to the media, Mosby did mention some facts about the case including the knife in Freddy Gray’s pocket as well categorizing the actions taken that day by the officers. The defense used her comments as an attempt to dismiss the trials altogether. The judge denied those motions. In Baltimore these officers are now subject to the justice system they used to work for. This is not an enviable situation to be in, but I can assure you they appreciate the protections that a criminal defense attorney can provide to counterbalance the power of the State.  The Police and Defense Attorneys are unusual friends, but as the saying goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the area of Criminal Defense. Call our Denver office today for a free consultation.

Cite: Lynh Bui and Ovetta Wiggins, Washington Post, 9/2/2015

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/protesters-media-return-to-baltimore-for-first-hearing-in-freddie-gray-case/2015/09/02/47199f72-5015-11e5-8c19-0b6825aa4a3a_story.html

Michigan man stopped for “making direct eye contact” with Dayton Officer

An African American man was pulled over on Aug. 15 for “making and holding direct eye contact” with a police office. The Ohio officer, who has yet to be identified, has agreed to sit down for a “conversation” about the incident. John Felton, the man who was pulled over, started filming the traffic stop immediately when the cop arrived at his window. During the video he exclaims in front of the officer that the officer had been trailing him for a while and was looking for a reason to pull John over. The official traffic stop was triggered when John failed to turn on his turn signal “100 ft. before turning”. John did have his signal on when he turned, but the officer claimed it was not turned on soon enough. At the end of the video the officer then recants, and admits that the reason he had pulled John over is because he had made “direct eye contact with [the officer] and held on to it…” Dayton police made a statement explaining their willingness to have a conversation with John about the incident and also included that “The traffic infraction was verified by the video; however making direct eye contact with an officer is not a basis for a traffic stop”. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the area of Criminal Defense. Call our Denver office today for a free consultation.

Cite: Jason Silverstein, New York Daily News, 8/31/2015

Link: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/pulls-black-man-ohio-direct-eye-contact-article-1.2343158

Video: Officer Indicted in Fatal Shooting of Drive

In what seems like a common occurrence, another black male was shot and killed by a police officer during a minor traffic stop. Samuel Dubose, the victim, was stopped by University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing for not having a front license plate. During the course of the stop, Mr. Dubose started the car. Tensing had his left hand in the car window and when the car started to roll, he reached for his gun and shot Mr. Dubose. Luckily, Officer Tensing was wearing a body camera and the entire incident was caught on tape. No law enforcement officer in Hamilton County had ever been indicted on murder charges while on duty. Officer Tensing will be the first. Incidents such as this have received more and more exposure in recent years. It begs the questions as to whether there has been a spike in these occurrences, or if they have just gone unreported. In any case, this is not the first, and will not be the last incident of an officer killing a man in what should have been a routine traffic stop. If you have been wrongly accused of a crime, our The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani may be able to help. Call us today for a free consultation. We specialize in the field of Criminal Defense and will work hard to represent your interests.

Cite: Richard Perez-Pena, The New York Times, July 29, 2015

 

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/30/us/university-of-cincinnati-officer-indicted-in-shooting-death-of-motorist.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=a-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=1

Federal Heights Officer Pleads guilty to Assault on Suspect

A former Federal Heights Police Department officer, Mark Magness, pleaded guilty to attempted assault in June after he assaulted a robbery suspect. Evidence captured while wearing a body camera shows the officer threw the suspect into a refrigerator and viciously punched him several times. The incident was reported by fellow officers, and the incident was luckily caught on tape via body camera. This was the second time this officer had been charged for using excessive force against a suspect. In 2009, he plead guilty to a reckless endangerment charge and was allowed to remain a Federal Heights police officer. Police chief Karl Wilmes was not chief in 2009 and does not know why Magness was not terminated back in 2009. Magness’ attorney said his client no longer works for law enforcement and that the firing of Magness will not be appealed. “I busted him up,” Magness said on the video. “I take full responsibility”. If you feel you are the victim of excessive force, call the Law Offices of Steven Pisani, LLC. We specialize in Criminal Defense. Call us today for a free consultation.

Cite: Noelle Phillips, The Denver Post, 6/30/2015

Link: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_28408151/fired-federal-heights-cop-pleads-guilty-assaulting-suspect

6 Baltimore Police Officers Charged in Freddie Gray Case

The US Prosecutors have charged the six officers involved with manslaughter and police misconduct among a slew of other charges in the death of Freddie Gray. Charges will not bring Freddie Gray’s life back, but it does at least tilt the scales of justice toward balance. The officers will be given a fair hearing, trial and a due process along with criminal defense counsel that they did not give to their victim; a victim who apparently should not have been arrested in the first place. Mr. Gray was arrested for possession of an illegal weapon but the knife he possessed was not a switchblade as claimed by officers and was not illegal.

Baltimore has just become, with US Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby’s courageous actions, a leader in seeking justice for not only for African-Americans, but for anyone who have suffered at the hands of indiscriminate police abuses.

Video: 76 year old Tasered over license tags

A 76-year-old in Texas was arrested and tased twice over an expired car inspection sticker by local law enforcement. Nathanial Robinson, a 23-year-old Victoria police officer, has been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation into his treatment of Pete Vasquez, which was captured on the police cruiser’s dashboard camera.

Last Thursday, Robinson stopped Vasquez after noticing the expired inspection sticker. Vasquez, who was returning the vehicle to an auto repair lot, exited the vehicle and pointed out the dealer tags to the police officer. The police department admitted that because the car displayed dealer tags, it was technically exempt from inspection. This should has dissipated reasonable suspicion that a criminal activity was afoot and the stop should have ended. That is not what happened though.

The Police footage shows Robinson suddenly grabbing the 76-year-old’s arm. When Vasquez pulls away, the officer can be seen pushing him against the hood of the car and then wrestling him to the ground. Robinson then used a Taser gun on the man twice. Though this took place outside of the dash cam’s frame, Robinson can clearly be seen pointing the weapon at Vasquez as he shouts for him to put his arms behind his back.

Excessive force complaints are making headlines everywhere across the country, but this is not a new phenomenon. I have personally witnessed overly aggressive and abusive police practices. While these unlawful and abusive practices are only committed by a small fraction of law enforcement officers, the overall culture permitting this behavior to continue remains.

When I witnessed Denver Police Officers use excessive force on a suspect on the 16th Street Mall, simply my statement to police “Is that necessary?” was met with threats against my own person from the officers, stating that I would then be arrested for obstruction and interference with police officers.

Dashcams and bodycams should be ubiquitous and they can serve as protections not only for the public but also for the officers. Many jurisdictions that have established a police camera precedent have seen a dramatic drop in not only the Use of Force reports by officers, but also a drop in the number of complaints and lawsuits against officers. W

Sources: https://news.vice.com/article/video-shows-texas-police-officer-using-taser-on-76-year-old-over-car-inspection-sticker

http://www.policefoundation.org/content/body-worn-cameras-police-use-force

Heightened Colorado Drunk Driving Enforcement

The Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado State Patrol, along with local police departments across the state, say they will be on heightened alert for drivers under the influence through Monday. Typically Halloween can be just as big as St. Patrick’s Day for DUI arrests in Colorado. Last year’s Halloween enforcement resulted in 427 DUI arrests. The most were reported in the Front Range, specifically Aurora, Denver and Colorado Springs.

Be careful this time of year and use a cab service if you are drinking. Cabs are not cheap, but a Colorado DUI can cost you upwards of $10,000 after court costs, fines, lawyer fees, increased insurance premiums etc.

If you have a Colorado DUI, contact Denver DUI Defense Lawyer Steven J. Pisani at 303.635.6768 for a free consultation.

Autopsy Shows Michael Brown Was Struck at Least 6 Times

Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed by a local police officer, was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, a preliminary private autopsy performed on Sunday found. Dr. Michael M. Baden, former coroner for New York, performed the autopsy at the family’s request. Dr. Baden has reported that 6 shots hit Mr. Brown, all from the front. Dr. Baden could not provide much more insight into the killing that has sparked protests and riots. The doctor was not given Mr. Brown’s clothing to examine for gun powder residue (which would indicate a close range shooting) nor has the doctor spoken to witnesses or reviewed police reports. 

This case has been ongoing for over a week and details are not forthcoming from the police. The public understands an investigation needs to take place, but this amount of time before basic details are released has bred further distrust and has caused more turmoil than necessary.

One solution to the problem of police shootings is to have officers wear body cameras. The cameras would document the situation as the officer perceives it and could help diffuse tense situations. If a video showed a suspect acting in an aggressive manner, officers would not be as open to criticism. The cameras would also capture those officers that have acted improperly. Ultimately, it is beneficial for society to have trust in their law enforcement and government. This is just one small step to that lofty end.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/18/us/michael-brown-autopsy-shows-he-was-shot-at-least-6-times.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=HpSum&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

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