The Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts has ruled that a documented “pattern of racial profiling of black males in the city of Boston,” makes an instinctive reaction to flee reasonable. “We do not eliminate flight as a factor in the reasonable suspicion analysis whenever a black male is the subject of an investigatory stop. However, in such circumstances, flight is not necessarily probative of a suspect’s state of mind or consciousness of guilty,” the decision reads. The law goes a long way to protecting common-sense reactions but fails in its scope. Why is this only limited to black males? Surely, given recent events of police shootings and unlawful civil forfeiture, everyone has an instinctive reaction to flee. Earlier, this office wrote a blog about a woman who had plead guilty to Felony Possession of a Controlled Substance after a flawed roadside chemical test read that her Advil was Crack Cocaine. Surely she now has an instinctive miss-trust of police. How about the Police in Mesa County who used a S.W.A.T. team to raid the wrong house? Surely that family has reason to flee from the police. The decision is a step in the right direction but is flawed and inherently racist. All peoples should have this protection. Fleeing the cops should not be used to demonstrate guilt or for reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the field of Criminal Defense. We know that not all cops are out to protect society. If you have been wrongfully charged with an offense don’t hesitate to give our office a call.
Cite: Kenya Downs, PBS, 9/22/2016
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has written many dissents this year on cases involving the Criminal Justice system. Taken together, they appear to be a remarkable body of work from an increasingly skeptical student on the criminal justice system. The major dissent written was for the case Utah v. Streiff. In this case, a police officer stopped a man for no reason and arrested him on an outstanding warrant, finding illegal drugs in the search and arrest process. The Court ruled that the drugs found were admissible evidence in the case, but Sotomayor dissented. “What stops us,” she asked, “from becoming a police state and just having the police stand on the corner down here and stop every person, ask them for identification, put it through, and, if a warrant comes up, searching them?” In a town like Ferguson, where 80 percent of residents have minor traffic warrants, the potential for a de-facto police state has been created.
Cite: Adam Liptak, The New York Times, 4/4/2016
The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC specialize in the field of Criminal Defense and we work actively to promote Criminal Defense Reform. Call our Denver office today for a free consultation.
After an independent report issued in February showed the experience of dealing with Boulder police varied wildly by race, city officials will spend $165,000 to broaden the scope and find out how comfortable residents across demographics feel in Boulder. The study will focus on all types of residents (and non-residents). The homeless, undocumented immigrants, and even young people will be included in the study. A study like this is sorely need in many communities across the nation, including many in Denver. Police are paid by taxpayer money and should be subject to these kinds of studies, at a minimum. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the field of Criminal Defense and applaud Boulder’s initiative. If you have been charged with a crime don’t hesitate to call our Denver office today for a Free Consultation.
Cite: Boulder Daily Camera, The Denver Post, 6/19/2016
Three New York City Police Officers are charged with varying counts of Fraud, Bribery, and Conspiracy. During an investigation it was uncovered that these men received bribes and other lavish gifts including a trip on a private jet to Law Vegas for Super Bowl weekend in 2013, accompanied by a prostitute.
The praise that US Attorney Preet Bharara lavished on the NYPD for having “the courage to police itself” can’t mask the fact that Monday was one of the department’s darkest days since the 1970s.
The wide-ranging bribery and corruption indictments Bharara unveiled involve “some of the highest and most sensitive levels” of the NYPD, he said.
And the charges “tear at the very fabric of society” by making people “wonder whether those entrusted to protect and serve them are actually doing that.”
The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the field of Criminal Defense. We offer a free consultation and flat rate retainer fees. If you have been charged with a crime don’t hesitate to call our Denver office today.
Cite: William K. Rashbaum and Joseph Goldstein, The New York Times, 6/20/2016
Crossing the Street in New Jersey with your eyes glued to your smartphone could mean spending 15 days in jail, paying a $50 fine, or both. A “Distracted Walking” bill was introduced by state assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt. “Distracted pedestrians, like distracted drivers, present a potential danger to themselves and drivers on the road,” Lampitt said. The proposed measure would ban walking while texting and prohibit pedestrians on public roads from using their smartphones unless they’re hands-free. There are many questions raised as to how this law will be enforced. The bill gives a frightening amount of power to the police who would be able to stop you for looking at your cell phone. The proposed bill has an immense potential to be abused by law enforcement officers. Smartphone usage accounts for 78% of pedestrian injuries, most of which include fractures, concussions, and sprains. Lamitt said the bill was needed to penalize risky behavior. Is preventing a concussion worth clogging the Courts with absurdly vague and unnecessary criminal citations? If we criminalize smartphone usage while on a sidewalk, we might as well call this nation “Land of the cited, home of the fined.” While it is true that walking with your smartphone is a nuisance and can lead to injuries, criminal citation is not the answer. This bill gives power to law enforcement officials, has a potential to be abused, and is a huge expansion of government power. This is the nightmare small-government conservatives talk about when they want less government. The bill is ridiculous and should not be implemented as law. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the area of Criminal Defense. Call our Denver office today for a Free consultation.
Cite: Alfred NG, New York Daily News, 3/27/2018
New limits on police authority are nearing approval in the Colorado legislature. The bills were put forth last year attempted to ban police from using chokeholds on suspects but experienced fierce opposition from police groups and Republicans. This year’s bill has been edited and includes compromises to suit all parties. Last year’s bill prohibited officers from using a choke hold. This year’s bill narrows that definition to ban only chokeholds that cut off air flow, not those that cut off blood flow. Police say it’s an important distinction. Sen. John Cook, a Republican from Weld county said the chokehold ban has been amended to the point that “the only one that would do it is a bad cop.” Sen. Michael Johnston of Denver said the amended bill still addresses public concerns about chokeholds. “This is in response to come of the tragedies that have happened because of overuse of the chokehold,” and “puts guardrails around when this can be used.” While some ban on chokeholds is obviously necessary, it is scary that the bill needed to be so specifically amended. In the heat of the moment, will an officer be able to determine if the suspect in question can breathe? Will the bill prohibit a chokehold if the suspect explicit states they can’t breathe? The compromises are yet another example of police fighting tooth and nail against restrictions to their power. Body cameras, restrictions on their ability to shoot at moving cars, and now the right to use a chokehold are all topics the police have lobbied against. Is it really so difficult for police to do their jobs, under surveillance and without violence? Sure, in some cases police need to use violence to subdue a violent suspect but that is also why we equip them with a baton, Taser, pepper spray, and gun. Why do they still need the chokehold? The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the field of Criminal Defense. Call our Denver office today for a Free Consultation.
Cite: Kristin Wyatt, Associated Press, 3/29/2016
This month, Aurora gave its police officers the authority to shoot at a moving vehicle when it poses a danger to the officer or members of the public- a shift from previous police that comes when other departments, including Denver, have moved away from such practices. The actual language in the Aurora Police Department policy changed from “will not” to “should not.” The language also states that officers should not shoot at a moving vehicle unless someone in the vehicle is using threatening deadly force by means other than the vehicle itself. “It really changes nothing,” Police Division Chief Jim Puscian said. Aurora Police have said the law comes with strict scrutiny. That being said, the public has seen the inability of Police Departments to hold themselves accountable. What the change in policy did was gave Police Officers the right to shoot at a moving car. It seems very difficult for an officer outside of a moving vehicle to assess a deadly threat from within the vehicle, if the vehicle itself is taken out of the equation. Additionally shooting at moving vehicle is incredibly dangerous public policy. Expecting a Police Officer to make accurate, controlled shots at a moving vehicle is a very tall order. This reminds me of a story I covered last year of an active shooter outside of the Empire State Building in New York City. New York City Police Officers, some of the best trained in the country, fired multiple shots at an armed individual and missed the target several times and hit innocent bystanders. And this is the with the best trained force and a target on foot. Imagine the scene of officers trying to hit a moving vehicle. And that is nothing to say if the officer is lucky enough to hit his target, then what? You have a potentially incapacitated driver at the wheel? The policy is a move away from other police departments and is probably a move to reduce police liability.
The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the area of Criminal Defense. We offer Flat Rate Retainers and competitive pricing. Call our office today for a free consultation.
Cite: Carlos Illescas, The Denver Post, 3/8/2016
On a February night in 2011, an off-duty Houston police officer was seen coming out of a bar at closing time after drinking heavily. Jose Coronado Jr., had just taken a triple shot of Jameson and a beer on top of several drinks earlier that night. Coronado must have been heavily intoxicated. When he arrived in the parking lot he witnessed a fight. Coronado took out his gun and shot two of the fighters, killing one and severely wounding the other. Omar Ventura was deceased, his brother Ronaldo writhing in pain on the ground next to him. Coronado claimed Omar reached for his waistband, obviously implying fear that he had a gun. For what can be seen as a cold-blooded murder, Coronado was suspended 30 days for “acting in official capacity while drinking…” This was murder. Coronado was not in uniform and was severely intoxicated. He shot and killed a man. What gives an off-duty officer the right to kill a man without being punished? More importantly, how many times has an officer acted similarly without any repercussion? It is incidences like these that drive a wedge between the public, and the police hired to serve them. If there had been video evidence Coronado would have been either exonerated or proven guilty. Instead, the Ventura family will live without justice, and without they beloved brother Omar. The family has filed a lawsuit against the police department. This incident is one of many in the Houston police department. Mandatory body cameras will be a strong step forward for holding police accountable and repairing the bonds of trust between police and the community. Most officers are upstanding well intentioned individuals serving the public good. But not all cops are honest, upstanding individuals, and an officer good or bad wields enormous power. If you have been charged with a crime, stand up for your rights. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the area of Criminal Defense. Call our Denver office today for a Free Consultation.
Cite: Timothy Williams, The New York Times, February 23, 2016
I have often have I heard this phrase from prosecutors: “Sorry but the officer watched the video of a crime in commission but then accidentally deleted it.” This is exactly what happened in Chicago recently. The manager of a Burger King restaurant has spoken to a Grand Jury about his experience with police immediately after the shooting of Chicago teen Laquan McDonald. The Burger King where the manager was working had surveillance tape footage of Laquan minutes before the shooting that would have shed light on the incident. The Manager relayed his story that minutes after the fatal shooting, officers stormed the Burger King and demanded the access codes to the surveillance footage. There the officers stayed for 2 hours examining the monitor on which the footage was stored. When they left, 89 minutes, including the crucial minutes before the shooting, were mysteriously missing. Anita Alvarez of the Illinois state attorney’s office stated: “We have looked at those videos and… it doesn’t appear that it’s been tampered with.” Later, Michael Robbins, the attorney for McDonald’s family told reporters: “It is curious. If they got there and turned it on and found that there was no video, what were they looking at for two hours?” Robbins said that some bystanders who witnessed the incident were not interviewed by police, and on the contrary, were told to leave upon threat of arrest. On 12/1/2015, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has officially dismissed Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy citing lack of public trust in the police leadership. Laquan was shot 16 times in a Southwest Chicago side street last year. The story of Laquan McDonald raises questions about police misconduct. There is no evidence to prove that these officers deleted the Burger King video to cover their tracks. However, it is disturbing that once again video evidence was erased, accidentally or intentionally, by law enforcement officers whose duty it is to preserve such evidence. If you have been wrongfully accused of a crime or feel that evidence is being withheld in your case, you need a skilled attorney to represent your interests. Call the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani today for a free consultation.
Cite: Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune, 11/28/2015