News from
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

By BRIAN WITTE Associated Press

BALTIMORE — A former Baltimore police officer was indicted on assault charges Tuesday after being recorded repeatedly punching a man in a street confrontation three days earlier in a video that went viral.

Arthur Williams, who resigned a day after Saturday's confrontation, was charged with first- and second-degree assault, as well as misconduct in office, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said at a news conference.

Mosby declined to offer many details about the indictment, citing the ongoing case. But she said prosecutors considered a "great deal" of evidence beyond the video.

"I can tell you that we don't just consider what you all have viewed, the viral video," Mosby said. "We consider a great deal more evidence, which is what we were able to present before the grand jury."

Williams is accused of assaulting Dashawn McGrier, 26. Mosby said a warrant has been issued for Williams' arrest. She said the first-degree assault charge alleges Williams "intended to cause serious physical injury in the commission of the assault."

McGrier suffered a fractured jaw and fractured ribs, according to his attorney, Warren Brown.

The video begins with Williams standing in front of McGrier, who has his back to a wall. Williams can be seen shoving McGrier in the chest before throwing punches at him. McGrier tried to block punches, but he did not fight back. McGrier was pushed over some steps by Williams as he continued to throw punches. The video ends with Williams on top of McGrier.

Police suspended Williams the same day.

A second officer who was present Saturday has been assigned to administrative duties. Mosby said a preliminary assessment of evidence indicates "that in light of his responsibilities at the scene there are no criminal charges that are appropriate" for the second officer, who has not been identified by police.

Williams, who had been on the force for just over a year, and McGrier had previous run-ins on the streets of Baltimore. On June 26, McGrier was arrested after a struggle with Williams when McGrier allegedly grabbed a cigar with suspected marijuana from a woman Williams was about to issue a citation to and ran. The two had another encounter earlier in the year when McGrier had suggested to some youths that they talk to their parents about how Williams had treated them.

Baltimore entered a federal consent decree last year after federal investigators detailed longstanding patterns of unconstitutional policing, racial profiling and excessive force. Federal authorities began investigating city police after the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, who died after an injury suffered in police custody. In Baltimore's case, the agreement mandates changes in the most fundamental aspects of daily police work, including use of force, searches and arrests.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.
Author: Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.

I regularly watch for law enforcement news to guide my column topics. There is never a shortage of material, but this recent set of headlines provided a generous buffet of possibilities. I couldn’t choose the craziest reality, so I present them in no particular order. Maybe readers can rank them in the comment section.

1. Charlottesville demonstrators criticize police response

Chants of “Cops and Klan go hand in hand!" and “Why are you in riot gear? We don't see no riot here!" rang out at police officers wearing protective equipment as they monitored protests on the anniversary of the Charlottesville white nationalist gathering of one year ago. Two police officers died in a helicopter crash associated with policing last year’s event, and one person died after a car ploughed into a crowd.

Memories seem to be short among this year’s police critics after last year’s post-Charlotte headline: Police in Charlottesville criticized for slow response to violent demonstrations. Is it just me, or can some people never be pleased?

2. New Jersey officers suspended for doing “nothing” as man jumps, stomps on police car

Speaking of can’t win for losing, a rookie cop in Newark and his backup officer were suspended after a video showing a teenager jumping on the rookie’s patrol car while the officer stayed inside his vehicle went viral. The backup officer failed, in the boss’ judgment, to act quickly enough to subdue the vandal.

While I am reluctant to Monday morning quarterback a fellow chief, I still must agree with the safe approach the trapped rookie took to the situation. Is there anything more dangerous than being in an awkward position (as in unfolding from a patrol car’s driver’s seat) to be immediately confronted with a person on higher ground whose sole purpose might be to attack you at the first available moment? And don’t be fooled by that innocent sounding word “teenager.” This 18-year-old could be in Marine basic training instead of dancing on a police car, so let’s just call him a man.

As for the backup officer, we know that an arrest was accomplished, so that should have been a mark in the “win” column. The officers made decisions based on their training, discretion and the circumstances. I’ll grant they may have been wrong, but I’m not seeing it. They traded this headline for the one that could have been “Teen injured by police after minor vandalism complaint,” or “Boy knocked off patrol car by Taser-wielding cops.”

After headlines praising restraint and de-escalation, we now have this official complaint that not enough force was used fast enough. Oh, and by the way, do we scale our discipline by whether the video goes viral or not?

3. The Chicago Police Department is under fire for using “bait trucks”

A video surfaced showing department officers helping the Norfolk Southern Police in an operation that used "bait trucks" filled with goods left to attract potential thieves.

Speaking of viral videos, after yet another murderous week in Chicago, the police are being hammered by activists for proactively catching criminals. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office dropped charges on a deaf man after an activist showed a video of criminals breaking into the bait truck and being arrested.

While we don’t know exactly why the charges were dropped, it is reported that the burglar was just breaking in to find food. Perhaps it is the old ethical question of a poor man stealing bread to feed his family, even if the railroad police reported that the suspect "cut open the safety seal with box cutters, broke into the back of the trailer and only then did they find retail shoes in unmarked brown boxes, previously secured and hidden inside."

4. Ala. LEO charged with murder in OIS after being cleared by PD

Police officers are frequently criticized for abusing their discretion, but prosecutors seldom get the same scrutiny. In Huntsville, Alabama, an officer responded to a suicidal man with a gun who refused to drop the weapon and was shot. The officer’s chief made a courageous statement of support. “Officer Darby was called upon to make split second decisions in a nightmare scenario, the likes of which most people will never experience," McMurray said. "His training allowed him and his fellow officer to survive as he rushed bravely, without hesitation, into one of the most volatile and unpredictable situations a police officer is called upon to face.”

The District Attorney, however, was “gravely concerned,” and the deceased’s family’s attorney, not surprisingly, issued a statement saying how pleased the family was with the charges, adding that there was a “growing concern about the mistreatment of the mentally ill by law enforcement.”

How this case went from closed and cleared to a murder charge will be one to watch. Hopefully a jury will render a sensible verdict.

Your vote

These aren’t the most common-sense defying stories out there, but I have limited space – both in my column and in my head – to cover it all. I’m looking forward to the comments!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Author: Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.

By PoliceOne Staff

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security is offering a grant to prepare high school students for mass casualty events through training.

The Hill reported that the $1.8 million School-Age Trauma Training grant aims to train teens on how to “assist victims with traumatic injuries” in emergency situations before responders arrive.

The grant description says students would learn how to stop uncontrolled bleeding, which it cites as the “number one cause of preventable death from trauma,” by “using materials readily found at an incident or worn by the victim and citizen responders.”

The training will be funded by the grant over three years in three different phases. Grant awardees are also expected to continue training after funding runs out.

Applications are being accepted until Aug. 27.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Author: Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.

By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Prosecutors added another murder charge Monday against a California serial killing suspect, boosting the number of victims to 13 in the Golden State Killer case.

Former police officer Joseph DeAngelo, 72, was charged with first-degree murder in the 1975 killing of community college teacher Claude Snelling, who was shot while stopping the kidnapping of his 16-year-old daughter in Visalia, Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward said.

Police say they have physical evidence linking DeAngelo to the killing of Snelling but didn't elaborate.

"We have taken that first step in providing justice not only for the victim's family but for this community as a whole," Ward said.

DeAngelo was previously charged in 12 killings throughout the state in the 1970s and 1980s that authorities say were committed by one of the state's most elusive serial killers.

Detectives are also confident that DeAngelo is a burglar known as the Visalia Ransacker, who struck more than 100 homes in the 1970s, terrorizing the farming community about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Fresno, Visalia police Chief Jason Salazar said.

DeAngelo worked as a police officer in the nearby town of Exeter from 1973 to 1976.

Snelling's daughter, Elizabeth Hupp, said Monday she was in her bedroom when she awoke to see a masked gunman in 1975. The man threatened her before dragging her out of the house.

"That's when I heard my dad yell and . the man with a ski mask pushed me to the ground, turned and shot my dad twice as he was coming through the back door," Hupp told CBS News.

Even though she didn't see his face, Hupp said she believes DeAngelo killed her father.

"In my heart, I believe he's the one, and that my father was his first victim," she said.

DeAngelo is also suspected of committing roughly 50 rapes but he can't be tried on those crimes or the burglaries because the statute of limitations has expired.

His attorney, Diane Howard, didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment Monday.

Investigators linked DeAngelo to some of the killings by plugging DNA collected from a semen sample at one of the crime scenes into a genealogical website that they say showed a match to a distant relative of DeAngelo.

Authorities say they later collected DNA from a tissue left in trash outside DeAngelo's house to make the final match.

There is no DNA evidence in the killing of Snelling. After DeAngelo was arrested earlier this year, investigators said they were eyeing fingerprints and shoe tracks left by the Visalia Ransacker for a possible link to DeAngelo. They previously determined the gun used to kill Snelling was taken during one the thefts.

Shortly after Snelling was killed, DeAngelo moved and joined the Auburn Police Department outside Sacramento. He was fired from that police department in 1979 after he was caught shoplifting a hammer and dog repellent, authorities said.

Authorities finally arrested DeAngelo in April at his Citrus Heights home and said they believed he was the killer who had long proved elusive to authorities.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Author: Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.

By Associated Press

CHATSWORTH, Ga. — A Georgia police chief said an officer was justified in using a Taser to stun an 87-year-old woman after she didn't obey commands to drop a knife in her hand.

Martha Al-Bishara was charged with criminal trespass and obstructing an officer Friday, when police held her at gunpoint before bringing her to the ground with a jolt from the electrified prongs of a stun gun.

Relatives said Al-Bishara doesn't speak English and was merely out cutting dandelions with a kitchen knife near her home in Chatsworth, about 85 miles (136 kilometers) north of Atlanta.

"An 87-year-old woman with a knife still has the ability to hurt an officer," Chatsworth Police Chief Josh Etheridge told the Daily Citizen-News of Dalton.

"There was no anger, there was no malice in this," Etheridge said. "In my opinion, it was the lowest use of force we could have used to simply stop that threat at the time."

Etheridge responded along with two other officers Friday after an employee of a local Boys and Girls Club called 911 to report a woman with a knife was walking outside and would not leave.

"She's old so she can't get around too well, but," the employee said on the 911 recording. "Looks like she's walking around looking for something, like, vegetation to cut down or something. There's a bag, too."

When Al-Bishara didn't follow commands to drop her knife, Etheridge said, he tried to communicate with her by taking his own pocket knife and throwing it on the ground.

But Al-Bishara's relatives said the officers should have shown more patience.

"If three police officers couldn't handle an 87-year-old woman, you might want to reconsider hanging up your badge," said Solomon Douhne, the woman's great-nephew.

Family members said Al-Bishara's spent about two hours at the Murray County jail before being released Friday and that she still has trouble sleeping and is nervous about going outside.

"She is OK," said Martha Douhne, a great-granddaughter. "She is still repeating the incident over in her mind and telling us she didn't mean for this to happen and apologizing that she didn't want to bring this on us. She is having trouble sleeping and is stressed."

Etheridge said the police department is conducting an internal use-of-force review.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Author: Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.

By Associated Press

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Investigations are underway into assaults against three officers in Charlottesville during the weekend events marking the anniversary of a violent white nationalist rally, police said Monday.

Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney gave that update at a news conference Monday afternoon, joined by leaders from other agencies involved in the immense law enforcement response. The one-year anniversary saw worship services, vigils and protests that were largely peaceful but tense at times.

Eight arrests were made in Charlottesville over the weekend, including one person who was arrested twice, Brackney said.

Police previously said one officer was assaulted after approaching a man whose face was covered, and Brackney added Monday that two other officers were punched by a woman who was then pulled away by her friends. No suspects were in custody.

Law enforcement officials faced blistering criticism in the wake of last year's rally for what was widely received as an overly passive response to the violence that unfolded.

Fighting broke out in the streets between rally participants and counterprotesters. Authorities eventually forced the crowd to disperse, but chaos erupted again when a car barreled into a crowd of counterprotesters that day, killing a woman and injuring dozens of other people.

Officials at Monday's news conference defended the handling of this year's events, which many activists criticized as over-policing.

City spokesman Brian Wheeler said that in response to last year's events "it would have been irresponsible for this community not to have been prepared for a worst-case scenario."

Brackney said she couldn't give an exact number of personnel on the ground over the weekend, giving a ballpark figure of about 1,000. She also said she couldn't immediately provide the total cost of the operations.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Author: Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.

By Associated Press

BOSTON — Massachusetts State Police have temporarily relieved four troopers of duty in the ongoing scandal over overtime pay.

Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the state police, said Monday the decision is a result of the department's continued review of records and data indicative of whether members were "present and working overtime shifts for which they were paid."

There are scheduled internal hearings for the unidentified officers to determine their duty status will be during the investigation.

Internal affairs investigators with the Massachusetts State Police saw warning signs of the overtime pay scandal currently rocking the department years ago, yet the agency failed to act, according to a Boston Globe report published Monday.

Investigators in 2014 were looking for evidence that two troopers were secretly escorting funeral processions and taking cash under the table, but during that probe they found that troopers had routinely filed for more than 30 hours a week in overtime and paid details they either didn't work or didn't complete, according to internal files reviewed by the newspaper.

Those details never made it into the investigators' final report.

A state police audit earlier this year found that more than 20 troopers may have been paid overtime for shifts they did not work. More than 40 state troopers are now under investigation in connection to the overtime scandal and several are facing criminal charges as part of a wide-ranging federal investigation.

In addition, at least eight of the people flagged in the department's own internal inspections for extraordinary overtime since 2011 are now under investigation by prosecutors for suspected fraudulent overtime more recently.

A department spokesman said he was "unaware of any systemic response" to potential overtime discrepancies pinpointed in agency audits.

Gilpin, who took over command in November, said the agency has made several changes since, including requiring troopers to show up for a face-to-face roll call at some point in each eight-hour shift, better tracking of high earners, and activating GPS devices in police vehicles.

"We owe the public to be transparent and do whatever we can do to show people we are serious about earning back the public trust," Gilpin said. ___ Information from: The Boston Globe,

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Author: Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.

By Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. — Police in Bismarck, North Dakota, requested funding in the city's 2019 budget for equipment that includes AR-15 rifles for school resource officers.

Bismarck Public Schools and the Bismarck Police Department plan to share the cost of purchasing nearly $26,000 worth of AR-15s, gun safes, additional bulletproof vests and medical kits, the Bismarck Tribune reported . The district won't fund the acquisition of firearms and the rifles will be locked up in the schools, according to district officials.

Police and school officials began considering rifles for school resource officers after a gunman in February killed 17 people at a school in Parkland, Florida, said Lt. Jason Stugelmeyer, who oversees the department's Police Youth Bureau. The bureau includes six school resource officers.

The Bismarck officers currently carry handguns, which Stugelmeyer said won't help if they need to shoot from a distance.

"I fully believe that we have some solid preventative measures in place, and generally our schools are safe," he said. "But we have to do everything we can to be prepared for something if it did happen."

District leaders also agree the rifles would increase school safety.

"I think we have to take any kind of threat to our kids seriously," said district Interim Supt. Jim Haussler. "I don't think (the police department's) request would've been made without them believing that (the rifles) will provide them with the tools necessary."

The 2019 city budget has not yet been finalized. If the request is approved, Bismarck police will receive the funds in January. ___ Information from: Bismarck Tribune,

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Author: Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.

By Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. — A divided New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Monday that police videos of an arrest that led to criminal charges against an officer can be shielded from disclosure under public records laws.

The 4-3 ruling found that because there's no law mandating the recordings be made, they aren't subject to disclosure.

The case stemmed from an open records advocate's request for video of an arrest made in Barnegat, on the New Jersey shore, where the town's police chief had issued an order requiring officers to use the cameras on their car.

The recordings showed an incident in which police officers pursued and arrested a driver who had allegedly eluded an officer attempting a traffic stop. An officer used his police dog during the arrest, which ultimately led to criminal charges.

Those seeking release of the recording argued before the Supreme Court that since the chief had ordered the use of the cameras, the videos were required by law and couldn't be shielded from disclosure under an exemption for records relating to a specific investigation.

But the court ruled Monday that no state statute gave the chief's directive the force of law. If it did, they wrote, the exemption could hardly ever be applied.

"The exemption would be limited to criminal investigatory records that are not addressed in any order or instruction from a police chief to his or her officers," the majority wrote. "In short, the vast majority of criminal investigatory records would fall outside of the exemption for such records."

In a dissent, Justice Barry Albin wrote that under the majority's opinion, "the operations of our government will be less transparent and our citizenry less informed, which may lead to greater misunderstanding and more distrust between the public and the police."

Monday's ruling came about a year after the court ruled that dash camera video of fatal police shootings should be released.

Monday, August 13, 2018
Author: Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.

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