Years Of Good Service

It can be heart-breaking to see a man cry and prostrate himself before the court:

Sniffling back tears, William Ruscoe told Superior Court Judge Robert Devlin Friday he was sorry for his actions.

“Please show them (his children) the justice system their daddy worked to uphold for nearly 20 years is also fair and compassionate,” Ruscoe urged the judge.

Ruscoe was a cop.  Not just a cop, but the advisor to the Trumball Connecticut Police Department’s police explorer program, where high school students interested in becoming cops could be taken under wing and trained in the ways of blue.  One of those students was a teen-aged girl. Continue reading

PBA Boss Pat Lynch Runs Away From His Own

Crying that Mayor Bill de Blasio has “blood on his hands” may be the sort of wild rhetoric that plays with the public, with those who adore and appreciate the heroic cops who keep them safe from the mongrel hordes, but it turns out that cops are still cops.  Much as they may extoll their virtues for public consumption, what they really care about is . . .

The in-house battle erupted over the issue of what patrol officers really need — an apology from Mayor de Blasio or better equipment and more officers to back them up on the streets.

“This is what my members want!” a cop yelled near the end of the raucous meeting. “They want more cars, better vests, more manpower!”

This happened during a meeting of PBA delegates in Queens, where the real business of policing happens.  And for all the touchy-feely crap that’s been spewn for public consumption of late, the bottom line remains the same as it’s always been, the First Rule of Policing. Continue reading

Bobby Kinch’s Flaming Nutjob Hater Free Speech

Some guy on Facebook wrote some really sick stuff.

“Let’s just get this over!” Kinch wrote in one post. “Race war, Civil, Revolution? Bring it! I’m about as fed up as a man (American, Christian, White, Heterosexual) can get!”

“It’s obviously coming to a boiling point! I say ‘F*CK IT’!” Kinch stated in another angry post. “I’m ready now! Sooner or later, I would say sooner than later! Thought I could make a difference, thought it would get better! See the morale fabric of this Country get so trampled I wanna call it! GAME ON! I think we need a cleansing! Just me? What say you?”

Kinch happens to be Bobby Kinch, Las Vegas police detective and guy with a gun and shield, courtesy of the government.  His rants were so bizarre, so outrageous, that even his fellow cops couldn’t take it. Continue reading

The Kiss of Death At Navarro College (Update)

Brian Ferguson was a student at the Waxahatchie campus of Navarro College, a two-year school in Texas. This wouldn’t be anything particularly notable, but for the fact that Brian was autistic, and attended special needs classes.  It’s really pretty cool that Navarro offers such classes, and gives a student with autism the opportunity to make the most of himself.

Well, that’s done now, after Brian mistook a female student for someone he knew.

A Waxahachie man who has autism was kicked out of college classes because he mistakenly hugged a woman he did not know and kissed her on the top of her head, according to the man’s mother.

Brian Ferguson, 20, was attending special-needs classes at Navarro College’s Waxahachie campus when he thought he recognized a young woman in the hallway, said Ferguson’s mother, Staci Martin.

The woman, who has not been identified and could not be reached for comment, turned out to be a stranger.

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Carefully Followed Police Policy (Update)

World War II vet, John Wrana, was 95 years old.  There are two things that one can immediately surmise from this detail: first, that people that age do some inexplicable things, and second, that they are physically fragile.  When the people at the home called the police, they no doubt realized these two things.

When the cops came out of the elevator at the Victory Centre assisted living facility with a shotgun, it occurred to the former manager, Lanny Gibson, that he may have made a horrible mistake.

“I think we realized at that point that something bad was about to happen,” said Lanny Gibson, who had just started the job and said he didn’t know the protocols in Illinois for handling uncooperative residents who needed medical treatment.

See, Wrana wasn’t being cooperative when it came to helping himself. It was all about helping Wrana. So they killed him. Continue reading

Elie Mystal’s Easy Answers

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Talk To The Hand, Old Man

Over cocktails, Above The Law’s Elie Mystal explained why “the answer” to the failures of prosecution of two cops, one in Ferguson and one in Staten Island, was a special prosecutor. He had made the point in a post at ATL Redline, where he explained that a special prosecutor, and not body cams, was the solution.

The problem, he explains in earnest, is that cops and prosecutors are buddies, as they should be.

But that adversarial system breaks down when it comes to cop crime, because district attorneys and the police are friends. Note: generally speaking we want them to be friends. Prosecutors are part of law enforcement. We want prosecutors and the police to work hand-in-glove to not only catch criminals, but also bring them up on charges that stick and lead to appropriate punishment. If you don’t believe me, just watch an episode of Law and Order. Things are better when the team is pulling in the same direction.

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What A Maroon

It’s no M.I.T., but then again, the University of Chicago is no slouch either.  Yet, when it comes to a grasp of basic concepts, the rigor one expects of its students is apparently, well, lacking as reflected in this editorial in the student newspaper, The Chicago Maroon.

It addresses a report by the euphemistically-named Committee on Free Expression, whose mission was to “articulate the University’s ‘commitment to free, robust, and uninhibited debate and deliberation among all members of the community.'”  One might suggest that they don’t really need a committee for this purpose, but that would be naïve these days given the educational environment.

So this committee did its voodoo: Continue reading

Adding “Violence” To The Back-End (Update)

The image was of some Mad Max villain driving his auto of death toward a crowd of children at ramming speed.  But that wasn’t what they were really talking about, because that’s not what happens in New York City.  The drivers have no desire to kill or maim, but to get where they’re going like anyone else.

For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of driving a car or truck in Manhattan, it’s not like Kansas.  Cram enough people into a space too small to hold them all and something has to give. Add to it cabs going vertical to grab a fare, and boxes (the square where an avenue and street cross) jammed for three consecutive lights, and frustration abounds. Then there are bikes weaving between cars and people crossing wherever it works for them, and you’ve got chaos.

And sometimes, perhaps too often, cars hit something. Other cars, bikers and pedestrians.  Nobody means to have this happen. Sometimes, drivers aren’t as accommodating as they should be. New Yorkers can be rude that way, putting themselves first and expecting, forcing, the other guy into a game of chicken.

But when I saw this website, the one that made me think Mad Max at Madison Square Garden, it coalesced into the next dangerous conflation of law. Continue reading

Albuquerque Is Back, With Guns Blazing (Update)

If you don’t like where you are, at least you have one thing going for you: it’s not Albuquerque.  Unless, you live in Albuquerque, in which case you’re screwed.  Sure, they executed a homeless guy because, well, they could.  Sure, the DoJ found that the APD “engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment and Section 14141.”

But then there were five months, five whole months, where the Albuquerque police didn’t kill anyone. Not a single person! Problem solved, and ABQ was back on the list of great places not to get killed by cops, right?  Not so fast.

“Undercover narcotics work is probably some of the most dangerous work that we do in law enforcement,” Eden said on Saturday. “Due to the nature of those undercover operations it’s impractical for those narcotics officers, those narcotics detectives, to wear body armor. It’s very impractical for them to wear on-body cameras.”

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NY Mayor de Blasio: This Too Will Pass

The number this time was $17 million for three brothers who were wrongfully convicted because of NYPD Detective Lou Scarcella.

The settlements were reached with three defendants whose cases involved Louis Scarcella, the retired homicide detective whose investigative tactics have come under question and whose cases are being reviewed by the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.

The men, Robert Hill, Alvena Jennette and Darryl Austin, who are half brothers, spent a combined total of 60 years in prison — one died there — before their convictions, made in the 1980s, were vacated by a judge in May.

Back then, Scarcella was a player, closing cases like a boss.  Time changed all that, as it became apparent that Scarcella’s skill at obtaining confessions was based on his ability to make them up and lie about them. Continue reading

The Academic Indulgence

In an insightful post, followed by even more insightful comments, lawprof Eugene Mazo questions the efficacy of his dabbling in the practice of law by handling an appeal.

Most students think professors don’t practice law. I would guess, however, that many professors try to keep some hand in practice. They sometimes argue appeals, for example, serve as expert witnesses in cases in their areas of expertise, or work on various pro bono matters. And that, of course, does not include the important work that law school clinics do, which is all of the above and much, much more.

That he deems this “keep[ing] some hand in practice” is itself disturbing.  This ain’t exactly practicing law, Gene. But that aside, let’s get to the crux of the matter.

I was back in the saddle this week. On Thursday morning, I appeared in a California courtroom to argue an appeal. Continue reading

Half The Human Side Of Death

Maybe it should be noted more often that police are no more “pure evil” as some want to paint them than anyone else.  Sure, guys like ex-cop Glennon play that game, dehumanizing their enemy to enhance their own delusion, but it’s a lie for everyone, not just Glennon.

Just as a cop’s life has value, so too does the non-cop.  Just as the non-cop’s life has value, so too does the cop.  When the piece that we see is the cop shooting, it’s easy not to realize that the cop is a human being, and the flip-side of the shooter is the human being who just killed another one.  Even the shield can’t block the realization that the “thing” it just killed is another human being.

This video of Billings, Montana Police Officer Grant Morrison, after killing 38-year-old Richard Ramirez, shows the aftermath: Continue reading