Tag Archive: police murder

How Police Body Cameras Were Designed to Get Cops Off the Hook

bodycam1

From GIZMODO

In the wake of protests over police violence against black men, many civil rights activists are calling for a high-tech solution: strapping wearable body cameras to cops. The idea is to hold police accountable for unnecessary violence. But the history of police body cams reveals that the devices have often had the opposite effect.

On the afternoon of March 1st, a band of Los Angeles Police shot a homeless man. Video of the incident was captured by both a witness armed with a cell phone, and by body cameras strapped to the officers. Despite the evidence, what actually happened on Skid Row before police shot Charly Keunang remains a matter of dispute. How it went down depends on who you ask — and, more importantly, on whose video you’re watching.

The civilian shot video from a short distance away, and the footage shows officers circling Keunang before a physical struggle erupts. Keunang is thrown to the ground. Officers struggle to contain him. He’s resisting but subdued. He’s not going anywhere but he hasn’t been cuffed. Then after some yelling, three officers open fire. (more…)

Record 346 inmates die, dozens of guards fired in Florida prisons

Jerry Washington (left); Latandra Ellington (middle); Randall Jordan-Aparo (right). All died in prisons at the hands of guards in the most unjust ways imaginable.

Jerry Washington (left); Latandra Ellington (middle); Randall Jordan-Aparo (right). All died in prisons at the hands of guards in the most unjust ways imaginable.

From Daily Kos

The United States has a prison crisis of epic proportions. With just five percent of the world population, but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, the United States has, far and away, the highest incarceration rate, the largest number of prisoners, and the largest percentage of citizens with a criminal record of any country in the world.The highly respected Prison Policy Initiative breaks it down:

The U.S. incarcerates 716 people for every 100,000 residents, more than any other country. In fact, our rate of incarceration is more than five times higher than most of the countries in the world. Although our level of crime is comparable to those of other stable, internally secure, industrialized nations, the United States has an incarceration rate far higher than any other country.Nearly all of the countries with relatively high incarceration rates share the experience of recent large-scale internal conflict. But the United States, which has enjoyed a long history of political stability and hasn’t had a civil war in nearly a century and a half, tops the list.

If we compare the incarceration rates of individual U.S. states and territories with that of other nations, for example, we see that 36 states and the District of Columbia have incarceration rates higher than that of Cuba, which is the nation with the second highest incarceration rate in the world.

Now, what we are learning is that the United States is not just imprisoning people at an outrageous pace, but that men and women are dying in these prisons at all-time highs, often at the hands of guards, in the most awful and brutal ways imaginable. The state of Florida, it appears, is ground zero for the deaths of prisoners, and the crisis is so deeply corrupt and out of hand that it needs immediate national intervention.In 2014, Florida recorded at least 346 deaths inside of their prison system, an all-time high for the state in spite of the fact that its overall prison population has hovered around 100,000 people for the five previous years. Hundreds of these deaths from 2014 and from previous years are now under investigation by the DOJ because of the almost unimaginable role law enforcement officers are playing in them.

Below the fold I will highlight some of the most egregious stories.

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Prison worker dismissed for inmate’s death has new position

michael_kerr_webFrom The Indy

At least one North Carolina prison official who lost his job following the death of inmate Michael Anthony Kerr has a new position in the Department of Public Safety.

DPS spokeswoman Pam Walker confirmed this week that John Monguillot, the former assistant director of mental health in the prison system’s western region, received a demotion after Kerr’s death. He is now the psychological services coordinator at Marion Correctional Institution in western North Carolina, where he oversees mental health services at the facility.

As a result, Monguillot’s annual salary dropped from $93,786 to just under $80,000. Walker did not offer any additional comment on Monguillot’s demotion. (more…)

Prison captain fired over inmate death wants job back

kerrFrom WRAL

A corrections captain fired earlier this year after a mentally ill inmate died of thirst appeared in court this week to fight for his job.

Shawn Blackburn, formerly a captain at Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville, N.C., was dismissed for “grossly inefficient” job performance in April amid an investigation into the death of inmate Michael Anthony Kerr. Correction officials found Kerr dead in the back of a van March 12 after the inmate was transferred from Alexander to Central Prison in Raleigh. The state medical examiner later found Kerr died of dehydration.

The former captain is one of at least nine Alexander employees fired in the wake of Kerr’s death. At least two others resigned, and the N.C. Department of Public Safety says close to 30 people have been disciplined or demoted in some form. Like Blackburn, many are appealing their dismissals.

Although the hearing is a quasi-judicial process that takes place in a courtroom environment, it is not a trial. Rather, Blackburn was making the case he should not have been fired for Kerr’s death. Others investigating the matter for possible criminal conduct include a federal grand jury and the State Bureau of Investigation, which is overseen by the same administrative department as the prison system.

Corrections officials say Blackburn violated policy and demonstrated poor judgment when he left Kerr, who suffered from schizoaffective disorder, confined in handcuffs for five days in solitary confinement, where the inmate had been segregated for more than a month.

“Yes he was an inmate, but he was a human being,” Assistant Attorney General Tamika Henderson, arguing for the state, said. “It comes down to fact that while in control of the Department of Public Safety, a man died after being handcuffed for five days in a segregation cell sitting in his own urine and feces.” (more…)

NC inmate’s death shows need for prison review

kerrFrom News and Observer

When a convict goes to prison, he loses his freedom, but he does not lose his humanity. And he should not lose his life.

Michael Anthony Kerr lost all. The 53-year-old former Army sergeant who had a mental illness died March 12 while being transported from the Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville to Central Prison in Raleigh. He was being taken to Raleigh for medical treatment after spending his last five days in solitary confinement, handcuffed and lying unresponsive in his own waste.

Kerr’s sister, Brenda Liles, who had taken her concerns about her brother’s well-being to top prison officials, said, “They treated him like a dog.”

Now the state Department of Public Safety is treating the public like Kerr’s death is none of its business. The department gave minimal assistance to the medical examiner doing the autopsy, and Secretary of Public Safety Frank Perry has declined to discuss the facts of the case . (more…)

Mentally ill North Carolina inmate held in solitary confinement dies of thirst

michael_kerr_webMedical Examiner’s Office said Anthony Michael Kerr died of severe dehydration in March of this year

From The Guardian

A North Carolina inmate with mental illness who had been held in solitary confinement died of thirst, according to an autopsy report released Thursday.

Anthony Michael Kerr, 53, was found unresponsive in the back of a van on 12 March after being driven roughly three hours from Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville to a mental hospital at Central Prison in Raleigh.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety subsequently fired a captain and four nurses at Alexander. A nurse and a staff psychologist resigned.

At the time, Public Safety Secretary Frank L Perry pledged an “an aggressive, yet thorough internal investigation” into Kerr’s death. However, nearly nine months later the agency has not made public any results of that probe.

In the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office report, pathologist Dr Lauren Scott says a senior prison official allowed a “witnessed review” of an internal review into Kerr’s death, though the medical examiner’s office was not permitted to keep a copy. Scott wrote that the report left unanswered key details about the circumstances leading to Kerr’s death, including when the inmate last had access to food and water. (more…)

New Bail Fund Link for Ferguson Rebels

freguson-hands-up2From Anti State St. Louis

Over the last few hours thousands of dollars have been streaming in from all over the world to support those arrested over the last few days in Ferguson, Missouri. This support is incredible and breath-taking, and sadly our previous link is not set-up to handle this level of activity.

Please, please, please, circulate this new link and continue donating.
https://secure.piryx.com/donate/mS25KFCe/MORE/mikebrown

Original call for donations:
A bail and legal fund has been established to support the 43 or so people who have been arrested during the anti-police demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo. Please spread the word widely and help us get some money together to get these people out.

All funds collected will be used to support those arrested during the demonstrations–their bail money, fines, legal funds, or other related expenses. In the unlikely event that there are additional funds, they will be used to support people resisting police repression and police violence in the future. Thank you.

Bail and Legal Fund for Those Arrested During Ferguson Anti-Police Demos

ferguson-hands-in-the-air

From Anti State St. Louis

Over the last few hours thousands of dollars have been streaming in from all over the world to support those arrested over the last few days in Ferguson, Missouri. This support is incredible and breath-taking, and sadly our previous link is not set-up to handle this level of activity.

Please, please, please, circulate this new link and continue donating.
https://secure.piryx.com/donate/mS25KFCe/MORE/mikebrown

Original call for donations:
A bail and legal fund has been established to support the 43 or so people who have been arrested during the anti-police demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo. Please spread the word widely and help us get some money together to get these people out.

All funds collected will be used to support those arrested during the demonstrations–their bail money, fines, legal funds, or other related expenses. In the unlikely event that there are additional funds, they will be used to support people resisting police repression and police violence in the future. Thank you.

Hey, Step Back with the Riot Shaming

fergusonFrom Mask Magazine

As you may have heard, a young black man named Michael Brown from Ferguson, Missouri was shot many times and killed by a police officer on August 9 of this year. A bit of a caveat before my rant: I’m angry and it comes out a bit here. Sorry not sorry.

Processing my anger in the wake of Michael Brown’s murder.

On August 11, 1965, the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles exploded after a confrontation with police grew to a critical mass. The neighborhood SMOLDERED FOR SIX DAYS. Almost a thousand buildings were looted and burned to the ground. The unrest marked an important turn in the struggle against an overtly racist America. That was forty-nine years ago today.

Listen: police in this country attack poor people of color. IT’S HAPPENING. Like, it’s still happening. Every day. All across the country. It’s been happening. The story of America is an uninterrupted chapter book of brutality and horrific violence. Racist violence in America is a story with no interludes.

The narrative of “progress” steadily advances divorced from the reality on the streets. For all the online discourse about oppression, identity, and ‘shaming’, there is a disturbing lack of insight and nuance when it comes to riots, vandalism, and looting in the wake of these unsettling acts of violence against people of color. So I thought I’d put together my responses to the phenomenon of “riot shaming” – the policing of young black and brown bodies in the aftermath of police murder. (more…)