Ice Man Cometh: San Bernadino Police Accused of Beating Suspect and Then Keeping Him “On Ice” Without Booking, Charges, or Access to Counsel

San Bernadino police are under criticism today after the release of this video from a cellphone appears to show officers beating a suspect with a baton without cause. The man, Darren Johnson, 43, is a barber shop owner who was allegedly held without charge for two days and was never booked in the jail system. He says that he was also denied a telephone call to counsel. The department has been previously sued for keeping suspects “on ice” but holding them without booking or access to counsel.

An officer appears to strike Johnson while another officer holds him. Johnson was on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle when he stopped at a 7-11 convenience store. Police say that he was stopped for running a stop sign and a traffic signal.

They also say that he was in possession of cocaine.

WebsiteMainPDStarThe failure to book or charge Johnson magnify the problems on this video. Even if he assaulted an officer, the level of force appears excessive and the denial of constitutional rights are likely to trigger a civil lawsuit. Given the prior “ice” cases, the department hardly needs additional litigation over these practices.

For the story, click here.

30 thoughts on “Ice Man Cometh: San Bernadino Police Accused of Beating Suspect and Then Keeping Him “On Ice” Without Booking, Charges, or Access to Counsel”

  1. “Mike S, OMG, labor history from a sympathetic party, it just makes this old Wobbly’s heart flutter…”

    In the late 60’s and halfway through the 70’s I was an activist in arguably the most radical Civil Service Labor Union in the country. I even ran for President at one point. Sadly, I watched as the Union was taken over by political hacks, who kept up a stream of constitutional reform that took the power away from the members and perpetuated their own careers. So I’m a labor guy all the way, but have suspicions of many who purport to be labor leaders.

    You Fraser history was great, it reminded me of that milquetoast bastard, who also liked to play golf with the executives of the Car Company’s.

    You are really on a rollthis week. Blouise comment and your reply re: the whole “protect the children” meme was also quite on point. I just want to sit back, read, enjoy and learn.

  2. Blouise,

    I agree with you point and I think it points up one of the most disgraceful tendencies of our politicians. The argument that we must do it for the children is trotted out every time an otherwise unreasonable or illogical program or policy comes up. It strikes at the most basic, overwhelming emotional concern most people have. The contemplation of having your child or children’s lives degraded or ended, weather in a school shooting or a foolish war is simply to painful to dwell on for long.

    When people have the most fundamental compacts with their government at the most small and tangible increment- sending you kids to school- becomes a betrayal of a parents trust and a gamble with their children’s safety they will over react to correct it. That our politicians lean on that tendency relentlessly is a disgrace IMO, it makes bad public policy in the long term and torments people with generally unnecessary concerns in the meantime.

  3. “lottakatz

    IMO. It’s all about class, always has been and still is, the class boundries have changed but nothing else has.”

    Lottakatz offered a very well reasoned and clear argument. I would like to add a thought for consideration. Police chiefs in many small towns are deeply concerned about the effect all of the points raised by lottakatz have on their departments, but there is one other factor in most all small towns across America that has created a voluntary yet unhealthy “giving up” of authority by the citizens to the police. That factor is school violence best and simply characterized by one word … “Columbine”. Take all of the dynamics mentioned by lottakatz, add the fear of school shootings and dead children to the mix, and then fold in scared citizens demanding that the police do whatever it takes to keep the children safe. What that combination has created is what many small town, very apprehensive, police chiefs call an unhealthy police state school of thought that can easily lead to many kinds of abuses.

    Lottakatz offered a bigger vision argument that was accurate and to the point. I have gone to a more specific and smaller example but both, in my opinion, have the emotion of fear as their main motivator and how society uses police to quell that fear. It would seem to me that what is created out of fear will always have the potential to be abusive which is why we must constantly be watchdogging it.

  4. Mike S, OMG, labor history from a sympathetic party, it just makes this old Wobbly’s heart flutter… 🙂

    Your right, as usual. George Meany started the great decline by sell-out but for me Douglas Fraser ordered the coffin built if one is kind enough to not say he personally hammered the nails. Fraser was the UAW President in 1979 when Chrysler started to tank and the UAW was the union. It was also THE union, other unions took their cues from them. (The Teamsters were THE other union but Hoffa had wedded them so closely with organized crime that they were the ‘bad union’. I have my thoughts about that but I won’t digress here.)

    I followed the Chrysler bailout closely and recall clearly that one of the early options to save Chrysler was to sell a big chunk of the company to the UAW or directly to the employees and have a management structure that was integrated between employees and hired management.

    The amount of money needed was monumental for the time and the government was going to have to underwrite the solution no matter who got the money. A gamble on the success of a failing company is a gamble under the best of circumstance so as a plan employee ownership was as good as any idea being considered during the early planning for what became the first Chrysler bailout.

    It would have been a grand experiment and the employees were willing. The employee-owned option was shot down swiftly and brutally by both the government and business interests and the word Socialism was used then as it is being used now. The business ignorance of mere employees was also a public factor in the debate; the sheer insult of that argument seeming lost to the point of it being made publicly. It would have been a Socialist move but so what?

    The owners and management needed the workers though so the final plan was deferred wage increases tied to increased productivity and company success, the contract provisions regarding wages, various other wage benefits including overtime (as I recall) were given back or severely modified and Douglas Fraser, Douglas freaking Fraser, was given a token and completely ineffective position on the Board of Directors.

    That was the big, groundbreaking change for labor coming out of the deal. Not only did the UAW become part of the management (in name only!) but bought into trading all of the power of class based opposition for a safe, token seat behind enemy lines. I could figure that out for myself as it unfolded and Douglas Fraser couldn’t? I recall exactly where I was when I heard the final details of the Chrysler deal and I knew then that ‘Big Labor’, as an economic and social force, had peaked and was on the downhill side of the slope. It was a black day.

  5. “I have always believed that the great unifier could be a tight labor sector and unions and this,IMO, is the threat that is present with the “card-check” method of organizing and why it is met with such hostility. Keeping the labor market loose and fragmented suppresses the rage and willingness to join together
    against a decade of flat wages for everyone in all fields.”

    You strike again I totally agree. We can almost trace labor’s decline to the ascendency of George Meany at the AFL-CIO. He began playing golf with Eisenhower and the corporate leaders and got sucked into the political system, while eliminating the more radical elements. By the time of nixon he was one of the “silent majority,” only more powerful. When labor became mainstream it was co-opted and then destroyed. We need a return to a powerful, radical labor movement to galvanize others around it. Put thes two comments together and you’ve got an excellant and succinctly comprehensive essay on the subject. It certainly teaches and galvanizes my thought processes.

    “There were several syntax/puncuation errors I see now in the light of day but you got the gist of what I was trying to say.’

    Also, can this crap, you write beautifully and with clarity. As for syntax and grammar I am quite weak in both, but cover it with a large vocabulary that makes people think I write well.
    Truth is while they were teaching grammar in “grammar” school, I was out to lunch.

  6. Mike S, wow, thanks. There were several syntax/puncuation errors I see now in the light of day but you got the gist of what I was trying to say. I’ve always enjoyed your writing so I am greatly complimented.

    As a brief follow-up:

    There have been attempts to unify the dispirit elements of the not-wealth class by appealing to a common denominator but they have so far failed. I was an early Nader supporter because he was attempting to unify the middle, working, and working poor classes into a ‘Consumer Party’ but that never took off. Kusinich today is still trying to unite people behind a ‘Labor and Anti-War Party’ but that has not been successful. Lack of jobs, a globalized economy and relentless fearmongering for 8 years has been the death of that.

    I have always believed that the great unifier could be a tight labor sector and unions and this,IMO, is the threat that is present with the “card-check” method of organizing and why it is met with such hostility. Keeping the labor market loose and fragmented suppresses the rage and willingness to join together against a decade of flat wages for everyone in all fields. I’m sure that aspect of globalizing our economy was not lost on the ownership class and their political henchmen as our jobs base and middle-class was dismantled.

    Health care reform could have galvanized and unified the population if it had been rolled out properly. There’s no difference between a white, middle aged mid-level manager in Georgia who is kicked out of his insurance plan when he gets sick and a minimum wage Hispanic hotel maid in Butte who can’t afford to buy the meds she has prescriptions for. Somehow, amazingly, that point wasn’t brought home and the rage that the both of them must feel wasn’t channeled to make them see beyond their artificial differences.

    Heck, a 30% reduction in my insurance premiums with a unrestricted Government Option (or a lack of premiums entirely and a reasonable raise in my Medicare taxes in a Single Payer system) would sure leave me and 10s of millions of my fellow citizens better off than where we are now. How could that point or a similar one not be made in an effective way if not on purpose? How could Health Care Reform not be used as the great unifying cause of this generation by accident?

  7. “I have always said that ‘a city gets the policing it wants’ because there are chain of command and city government methods to change police behavior.”

    That was an instructive tour de force. Beautifully crafted and put so well I wish I could have had the clarity to write it. Just to illustrate your point see the history of Los Angeles from the perspective of the LAPD. Great job,great info. Thank you.

  8. lottakatz,

    That is a very thoughtful, extremely impressive argument. Thanks for writing so clearly and pulling together many threads in our society. Class is the great unspoken, unrecognized oppression. Even with so many suffering it’s still hard to break through all the illusions that keep people from acting together, based on class–IMO, one of the very few things that would destabilize our elites and possibly stop them from completely ruining this nation.

  9. Hey this is cool with the Roberts Court I am sure.Beyond deferring to Corporate and Executive power Rhenquist and those that followed made it clear they wanted to roll back Warren courts protection of right of those accused and differing to the police.Maybe some of there points are right (limiting frivolous law suits of those in prison) but it’s primarily the conservative backlash that Nixon and his “Silent Majority” wanted done. and that’s reason Nixon appointed him and got what he wanted (whereas as we know many presidents don’t like when he called Earl Warren “his biggest mistake” and this was was the latest in those that went there own way because they were not vetted such as case with Soutter.I could apply this observation to half the posts up here.

  10. Jill, George, There’s another dimension to it:

    From Blade Runner: ” Bryant: (to Deckard) Stop right where you are! You know the score, pal. If you’re not cop, you’re little people.”

    I have always said that ‘a city gets the policing it wants’ because there are chain of command and city government methods to change police behavior. Ultimately the police answer to the Mayor and the city administration. The power to moderate policing and management is available through the budget and the appointment of Police Commissioners. If changes are needed and aren’t forthcoming it’s because it isn’t wanted by the civilian administration. The police do not now and have never existed in a vacuum. The only question is who controls what the city wants?

    This lawless behavior by the police is not new, what is new is it’s expansion into the general population and the publicity it now gets. This IMO is due to the shift in class demographics over the last 30 years.

    The police have always used physical force to oppress and suppress the people the society wants suppressed. Those demographics were previously pretty obvious, an entirely white, Anglo power structure that wanted the non-white and ethic minorities kept in line. Along with that obvious group there were social agitators (suffragettes, union organizers, civil-Rights workers, and later ‘hippies’) and other social undesirables such as members of the drug subculture and gays that were all suppressed with force. It was about suppressing in the lower classes those groups found dangerous or distasteful to the upper and middle classes. Even poor white people didn’t come in for the gross abuse minorities and social agitators/undesirables did. The fact that most minorities and social undesirables were relegated to physical ghetto’s helped the targeting.

    The public at large didn’t see it because the tech to present it widely wasn’t available and the scope of the suppression and abuse was of little interest to the people able to exert political pressure on the government be it City State or Federal.

    What has happened is that several factors have realigned the social boundaries of the class to be suppressed. Actually, it’s more appropriate to cast it as circumstance have worked to narrow and concentrate the class that mandates suppression.

    The Civil Rights Act of ’64, the Women’s Movement of the 60’s and 70’s and the political activism and anti-war movement of the late 60’s and 70’s attracted supporters that previously would have been excluded from targeting by police suppression (white, middle and wealthy ownership class) and the changes these movements brought forth, put people that would have been previously targeted into places and positions that made them traditionally (by class) untouchable.

    Having minorities in middle class positions and suburbs; long-haired middle managers and CEO’s in a changed business model; women in business and academia, the military and city services, even the police and fire department; Gay’s out of the closets and into the mainstream of business and politics all worked to realign the class based cues police used for the purpose of suppression.

    The traditional and obvious (by sight) method of sifting the ‘little people’ from the masters was breaking down objectively and police methodology wasn’t keeping pace- nothing was being put into place to replace the old ‘by- sight’ model. Now nothing needs to be put in place for a couple of reasons.

    Politically and economically over the last 30 years wealth was being concentrated into the fewest hands in our history, the middle class was being eviscerated and corporate interests were taking a pre-eminent power position. With the export of jobs cities rely on the benevolence of corporations (moving there, staying there, not exporting the jobs of the employee’s etc.) for their tax base and shift more and more taxes to workers and small business for their support. Corporations (and the financial sector) are the new ruling class and they govern with a false Noblesse oblige. ** Cities and federal governments dance to their tune As well as the traditional ‘old money class) including the cities refusal to reign in the police.

    The model of who to target for suppression has been flipped- now, a very small ruling class has its interests protected while the vast majority of the population is fair game for violent treatment because the overwhelming majority of the population is ‘little people’. 9-11 exacerbated the already present use of the police (and their proclivity to be used) as agents of political and social suppression by giving the police new tools and expanded authority, but the aftermath built on already present attitudes of and uses for the police. The old model is still in play but now expanded to everyone as fair game for abuse because the old racial and behavioral model that denoted a particular hands-off class no longer works, it has been economically and politically modified into non-existence.

    The best argument that we are becoming a classless society is police behavior and the police (and their political/corporate masters) have shown us, IMO, that there are now only two classes: the small ruling (wealth and corporate based) elite and the rest of us who are essentially ‘little people’ and fair game for violent suppression.

    ** “Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the elite citizen’s imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.” —John Ralston Saul

    IMO. It’s all about class, always has been and still is, the class boundries have changed but nothing else has.

  11. The San Bernadino coffers are soon going to be a little lighter after this victim takes the city and the officers and the department to court. Their actions on the video were excessive and their unconstitutional freezing of the victim and not charging him will cost them a lot of money. It is too bad that the City didn’t take the right steps to reign in this out of control police department before someone got hurt. This rogue department must be cleaned up from top to bottom.

  12. George,

    In the second video, which I recommend, Collen Rowley discusses exactly what you wrote about above. She talks about the shift in law enforcement that allowed anything to go on (or almost anything) after 9/ll. If you have time you might be interested in what she says. It’s the second of the three videos.

  13. Jill said,…”It’s why we need the rule of law back so desperately.”

    You’re exactly right, Jill. When the heroes of the law and order police leadership — Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the crew — set aside certain laws when dealing with the “bad guys,” why shouldn’t they? Really, why shouldn’t they? It is something to think about.

    They are being told from the highest levels in the American government that when someone is a “bad guy,” you do “whatever is necessary,” irrespective of the rule of law, to “show them.”

    And if the evidence isn’t there make it up. We are in two illegal wars because the President and the Vice President of the United States lied to the American people knowingly in order to gain access to Iraq, depose Saddam and allow all their oil buddies to set up shop, no questions asked. And Iraq did nothing on 9/11 except watch it on TV, just like most of us, and everybody now knows it. So, why not, on the local level, make up stuff, plant evidence, etc..? The President did it, why, as a police officer or prosecutor, should they do it? Furthermore, why not cover it up too, just like their doing?

    The slippery slope is greased and Mike is spot-on about the public discord over police abuses in the comment section of these kinds of videos. It is a dreadful situation that is only getting worse with President Obama’s lack of investigation and prosecution of those who committed these crimes. The rule of law must be restored or our country is sure to decline even more than it has in the last decade.

    Too bad we couldn’t file a civil class action lawsuit against Bush and Cheney personally for gross mismanagement of their administrative duties, as well as dereliction of duty and conspiracy to deceive(as well as anything else a real lawyer would come up with).

    According to the estimated U.S. population stands at 307,791,106 today. How about suing them jointly for $307,791,106? One dollar for every man, woman and child in the U.S. You know, something punitive but not TOO excessive — something the tort reformers can get behind. 😉

  14. The corruption is so much worse than most know. Where does one go with the truth, when the truth is too Orwellian to believe?

  15. At least they did not shoot him in court like the Arkansas police did to the town fire chief … over a parking ticket case … remember that one?

    What am I saying … every police loss of sanity should be dealt with routinely. They are suspended without pay until charged or cleared, and if charged they lose their job.

  16. It looked to me like the police cars were parked in such a way that the cameras in their cars would not pick up the actions of the police, but are cops so stupid that they don’t realize that most of the population is walking around with cell phones that also serve as video cameras these days?

    I half expected the cop who was demanding to know what the man with the camera saw, to either take his phone away or start beating on him. Fortunately, the man with the camera refused to be bullied.

  17. Interesting about the video is that obviously one of the officers comes over to intimidate the person recording the scene and it clearly was intimidation. Also noticing how the police cars that came up surrounded the original officers and possible perp/victim. Also if you link to the original article you find the 100 plus comments which give you perspective on the community attitudes, predominantly anti-police. This is another case of police striking back at someone who hasn’t treated them with the deference they expect. Definitely a further sign of our burgeoning Police State.

  18. This stuff comes from the top. It is the trickle down police state. The govt. is picking and choosing whom they will charge, whom they will let off, whom they will abuse–not based on the rule of law but on the rule of favor.

    Look at what has just happened in the banking industry. The enemies of GS are being asked to have caps on their bonuses. All though these caps are marginal at best, they should apply to everyone but strangely, they do not apply to GS. It is said this is because GS did not take public money, but this isn’t true. Money was funneled to them via AIG. The obvious answer is that GS has its people at the highest places in our govt.

    Another example is to be found in the case of a reporter from Wired magazine at Leon Pannetta’s press conference. He and a woman from code pink were asking embarrassingly pointed questions about our drone program. They were approached by the secret service and told to get out or get arrested. This was a press conference and they had every right to ask these questions.

    Glenn Greenwald’s column of today speaks to how we evade war crimes trials. The I-Watch video here yesterday is a supreme example of the police state at work.

    Our elite has no tether to the rule of law. If anyone of that class gets arrested it is because they have pissed off someone with more power than they have. In the meantime, the cops turn more and more brutality on citizens who are engaged in no crimes or very mild crime.

    It’s why we need the rule of law back so desperately. Now we have rule by fiat, the rule of the powerful and their pointing fingers at those they do not like. We should be out in the streets on general strike.

  19. “An officer appears to strike Johnson while another officer holds him. Johnson was on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle when he stopped at a 7-11 convenience store. Police say that he was stopped for running a stop sign and a traffic signal.”

    Both Civil Infractions. Why did the officers need to do a search, My god he was on a Harley. They could see his hands at all times. Just Gotta Love the Gestapo.

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