Bullies With Badges

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

That was the description of four East Haven, Connecticut, police officers who were arrested after a federal grand jury returned an indictment containing charges of conspiring to violate, and violating, the civil rights of members of the East Haven community. All four have pleaded not guilty in Federal District Court and three have been released on bail, ranging from $100,000 to $300,000; the fourth is awaiting completion of his paperwork.

The indictment alleges unreasonable searches and seizures, the use of unreasonable force, false and misleading police reports, and harassment and intimidation of victims, witnesses, and outside investigators. All four are facing potential jail sentences of 10 years or longer if convicted.

The four officers were protected by a higher-up in the East Haven Police Department referred to, in the indictment, as co-conspirator-1. The name of co-conspirator-1 is known to the grand jury, and if any of the four officers decides to make a deal, another indictment may be forthcoming.

The long list of abuses of power were often directed at Latino drivers and businesses, and the victims reported the abuse to Father James Manship of the St. Rose of Lima Church in Fair Haven. Manship started his own investigation and, in 2009, got himself arrested while video recording two of the officers. In the police report, one of the officers wrote that he saw an “unknown shiny silver object” that Manship had “cupped” in his hands. However, in the video below, the officer clearly refers to the “shiny object” as a camera.

The arrest of Manship prompted the investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

This case demonstrates the importance of not outlawing the recording of police officers in public performing their duties. The courage of Manship should be an inspiration to all of us to not back down when confronted by bullies.

H/T: Radley Balko, New Haven Independent, DoJ, New York Times, WTNH.

41 thoughts on “Bullies With Badges”

  1. Ah, the power of people working together to effect change… one community at a time. Old news, but it gives one a sense of how it all came together:

    From mid-December of 2011:

    http://easthaven.patch.com/articles/justice-department-east-haven-police-engaged-in-racial-profiling-in-violation-of-federal-laws#photo-8746064

    Excerpt:

    Leaders from St. Rose of Lima Church in Fair Haven, who spearheaded a civil rights lawsuit against the East Haven Police Department, issued a press release stating that the U.S. Department of Justice’s findings supports their allegations of racial profiling and police brutality against Latinos by the East Haven Police Department.

    “Two years ago this month, our congregation and others in the community joined together in a vigil recognizing the start of this investigation,” said Father James Manship, a priest at St. Rose of Lima Church. “The Department of Justice’s announcement today vindicates the complaints of racial profiling by Latinos that have devastated our community for years.”

    Angel Fernandez, a leader of the St. Rose Pastoral Council, stated: “Neither the Town of East Haven nor the East Haven Police Department has been willing to take any serious steps to curb anti-Latino abuse and harassment. Only a zero-tolerance policy toward harassment of Latinos and an end the intimidation of police officers and community members will address the community’s concerns.”

  2. anon nurse
    1, January 28, 2012 at 4:50 pm
    Well said, Blouise. Well said…

    (BTW, I never find those darn kittehs either…)

    =============================================

    Yeah, but we keep trying and thus have a deep appreciation for Father James Manship!

  3. Speaking of bullies with badges, there is a police riot going on in Oakland. One commenter said the police showed up with some sort of tank to help break up a peaceful protest. One woman shot in the back with a “non lethal” bullet from a range of about one foot. Her injuries are not known at the present time. Horace Boothroyd III seems to be everywhere these days, and has been live-blogging the events.

    The 1% is scared and it is showing. My concern is they become dangerous when they are frightened, cowering in their gated communities.

    jpmassar writes the following:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/01/28/1059556/-ALL-HOLY-HELL-HAS-BROKEN-OUT-IN-OAKLAND?via=recent

  4. Raff,

    Not to correct you….But he’ll get around to it as soon as he finishes his swallow…..and put his red pointy hat on….

  5. Well said, Blouise. Well said…

    (BTW, I never find those darn kittehs either…)

    1. OS,

      Look no further than North of you in Midland, Michigan….You’ll find a lot of clergy that have been arrested….and believe this or not they are and were Catholic Priests….Something about a Military Base and Nukes….

  6. For me it is important to note how long it took for these indictments to materialize. When I consider the police behavior and practices over the years and the number of people who must have suffered, the courage and dedication of this Priest is remarkable.

    I’m certain he spent many dark hours despairing and wondering if his efforts would ever make a difference. It is those dark hours that can defeat our best efforts to continue working for justice.

    Hopefully the Feds will demand and the Jury and Judge will concur that these thugs receive no more mercy in a verdict and sentencing than they dispensed as peace officers upon their victims.

    This sort of “official” brutality is happening all over the country and Police Departments need to see that many years in prison without the chance for early parole is a very real and actual outcome for “bullies with badges”.

  7. Racíal profiling? Looks like harassment for the sake of extortion.

    Saw it in action in Thailand at beach hotel, when the unannounced bagman came for the pickup.
    On first visit to Mexico City on business, the first warning was don’t go in any park; the police will rob you there.

    But then extortion would fall under local “injustice”, not Fed. So the PC-correct crime of profiling was better. Not that Feds are any cleaner in general.

  8. Only slightly OT. In Washington state, 83 year old Jesuit Priest and peace activist, Father Bill Bichsel, has been placed in solitary confinement at Sea-Tac Federal Prison. His crime? Violation of “visitor privileges.” Seems he had been sent to a halfway house where they have a 72 hour hold on receiving visitors. Two Buddhist monks and several students on their way to a protest stopped by the halfway house; and while still out on the sidewalk on the public street, drummed and prayed for Fr. Bichsel. The Feds wrote him up for this egregious violation of the 72 hour waiting period before having visitors and banished this dangerous 83 year old “criminal” to solitary confinement. Fr. Bichsel is in frail health, but is now on a hunger strike.

    Blogger David Harris Gershon, writing under the pen name The Troubadour, has the story. Be sure to follow the links for more details. The highlighted orange text are links.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/01/28/1059350/-POLICE-STATE:-Ailing-83-Year-Old-Activist-Priest-Held-in-Solitary-Confinement-in-Federal-Prison?via=siderec

  9. Nal,

    Excellent choice….The DOJ is playing both sides of the fence on this one….They represent the cops who arrest these people…and now they have arrested the people that they usually represent….Hmmm….Hopefully they will be convicted….and how long did this go on before the DOJ got involved…How many people are or have been incarcerated because of these and other bad cops…..Just wondering….

  10. With a Father Manship in every community, we might just stand a chance… He’s an all-American hero…

  11. Father Winship deserves praise for his courage and dedication to parishioners. I’m struck that the allegations if true remind one of a 70’s B movie where cops band together to fight the “scourge” of crime by using extra- legal methods. These were an opening gambit towards the disregard of legal “niceties” we have today in the name of fighting crime and terror.

  12. The long list of abuses of power were often directed at Latino drivers and businesses, and the victims reported the abuse to Father James Manship of the St. Rose of Lima Church in Fair Haven. Manship started his own investigation and, in 2009, got himself arrested while video recording two of the officers.”

    A citizen journalist to the rescue once again.

    Thanks Nal, and thanks to Turley Blog, for being part of The Citizen Free Press.

    We have a formidable enemy to counter.

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