TIME baltimore

Baltimore Will Put Working Cameras in Police Vans

A Baltimore Police transfer van pulls into the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center on May 7, 2015.
Karl Merton Ferron—Baltimore Sun/TNS/Getty Images A Baltimore Police transfer van pulls into the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center on May 7, 2015.

More than two months after the death of Freddie Grey, the department plans to install cameras that record

The Baltimore Police Department is installing video cameras capable of recording in its vans following protests over the April death of Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered severe injuries in the back of a police van.

While the van that was carrying 25-year-old Gray had a camera in it, it was only meant for surveillance, not recording, and it was broken. Gray died a week after sustaining spinal injuries in the van.

Gray’s death set off riots in the city resulting in hundreds of injuries and millions of dollars of property damage. Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby indicted six officers allegedly involved with Gray’s death. They will be tried in October.

The Baltimore Police Department, which has paid millions of dollars in settlements involving police misconduct in the last several years, will also review its riot gear, some of which failed to work during the spring riots. The city has also pledged to arm every policeman with a body camera by 2019.

[Reuters]

TIME police

Baltimore Police Won’t Be Fully Equipped With Body Cameras Until 2019

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake holds a news conference on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 in Baltimore.  The mayor called on U.S. government investigators to look into whether this city's beleaguered police department uses a pattern of excessive force or discriminatory policing. Rawlings-Blake's request came a day after new Attorney General Loretta Lynch visited the city and pledged to improve the police department.  (Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun via AP)  WASHINGTON EXAMINER OUT
Kim Hairston—AP A new report suggests that Baltimore won't fully equip its police officers with body cameras for four years. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, shown here at a May 6, 2015, news conference, says she wants them implemented by 2016.

But Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says she wants them sooner

A body camera program for Baltimore police won’t be fully implemented for four years, it emerged Thursday, even as the city’s mayor pledges to equip officers with cameras by the end of 2016.

According to internal documents obtained by the Baltimore Sun, the city plans to fully equip the Baltimore Police Department with body-worn cameras by 2019, starting with a pilot program that includes 155 officers the first year and roughly an additional 2,500 the following three years.

But city council members on Thursday spoke out against the plan, saying the program needed to be finished sooner. “I don’t understand this haphazard approach of going so slow,” City Councilman Nick Mosby told the Sun. “Baltimore city needs body cameras. Four years is just too long.”

The mayor’s office, however, said that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is working to implement the cameras much sooner and wants to have officers fully equipped by 2016.

The city’s police department came under heavy scrutiny in March following the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old unarmed black Baltimore resident who was severely injured in the back of a police van. The Baltimore Police Department has paid out millions of dollars in settlements involving police misconduct in recent years.

In 2014, the Baltimore City Council voted to equip the city’s 2,800 police officers with cameras, but Mayor Rawlings-Blake vetoed the measure, saying the issue needed further study and developed a task force to look into the effects and logistics of body-worn cameras.

 

TIME portfolio

See Los Angeles’ Rough Past With Crime Author James Ellroy

James Ellroy's LAPD ’53 captures the hopelessness of the year in stark black and white images

It was 1953. Eisenhower was in the white house. The New York Yankees won the World Series for the fifth year consecutively. The theme music for the television series, “Dragnet,” rose to the top of the Billboard charts. It was also the year that Los Angeles had a record number of homicides—and more than twice as many suicides.

In the new book, “LAPD ’53,” crime and historical fiction author, James Ellroy and Executive Director of the Los Angeles Police Museum, Glynn Martin, take readers on a photographic tour of the city’s violent past. The eighty-five duotone photos that made the final cut are representative of a day in the life of America’s most provocative police agency.

“There’s no city with a police force quite as controversial, ambiguously defined and progressive as the LAPD,” Ellroy told TIME. “Geography is destiny. I was born in LA, the film noir epicenter, in 1948. I also grew up during the film noir era, which existed from 1945-1960. This brings up the question, which came first? Was film noir itself influenced by archival police photos or did film noir in its dark chiaroscuro style of lighting influence police photography?”

If anyone knows the answer to this question, it’s Ellroy, who has published 14 novels, two memoirs, and three books of collected novellas, short stories and nonfiction. He also collaborated with former Chief Bratton on the book, “Scene of the Crime: Photographs from the LAPD Archive,” (October 2004).

In every sense, “LAPD ‘53” is the true account of the universe he created for his L.A. Quartet novels, which include: “The Black Dahlia,” “The Big Nowhere,” “L.A. Confidential” and “White Jazz.” These stories take place in Los Angeles from 1946 to 1958. Because of his epic crime stories and personal appreciation for the LAPD, Ellroy received the Jack Webb Award on October 15, 2005 at the police department’s 12th annual awards dinner saluting strength and inspiration. It was then that he and Martin first met and developed their close friendship.

“This project is all because of the generosity and philanthropy of James Ellroy,” said Martin, also a retired LAPD Sergeant, who wrote the introduction and acknowledgments for the book. “James has been a great supporter of the LAPD and a friend of the police museum for a long time.” At one of the meetings he and Ellroy had with current Chief of Police, Charlie Beck, the bestselling author proposed a publishing program for the museum, which included donating his own time, talent and earnings toward this goal. Once approved, Martin and his team of volunteers enthusiastically began digging through decades of 4X5 photographic negatives. “This didn’t start out as a collection of photos from 1953,” Martin said. Both he and Ellroy expected that they would need a sampling from several decades in order to have enough photos for a book. “We sorted through negatives from the 1920s to the 1960s.”

“Once Glynn and I studied the photos with our book team at the museum, we made the determination that everything we wanted fell under the calendar year of 1953,” Ellroy said. “We were astounded by the diversity of the crimes. There’s a lot of murder and a disproportionate amount of suicide, but what unifies it all is the level of artistry of the photographs themselves. These photographers were sworn police officers carrying a gun and a Speed Graphic camera. They were also constrained by the law. They couldn’t go in and rearrange the body for maximum dramatic impact.”

Nikolas Charles is a journalist, music critic and photographer based in Los Angeles.

Liz Ronk, who edited this photo essay, is a photo editor at LIFE.

TIME police

New Details Emerge in Fatal NYPD Shooting of Unarmed Man

New York City police officer Peter Liang is escorted out of court after he was charged with manslaughter, official misconduct and other offenses on Feb. 11, 2015 in Brooklyn, New York.
Spencer Platt—Getty Images New York City police officer Peter Liang is escorted out of court after he was charged with manslaughter, official misconduct and other offenses on Feb. 11, 2015 in Brooklyn, New York.

The officer is charged with manslaughter in the Nov. 20 death of Akai Gurley

(NEW YORK) — A rookie police officer was arguing with his partner over who should call their supervisor in the chaotic moments after he’d accidentally fired his gun into a darkened stairwell of a public housing complex, unaware he’d struck an unarmed man three floors below who lay mortally wounded. And when he discovered what happened, he did nothing to help, according to court papers released Tuesday.

Officer Peter Liang is charged with manslaughter in the Nov. 20 death of Akai Gurley in the Louis Pink Houses in Brooklyn. New details in the case emerged Tuesday in prosecutors’ court motions, which give the following account:

Liang and his partner, Shaun Landau, were on patrol on the eighth floor of one of the buildings at about 11 p.m. when they walked into the stairwell.

Liang held his flashlight over his head and had his Glock pistol pointed directly in front of him when he started to walk down the stairs. His partner was still in the hallway when he heard a gunshot. At the same time, Gurley and his girlfriend, Melissa Butler, were on the landing of the staircase below. The bullet had bounced off a wall before striking Gurley. The two managed to get down several flights of stairs before Gurley collapsed.

Liang ran out of the staircase and his partner, using an expletive, asked what happened.

“It went off by accident,” Liang said, then repeatedly exclaimed he would be fired.

The two stood in the hallway and argued for several minutes about who should call their supervisor to report gunshot and what phone should be used.

“You call,” Liang told his partner.

“No, you call,” Landau said.

But no one called. Instead, Landau went into the stairwell, searching the walls for bullet holes, but soon heard a “grunting noise” coming from the floors below. When he reached the fifth floor, he saw Gurley’s body and Butler kneeling over him, tears pouring down her face.

By then, Butler was on the phone with a 911 operator, who was trying to walk her through performing CPR as the officers stood nearby.

“Neither defendant nor Officer Landau provided any medical care to Mr. Gurley. Nor did they summon an ambulance,” prosecutors wrote in the court filing. Instead, the two of them walked around Gurley’s body to the landing on the fourth floor.

It was nearly 20 minutes after the shooting when the officers radioed to report “an accidental fire.”

Liang was later indicted on charges including manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, official misconduct and assault. Prosecutors said he disregarded his training and should not have had his gun drawn nor his finger on the trigger.

“By placing a finger on the trigger of a gun in the stairwell of a residential apartment building, when there was no reason to discharge the weapon, was contrary to everything the defendant had been taught about the safe handling of a loaded firearm,” they wrote in the court papers.

Liang pleaded not guilty in February and is currently free without bail. His attorney, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday, has maintained the shooting was an accident.

The case was closely watched following the Dec. 3 grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a black man who was arrested on Staten Island. That decision — along with a grand jury’s refusal to charge a white officer in the Ferguson, Missouri, shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old — prompted mass protests decrying the grand jury system as biased. Liang, 27, is Asian; Gurley, 28, was black.

On Tuesday, New York took a step to give such cases special consideration by appointing the attorney general to investigate them, at least for a year. Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, who presented evidence to the grand jury against Liang, has opposed the idea.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Danny Chun ruled that evidence presented to the grand jury was legally sufficient to support manslaughter charges against the officer. Liang’s attorney, Steven Worth, had asked the court to dismiss the indictment.

Liang is due back in court in September.

TIME Crime

Freddie Gray Autopsy Shows He Suffered a ‘High-Energy Injury’

Baltimore seeks answers in Freddie Gray's death in police custody
Family of Freddie Gray

Report compares his injury to the kind sustained in a shallow-water diving incident

An autopsy report on Freddie Gray, the unarmed Baltimore man whose death in April reignited the national conversation on race and police brutality, reveals he sustained a “high-energy injury” in police custody that under different circumstances might have been ruled an accident.

The report, a copy of which was obtained by the Baltimore Sun, details how Gray, who was arrested on April 12 and put into a van on his stomach, might have been tossed around after the van changed its direction. The 25-year-old died a week later. Six police officers were later indicted in the case; all have pleaded not guilty, and a trial is set for later this year.

The state’s medical examiner’s office ruled Gray’s death a homicide due to the officers’ apparent failure to abide by safety protocols “through acts of omission,” the report states. It describes an injury similar to the kind one would endure from a shallow-water diving incident, and notes that Gray would likely have been unable to break his own fall because his ankles and wrists were tied. The injury to his spinal cord, the report finds, also would have inhibited his abilities to breathe or move his limbs.

The autopsy was finished on April 30, but has not yet been released publicly. The medical examiner’s office did not comment on the report.

Read more at the Baltimore Sun

TIME Crime

American Confidence in Police Is Lowest Since 1993

S. Carolina Gov. Haley Signs Bill Requiring Police Body Cameras
Richard Ellis—Getty Images North Charleston Police officers wearing their new video cameras as Governor Nikki Haley signs the first bill in the nation requiring all police to wear cameras in North Charleston, S.C., on June 10, 2015.

Police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Staten Island and North Charleston "likely contributed" to the fall

Fifty-two percent of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the police, a new poll finds, down 5% from 2013 and marking the lowest figure since 1993.

That year was the first time that Gallup included the police in questions about trusted institutions, at a time when public interest in the Rodney King case was high, during the trial of four white police officers in Los Angeles. That figure rose to a peak of 64% in 2004. Gallup suggests a number of police killings of unarmed black men in places like Ferguson, Staten Island and North Charleston, S.C., “likely contributed” to the decline.

While whites’ trust in police remained relatively high in 2014-15 at 57%—down from 60% in 2012-2013—only 30% of black Americans say they have a high level of confidence, down from 36% in 2012-13. Sixty-three percent of conservatives are confident in the police, a 3% gain since 2012-13, compared to only 44% of liberals, a 7-point dip.

Despite the drop, the police force still ranks among the most trusted institutions in America, trailing only the military and small business. Confidence in Congress is particularly low at only 8%.

[Gallup]

TIME police

New York City to Hire Almost 1,300 New Cops, Official Says

The new hires will join a force of about 35,000 uniformed officers

(NEW YORK) — New York City is set to hire nearly 1,300 new police officers as part of its yearly budget agreement, honoring a proposal put forth by the City Council over Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initial objections, a city official told The Associated Press on Monday.

About 300 officers will be assigned to counterterrorism, according to the official who has direct knowledge of the budget process and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not yet been officially announced.

The deal was expected to be made public — sealed with a handshake — by de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at City Hall late Monday.

The new hires will join a force of about 35,000 uniformed officers. Additionally, the budget authorizes the hiring of 400 administrative aides to take over desk jobs currently filled by police officers. Those officers will then be freed up to be deployed on the street for increased community policing, the official said. Cuts to police overtime will offset some of the costs of the new hires, according to the official.

A year ago, de Blasio flatly denied Mark-Viverito’s call to hire 1,000 new officers, pointing to record low crime rates and suggesting that the resources would be better used elsewhere to fulfill the mayor’s vision of a liberal, activist government that would better the lives of the less fortunate.

For much of the past year, City Hall stuck to that script. But Police Commissioner William Bratton began intermittently advocating for the new hires, Mark-Viverito continued to push the plan as a way to improve outreach in neighborhoods often suspicious of police, and pockets of the city suffered a surge in shooting and homicides in recent weeks.

Though overall crime is down 6.7 percent from this time a year ago, shootings and murders are up. Murders have risen from 138 to 154, an 11 percent jump, through June 21, while shootings have gone up from 488 to 515.

The official said 1,297 total new officers will be hired. The official was not authorized to speak publicly until the deal is officially announced and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Many observers expected that a compromise would be reached and the city would hire fewer than 1,000 officers.

The issue of policing has always been a delicate one for de Blasio.

He was elected on a campaign to improve relations between police and minorities, largely by curbing the overuse of stop and frisk, a tactic that allowed police to stop anyone deemed suspicious. Its critics, however, said it discriminated against black and Latino men.

With his push to reform the NYPD as a backdrop, de Blasio then faced an open revolt from the rank-and-file police union in the wake of the Eric Garner chokehold death. Though an uneasy truce took hold, the de Blasio team has been particularly wary of a rise in crime, knowing it could undermine the Democratic mayor’s agenda.

TIME India

97 People Now Dead in India’s Mumbai Moonshine Tragedy; 7 Under Arrest

INDIA-HEALTH-CRIME-ALCOHOL
Punit Paranjpe—AFP/Getty Images Family members carry the body of a victim of toxic homemade liquor consumption in Mumbai on June 20, 2015

Forty-six others remain in the hospital

The moonshine tragedy that killed dozens of people in the Indian city of Mumbai last week claimed several more lives over the weekend, with the death toll rising to 97 as of Sunday night.

Some 46 others are still undergoing treatment at various hospitals around the sprawling business hub, while police have arrested a total of seven people and seized more than 1,000 L of the illicit liquor from one of their houses, the Indian Express reported.

Two women were taken into custody on Sunday in addition to the five arrests made a week ago in response to the first 25 deaths. They face various charges pertaining to the running of drinking dens at a slum in Mumbai’s Malad area.

Dhananjay Kulkarni, Mumbai’s deputy commissioner of police (detection), told the Express that both women used to buy the alcohol from a man named Francis D’Mello — one of the initial suspects currently being interrogated about his source and supply network — before reselling it.

It was at D’Mello’s house that the police reportedly found around 1,100 L of the liquor in several barrels.

“The sheer quantity of the liquor suggests a large-scale and highly organized racket, and we are probing further,” an officer said.

Such incidents are surprisingly common in India, where illegal liquor with high quantities of toxic methanol is typically consumed by blue-collar workers like laborers and taxi drivers. The only liquor-related tragedy in the past decade worse than this week’s wave of fatalities occurred in 2011, when at least 168 villagers in the eastern state of West Bengal died after consuming poisonous moonshine. The last such incident to take place in Mumbai claimed 87 lives in the suburb of Vikhroli in late 2004.

TIME India

At Least 25 Dead, 10 Critical After Drinking Illegal Liquor in Mumbai Slum

Three people have been charged with culpable homicide for brewing the moonshine

At least 25 people died at a slum in the Indian city of Mumbai this week after consuming illicit liquor that left 10 others in critical condition at local hospitals.

The problems with the homemade alcohol began on Wednesday, with 13 people from the city’s Malad area losing their lives by Thursday night and the death toll rising more than two dozen by Friday morning, the Press Trust of India reported.

Three people have been arrested by the Mumbai police and charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, causing hurt by means of poison etc. with intent to commit an offense and acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention, under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Improperly distilled liquor can include hazardous levels of methanol — a toxin commonly found in antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid that can cause blindness and even death when ingested.

Mumbai Police spokesperson Dhananjay Kulkarni said details such as the type and make of the liquor, how many people drank it and where it was distilled are still under investigation.

[PTI]

TIME police

Charges Dropped Against UVA Student Bloodied During Arrest

Virginia Student Arrest
Ryan M. Kelly—AP Martese Johnson, left, walking with attorney Daniel Watkins to a hearing at the Charlottesville General District Court in Charlottesville, Va, on May 28, 2015.

"He's glad to put this behind him"

(RICHMOND, Va.) — Charges have been dropped against a University of Virginia student whose bloody arrest sparked a public uproar and a state police investigation, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney David Chapman said he made the decision after reviewing results of the investigation into Martese Johnson’s arrest. But he said the findings do not warrant charges against the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control officers who arrested Johnson.

Chapman said in a written statement that “the interest of justice and the long term interest of the Charlottesville community are best served by using this case as an opportunity to engage ordinary citizens, law enforcement officers, and public officials in constructive dialogue concerning police and citizen relationships in a diverse community.”

Johnson’s attorney, Daniel P. Watkins, said in a telephone interview that his client was “overjoyed” when he learned he will not be prosecuted.

“It’s been our position all along that police lacked justification to arrest and detain Martese,” Watkins said. “It’s been stressful facing criminal prosecution. He’s glad to put this behind him.”

The 20-year-old student form Chicago was arrested outside a bar on March 18 and charged with public intoxication or swearing, and obstruction of justice without force. Chapman will ask a Charlottesville General District Court judge to dismiss those charges at a hearing Friday morning.

“Upon review of the evidence, the applicable principles of law and the best interest of the community, the Commonwealth reached a conclusion that the interest of justice is not served by further prosecution of the defendant in relation to the events of March 18,” Chapman wrote in a court filing.

Johnson’s arrest gained widespread attention, with photos and videos on social media showing him pinned to the ground, his face bloodied. Johnson, who is black, called the officers racist.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered the state police investigation and retraining for the liquor agency’s approximately 130 law enforcement officers. He also established a task force to review ABC practices and make recommendations by Nov. 1. Among the issues being considered by the panel is whether ABC should be stripped of its arrest powers.

About 500 students demanded answers about the arrest and ABC tactics from law enforcement officials during a forum at U.Va. two days after the incident. Dissatisfied with responses that they considered too broad, representatives of a black students’ organization shouted in unison, “Answer the question we asked.” They marched out before the event was over with their fists raised, chanting “Black lives matter.”

Johnson’s arrest came two years after another U.Va. student was arrested outside a supermarket by ABC agents who mistook a carton of sparkling water for beer. Several undercover agents swarmed Elizabeth Daly’s vehicle, one pulling a gun and another trying to break her windshield with a flashlight. The incident sparked a public backlash, and the traumatized student later settled a lawsuit for $212,500.

State police investigated that as well. The report was never made public, but ABC responded by promising several policy changes, including requiring agents to wear uniforms.

Watkins said he has not seen the state police report on his client’s arrest. Chapman said a public meeting will be held Wednesday to discuss the incident.

___

Associated Press Writer Heidi Brown in Charlottesville, Virginia, contributed to this report.

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