TIME Civil Rights

Cop in ‘Chokehold’ Death Had Civil Suits Filed Against Him

Vigil Held For Staten Island Man Who Died After Illegal Police Chokehold
Richard Watkins (5) attends a vigil for Eric Garner near where he died after he was taken into police custody in Staten Island last Thursday on July 22, 2014 in New York City. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

The City of New York has already doled out a $30,000 settlement on Officer Daniel Pantaleo's behalf

New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo, who allegedly used what has been termed a chokehold on the now deceased 43-year-old Eric Garner in Staten Island last week, previously had civil rights lawsuits brought against him over two separate incidents, the Staten Island Advance reports.

In the first suit, two men, Darren Collins and Tommy Rice — both in their forties and African-American — claim to have been publicly strip-searched by Pantaleo and a cadre of other officers two years ago, after Pantaleo said he saw crack cocaine and heroin on the backseat of their car. In the second, Rylawn Walker charged Pantaleo and another cop with falsely arresting him, then incarcerating him for a period of 24 hours.

The City of New York doled out a $30,000 settlement to the two plaintiffs in the first lawsuit. Walker’s remains open.

With video of Officer Pantaleo grappling with Garner going viral over the last week, the NYPD’s decision to strip the officer of his gun and assign him to desk duty for the time being has failed to quell public concern. While it remains unclear what role the hold may have played in Garner’s death, many New Yorkers, including activist-pastor Rev. Al Sharpton, are calling for greater accountability.

TIME Crime

DOJ: Newark Cops Have Pattern of ‘Unconstitutional Policing’

Embattled City Of Newark Holds Mayoral Election
People walk by a police car in downtown on May 13, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

Violations range from stop-and-frisk to use of excessive force

Following a three-year federal investigation, the Newark Police Department was mandated by the Department of Justice Tuesday to overhaul its behavior due to “a pattern of unconstitutional policing,” which included stop-and-frisk tactics and the use of excessive force.

The DOJ report said that Newark police used excessive force in more than one out of five arrests. Some police, the report found, arrested individuals who either questioned cops’ tactics or behaved in a “disrespectful” manner, a potential breach of the First Amendment. The report also said that many officers in drug and gang units were found to have stolen property from people they had arrested.

“Our investigation uncovered troubling patterns in stops, arrests and use of force by the police in Newark,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “With this agreement, we’re taking decisive action to address potential discrimination and end unconstitutional conduct by those who are sworn to serve their fellow citizens.”

The DOJ probe was launched in 2011 after New Jersey’s American Civil Liberties Union filed a misconduct complaint.

TIME justice

New York Man Dies After Police Try to Arrest Him

Rev. Herbert Daughtry and Rev. Al Sharpton hold Esaw Garner, wife of Eric Garner, during a rally at the National Action Network headquarters for Eric Garner, July 19, 2014, in New York City.
Rev. Herbert Daughtry and Rev. Al Sharpton hold Esaw Garner, wife of Eric Garner, during a rally at the National Action Network headquarters for Eric Garner, July 19, 2014, in New York City. John Minchillo—AP

The fatal incident, which police commissioner Bill Bratton called a "tragedy," was caught in a terrifying video and is currently under investigation

A New York City man died Thursday after a police officer appeared to put him in a chokehold in an incident that was captured on video.

Eric Garner, 43, died of an apparent heart attack after police in Staten Island attempted to arrest him on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes, a spokesperson for the New York City Police Department told TIME.

In the graphic video, obtained by the New York Daily News, Garner can be heard complaining that he can’t breathe and at one point appears to fall unconscious as police attempt to tackle him. The officer who appears to put a chokehold around Garner also appears to push his head into the ground.

Two officers, with eight and four years of experience in the Department respectively, have been placed on desk duty, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said at a Friday news conference. He said the police officer in the video did appear to use a chokehold, which he said is “prohibited by the department.” Prosecutors and the department’s internal affairs have opened probes into the incident.

Bratton, who was hired this year by Mayor Bill de Blasio with a goal in part of improving police-community relations, called Garner’s death a “tragedy for all involved.”

“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Garner, who died yesterday afternoon while being placed in police custody,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We are harnessing all resources available to the City to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the circumstances of this tragic incident.”

In the video, a frustrated Garner denies having done anything wrong. “Every time you see me, you want to mess with me,” says Garner, who has been arrested 31 times for charges including drug possession and selling untaxed cigarettes, according to the Associated Press. “I’m tired of it. It stops today…. I’m minding my business please just leave me alone.”

TIME Crime

Arrested Man Orders Pizza to Police Station, Gets in More Trouble

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Getty Images

He faces a slew of new charges for the stunt

A man in Kentucky who was arrested for shoplifting and public intoxication decided to pull a little prank — which totally ended up backfiring.

This jokester — 29-year-old Michael Harp — asked for permission to make a call on his cell phone and then used it to order five pizzas from Domino’s, WKYT reports. The pies arrived under the name of Officer Wilson, who had originally arrested Harp. They tracked the call to Harp pretty easily since, you know, he’d used his own cell phone.

Harp, however, denied the whole thing.

“I’m wrongfully accused on this here,” he told WKYT. “They’ve charged me with two felonies over this pizza deal because I had my phone inside the holding cell. There was about 10 people who probably used the phone, so it’s hard to say. Like I said, I never heard anyone say a word about Domino’s pizzas. Any of it.”

Still, he’s now facing additional charges including theft of identity, theft by deception and impersonating a police officer. Rough.

TIME World Cup

Riots Erupt in Argentina Following World Cup Final Loss

Vandals threw rocks at storefronts and attacked police officers

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What began as a peaceful celebration of Argentina’s performance in the World Cup final against Germany on Sunday incited police response of tear gas and water cannons just a few hours later after the Albicelestes lost the game.

At least 30 people were arrested in downtown Buenos Aires Sunday, CNN reports, following outbursts of vandalism and violence.

Tens of thousands of fans were gathered around the Obelisk to commemorate the first time the team advanced to the World Cup finals since 1990. But the country’s dream of winning the tournament was dashed in the game’s 113th minute, when Germany scored the game’s only goal.

TIME India

Yet Another Teen Girl Raped in India for Apparent Revenge

Demonstrators from AIDWA hold placards and shout slogans during protest against recent killings of two teenage girls, in New Delhi
Demonstrators from All India Democratic Women's Association hold placards and shout slogans in New Delhi on May 31, 2014, during a protest against the recent killings of two teenage girls Adnan Abidi—Reuters

Village leader is accused of ordering girl's rape to make up for her brother's alleged misconduct

A teenage girl has been raped in a suspected case of “retaliatory justice” in India’s eastern state of Jharkhand, according to police.

The 14-year-old girl was allegedly raped after villagers accused her brother of assaulting another woman, reports the BBC.

Three people have been arrested in connection with the attack, including the village leader who is accused of ordering the rape as a method of “eye-for-an-eye” justice.

The alleged crime comes amid burgeoning recognition in India that sexual violence has reached crisis proportions since the gang rape and murder of a female student aboard a private bus in the capital New Delhi in 2012. Four of the attackers in that case were sentenced to death, and the Indian government has since enacted several reforms designed to curb violence against women.

In the most recent attack, the head of a remote village in Jharkhand allegedly gave the order to have the teenager raped after her brother committed “misbehavior” toward another woman. The girl was taken to a hospital and has made a police statement, reports the BBC.

“This rape happened out of retaliation,” Jharkhand police chief Rajiv Kumar told the BBC.

[BBC]

TIME

Skateboarding Cop Gives Out the Gnarliest Tickets

Joel Zwicky aims to pull off some sick arrests, bro

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There’s a new sheriff in town. And it turns out he’s got a mean ollie.

Meet Joel Zwicky, the world’s first skateboarding cop. He’s based in Green Bay, Wisc. and started his skating patrols in March—already, they’ve been a huge success. In an interview with ABC News, he told reporters that he floated the idea in response to his department chief’s call for new ways to engage with the community. “I kind of had the idea, like, two years ago, just because I like to skate and I was trying to figure out how I can do it more at work so that I can – you know, if you do what you love, you don’t work a day in your life,” Zwicky told ABC.

His skate patrols have had two main benefits: First, he engages in more open conversation with the community (due to the unorthodox/slightly absurd sight of a policeman on a longboard); and second, the board allows him access to places he’d otherwise be unable to patrol. According to ABC News, he hopes other departments across the country implement skateboards into their stable of vehicles—if, of course, their officers are rad enough.

TIME southeast asia

A Young Girl Kept as a Slave for 5 Years in Thailand Wins Landmark Damages

Illegal Myanmar Immigrants Make Living In Rubbish Field in Thailand
An illegal-immigrant boy from Burma works at mountains of rubbish in Mae Sot, Thailand, on July 18, 2013 The Asahi Shimbun—Getty Images

Sold as a 7-year-old, she keeps the spotlight on the dangers faced by the estimated 4 million migrant workers in Thailand

A 13-year-old Burmese girl who was tortured for five years by a Thai couple who treated her as a slave has finally been awarded $143,000 in compensation by a local court, ending one nightmare but throwing the spotlight on the plight of countless other vulnerable migrants who suffer similar abuse.

The victim, who was just 7 years old when she was sold into slavery, must live with horrendous scars over half her body after she was regularly drenched with pots of boiling water for perceived disobedience. (The extent of her disfigurement can be seen on this Thai news report, but be warned — the images are distressing.)

The girl, an ethnic Karen known as Air, says she was kidnapped while her illegal-migrant parents were working in sugarcane fields in northwest Thailand. She was then sold to a Thai couple who made her work as a maid and sleep in a dog kennel. Air says she escaped once and summoned the police, only to be returned to her abusers, who allegedly cut off the tip of her ear as punishment. The girl eventually escaped successfully on Jan. 31 last year.

“The couple is still at large, but lawyers will investigate all of the employers’ properties to compensate her,” Preeda Tongchumnum, the assistant to the secretary general of the Bangkok-based Human Rights and Development Foundation, told the Irrawaddy. “She cannot make a 100% recovery, but the doctor will help her to move her body like any other person.”

Although Monday’s award must be deemed a victory of sorts, the uncomfortable truth remains that the girl’s plight mirrors that of many of the estimated 4 million migrant workers in Thailand, who toil with virtually no legal safeguards and are often exploited by venal officials.

Compounding matters, the couple accused of torturing Air — identified as Nathee Taengorn, 36, and Rattanakorn Piyavoratharm, 34 — skipped town after they were inexplicably released on police bail despite facing seven serious charges. Local media reports alleged the pair had “influential” connections. The police have yet to offer an explanation for Air’s claim that they returned her to her captors after her first escape bid.

Such official indifference to the plight of migrant labor has contributed to the U.S. State Department’s decision last month to relegate Thailand to the lowest rank of its Trafficking in Persons report — putting the self-styled “Land of Smiles” on par with North Korea for its inability or unwillingness to protect workers from abuse.

“There cannot be impunity for those who traffic in human beings,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to mark the report’s release. “Whether it is a young girl trapped in a brothel or a woman enslaved as a domestic worker or a boy forced to sell himself on the street or a man abused on a fishing boat, the victims of these crimes all have names, all had families.”

Sadly, all four of the examples citied by Kerry are commonplace in Thailand, which has long been a hub for migrant laborers fleeing war, poverty or political persecution in less affluent neighboring countries. The Thai fishing industry has come into particular scrutiny recently.

This already dire situation has been further complicated by Thailand’s military coup on May 22. Fears of a crackdown prompted an exodus of more than 250,000 mainly Cambodian workers, although the junta insists that by requiring all companies to “submit comprehensive name lists of their employees” it is now working to prevent “illegal activity, drugs, crime, unfair employment and bodily harm.”

Such assurances have not convinced human-rights activists, though. “Migrant workers make huge contributions to Thailand’s economy, but their daily life is unsafe and uncertain, and they face abuses from many quarters,” Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement, calling for the junta to “reverse this [exodus] disaster by quickly putting into place genuine reforms that would protect migrant workers’ rights, not threaten them.”

TIME

What Considerations Do Police Officers Have to Make When Responding to a Call?

Answer by Tim Dees, retired cop and criminal justice professor, on Quora.

At crime scenes, or something that appears to be a crime scene, either everyone will want to talk to the police, or no one will want to talk to the police. Either one can be equally challenging. At the “everyone” calls, some or most of the witnesses will be trying to spin the incident and mislead the officer. At the “no one” calls, at least one of the people present is likely to be the perpetrator, who will have intimidated the others into keeping quiet.

The officer is usually entering an unfamiliar environment, occupied by people who live, work, or visit there frequently. He will not know the hiding places or weapons stores that are well-know to the others there, some of whom may want to do him harm, or at least keep the evidence of their crimes secret to him.

Most calls do not result in arrests or other enforcement actions. The officer may only answer questions, give some advice, or take a report. He has to be able to sort out the true and relevant details from all the noise. It’s one thing to be able to recite the elements of the major criminal statutes operable in his jurisdiction, but very much another to be able to apply a real-world situation to an assortment of hundreds of laws to decide if one or more of them has been violated.

As Allen Dean Benge pointed out, a crime is an act that has been proscribed by an appropriate governmental body. Crimes differ from other laws in that they include a penalty or range of penalties to be imposed on conviction. Statutes that define procedures or the licensing requirements for funeral directors aren’t crimes, and comprise most of the statutes in a typical book of laws.

An “assault” case can differ from one place to another, depending on how the statutes are worded. An assault may include a battery, or may be just an attempt to commit a battery. Battery may require harm, or just be an unwanted touching. The officer investigating such a case has to reconcile the physical evidence and the statements of witnesses and make a decision on whether a crime occurred at all, if one occurred, which one, and whether he can or is obligated to make an arrest. In a domestic violence case, he may have the obligation to make an arrest if it’s possible to do so. In other cases where he did not witness the crime, he may need to see if a victim or witness wants to sign a criminal complaint to enable an arrest.

This question originally appeared on Quora: What considerations do police officers have to make when responding to a call? More questions:

TIME Crime

Cops: Dad Who Let Kid Die in Hot Car Had Returned Without Removing Him

Police offer new details in murder case

A Georgia man charged with murder last week for allegedly allowing his son to die in a hot car had returned to his car midday without stopping to look after his son, police said Tuesday.

The revelation, contained in a new police report, offers insight into authorities’ decision to charge the father, Justin Ross Harris, with murder after his 22-month-old child died of heat stroke. The original arrest warrant suggested that Harris, 33, drove to work with his son in the backseat after forgetting to drop him off at day care and only discovered him unresponsive on the way home. But officials stressed from the outset that there may be more to the story. Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds told Atlanta radio station WSB last week that the “investigation is far, far from over.”

The death, one of many similar cases this year, has received substantial media attention in large part because of the severity of the charge filed against Harris. Many lawyers and other observers rallied to support a father who appeared to have committed a terrible accident. A Change.org petition asking that charges be dropped has received more than 11,000 signatures.

Harris, who has pleaded not guilty, is being held without bail in Cobb County jail and is scheduled to appear in court on July 15.

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