06 January 2016

Your Law Enforcement Misconduct Update

First, we have former (Yay!) Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia, who went postal on Sandra Band, has been indicted for perjury and fired by the Texas DPS:
The state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old African-American woman who was found dead three days later in her Waller County jail cell, has been indicted on perjury charges, a special prosecutor said.

Hours after the decision was announced, the Texas Department of Public Safety said it was initiating termination proceedings against Brian Encinia, the 30-year-old trooper who last July stopped Bland for failing to signal a lane change and arrested her.

The announcement came late Wednesday afternoon at the courthouse in Hempstead, about 50 miles northwest of Houston, during the grand jury's fourth meeting since it was convened this fall to deliberate the circumstances around Bland's arrest and incarceration.

Darrell Jordan, one of five special prosecutors, said the grand jury's indictment stemmed from a statement the trooper made in a one-page affidavit he filed in Bland's arrest, in which he said he pulled her out of her Hyundai Azera to "further conduct a safe traffic investigation."
Well, that was fairly clearly a lie, and it was material, which is the basic definition of perjury.

Meanwhile, in my hometown of Baltimore, the prosecution continues apace, with Officer William Porter, whose trial ended in a hung jury, being ordered by a judge to testify at the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson, Jr.:
In an unprecedented move, Judge Barry G. Williams ordered Officer William G. Porter on Wednesday to testify at the upcoming trial of a fellow city officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

Porter's attorneys immediately said they would seek an injunction to block the ruling.

Williams said he found himself in "uncharted territory" but felt the law was "clear." He granted Porter a type of immunity that allows his charges to stand, but which precludes his testimony in the trial of Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr. from being used against him.

Legal experts — and Williams — said the ruling was unprecedented for a criminal defendant with pending charges.

Williams also warned prosecutors that calling Porter as a witness could have serious implications for their ability to retry him. Porter's trial on manslaughter and other charges ended last month in a hung jury, and he is scheduled to be tried again in June.

"The second he testifies, that may change the game," Williams said.

After Williams issued the ruling, defense attorney Gary Proctor leapt to his feet and told Williams he intended to appeal to the Court of Special Appeals on Thursday to block prosecutors from calling Porter to testify.

Should Williams' ruling stand, Porter would not be able to invoke the Fifth Amendment and would have to testify or face the threat of contempt and jail time.
I think that the strategy here is to force him to testify in the hope that some of the other officers get angry enough to roll in him, and under those circumstances, the first guy to make it to the prosecutor's office wins, and everyone else loses.

Also, the prosecution has let slip some elements of its strategy, and it appears that they will be attempting to prove that Gray was the victim was of a "Rough Ride" where officers use abrupt maneuvers to throw a detainee around a car to punish him:
The idea has long been floated that Freddie Gray might have been given a "rough ride" — a practice in which police transport vans are intentionally driven erratically to harm unbuckled, handcuffed detainees.

Now prosecutors have signaled for the first time that they may adopt the theory in the case against Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., the driver of the van in which they say Gray suffered a fatal spinal cord injury. Goodson faces second-degree depraved-heart murder charges in a trial that begins with jury selection Monday.

Prosecutors have notified Goodson's attorneys that they intend to call expert witness Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore police officer and Maryland state trooper who has testified in Annapolis on policing, to talk about "retaliatory prisoner transportation practices." Legal experts said that refers to what is colloquially known in Baltimore as a "rough ride."

"That is a retaliatory, sort of 'teach the guy a lesson' move," said Geoffrey Alpert, a University of South Carolina professor and an expert in use of force by police.

Both the defense and prosecution are barred by a gag order from discussing the case, and retained witnesses are not allowed to discuss their intended testimony.
Here is the kicker:
Gray was unbuckled, handcuffed, placed in leg shackles and driven around West Baltimore for about 45 minutes before he was found unconscious and not breathing in the back of the van when it arrived at the Western District police station.
There is no reason for it take 45 minutes to get him to booking.

I am sure that the defense will attempt to provide an alternate theory for this, but there is no justification for going on a joy ride with a detainee in the back.


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