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Category Archives: Know Your Rights

Michigan Deputy Resigns To Avoid Being Fired After Questionable Stop

A Michigan deputy who resigned to avoid termination after he was caught on video pulling a man out of a car for asking a simple question is now working for another law enforcement agency, despite the fact he has an established reputation for aggressive and unprofessional behavior towards citizens.

But considering his new employer, the Lenawee County Sheriff’s Office, is looking into introducing body and dash cams for its deputies, we will likely see more videos of his aggressive behavior in the future.

However, his previous employer, the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office, had also required him to wear a body cam – which he was not doing on June 16, 2014 when he pulled over Todd Micheal Brenizer for a broken tail light.

But unknowing to Brown, Brenizer was recording the traffic stop, which is what led to him resigning.

Brenizer, who was charged with resisting arrest and obstruction, was cleared of those charges when he showed prosecutors the video.

He is now negotiating a settlement with Eaton County, according to Lansing City Pulse.

The video begins showing Brenizer upset at Brown’s aggressive attitude and the fact that he did not even give him a chance to search for his proof of insurance.

In the video, Brenizer is explaining what had taken place before he started recording when Brown returns with citations for a broken taillight and failure to provide proof of insurance.

Brenizer attempts to ask several questions including his name and badge number, but Brown tells him that information is on the citation.

Brenizer agains requests more information as Brown demands he move his vehicle or go to jail.
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Brown then starts yelling, “get the fuck out of the car or you’re going to jail.”

Brown then flings open the door while Brenizer remains adamant that he had done nothing wrong.

After a brief struggle, Brenizer is forced out and ordered to lay down on the ground.

In Brown’s arrest report, he stated that he “Brenizer had a right to ask him questions but instructed him to leave as he was blocking the roadway.”

He then said that “he refused and I grabbed him to escort him out of the vehicle and he pulled me into the vehicle,” which is how he justified the resisting arrest and obstruction charges.

Eaton County sheriff officials said that Brown had been required to wear a body camera due to a previous instance of unruly behavior with another citizen, but he had failed to do so.

Questions remain why Brown was not charged with false arrest or filing a sworn affidavit against Brenizer, but we can surmise it was an extension of Blue Privilege, which is all to common in the profession.

Brown’s resignation did not prohibit him from obtaining a position at Lenawee County Sheriff’s Department, yet one more Blue Privilege.

The first video below is edited to get right to the part when Brown pulls Brenizer out the car. The second video is the longer version.

It was just over a year ago when another Eaton County sheriff’s deputy named Jonathan Frost pulled over a teenager named Deven Guilford over for flashing his high beams at him, resulting in the deputy shooting and killing the teen.

CALL LENAWEE OR SEND AN EMAIL TO TELL THEM HOW WE FEEL ABOUT DEPUTY GREG BROWN!

Sheriff Jack Welsh: 517.264.5368

Deputy Gregory Brown
Phone: 517-263-0524 ext: 2178
greg.brown@lenawee.mi.us

FOUR YEARS IN PRISON For ‘Annoying’ a Cop? Here’s Why This POLICE STATE Law Is NOTHING NEW!

The New York State Senate has voted that it should be a felony to “annoy” police officers. The New York State Senate passed a bill this week that “creates the crime of aggravated harassment of a police or peace officer. The bill (S.2402), sponsored by Senator Joe Griffo (R-C-I, Rome) would make it a felony to harass, annoy, or threaten a police officer while on duty.

“Police officers who risk their lives every day in our cities and on our highways deserve every possible protection, and those who treat them with disrespect, harass them and create situations that can lead to injuries deserve to pay a price for their actions.”

The bill establishes this crime as a Class E Felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

“At a time when shocking incidents of disrespect and outright confrontation are at an all-time high, the men and women who patrol the streets of our cities deserve every possible protection we can offer them,” Senator Griffo stated. “My bill would make it a crime to take any type of physical action to try to intimidate a police officer. This is a necessary action because we can see from the rise in incidents that too many people in our society have lost the respect they need to have for a police officer. We need to make it very clear that when a police officer is performing his duty, every citizen needs to comply and that refusal to comply carries a penalty.”

Utica New York Police Department Chief Mark Williams said he is “grateful” to see this bill pass through the Senate. Williams explains that, “Our police officers have a very dangerous job” he explained, adding that they “need the support of our government leaders to help make them safe.”

He adds, “All too often persons are physically challenging police officers in the line of duty. Currently in those instances where an officer is physically attack [sic] (short of sustaining a physical injury) the lawful charge is only a violation. The consequences are way too low for the offender and it sends the wrong message to the public.”

The message, apparently, should be that beating your wife is a lesser offense than “annoying” a cop.

“Citizens do not have the legal right to physically challenge the authority of an officer lawfully performing their duties,” Williams added. What he did not explain, however, is how prosecuting “annoyance” is now equal to prosecuting “physical threats.”

“Threats, intimidation and physical force used upon our police officers not only erode respect for our criminal justice system, but also endanger the public as well.”

This is a classic false equivalency fallacious argument. But the police aren’t asking our opinion of the bill; they are telling us the way that it’s going to be.

Here’s how the legislation reads, according to the New York state legislature web site:

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To further complicate this issue, it is illegal for firearms to be purchased by felons. As “annoying” a cop would be a felony under this law, it may well become controversial among gun owners as well. The bill, if passed, would allow police to strip people of the right to own a weapon based on whether or not they “annoy” them.

But beyond this issue is the fact that this law would only formalize what has been the policy of so many police officers all along. We have seen Police CHOKE an African American CHILD holding a puppy for simply giving them ‘Dehumanizing Stares’. For many, if the police want to arrest you, they simply charge you with “disorderly conduct” for taking a tone they do not like. The onus is on the accused to prove their innocence and such charges are typically raised against those least able to afford a descent attorney to argue their case.

This bill would bring such practices of rogue elements of law enforcement out of the shadows. It would mainstream such discrimination and normalize police state abuses. When coupled with New York City’s existing “Stop and Frisk” policies, this bill has many asking just how much more totalitarian things can get?

 

Americans are bargaining away their innocence

The presumption of innocence helps to combat prejudice and prejudging in the U.S. criminal justice system. But because plea bargains have supplanted trials in our criminal justice system, that presumption does not apply to most cases in the United States.

Prejudice against the accused is quite common. Consider your own experience: If you see that a police car has pulled a driver over to the side of a highway, what do you make of the situation? Most people probably think to themselves, “Hmm, that driver was probably caught speeding.” Similarly, if you heard that one of your neighbors had been arrested, you would likely say to yourself, “I wonder what crime he committed.” It is a common reaction to presume that the authorities had a good reason to detain or arrest someone.

To protect the innocent, however, the law demands that incriminating evidence be presented in court. The Constitution says every person accused of a crime has the right to an impartial jury trial. If the jury is persuaded that a person is guilty, then that person can lose his liberty and be punished. That is a sensible procedure for a just system, and it is why Americans have taken pride in our Bill of Rights.

Unfortunately, the system that is described by our school teachers and that Americans see on television and in the movies is now defunct. Jury trials are now rare events in the United States. In fact, about 95 percent of the cases moving through the system will not go to trial. The overwhelming majority of cases will be resolved by plea bargains.

In a plea bargain, the prosecutor typically offers the defendant a reduced prison sentence if he agrees to waive his right to a jury trial and admit guilt in a brief hearing before a judge. Prosecutors use their power to pressure people who have been accused of a crime, and are presumed innocent, to waive their right to a trial and admit guilt.

We know this is true because prosecutors admit that this is what they are doing. The Supreme Court has approved these prosecutorial tactics in the landmark 1978 case, Bordenkircher v. Hayes. By a close 5-4 vote, the court said there was no constitutional problem with pressuring the accused to waive his trial and admit guilt. According to the court, there is no illegal coercion “so long as the accused is free to accept or reject the prosecution’s offer.”

But from a defendant’s perspective, plea bargaining extorts guilty pleas. Casual observers of our legal system will sometimes say that they would never plead guilty to a crime if they were innocent. An easy claim to make — but it is another thing when your freedom is actually on the line.

Imagine learning that the government has a “witness” who is willing to tell lies about you in court. And then your own attorney tells you that his best advice is for you to go into court, say you’re guilty and accept one year in prison instead of risking a 10-year prison sentence should the jury believe the lying witness. It’s an awful predicament for innocent people who get swept up in criminal cases. As William Young, then chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Boston observed in a 2004 opinion: “The focus of our entire criminal justice system has shifted away from trials and juries and adjudication to a massive system of sentence bargaining that is heavily rigged against the accused.”

Prosecutors do not set out to deliberately lock up innocent people. They’re dealing with crushing caseloads and believe that they are doing the best they can to administer justice fairly.

What happens when an innocent person has pled guilty, but regrets that decision later? The law is not very sympathetic. Rules vary across jurisdictions, but it is generally very difficult to retract a guilty plea and obtain a new trial — even when the government’s witnesses change their tune about what really happened. The government fights these legal moves all the time with the argument that the public has an interest in the “finality of judgments.”

Ironically, the prisoners who keep insisting upon their innocence face greater punishment. At the sentencing phase of a case, the judge typically wants to know if the convicted person will “accept responsibility” for his conduct and the consequences of his actions. Maintaining one’s innocence at sentencing will mean more, not less, prison time.

The same cruel twist will come into play down the road — when the innocent person becomes eligible for parole. Parole boards are looking for candidates who are contrite. Candidates who express remorse for their past actions stand a better chance than those who claim they have been unjustly imprisoned because they never committed the crime.

Some say that the nightmare scenario of innocents behind bars is inevitable because the system has to be administered by people — and people make mistakes. That truth should not be invoked to deflect consideration of reform proposals that can minimize unjust convictions. A re-examination of plea-bargaining practices is long overdue.

Cops Who Write Bullshit Tickets May Soon Face Prison Time

It can be argued that police departments across the country practice a form of legal extortion, in which victimless misdemeanors and infractions are punished with excessively punitive citations. The generation of state and city revenue via Kafkaesque civil and municipal violations is perhaps most apparent in the application of parking tickets, whereby inscrutable, sometimes illegible street signs make well-intentioned motorists increasingly susceptible to fines.

In the city of Los Angeles alone, fine revenue has increased 50% since 2003 and is expected to reach $180 million by 2018. In recent years, many online social media movements have surged in response to this transparently fraudulent urban taxation, with many citizens demanding their local city governments take action against cops filling their ticket “quotas.”

A new bill introduced by Representative Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri may soon push the movement forward. In the wake of the Department of Justice report regarding the police brutality and resulting riots in Ferguson, Missouri, Cleaver wants such unjust ‘policing for profit’ tactics to be considered federal civil liberty violations.

Calling the bill The Fair Justice Act, Cleaver wants any police officer charged with enforcing criminal or traffic laws for the sole purpose of raising revenue to face prison time for up to five years!

“The time has come to end the practice of using law enforcement as a cash register, a practice that has impacted too many Americans and has disproportionately affected minority and low-income communities,” Representative Cleaver said. “No American should have to face arbitrary police enforcement whose sole purpose is to raise revenue for a town, city, or state.”

This echoes President Barack Obama’s comments following the release of the DOJ report on Ferguson.

“What we saw was that the Ferguson Police Department, in conjunction with the municipality, saw traffic stops, arrests, tickets as a revenue generator, as opposed to serving the community,” the President said.“And that it systematically was biased against African Americans.”

Do you think such a maneuver can withstand the grinding inequities of our legal system? Considering the recent difficulties in getting district attorneys to even prosecute cases of clear police brutality, it’s hard to be optimistic ‘policing for profit’ tickets will be yielding disciplinary action any time soon. But perhaps lawmakers like Cleaver can at least help bring the issue into the limelight.