Are Police Beyond Accountability?

After the Rodney King verdict, the general conclusion was that a jury would not convict police for crimes against minorities.  Now we know better.  Apparently, juries will not convict police of any crimes whatsoever.  Add to this the fact that police departments themselves are so successful covering-up crimes and prevent most from coming to trial, and I wonder if police are beyond accountability.

I know there are a lot of folks who fetishize the police, but in my mind if we give police special powers, then they should have more accountability, not less.  I think police should be on camera, for example, every minute of their work day.


  1. Brad Warbiany:

    You know, these police *were* on camera... With audio. And after not only hearing one cop say "See these fists? They're getting ready to fuck you up", but also, during a 9+ minute beating, repeatedly heard Thomas plead for them to stop and saying sorry.

    And they got off.

    What exactly is a camera going to accomplish?

  2. sean2829:

    It's not just the police. It's every level of government. The credit rating agencies indicated that the prospectus on bonds purchased in Illinois were likely fraudulent but because it was a government agency the fraud is not criminal.

  3. Matthew Slyfield:

    Yes, unfortunately as things stand law enforcement in this country is beyond accountability. As to your camera suggestion, the cameras won't do any good until there is a viable mechanism for holding LEOs accountable for their misdeeds.

  4. Me too:

    I agree the police went to far but she started the whole thing by running from them twice and then tried to play the victim. She could have taken the speeding ticket and been done with it.

  5. jimkimmons:

    In the book Nation of Cowards, the author does a great job of examining gun laws. That's not what this is about per se, but it does illustrate that we're stuck with this as long as the vast majority of people in this country are so fearful of everything around them, including inanimate objects like guns they can use to protect themselves, that they give the police all of the power they want.

    They also believe fervently that none of these "abuses" will happen to them, only "dangerous" people. Of course, they will only hear about a tiny percentage of police abuses from the mainstream media anyway. So, the fearful will keep empowering the abusers out of fear and belief that bad things will not happen to them. The police are not abusing "good" people.

  6. c_andrew:

    Now watch as the Fullerton thugs sue for their jobs, back wages and damages. Although I do hope that Kelly Thomas' father is as persistent in his civil suit quest and recompense as was Ron Goldman's. These Fullerton Fat F**ks should spend the rest of their lives paying money out for the horrific actions they committed. And one can always hope that Officer Ramos will run into a biker gang and get the end of life experience he so richly deserves. I do hope they'll let him put on his "F**k you up gloves" first.

  7. marque2:

    The one difference was that Rodney was being aggressive with police and attacking them. This guy was just calling to his father for help.

  8. marque2:

    The DA was in favor of the police and didn't want to proscecute in the first place. I think he purposely fixed the trial in favor of police.

  9. markm:

    Yes, expecting DA's to prosecute cops is all too often unreasonable. They work with the cops all the time, and rely on the cops to gather evidence. If the cop is a criminal, often the prosecutor is a co-conspirator. Every lost case smells bad whether or not they truly tried to prosecute the case to the fullest, and the failures to even indict smell worse. And it can get worse. Look up Fajitagate, where three cops mugged two men for a bag of fajitas, and much of the PD tried to cover it up. (Yeah, the theft was just silly, but the beatings weren't, the conspiracy to obstruct justice wasn't, and having cops and their supervisors thinking they can get away with robbery is damned serious.) The grand jury indicted several cops and their supervisors nearly all the way to the top, but the prosecutor threw out the indictments against the higher officials. The case against them may have been unwinnable, but it stank to have a prosecutor who worked with the PD every day making that decision.

    The Roman Republic got along without any DA's. Private citizens could take an accusation to a court or the equivalent of a grand jury, and if they could get an indictment, would try the case themselves.

    But English common law developed a parallel system, where the King would hire a lawyer to prosecute offenses against His laws, and eventually the Crown's Counsel became professional prosecutors. I think that early in American history, crimes could be prosecuted either by private citizens or by a State's Attorney. But there's little reason for a citizen to spend his time and money prosecuting ordinary crimes when there's a paid prosecutor with more experience in the job, and so private prosecution as faded away.

    But it needs to be restored in the case of crimes involving public officials. (Not only "by" public officials, but also involving them, e.g. bribery and election fraud by private parties should be included.) A citizen should have the right to seek an indictment, under the same rules as prosecutors do. If that makes it too easy to annoy public officials by dragging them into court continually, maybe they'll fix that by reforming grand jury procedures until it is no longer possible to "indict a ham sandwich", or to use summons to testify for harassment, and by eliminating the shortcut of seeking an indictment for major crimes in front of a judge.

    E.g., a skeptical grand jury would have ended the Zimmerman case without even needing Zimmerman's testimony, but Angela Corey found judges that didn't bother to check the veracity of her application for an indictment. It began with a lie (that the 911 operator "ordered" Zimmerman to stay in his car - the actual words were "we don't need you to do that", several minutes after Z got out of the car, and it ignored and distorted much of the witness accounts. And so Z was subjected to a spectacle in which many of the prosecution witnesses confirmed his innocence, from the police investigator who could find no holes in Z's story to Trayvon Martin's girlfriend who testified that he made it home, and then doubled back to beat down Zimmerman. But the indictment process has been streamlined for prosecutors to the point that no one pointed out that they had no case. If that's good enough to drag _us_ into court, it's good enough to drag public officials into court - and it won't change until they are also victims of the system.

    I have heard one other objection to private prosecution - that one could have ones friends indict you and throw the case. But that's already a problem; the DA is an associate of the cops, the bribe-taking officials, and either one of the winners of a fraudulent election, or appointed by the winners. The solution is to allow multiple would-be prosecutors to present the case to the grand jury, and the grand jury picks which one can proceed.

  10. Craig Loehle:

    Imagine that the cops start beating you. What do you do? Try to defend yourself. It is instinctive. There is no signal you can give that you have surrendered except becoming limp, but that is impossible when being beaten unless you are knocked out. So once they start a beating, there is no way to stop until you are near dead. Wrestling someone into handcuffs is something entirely different and beatings should NOT be an option for the cops to engage in. Once 4 cops grab you unless you are on pcp or something the fight should be over and no beating should be needed.

  11. marque2:

    The kid was limp. He wasn't attacking back at all.

  12. marque2:

    The young man was mentally ill/retarded, and known to the police. They frequently encountered him on that beat. They knew he was not capable of fully rational thought. He was just another one of the homeless on the street.

    They knew he was harmless, and yet decided to beat him to a pulp anyway. Not sure if I agree with your assessment here.

  13. Me too:

    I was speaking of the woman in the video right above my comment not the man in the original story.

  14. Dale H. (Day) Brown:

    I've been before two juries now, neither of which had a juror with an active Facebook page. They get the convictions they want by stacking juries- which an Internet People Search engine will reveal. I even saw jurors seated who did not live in the district.