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9/17/07: University Of Florida Student Arrested,
Tasered During Kerry Speech


UCLA Student Tasered by Police in Library

Police State II



 Meet Deborah Davis. She's a 50 year-old mother of four who lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Her kids are all grown-up: her middle son is a soldier fighting in Iraq. She leads an ordinary, middle class life. You probably never would have heard of Deb Davis if it weren't for her belief in the U.S. Constitution.  story below:

Sent: Thursday, December 01, 2005 11:28 AM
Subject: [apfn-1]


By: Devvy December 1, 2005 "If we wish to be free, if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending, if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained - we must fight!" Patrick Henry Anyone who doesn't recognize that a police state is being erected right in front of their eyes is either in a state of denial or welcomes a repeat of Nazi Germany under Adolph Hitler. Two months ago a woman named Deborah Davis was reading a book while riding to work on a public bus. When her bus stopped outside the gates of the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood, Colorado (only three miles from my former home in Lakewood), a guard climbed aboard the bus and demanded that all the passengers produce identification.

Mrs. Davis didn't bite:
"I told him that I did have identification, but I wasn't going to show it to him," Davis explains. "I knew that I wasn't required by law to show ID and that's whyI decided I wasn't going to. The whole thing seemed to be more about compliance than security."

This guard who obviously has no understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, called the federal dragoons who proceeded to drag Mrs. Davis off this public bus, handcuffed her like some criminal, shoved her into the back seat of their Barney Rubble guard car and transported her to a police station within the Federal Center. For all this guard knew, Mrs. Davis could have been going anywhere outside the fencing of the Denver Federal Center (there is a post office just outside the gated entrance on the south side) once she got off the bus. His apprehension of her in my opinion isn't just unlawful detention, but kidnapping. Mrs. Davis' son is in Iraq fighting Bush's war to control the oil in the middle East while his mother is being subjected to the same treatment as those who live in communist countries and did under Hitler's regime.

Mrs. Davis will be arraigned on December 9, 2005, and faces up to 60 days in jail on federal criminal misdemeanor charges. These charges would be that "citizens must, when requested, display Government or other identifying credentials to Federal police officers or other authorized individuals." The second would be that citizens must comply with "the lawful direction of Federal police officers and other authorized individuals."
Open your eyes America. First, Mrs. Davis was on a public bus, she was not on federal property. This guard had no right to demand any American produce papers of any kind whether they are riding a bus or walking.

Second, under the U.S. Constitution, Congress has the power to make criminal only four types of conduct: treason, piracies and felonies on the high seas, counterfeiting, and offenses against the laws of nations. Just because Congress has been getting away with passing a zillion laws with all kinds of "offenses" does NOT make it legal. They have only gotten away with it all this time because the American people have refused to hold their elected public servants accountable out of blind loyalty to their damn party. What you are seeing right now in this country is the result of foolish voters. Despite the refusal by the sheeple to boot out rotten politicians, the law is still law:

"The highest law of the land is the Constitution of the United States." Stephen K. Huber, Professor of Law, University of Houston "The general misconception is that any statute passed by legislators bearing the appearance of law constitutes the law of the land. The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and any statue must be in agreement with it to be valid. It is impossible for both the Constitution and a law violating it to be valid; one must prevail over the other.

The Sixteenth American Jurisprudence, (2nd ed., Section 256), states:
"The general rule is that an unconstitutional statue, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void and ineffective for any purpose; since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it. A void act cannot be legally consistent with a valid one. An unconstitutional law cannot operate to supersede any existing valid law. Indeed, insofar as a statute runs counter to the fundamental law of the land, it is superseded thereby." Dr. Jacques S. Jaikaran, author ofDebt Virus The same nonsense is about to be unleashed upon innocent, law abiding citizens in Miami, Florida. The announcement came November 28, 2005: local coppers will "...stage random shows of force at hotels, banks and other public places to keep terrorists guessing and remind people to be vigilant."

"Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said officers might, for example, surround a bank building, check the IDs of everyone going in and out and hand out leaflets about terror threats.<> "This is an in-your-face type of strategy. It's letting the terrorists know we are out there," Fernandez said. The operations will keep terrorists off guard, Fernandez said. He said al-Qaida and other terrorist groups plot attacks by putting places under surveillance and watching for flaws and patterns in security. < style="font-family: times new roman;"> "People are definitely going to notice it," Fernandez said. "We want that shock. We want that awe. But at the same time, we don't want people to feel their rights are being threatened. We need them to be our eyes and ears."

Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez is a fool who should be removed from his job as well as the Mayor and any member of the Miami City Council who approved this BS. First: There is no legal authority for coppers to demand anyone entering or leaving a bank, hotel or other public places "show their papers." The courts have consistently upheld the absolute right of Americans to travel freely without interference or harassment and walking is traveling, just like riding a horse or driving a car.

Second, the CIA's creation called 'al-Qaida' doesn't give a hoot about a bunch of local coppers acting like testosterone pumped goons harassing little old ladies. You just wait until one of these little old ladies is so "shocked and awed" by a sudden show of force, they drop dead from a heart attack or massive stroke. Then the City of Miami will pay dearly.

Walking into or exiting a hotel, bank or "other public places" is a fundamental right and an action freely chosen by an individual; it is not a mandated activity by any federal, state or local law, ordinance or statute. Free Americans have a constitutional right to travel which is protected by the U.S. Constitution; seeCrandall v. Nevada, 73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 35, 49 (1868)("We are all citizens of the United States, and as members of the same community must have the right to pass and repass through every part of it without interruption, as freely as in our own states");Kent v. Dulles, 357 U.S. 116, 125, 78 S.Ct. 1113, 1118 (1958)("The right to travel is a part of the 'liberty' of which the citizen cannot be deprived without the due process of law under the Fifth Amendment");United States v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745, 757, 86 S.Ct. 1170, 1178 (1966)("The constitutional right to travel from one State to another, and necessarily to use the highways and other instrumentalities of interstate commerce in doing so, occupies a position fundamental to the concept of our Federal Union"); Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 629, 89 S.Ct. 1322, 1329 (1969)("This Court long ago recognized that the nature of our Federal Union and our constitutional concepts of personal liberty unite to require that all citizens be free to travel throughout the length and breadth of our land uninhibited by statutes, rules or regulations which unreasonably burden or restrict this movement")Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 339, 92 S.Ct. 995, 1001 (1972)("....since the right to travel was a constitutionally protected right, 'any classification which serves to penalize the exercise of that right unless shown to be necessary to promote a compelling governmental interest, is unconstitutional'");(The Court in Dunn also declared that "The right to travel is an 'unconditional personal right, ' a right whose exercise may not be conditioned.'" Id, at 341); andMemorial Hospital v. Maricopa County, 415 U.S. 250, 254, 94 S.Ct. 1076, 1080(1974)("The right of interstate travel has repeatedly been recognized as a basic constitutional freedom").

See alsoSchachtman v. Dulles 225 F2d. 938, 941 (D.C.Cir. 1955)("The right to travel, to go from place to place as the means of transportation permit, is a natural right subject to the rights of others and to reasonable regulation under law");Worthy v. Herter, 270 F.2d 905, 908 (D.C.Cir. 1959)("The right to travel is a part of the right to liberty");Cole v. Housing Authority of City of Newport, 435 F2.d 807, 809 (1st Cir.1970)("...the right to travel is a fundamental personal right that can be impinged only if to do so is necessary to promote a compelling governmental interest");King v. New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority, 442 F.2d 646, 648 (2nd Cir. 1971)("It would be meaningless to describe the right to travel between states as a fundamental precept of personal liberty and not to acknowledge a correlative constitutional right to travel within a state"); and Demiragh v. DeVos, 476 F.2d 403, 405 (2nd Cir. 1973)("...the fight to travel....[is] a 'fundamental' one, requiring the showing of a 'compelling state or local interest to warrant its limitation");United States v. Davis, 482 F.2d 893, 912 (9th Cir. 1973)(" is firmly settled that freedom to travel at home and abroad without unreasonable governmental restriction is a fundamental constitutional right of every American citizen....At the minimum, governmental restrictions upon freedom to travel are to be weighed against the necessity advanced to justify them, and a restriction that burdens the right to travel 'too broadly and indiscriminately' cannot be sustained"); andMcLellan v. Miss. Power & Light Co., 545 F.2d 919, 923 n. 8 (5th Cir. 1977)("The Constitutional right to travel is 'among the rights and privileges of National citizenship"); Costa v. Bluegrass Turf Service, Inc., 406 F.Supp. 1003, 1007 (E.D.Ken. 1975)("...pure administrative convenience, standing alone, is an insufficient basis for an enactment which...restricts the right to travel");Coolman v. Robinson, 452 F.Supp. 1324, 1326 (N.D.Ind. 1978)("The right to travel is a very old and well established constitutional right");Tetalman v. Holiday Inn, 500 F.Supp. 217, 218 (N.D.Ga. 1980)("the constitutionally protected right to basically the right to travel unrestricted by unreasonable government interference or regulation");Bergman v. United States, 565 F.Supp. 1353, 1397 (W.D. Mich. 1983)("The right to travel interstate is a basic, fundamental right under the Constitution, its origins premised upon a variety of constitutional provisions").

This right to travel is also a constitutional right under our state constitution, embodied within its "liberty" provisions;People v. Olivas (1976) 17 Cal.3d 235, 131 Cal. Rptr. 55, 551 P.2d 375, 381 (right to travel is a fundamental liberty interested protected by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; further "We conclude that personal liberty is a fundamental interest, second only to life itself, as an interest protected under both the California and United States Constitutions," 551 P.2d at 384);People v. Horton (1971) 14 CalApp.3d 930, 92 Ca.Rptr. 666, 668 ("...the right of the citizen to drive on a public street with freedom from police a fundamental constitutional right").

The Bill of Rights is just that: rights, not privileges and no federal or state agency can violate our rights as reaffirmed by the Bill of Rights. These are rights we are all born with, no government gave them to us nor can they take them away. These precious tenets are the very foundation of our Republic. In Miller v. U.S., 230 F., 2nd 286, 489 the court said: "The claim and exercise of a Constitutional Right cannot be converted into a crime."

The City of Miami has no compelling reason to demand it's citizenry show identification papers while they practice a "show of force" to impress some would be terrorists. If the 80 million gun owners of this country would get off their hands and demand their state legislatures reconstitute the lawful, constitutionally authorized state militias, there would be no need for this ridiculous horse and pony "show of force" in any city in America. As for the question of terrorists, I cannot stress how important it is for the American people toget all the known facts at this time regarding 9/11 - the justification for the continued assault on our God given rights by Congress and state and local municipalities.

Jefferson said it perfectly and city fathers, local law enforcement and the federal dragoons need to pay attention:
"Under the law of nature, all men are born free, every one comes into the world with a right to his own person, which includes the liberty of moving and using it at his own will. This is what is called personal liberty, and is given him by the Author of nature, because necessary for his own sustenance." --Thomas Jefferson: Legal Argument, 1770. FE 1:376

We the people arenot going to lay down and take this flavor of tyranny. Oh, there will be those who quiver at the very thought of standing up for their rights, but there will always be cowards who want others to fight for their freedom. Mrs. Davis drew her line in the sand and so should the tens of millions of Americans in this country who claim they will fight for their rights. We must let our local, state and federal elected servants hear the roar of NO from coast to coast, border to border.

Will you fight by standing your ground or will you surrender yourself to slavery?
I will leave you with these words from real warriors:
"As long as a hundred of us remain alive we will never be subject to tyrannical dominion because it is not for glory or riches or honours that we fight, but for freedom alone which no worthy man loses except with his life." The Declaration of Arbroath 1320 &copy; 2005 Devvy Kidd - All Rights Reserved

Devvy Kidd authored the booklets, Why A Bankrupt America and Blind Loyalty, which sold close to 2,000,000 copies. Devvy appears on radio shows all over the country, ran for Congress and is a highly sought after public speaker. Your complimentary copy of the 32-page report may be obtained fromEl Dorado Gold. Devvy is a contributing writer for  .
Devvy's website:    E-mail

Anyone who doesn't recognize that a police state is being erected right in front of their eyes is either in a state of denial or welcomes a repeat of Nazi Germany...


'Living in a police state' (New Laws)
Thu Apr 25 23:54:40 2002

'Living in a police state'

By JOHN WISELY and STEPHEN W. HUBER, Of The Oakland Press April 24, 2002

The state Legislature has given police power to search your home without
telling you why.

Two new laws, which took effect Monday as part of anti-terror efforts, also
shield from public scrutiny the reasons for police searches.

Defense lawyers and civil libertarians are outraged at the laws, which make
search warrants and supporting documents such as affidavits non-public

"If you think the police did secretive work before, just wait," defense
attorney William Cataldo said. "It gives more power to the ignorant and
more power to those who would take your rights."

Defense lawyer Walter Piszczatowski said: "This is nuts, this is beyond nuts.

"What happened to the Fourth Amendment? We're living in a police state."

That means the public, the press, and in some cases even the person accused
of the crime, can't know why the police entered a home without permission.

Under previous laws, the records were public, unless a judge ordered them
sealed for a specific reason. In federal courts, that remains the case.
But now, search warrants in state courts are automatically closed to public

"I think this is absolutely unconstitutional," said Dawn Phillips, a First
Amendment lawyer with the Michigan Press Association. "We objected to it
at the time. This thing passed like greased lightning."

The House portion of the bill passed unanimously and the Senate version
passed 27-8. The chief sponsor of the bill in the state senate was
Shirley Johnson (R-Royal Oak) while Bill Bullard (R-Highland Township)
was a cosponsor. In the state House, Nancy Cassis (R-Novi) was among
20 sponsors.

The American Civil Liberties Union also objected to the law's change. ACLU
spokeswoman Wendy Wagenheim said the group is reviewing the law.

Law enforcement supported the changes. Oakland County Prosecutor David
Gorcyca said the laws protect victims, witnesses and confidential

Gorcyca said the procedure for obtaining a search warrant didn't change,
nor did the rights of the defendant to challenge a bad warrant or the
ill-gotten gains of an illegal search.

"When affidavits are filed, previously they divulged a large portion of
the investigation and where it was heading and that could hamper the
investigation and the direction of the investigation," Gorcyca said.

"It doesn't mean you can circumvent the judicial process. All we're doing is
suppressing the contents of the affidavit. It does prevent the public and
the media from obtaining information during the investigation but it doesn't
prevent the defendant and the defense attorney from challenging the search

Gorcyca cited drug conspiracy cases as those where witnesses are frequently
in danger unless their identity is kept private during the investigation.

"In the drug world, witnesses are fearful all the time," he said. "Those
are reluctant witnesses who are afraid to come forward and testify. In
those cases, fear and intimidation is real. That's why grand juries are
so vital. And this provides the same secrecy as a grand jury and does
not impugn anyone's rights."

Civil libertarians say those goals can be met with a much narrower
approach, like the one used in federal court.

"A judicial finding needs to be made on a case-by-case basis," said David
Moran, a constitutional law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit.

When police are investigating a crime and they believe evidence is stored in
someone's home, car or other private place, they must submit a sworn affidavit
to the court spelling out their case.

A judge reviews the document, then decides if there is enough evidence to
search without the owner's permission.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires "probable cause" to
issue a warrant and notes they must be written "particularly describing the
place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized."

The changes are contained in two new laws - public acts 112 and 128.

State Court administrator John Ferry Jr. spelled out the changes to courts
across the state in a memo last Friday. Public act 112 makes "all search
warrants, affidavits and tabulations in any court file or record retention
system nonpublic," according to Ferry's memo.

The memo goes on to say that public act 128 "provides for suppression of a
search warrant affidavit upon a showing that it is necessary to protect an
ongoing investigation or the privacy or the safety of a victim or witness."

When contacted Tuesday for clarification on the memo, a spokeswoman for the
state court administrator's office declined comment. Marcia McBrien said the
laws could appear before the Supreme Court for interpretation and it would
be improper for her to offer one in advance.

The new laws could also create headaches for court recordkeepers. In many
courts, search warrants are filed along with the case file. It's unclear
how clerks will keep the two separate.

The new law also affects the rights of people who are searched.
to a analysis of the law done in the House of Representatives, the state
Court of Appeals ruled that affidavits be given along with a warrant at
the time of a search.

The new law changes that.

"An officer executing a search is not required to give a copy of the
affidavit to the person or leave a copy at the place from which the
property was taken," according to Ferry's memo.

©The Oakland Press 2002


Hollister Cover-up Continues

Mass Condition is Going on in Government Training Centers (Public Schools) Across the Nation. When the Men in Black Uniforms and Ski Masks Tell You to Get on the FEMA Bus, You Better Jump.

SEE Photos below:

Here's the Document That Was Sent to Jennifer Smith, the Mother of the Two Sons in Taney County, Missouri Who Attend School at Hollister High. She Called the Superintendent, Jack Scammahorn, and Said She Would Like to Know Where Her Sons Would Be Bussed and if They Would Be Held at Gun Point (as Many Other Training Excersizes Have Done Involving FEMA and Local Police). He Threateningly Told Her That He Was Involving the FBI Because of Her Call, and Refused to Tell Her What His Intentions Were.
Scammahorn Did Comment That Half of the Parents Had Not
Been Returned -- but That That Did Not Matter, They Were Going Ahead With the "Exercise."

Now We Have Gotten Reports from Hollister Local Media Badmouthing Alex Jones, Saying He Fabricated the Story. If That's True, the AP Must Have Fabricated Their Stories About Similar Exercises Going on Across the Country.  Mike Hanson, Alex Jones' Cameraman Called the Taney County Sheriff Theron Jenkins. The Sheriff Told Him That Because of Jones' Radio Program the "Exercise" Has Been Cut Down Half Scale. He Also Added That He Was Concerned About Federal Involvement, That He Had Nothing to Do With It and That the Police Department and School District Had Cooked the Whole "Exercise" Up. During Mike Hanson's Conversation with the Sheriff, He Learned That Taney County Has No History of Shootings or Hostage Situations.  To Fax Taney County Sheriff Theron Jenkins, Dial 417-546-3348

hollister.jpg (38546 bytes)

hollister2.jpg (51535 bytes)

Coming Soon to America...
Roadside DNA Tests On Citizens Planned... 


US High Court Allows Minor Traffic Offense Arrest        
Wed Apr 25 01:03:32 2001

On Tue, 24 Apr 2001 12:32:17
American Patriot Friends Network wrote:

US High Court Allows Minor Traffic Offense Arrest

In a decision affecting the nation's 185 million licensed drivers, a divided
Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that individuals can be arrested for minor
traffic violations punishable only by a fine. The high court, by a 5-4 vote,
said the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which bans unreasonable arrests and
searches, does not limit police discretion to make arrests for routine
traffic violations.

UPDATE 1-U.S. top court allows minor traffic offense arrest

This is just one more infringement of our Bill of Rights, carefully
calculated to tighten the noose. This ruling joins an earlier ruling made
during the first Clinton administration, that 5 or more persons in one
vehicle makes that vehicle subject to the laws governing "public
transportation" vehicles. Adding to that ruling was the police power to ask
anyone in that vehicle to submit to an onsite search, even though no probable
cause has been cited. If the search request is denied, then the passenger can
be forcibly removed from the vehicle. I suppose then that unfortunate victim
becomes subject to pedestrian curfew and vagrancy (minimum cash in pocket)
laws...among other things.

And all this is the fallout of a single precedent that was first established
in the late 80s redefining the word "right," to mean "privilege," in respect
to driver's rights. You see, since the Federal government is paying 50% of
all road funds, they get to dictate such NEW rules (overriding State's
rights) to the Sates. And what career politician is going to look all
paranoid and refuse to accept Federal funds for highway maintenance? How long
would he last in government...5 mins?

And does anyone still remember the trick that the Feds pulled of a few years
back‚€”under the auspices of our FASCIST "war on Drugs"‚€”when they required the
states of Washington, Oregon and California (and I think Arizona and Nevada?)
to make possession of Marijuana a felony (most had dropped it to a
misdemeanor), in order to get those road matching funds? I do! It was amazing
that more people did not see the flagrant violation of the principle of
State's Rights overridden in that little coupe! I can still remember how many
conservative "straight" sheep fell for that one! "What's wrong with that?"
they'd say, "Aren't you against DRUGS?" This sort of trick gets straight
people every time!

As for this arrest over traffic violations scam, "they" had to pull this one
over on the American public though a Supreme Court ruling. This was the ONLY
WAY anyone could have pulled this one off. But let's not forget, this sort of
fascism could only pass itself off as right and proper in a country whose
population is partially brain dead. I mean, it is not quite as easy as having
the right hand hold up the "war on drugs" cup, while the left hand with the
marble in it, goes about perverting State's Rights. After all, even
homosexuals drive, and so do non drug users. Yet I can almost hear the news
reporter's queries as to their opinions of the new ruling, as they are
answered by Joe and Betty brain-dead. They will be herd (all puns intended :
) to blurt, " Well, ya don't have nothinon such a drastic measure would have
been a lot harder than passing "Hate Crime" legislation passed in voting
precincts with large Homosexual voter populations, or "anti-drug" laws in
straight white middle-class Fundamentalist Christian neighborhoods.

Today's fascists know exactly how to get their way. We're used to seeing the
sheep just follow the leader right off the proverbial cliff," but in this
case they were just pushed off by hook and crook! And it's no big surprise,
is it? These court judges have been appointed by a long line of NWO
sympathizing Presidents. I think that all with "eyes to see" can understand
what this holds, in regard to the future of our Bill of Rights, can't we?
Well, the sheep are really in for it now, but they still don't get it. As for
the rest of us, this fascist ruling has been hung like a noose over round our

Add this to the new X-ray scanning at airports and other centers of public
transportation, covert biometrics imaging through "traffic" (surveillance)
cameras that now surround most urban centers and traffic corridors (mostly at
airport terminals, bus stations, train stations, etc.), random bag searches
in public places (precedent set in the 1996 Olympics pipe-bombing in new
Orleans), and the modestly intelligent person MUST see the pattern?

As I covered recently, the Amtrak ticket desk suspicious traveler
inform-for-bucks program, Illinois' new bumper sticker profiling/pullover
rules (4th Amendment-violating auto searches (expanded by the governor of
Illinois this last year to include some 20 or more bumper stickers), new
human identification radar flashlights, police microwave listening devices,
EM stun guns, human net throwing guns, synthetic aperture radar surveillance
Triangles (UAVs), and on and on...and what do you THINK is happening to

There is that famous euphemism that goes something like this: "The frog never
knows it's being boiled to death in a pot as long as the water is brought up
to a boil slowly, in incremental stages."

Is there anyone out there who can actually still chant the mantra, "All is
well in Zion?" If so, perhaps we need a "stupidity law," that makes
possession of an IQ below 90 a crime against humanity?

Hi folks...

"JustineBlake" in this group is aware of my fight here in NY regarding
seatbelt laws...I've been fined FOUR times in TWO years for seatbelt and
other misc "infractions" (missing front plate).

I'm on disability and cannot even afford the surcharges anymore, and will
never pay the fines that will be imposed on me. I even refused to plea to
the offense, whereby the town I was ticketed in entered a plea *for me* of
'not guilty' (which I told them I would hold them accountable for; I crossed
out the ticket in full on the back and signed nothing). In an effort to set
a precident, and get people to think for themselves about the ability to make
our own safety decisions and NOT Big Brother making them for us, I was also
denied a Trial By Jury by the dictator behind the bench.

These laws are nothing more than blatent, legalized extortion and it's
sickening. The fact that these judges ruled in favor of the officer's
actions, but choose to disregard the whole meaning of the Constitution who's
basis is one of "Liberty" ("Freedom from arbitrary restraint, *esp* by
gov't"...Black's Law Dictionary) says SO MUCH about the direction this
country is going in.


Thanks to the person who posted this...spread the word as much as possible!

On Tue, 24 Apr 2001 12:32:17
American Patriot Friends Network wrote:

US High Court Allows Minor Traffic Offense Arrest

In a decision affecting the nation's 185 million licensed drivers, a divided
Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that individuals can be arrested for minor
traffic violations punishable only by a fine. The high court, by a 5-4 vote,
said the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which bans unreasonable arrests and
searches, does not limit police discretion to make arrests for routine
traffic violations.
UPDATE 1-U.S. top court allows minor traffic offense arrest

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A divided Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that policdment,
which bans unreasonable arrests and searches, does not prevent the police
from making such arrests without a warrant.

"The question is whether the Fourth Amendment forbids a warrantless arrest
for a minor criminal offense, such as a misdemeanor seat-belt violation
punishable only by a fine. We hold that it does not,'' Justice David Souter
said for the court majority.

The dissent warned the ruling ``has potentially serious consequences for the
everyday lives of Americans. A broad range of conduct falls with the category
of fine-only misdemeanors,'' extending from traffic offenses to littering,
for example.

Souter, normally one of the court's most liberal members, was joined by four
conservatives -- Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia,
Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate conservative, said in dissent, `The
court neglects the Fourth Amendment's express command in the name of
administrative ease'' and it "cloaks the pointless indignity'' that the
woman in the case suffered "with the mantle of reasonableness."


The case involved Gail Atwater, who in March 1997 was driving her pickup
truck in Lago Vista, Texas, with her 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter
in the front seat. None of them was wearing a seat belt.

Bart Turek, a Lago Vista police officer, observed the violations and pulled
Atwater over. She told him she did not have her license and insurance
information, as required by Texas law, because her purse had been stolen the
day before.

Deciding to arrest Atwater, Turek handcuffed her and took her to the local
jail, where she spent about one hour being processed and having bail set. She
then was released on $310 bond.

She was charged with driving without her seat belt fastened, failing to
secure her children in seat belts, driving without a license and failing to
provide proof of insurance.

She pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor seat belt offenses and paid a $50
fine. The other charges were dropped.

Atwater and her husband then sued the city, Turek and the police chief,
alleging they had violated her constitutional rights and seeking compensatory
and punitive damages.


Souter rejected Atwater's historical argument that the common law dating back
to the founding of the country barred peace officers from making warrantless
misdemeanor arrests, except in cases of ``breach of the peace'' involving

Souter said the British Parliament, before the founding of the United States,
allowed arrests for all sorts of minor offenses without violence, including
night walking, game playing, cursing and negligent carriage-driving.

He said the laws in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia currently
allow misdemeanor arrests by at least some peace officers without requiring
any breach of the peace, as do a host of federal laws.

Souter refused to create a new rule of constitutional law forbidding a
custodial arrest when conviction does not involve any jail time and the
government cannot show any compelling need for immediate detention.

"Atwater's arrest satisfied constitutional requirements,'' he said, even
though it may have been inconvenient and embarrassing.

O'Connor disagreed. "There is no question that officer Turek's actions
severely infringed Atwater's liberty and privacy."

She warned that giving the police "such unbounded discretion carries with it
grave potential for abuse" and said, ''After today, the arsenal available to
any officer extends to a full arrest and the searches permissible'' under
that arrest.

Read the decision (Atwater v. Lago Vista)

Find Law News

Cops who say 'no'
Friday, 02-Mar-01 13:01:57 writes:

    Cops who say 'no'

    Yes, police do have an obligation to consider the morality
    of the laws they enforce

    Dateline: 2/26/01

    As hard as I am on cops — and I'm not about to stop — I'll be the first to admit that police have a thankless job these days. Forget the new high-tech cop toys and court decisions that treat the Fourth Amendment like an irrelevance — they give police more power, but they don't necessarily make the job more rewarding. The problem is age-old, but has worsened in recent years: police are increasingly asked to enforce restrictions that apply not to an irresponsible fringe of society, but to an ever-growing cross-section of just plain folks who find those laws repugnant and immoral.

    That raises a question that only a few law-enforcement professionals have addressed: When should a police officer turn to his superiors and say: "I just won't do that."

    Recently, 60 Minutes II reported on marijuana control efforts in and around Mendocino County in northern California. Local restaurants refuse to serve police who work on the task force that seeks out and destroys illicit marijuana plantations. Radio station report police movements so that growers and distributors can stay one step ahead. And locals sometimes shoot at police helicopters involved in hunting down ganja fields.

    What's happening with those wacky Californians? Nothing too surprising, really. It's simply that the prevailing culture of the area considers the cultivation, distribution and sale of marijuana to be a perfectly legitimate activity. The law disagrees, of course, but many locals have made the decision — hardly unprecedented — that the law is wrong and immoral.

    As a result, police enforcing the immoral laws are resisted with ostracism, sabotage and even force.

    That's a problem as far as policing is concerned, and not just because it makes for hungry lunch hours if you're wearing a uniform. Since the 19th-century, cops have been expected to abide by the principle stated by Sir Robert Peel, the father of modern policing:

    Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

    It's hard to hold to that standard when the public so thoroughly hates what you're doing that it won't sell you a sandwich and a soda. At that point, policing starts resembling the occupation of an enemy territory. Rather than keep the peace, cops actually stir things up and square-off against a big chunk of the community.

    That's happened in the past, of course. Prohibition may have been supported by a majority of Americans — at least for a while — but a sizable minority considered it a major intrusion into their lives and liberty. Police in the 1920s found themselves at odds not just with low-lifes, but with regular folks who had no qualms about defying a law they considered illegitimate.

    A century earlier, the federal Fugitive Slave Law excited even stronger passions. Requiring as it did that escaped slaves be returned to former masters from the free territory to which they had fled, the law was viewed by many people as not just illegitimate, but as mandating immoral acts. Abolitionists denounced the law and sometimes violently confronted those charged with its enforcement.

    In 1851, Ralph Waldo Emerson proclaimed:

    An immoral law makes it a man's duty to break it, at every hazard. For Virtue, according to the old lawgivers, is the very self of every man. It is, therefore, a principle of law, that an immoral contract is void, and that an immoral statute is void. For, as laws do not make right, but are simply declaratory of a right which already existed, it is not to be presumed that they can so stultify themselves, as to command injustice.

    Was it just Emerson's gut-level revulsion at slavery that fueled his pronouncement? Not entirely. He appealed to a long philosophical tradition, incorporated at least partially into American jurisprudence, that the natural right to be free trumps statutory law:

    A man's right to liberty, is as inalienable as his right to life. To take his life, is not a higher crime, than to take his liberty. ...

    [I]t was a principle in law, that all immoral laws are
    void. ...

    The law rests not only on the instinct of all people, but, according to the maxims of Blackstone & other jurists, on equity; and it is the fundamental thesis, that a statute contrary to natural right, is illegal, — is in itself null & void."

    Carried forward, that tradition finds its expression in the efforts by the people of Mendocino County to defend their neighbors by making life a living hell for police who enforce the drug laws.

    That tradition also appears front and center in fiery debates among gun rights activists. Faced with increasingly restrictive laws that millions of firearms owners consider immoral threats to their liberty, some people have called on police to refuse to enforce current laws, or at least to explain how far they arewilling to go.

    A widely circulated document that has sparked some interesting exchanges is said to recount an encounter between Peter J. Mancus, a Sebastopol, California, attorney, and a police officer in that town. Mancus asks the officer what he would do if ordered to confiscate privately held firearms. The officer responds that he would obey the order, and use lethal force if necessary. The conversation rapidly goes sour from there.

    And that's the starting point for a pretty furious public debate.

    What you might call traditionalists — mainstream conservatives among them — aren't at all comfortable with the idea that police should be exercising moral judgment over the laws they are ordered to enforce. Leroy Pyle, a former police officer who founded the Second Amendment Police Department — a gun-rights group geared toward law-enforcement professionals — best represents that point of view.

    Anyone with military or sports experience understands the importance of following orders. You don't win a war by voting on which hill to take, or toss a coin in the huddle to decide on a play. True winners depend on following orders. ...

    I appreciate and share the need to appeal to law enforcement for assurance that individual rights are high on their list of priorities. Like the majority who choose a law enforcement career, I'm proud of my profession. I followed orders for nearly 30 years and have no regrets. ...

    But the "I was just following orders" mindset has such inherent moral weaknesses and has been so thoroughly parodied since at least World War II that it practically rebuts itself. The rebuttal is captured by the phrase "Nuremberg Principles," which refers to the fact that a good many German officers and political officials were put on trial at Nuremberg for the acts they committed under orders. That they were obeying higher authority didn't save them from legal consequences.

    That's because, to return to Emerson, "a statute contrary to natural right, is illegal, — is in itself null & void."

    That means that obeying orders and enforcing statutory law doesn't excuse police officers from the responsibility to consider the moral consequences of their acts. No matter how many forms are filled out, or the clarity of blackletter law, the man or woman on the spot bears personal responsibility for his or her actions. If the order or the statute is immoral, so is its enforcement — the more so, the more force is used.

    That's relatively easy for a 21st-century American to say in looking back at war-era German police officials. The Germans rounded up Jews, Gypsies and political dissidents and sent them to their deaths. Was it so hard to figure out that this was evil?

    But those Germans had much the same support as today's cops. Their orders came through formal channels. Their actions were to enforce the law of the land, and their colleagues — and much of the public — supported what they did. Things seemed a bit fuzzier then than they do now in the age of non-stop World War II programming on the History Channel.

    So when should a police officer just say "no."

    Well, I could tell you my own guidelines, but if everybody shared my views on what laws should and shouldn't be on the books, I'd be doing something else for a living.

    A good starting point is just to remember that police officers are responsible for any immoral acts they commit, and immoral
    laws they enforce, even when they do so in accordance with orders and written statutes. Morality, quite simply, exists above
    the law. Likewise, individual rights pre-exist the law and can't be abolished by a majority of the legislature or the population.

    So police officers who stop every now and then to consider the consequences of their immediate responsibilities in particular,
    and their jobs in general, are already ahead of the game.

    If you're not sure where to start in differentiating among good and bad laws, and you're not quite ready to adopt my
    live-and-let-live views, here's a suggestion for determining whether laws should be enforced. If it's a restriction on liberty
    that a significant number of people — let's say one in 10 — actively oppose, then it probably ought not be on the books, because enforcement is likely to spark a world of recriminations and headaches.

    How outrageous is that? Do you think that would erase laws against murder? Rape? Burglary?

    Doubtful. The lobby for legalizing serial murder is pretty tiny.

    But requiring near unanimity would pretty efficiently dispense with a host of petty rules that 51% of the population vaguely favors on any given day. Such laws often provoke serious opposition from a rock-solid minority of the population that is willing to battle the authorities over the issue if necessary. Really, should society be sanctioning the use of force against these resisters over issues that can't command near unanimity?

    If police officers who put their jobs under a moral microscope conclude that the bulk of their duties are insupportable, they may have to decide whether a career change is in order. Yeah, that's a big decision, and there are always worries about mortgage payments and college funds to complicate the issue. But just as pleas of "necessity" rarely ease the consequences for burglars and car thieves, so enforcing evil laws isn't excused by the stack of bills on the end table.

    German cops had financial obligations too.

    A little concern for the morality of the laws that police enforce and the depth of opposition those laws face can go a long way
    toward making sure that cops can buy a sandwich at lunch — and that they don't face far worse consequences than empty
    bellies. Source: 

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    ----Original Message Follows----
    From: "Joe Richi-USA" <>
    Subject: Court OKs Arrest for No Seat Belt
    Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2001 14:57:08 -0400

    Court OKs Arrest for No Seat Belt
    Tuesday, April 24, 2001

    Associated Press Writer

       WASHINGTON (AP) - Clarifying the extent of police power in
    roadside stops, the Supreme Court held that officers can arrest and
    handcuff people even for minor offenses punishable by a fine. The
    justices ruled against a driver who was arrested and handcuffed for
    failing to wear a seat belt.
       Such arrests do not violate the constitutional protection
    against unreasonable search, the court declared Monday. In the 5-4
    ruling, which could affect anyone who drives a car, the justices
    said such an arrest does not violate the Constitution's Fourth
    Amendment protection against unreasonable seizures.

    Police generally can arrest anyone they see breaking the law,
    the court said as it barred a Texas woman from suing the officer
    who handcuffed her and took her to jail.
       The Fourth Amendment protects ``the right of the people to be
    secure ... against unreasonable searches and seizures.'' A lower
    court had ruled that Gail Atwater could not sue over her arrest
    because the officer did not violate her constitutional rights.
       Atwater was driving her two children home from soccer practice
    in 1997 in Lago Vista, Texas, when she was stopped by a police
    officer who had noticed the three were not wearing seat belts.

    Texas law allows police to make arrests for routine traffic
    violations, except for speeding. The officer arrested Atwater,
    handcuffed her hands behind her back and took her to the city
    police station. A friend looked after her children and her pickup
    truck was towed away.
       Atwater's mug shot was taken and she was released after posting
    bond. She later pleaded no contest to the seat belt offense and
    paid the maximum $50 fine.
       Atwater and her husband, Michael Haas, sued the city and the
    police officer, saying the arrest violated her constitutional

    The high court majority rejected her argument that police should
    not have arrested her for a crime that would carry no jail time.
       ``The arrest and booking were inconvenient to Atwater, but not
    so extraordinary as to violate the Fourth Amendment,'' Justice
    David H. Souter wrote for the majority.
       Souter was joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and
    Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.
       Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul
    Stevens and Stephen Breyer dissented.
       A lower federal judge had thrown out Atwater's lawsuit. A
    three-judge appellate court reinstated it, but the full 5th U.S.
    Circuit Court of Appeals ruled she could not sue.

    The appeals court said the arrest was reasonable because the
    officer had reason to believe Atwater violated the law and the
    arrest was not carried out in an ``extraordinary manner.''
       The states have widely varying policies on whether police can
    arrest people for minor offenses. Some states allow officers to
    arrest people for offenses punishable only by a fine, while others
    prohibit it. Some states let officers arrest someone they witness
    committing a misdemeanor offense only if the offense is considered
    a breach of peace.
       During arguments at the Supreme Court last December, Atwater's
    lawyer said the Fourth Amendment restricts the use of arrest for
    minor offenses. The case would be different if someone were stopped
    for drunken or reckless driving, which could cause danger for
    others on the road if they were released, her lawyer said.

    O'Connor, writing for the minority, said Atwater's arrest was
    unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. It does not make sense for
    the majority to say both that Atwater's arrest served no state
    purpose and also to say that it passed constitutional muster,
    O'Connor wrote.
       ``Because the court's position is inconsistent with the explicit
    guarantee of the Fourth Amendment, I dissent,'' she wrote.
       The city's lawyer had argued that police are allowed to make an
    arrest if they witness someone violating the law. Police often
    don't have enough information to know if someone's actions are a
    misdemeanor or felony, the lawyer said.
       The case is Atwater v. Lago Vista, 99-1408.
       On the Net:
       Supreme Court:



Death by cop
Colorado police shoot civilians - lots of them.
So many, in fact, that this year the state may surpass the Texas death chamber in its number of executions.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
by Eric J. Ross

The Execution Machine in Texas stalled temporarily this month while Americans debated whether killing convicted murderer Napolean Beasley would be appropriate in light of the fact he was only 17 at the time of the murder. That leaves the running total of 11 convicted Texas murderers executed this year. Six more are scheduled to die before the end of 2001, barring judicial stays, pardons or commutations. This slowdown may be the lucky break that the Colorado executioners seem to be looking for in their quest to surpass Texas and earn the state a new title: Execution State.

Say what? Some of the more erudite readers might ask how that can be, considering the fact that Colorado has officially put to death only one person in the last 30 years through legal channels-Gary Davis in 1997.

The state of Texas, meanwhile, has become best known for its desire to convict and kill violent murderers. But in Texas, unlike Colorado, the Judicial system actually bothers with all the trouble and expense of what lawyers and legal scholars refer to as "due process"-probable cause, warrants signed by judges, lawful arrest, reasonable bail, free legal defense counsel, preliminary hearings, motions, pleadings, trials by a jury of peers, comprehensive pre-sentencing reports, learned Judges presiding over it all, post conviction sentences within legislatively approved guidelines, the requisite appeals of conviction etc., etc., and etc. These are the little checks and balances that our justice system tries to place as obstacles and deterrents to one of the greatest tragedies that our country tolerates: the obscenity of wrongfully convicting an innocent person.

The requirements of due process aren't always enough. As proven in Illinois in recent years-where a pro-death penalty governor ordered executions to stop-states have been incarcerating far too many innocent and wrongfully convicted people. Since the advent of DNA identification in law enforcement-a practice instituted in the late 1980s-hundreds of innocent people serving hard time have been exonerated and set free. The National Institute of Justice reported that as many as 10 percent of the inmates in the United States may be factually innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. The Innocence Project at Cardozo School of Law has helped reverse the convictions of dozens of innocent people who were wrongfully convicted; many of these people have been locked in prison cells for decades of their lives. These innocent people cannot get the huge portions of their stolen lives back, but at least they are free and still alive.

In Colorado, a growing number of suspects never see a courtroom or a jail. Events of this summer have made it painfully clear that some Colorado cops shoot first and ask questions later; and possibly without consequences for the policemen responsible. The suspects get no representation, no trial, no appeal, no reprieve, no chance of reversal.

While Texas has executed 11 people lawfully this year, cops in Colorado have killed 11 on the streets.

Wild West justice
It's not as if Colorado citizens and politicians haven't tried to use a system more similar to the process in Texas. It's just that they've failed. When the U.S. Supreme Court revalidated the Death Penalty in 1976, Colorado politicians quickly began thirsting for its application. In 1984 the Colorado Legislature revised the law to allow executions in capital murder cases.

The Colorado death chamber was dusted off after a nine-year hiatus, and people waited eagerly for its use. But a funny thing happened on the way: Due process, in the form of juries. In Colorado, juries not only decided the guilt or innocence of the defendant, but also decided whether those they convicted should be killed, or imprisoned for life. Juries showed an overwhelming reluctance to execute, even after sitting through trials involving gory evidence and listening to the agony of grieving survivors. This enraged the politicians and frustrated the would-be executioners. So in 1996 the Colorado Legislature, strongly supported by the Colorado District Attorneys, decided to take the decision away from the 12 jurors who witnessed the trial and stack the deck in favor of the state.

They concocted a new method of sentencing, something they were sure would result in more deaths. The plan was to place the life or death decision solely in the hands of three-judge panels. Surely, hand-picked dispassionate judges would be more willing to fry convicted murderers than timid jurors who had come face-to-face daily-sometimes for weeks on end during a trial-with the people they were supposed to have killed.

So in 1995 the three-judge tribunal was established by the legislature to decide who gets death after being convicted of capital murder. It was yet another unexpected setback for those who would make Colorado more like Texas. Lo and behold, the wise and learned judges just weren't concluding that many of the capital cases before them that were deserving of death. In fact, they were coming to much the same conclusions that the old juries were. In response, the legislature threatened again to alter the system and turn over the sentencing decision in each capital conviction to just one judge. So far, the one-judge proposals-sure to result in more legal executions-have failed.

But those who favor the swift execution of convicts need not despair entirely. With none of the buildup, none of the drama, none of the average 10 years of due process, these people are seeing suspects-not convicts-get shot routinely throughout the state. In the past 12 months, mostly this summer, Colorado cops have shot 21 people, 11 of whom are dead. The nature of the alleged crimes is diverse, ranging from serious assaults to shoplifting to sitting peacefully in one's own home, watching TV while the emergency 911 system misfires.

Of the hundreds of thousands of federal, state and local laws on the books in the United States, only two-premeditated murder and treason-can result in the option of capital punishment upon conviction.

Although capital punishment requires a seemingly endless cycle of checks, balances and due process, executions by cops require nothing but a feeling on the part of the gun-toting officer. Under state law, one needs only to interact with a cop, and that cop needs only to "fear" for his life in order to be authorized to shoot to kill. Whether he's in "fear," and therefore justified to shoot, is entirely up to him. Internal investigations of police shootings come down to this:

Interrogator: "Did you fear for your life?"

Cop: "Yes, lieutenant, I thought he might run over me."

Cars have been declared "deadly weapons" without much, if any, scrutiny from the media or the public. As a weapon it makes a rather poor and cumbersome choice if one is intent on harming or killing a specific person. Visualize an old western-style showdown. You, in your car, are a mere 20 paces from your opponent. He has a loaded gun. Ready, set, go! Bet heavily on the gun.

But being anywhere in a car can give the cops authority to kill you, if they happen to be anywhere near or around your car. It doesn't matter what "crime" you may be suspected of at this point. It could be anything or no crime at all. Scare a cop, even by accident, and he can kill you with near absolute impunity.

Trained to kill
Cops always shoot to kill. Gabe Suarez, an LA cop and author of The Tactical Pistol: Advanced Gunfighting Concepts and Techniques, believes that it's unwise and unethical for an officer to shoot to disable a suspect. His book argues that police should only shoot when they feel their lives, or the lives of civilians, are imminently at risk. And when shooting a would-be killer, who's going to murder before he can be subdued, no risk should be taken. If injured, the suspect will only be angry and is likely to take a cop or civilian with him to the grave. Injured, Suarez argues, a dangerous suspect will do anything to kill. So he, and others who teach cops how to shoot, try to instill a two-to-the-chest, one to-the-head model. Suarez recommends that police plug a suspect twice in the chest, then aim the gun directly at the suspect's head. If the head is in the sights, pull the trigger. If it's not, then the two to the chest put him down.

When someone shot by a cop doesn't die, it is merely a reflection of the ballistic incompetence of the officer or just a freak stroke of luck, and not because the cop intended to spare a life.

How threatening must one be to receive two bullets to the heart?

Again, it comes down to how an officer feels. More technically, however, the officer is on less shaky ground if the suspect is within 21 feet of the cop. It's not state law, but an arbitrary guideline established by Denver's police trainers. They have established an imaginary 21-foot circle around each cop. They have said publicly that a suspect moving toward an officer with a weapon available, even a tire iron or screwdriver-or any object that can be construed as a weapon-must be dropped with lethal force.

By following the arbitrary mechanical dogma of the training manual, police are immune when they use lethal force.

The issue, then is one of morality, not legality. Simply because a cop "may" legally kill a suspect, the question becomes: "Must" he kill the suspect? That semantic nuance, and the wisdom and discretion to choose between them, is what many say separates the truly corageous cop from the trigger-happy robocop. However, the moral fortitude of some cops provides little protection for Colorado citizens.

Under Colorado law, the legal standard for self-defense is exactly the same for cops as it is for citizens. In order to use deadly force against an assailant legally, one must be in "imminent danger" of being killed or of receiving great bodily injury. While police have certain special powers of arrest and apprehension, the legal requirement for justifiably killing another person in self-defense is exactly the same as it is for any other citizen. In practice, it rarely happens that way. The legal standard that must be met before anyone can kill another is high and should be so in a civilized society. Some disagree with this concept and expect that the standard should be even higher for professionally-trained, full-time law enforcers. But the police have the same rights to self-defense as you or I do.

So when you read reports of justifiable lethal force and wonder about their legitimacy, ask yourself: Would the actions appear reasonable if an average citizen, standing in the cop's shoes, did the exact same thing?

The body count
The number of killings by cops in Colorado, or anywhere in the United States, is not an easy statistic to obtain. It's actually a statistical black hole, one resulting from blind trust in law enforcement coupled with the lack of required accountability-an historical recipe for trouble.

One reason given for the absence of these statistics-unlike other crime data, which is copious-is that law-enforcement officialdom doesn't consider the shooting of a suspect to be a crime. Never. Not ever, based on the wording of a U.S. Justice Department-Bureau of Justice Statistics report.

When it comes to lethal force by police against citizens, the city of Denver ranks as one of the deadliest cities, based on extensive research by the Washington Post.

Nationwide, Denver ranked in the top 10 in measurements of fatal shootings per 100,000 residents; in the top 10 in fatal shootings per 1,000 police officers; in the top 10 in fatal shootings per 1,000 arrests for violent crimes; in the top 10 in fatal shootings per 100 murders; and ranked second in fatal shootings per 10,000 violent crimes.

But statewide, no single agency keeps or collates such data. Boulder Weekly's calls to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the State Attorney General, and the Governor's office were met with "we don't keep those statistics." The Colorado Bureau of Investigation responded with: "we have no idea" how many times Colorado cops shot or killed someone this year. The law does not mandate that such important data be compiled or kept, much less analyzed. One has to rely heavily on news media coverage throughout the state, trusting that all incidents of lethal force are known to reporters and subsequently published.

According to a story titled "When Cops Shoot, Who's Counting?" in the New York Times, this absence of meaningful statistics is a nationwide problem. In the April 29 story, reporter Fox Butterfield wrote:

"Despite widespread public interest and a provision in the 1994 Crime Control Act requiring the Attorney General to collect the data and publish an annual report on the statistics, police shootings and use of non-deadly force continue to be piecemeal products of spotty collection, and are dependent on the (voluntary) cooperation of local police departments. No comprehensive accounting of all the nation's 17,000 police departments exists."

In the 1980s, the International Chiefs of Police, a police organization, tried to collect such information. But members of the organization didn't like what they saw.

"The figures were very embarrassing to a lot of police departments" said James Fyfe, a professor of criminal justice at Temple University and a former New York cop, in the Times.

In Colorado, no law requires that shootings or killings by police be investigated by outside agencies, much less analyzed. Some metro agencies use outside "shoot teams" to investigate when one of their own shoots or kills a citizen. These investigative teams are usually comprised of law enforcement members from the surrounding jurisdictions.

At the whim of the agency involved in each shooting, the use of outside investigators is completely optional and discretionary. Many times they simply investigate themselves. If they do call a shoot team, the investigators do not have authority or jurisdictional control, says Linda Holloway, a CBI shoot team investigator. The team or its findings can be dismissed or denied access, Holloway says, at the whim of the agency involved in a shooting.

A few departments in Colorado, and throughout the country, voluntarily send their data on shootings by cops to the FBI. The statistics end up in an annual report by the US department of Justice crime statistics division that's labeled "Justifiable Homicide of Felons by Police." In other words, all reported shootings are "justifiable," and all those shot are felons. The federal government has official knowledge of exactly zero instances in which a police officer unlawfully shot a suspect.

The report explains:

"When a police officer deliberately kills someone, a determination is made as to whether the homicide was justified to prevent the imminent death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person. If an investigation determines that the homicide did occur in the line of duty and that circumstances did warrant lethal force, a record of a justifiable homicide is voluntarily sent by the officer's agency to the FBI in Washington. Each record of justifiable homicide is then entered into the database."

This leaves the reader of this report with a few questions, such as: What happened to the non-justifiable or questionable killings of "felons" by police? What happened to the non-justifiable or questionable killing of misdemeanor offenders by police? What happened to the non-justifiable or questionable killings of traffic offenders by police? What happened to the murders of civilians by police?

Answer: The victor gets to write the history books.

The introduction to the report seems to make mockery of the data, stating:

"In this report, killings by police are referred to as 'justifiable homicides,' and the persons that police kill are referred to as 'felons.' These terms reflect the view of the police agencies that provide the data used in this report."

Reread that. Let it sink in. Why are all killings by police justified? Because the police say so in every single case they ever report. Why are all those killed called "felons?" Because the police shot them. The police say they're felons, and they don't need a prosecutor, a judge and a jury to concur.

The "felon" description of all reported suspects who get killed was dubbed "deeply offensive and legally incorrect" by Samuel Walker, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska. Even the Justice Department itself was so embarrassed, reports the Times, that it did not send out its usual promotional material trumpeting the report.

In a novel mission to fill this peculiar informational void in the Information Age, a non-profit Internet site and database has been launched to begin a national count. and will act as national central repositories for all instances of police lethal force in the U.S. The repositories will rely on data sent in by citizens. News media and public watchdog groups will also be invited to submit records of every instance of which they are aware.

Legally, and for all practical purposes, it appears to be obvious and clear that police can shoot suspects, almost at will, without recourse-especially in Colorado. But in this country, at least, citizens are free to keep count. The People will keep count, and will continue to count until each and every instance of lethal force by police is recorded. At the end of all the counting, perhaps the analysis will show no bias or raise no further questions. Perhaps it will turn out that every incident of force by police in the U.S. is indeed "justifiable homicide," just like the Department of Justice claims. Wouldn't that be comforting?


The following provides a look at some of the 21 executions and failed executions that have taken place in Colorado in only the past 12 months.

Jerry Norris: suspected of watching TV, July 26, two shots
David Grodney: suspected of shoplifting July 23, eight shots
Joshua Torres: suspected of speeding July 19, three shots
*Hakijah Ogobonna: suspected of assault July 18, one shot
Christopher Cali: suspected of being suicidal July 17, two shots
Christopher Olguin: suspected of assault July 7, one shot
*Richard Dutson Jr: suspected of purse snatching July 8, 42 shots
Michael Jackson: suspected of assault May 8, one shot
Larry Olsen: April 21, aggravated assault, four shots
Brandon Meraz: suspected of traffic violations April 14, five
*Ascary Macias: suspected of car theft April 14, one shot
*Joseph Daniel Martinez: suspected of aggravated assault April 8, two shots
*Jamie McIlrath: suspected of acting erratically Mar 14, one shot
*David Mercado: suspected of bank robbery Feb. 28, one shot
*Brian Pannebaker: suspected of being suicidal Feb. 8, two shots
*Abran Lovato: suspected of running Feb. 3, three shots
Matthew Arroyo: suspected of car theft Jan. 18 2001, one shot
*Bruce Graham: suspected of lighting a fire Oct. 19 2000, four shots
Bryant Wynn: suspected of robbery Oct. 18 2000, one shot
*Eric Vantslot: suspected of violating restraining order Aug. 29 2000, two shots
*Mark Anthony Russell Jr.: suspected of disturbance Aug. 16 2000, one shot

* Killed

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Is America a Police State?
by Dr. Ron Paul

CCOPS: Concerned Citizens Opposed to Police States

Senate approves police searches and seizures without warrants.

"Radar flashlight" lets cops spot people through walls

Police State

The Declaration of Independence {info & links)


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