NEW JERSEY CRIME LINE - NJ-SPEAKOUT PUBLICATION
snail: PO Box 1214, Belle Mead, NJ 08502
Vol. 1 No. 4 September 4, 1995
SPECIAL ISSUE ON POLICE CORRUPTION
Vol. 1, No. 4, is a special issue dealing primarily with issues of
police brutality and corruption, particularly in Philadelphia. As
we deal with issues of the war on crime and the prison system, we
also have to consider, how some people end up in prison unjustly.
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This issue is broken into to posts, Vol. 1, No. 3 and Vol. 1, No.
4, due to length. The following are the contents of this post:
>>01. PHILADELPHIA COPS ON FRAME 'EM UP RAMPAGE - 5 PARTS
>>02. NJ COP ISSUES
>>01. PHILADELPHIA POLICE - FRAMING 'EM UP BY THE THOUSANDS?
Posted by Bob Witanek 8/28/95
Today, the facts about the Philadelphia Police forces propensity
for manufacturing evidence, planting contraband and perjuring
themselves in court was finally the subject of a New York Times
article. The following is a recent news report by Jose Santiago,
radio journalist for our favorite listener sponsored, non-
commercial listener sponsored radio station WBAI-99.5FM (NYC):
JOSE: Attorneys for Mumia Abu-Jamal claim the activist was
persecuted by the local police and an adverserial judicial system
because of his work with the Black Panther Party, and because of
the nature of his journalistic work which often focused on the many
instances of police corruption and misconduct during the years when
Frank Rizzo served as police commissioner and then as mayor. While
Mumia's appeal remains in a temporary holding pattern, the issue
of corruption and misconduct on the part of Philadelphia Police
moves ever closer to center stage. Right now in the City of
Brotherly Love, a US Justice Dept investigation is uncovering
evidence of widespread police misconduct and corruption, not back
in the Rizzo years, but today.
RECORDED CHANTING: Stop Police Brutality in the Black Community!
JOSE: A group of Mumia Abu-Jamal supporters chanted as they
gathered at the entrance of a recent fundraiser which published
reports had said would be picketed by police. While they were
there to block any attempts by police to disrupt their event, their
chant reflected the views of many Philadelphians who for the
umpteenth time in the city's recent history are opening their pages
of their morning newspapers these days to find more revelations of
police corruption and misconduct.
WILL GONZALES: Some officers have confessed to arresting people on
false pretenses. Some officers have confessed to planting
JOSE: Will Gonzales is executive director of Philadelphia's
Police-Barrio Relations Organization, a watchdog group that
monitors relations between the police department and various
sectors of the community.
LOU GONZALES: Officers have confessed to putting guns in people's
mouths and playing Russian Roullette. Officers have confessed to
lying in court and falsely stating that people were involved in
criminal activity that has resulted in their arrest. These are
statements of officers themselves that have done it.
JOSE: For weeks he has been reading about what one local legislator
has described as the worse police scandal in Philadephia history
dwarfing even the 1979 Justice Dept lawsuit in which Philadelphia
cops were accused of widespread racist attacks against the city's
Blacks and Latinos. In the current investigation, 5 Philadelphia
Police from the city's 39th. police district have admitted they
maintained stashes of illegal drugs at local precints, drugs they
used in order to plant evidence on innocent people who in many
cases wound up spending time in prison for false arrest often made
on the basis of search warrants obtained under false pretenses,
and in most cases after police lied on the stand to obtain
conviction. Published reports say some of the 5 original officers
accused in the case have implicated other cops, and as many as 30
officers might eventually be indicted. In a related case, 2
officers have admitted they ran a fencing operation in which
property stolen by police from innocent victims was sold by cops
out of a Philadelphia store front. Representative David P.
Richardson, a longtime activist in the Philadelphia Black community
who has served in the state legislature for more than 20 years.
REP. DAVID: If anybody believes for the most part that there is not
conspiracy at times, with the police department, not only here in
this city, but across this nation, they're crazy. We have
witnessed it not only as a legislator, but before, and what happens
at the 39th. district that has just been unveiled, it exists and
it happens every single day.
JOSE: Richardson and others say the scandal being uncovered in the
39th. District is but the tip of the iceberg. He says that only
fear keeps more from speaking out, a view echoed by WIll Gonzales:
WILL GONZALES: There is a very big fear factor that gets in the way
of people coming forward to testify, to make statements, to
officially do something about it. That's the only way that the
authorities will get involved, if people will attach their name and
their address and phone number, and are willing to go as witnesses,
etc. It's very frustrating to try to address the problem of police
abuse when people are so scared of coming forward.
JOSE: Authorities working on the investigation were not available
for comment. Published reports say that as a result of the probe,
40 people who were serving time in prison for false arrest have
been released. And according to one report, before the probe is
completed, as many as one thousand one hundred convictions may be
thrown out. That is one thousand one hundred people now doing time
in the Pennsylvania prison system whose convictions may have been
obtained through fabricated evidence, false arrests and police lies
on the witness stand, some of the same points being made by Mumia
Abu-Jamal's attorney in his appeal. Again state representative
REP. DAVID: People call here about cases that take place, a lot of
times you say to them, well, do you have any supporting documents,
information that can substantiate your point of view. Becauseyou
can't go agaisnt hte police knowing that htey have the upper hand.
And the corruption that exist right now in the 39th., if you can
compare this to what's taking place with Mumia, I have not heard,
any prosecutor, any DA's office, saying anything negative about the
police and what should happen to them. But Mumia was assassinated
character-wise, as soon as a police officer was involved.
PHILADELPHIA POLICE - FINE TIME TO DIMANTLE THE CIVILIAN POLICE
Posted by Bob Witanek 8/29/95
JOSE: While the scandal seems to indicate that the police should
be monitored more closely, there is a move in Pennsylvania to shut
down Philadelphia's recently established civilian complaint review
board. The current board which was established despite Mayor Ed
Randell's veto and for which Mumia Abu-Jamal and other activists
lobbied heavily since the early 1970's could be dismantled under
a new bill now being debated in the Pennsylvania state legislature.
Pushed by the Fraternal Order of Police and supported by
soncervatives of both parties, the bill would eliminate
Philadelphia's civilian complaint review board and force it to turn
over all of its investigations to the District Attorney, the same
DA that has never returned an indictment against a police officer
and who currently pursues the death penalty in a higher percentage
of cases than any DA in the country. In addition the bill would
make it illegal for any other municipality to establish a civilian
complaint review board. Juan Ramos, a Latino rights activist for
many years anad current member of Philadelphia's civilian complaint
JUAN RAMOS: We expect that to be a very tough legislative battle
in Harrisburg ... We think it's going to be a very tough fight.
I'm not in a position to predict which way it will go but, all the
forces against the urban cities and the people in the big cities
like Philadelphia have really teamed up against us. We have a hell
of a battle up there.
JOSE: But that battle may not be limited to Pennsylvania. Nancy
Rose is with the NCOPA group, the National Coalition for Police
NANCY ROSE: These kinds of multi-pronged, multi-leveled strategies
to undermine police accountability seem to be a step up from what
has happened in the past. We've always had police guilds and
police lobbies be very well organized at the state level. In any
state you want to go to, there's lots of piecemeal legislation that
occurs regularly that removes police from scrutiny, from our point
of view. This seems to be kicking it up to the next level, this
legislation that would actually bar any kind of citizen oversight
in an entire state. I think there's some concern that if this
works in Pennsylvania, then in any other state police will try it.
JOSE: Across the country says Rose, police are lobbying and finding
much conservative support to limit the ways private citizens can
influence police conduct. One of the arguments that has been
echoed by Mayor Rudolph Guiliani in New York is that the civilian
review boards interfere with investigations being carried out by
local district attorneys. But Rose says that argument does not
NANCY ROSE: That's something that district attorneys and people who
oppose any kind of oversight tell the public. In fact, anyone
familiar with criminal or legal kind of investigations aknow that
multiple investigations are very common. This is not anything that
is rare or out of the ordinary. That there are often any number
of investigations going on. What happens is you set up a system,
there's an order in which the investigations go, and some people
hold off and other people go first, and that's normal. This really
is an insincer argument. And it plays on what lay people don't
know about how the justice system works. There are often multiple
JOSE: The Pennsylvania anti-civilian complaint review board bill
is currently making its way through the leggislature, although it
has a ways to go before it is voted on. For progressive
Philadelphians who fought for more police accountability for years,
it is ironic that the civilian complaint review board that they set
up may be dismantled at a time when the city is facing numerous
multi-million dollar lawsuits from what might wind up being more
than 1000 people who have been falsely arrested. And also at a
time when the history of the police department's abuses is under
such close scrutiny because of the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Again
Juan Ramos, who sits on the Philadelphia review board:
JUAN RAMOS: There's a move to the right. And one of the targest
are these review boards. Just 2 years ago, 32 out of 50 major US
cities had civilian review boards. In the last couple of years,
with this change in Washington, there's this move to get rid of us
at the local level. Interesting enough, recently I saw that in
Washington, the NAR and some other folks are proposing a civilian
type review board to overlook the FBI and the ATF. There's a bill
in the house being proposed by republican legislators. They see
it as something good for them and this business of militias and gun
control, but they don't see it as something that is good for the
cities, and I think because the cities are inhabited by minorities.
It's good for them up there, but it's not good for us down here.
PHILLY COPS ON A 'FRAME 'EM UP' RAMPAGE - MICHAEL NOVICK INTERVIEW
Continuing this mini-internet series on Philly Cops, the following
is from the Monday, August 28, 1995 news report by Jose Santiago,
radio broadcast correspondent for listener sponsored, non-
commercial radio station WBAI-99.5FM (NYC). Included is an
interview with author Michael Novick which puts developments in
Philadelphia in a national context.
JOSE: New York City's corruption plagued police department pales
in the light of the revelations of police misconduct and corruption
now surfacing in Philadelphia in a story reported here on WBAI
about 2 weeks ago (posted by nj-speakout in last 2 days). The New
York Times today ran a front page article detailing instances of
beatings, false arrests and perjury on the part of Philadelphia's
39th. Police District, which covers one of the city's largest Black
communities. In what one elected official has called the worse
police scandal in Philadelphia history, a justice department probe
has uncovered as many as 1100 cases in which people may be serving
time in Pennsylvania's prisons as a result of false testimony and
in some cases evidence planted by police. The probe has focused
on 5 corrupt officers who have been named and as many as 30 who
already have been implicated but whose identity has not been
released. So far Pennsylvania's corrections officials have been
forced to release about 50 people from prison because of the
pattern of false arrest. Many of those released are planning to
sue the city. One grandmother recently released after serving 3
years in prison for a crime she did not commit has already sued for
$7 million. Tonight as we continue to follow the situation in
Philadelphia, we bring you the comments of Michael Novick, author
of WHITE LIES, WHITE POWER: THE FIGHT AGAINST WHITE SUPREMACY AND
REACTIONERY VIOLENCE. Novick knows that these days what is often
portrayed as the work of a handful of police officers is actually
part of a much braoder and sinister agenda:
MICHAEL NOVICK: My analysis of this is that these are not just
individual and isolated cases but represent both the tendency
within the police forces and a strategy of the white supremacist
groups to advance goals that both white supremacists and the police
have. What we're seeing in the current period is an increasing
wole by police agencies and members of police departments and the
military, to play a role in politics that is exceedingly
reactionery. In California, we have a case where a Compton police
officer was recently elected to a city council locally and one of
the suburban cities and said that the problem with gangs is
insoluble because there are 200 years of gang members from father
to son in the Mexicano community. I know that in Philadelphia
we've been seeing a role played by the FOP trying to suppress any
support for Mumia Abu-Jamal, and apparently that is not only in
Philadelphia, but around the country, we've seen a great deal of
repression. There were mass arrests in San Francisco, over 200
arrested and charged with arson because someone set fire to a trash
can. We've heard of cases of intimidation of people attempting to
have programs. At Verso Books, they felt they couldn't have a
tbale outside of an activity to support Mumia because they were
afraid it would draw attention from the police station. We've
heard of many similar stories of people trying to speak at public
activities, at libraries, where calls were received making threats
of police shutting down the facility if the events are held.
JOSE: You make an interesting connection between the right and the
police. Looking at what is happening in Philadelphia, in the
context of Mumia Abu-Jamal, many of the things his defense
attorneys have said went wrong, in terms of the police and some of
the evidence they came up with, and evidence they suppresses, back
during his trial, seem to be happening right now, in terms of this
39th. police district and some of the revelations that are coming
out today, with the New York Times story. A lot of the people who
were incarcerated on lies by police and lies on the witness stand,
planted evidence, it's so difficult to be able to say, yes this is
part of a larger movement when the police are saying that it's
basically 5 cops, an isolated situation. It always seems to come
down to 4 or 5 rogue cops taking the blame. Have you found a
connection between activity by individual cops to a larger
MICHAEL NOVICK: I think there's a problem between the police
department and the prosecutors. For example, in Southern
California, there have been a number of cases. First of all, there
was a recent police shooting of a 14 year old Mexicano youth in Los
Angeles. The officer who did it was one of 44 so-called problem
officers identified on the force by the Christopher Commission,
Warren Christopher, at that time was investigating police brutality
in the wake of the Rodney King beating by the LAPD. And even
though these 44 rogue officers were identifies, 34 of them are
still on the LAPD, 4 years later. This particular one internally
was ordered expelled from the force by an executive agency of the
police department, and was reinstated on suspension by the police
chief, and retained on the force. This is a pattern we
particularly see around the white supremacy cases. We have a
situation on the LA Sheriff's Dept, where an officer burned a cross
inside the county jail. It was investigated by the FBI. He was
fired and reinstated by the sheriff who is an elected official in
LA. Subsequent to that, he shot and killed a Mexican national in
an incident on New Years Eve where the man was firing a gun into
the air to celebrate New Years Eve and this Deputy Sheriff took a
gun out and told people he was planning to get somebody. The
latter half of this incident was reported by a commission that
investigated the sheriff's department, a Judge Colts (?) here.
Colts specifically cited the fact that the district attorney
refused to press any charges against this officer as an example of
the inadequacy of the supervision of the sheriff's by either the
sheriff himself or by the prosecuting officials in the county. He
never talked about the earlier incident of open white supremacy by
the same officer where he burned the cross. The pattern where the
district attorneys do not hold the police accountable or answerable
is something that goes on around the country, again here in Los
Angeles, the district attorney recently announced because of budget
cuts, he's eliminating entirely the unit in his department that
prosecutes police for shootings and brutality. The situation is
that the prosecutors work together with police departments and
probably coach them. The system functions on this basis. Not that
there are one or two rogue cops who falsify evidence. They are
told what standard they are suppsed to meet to make a case and they
proceed to fulfill that standard by whatever means they have to,
to lock somebody up.
JOSE: I see the FOP and other police organizations to lobby at the
state level in a number of states, like Pennsylvania. The
situation in Philadelphia where the community has fought for 20
years to get a civilian complaint review board. They finally got
it and now there's a bill being pushed by republicans in the state
legislature that calls for the disbanding of the board and turning
over of their investigations to the local district attorneys. Any
MICHAEL NOVICK: Its a longstanding trend. When I was in New York
in the 60's, the PBA was instrumental in winning a referendum to
end the civilian complaint review board that was established by
Mayor Lindsey in New York at that time. They did so with the
support of the John Birch Society, and the American Nazi Party was
the lead group along with the PBA in opposing that. This question
of white supremacy linking up with police forces is a longstanding
problem. I think that civilian police review boards are a bandaid
solution at best. The Christopher Commission offered a brief
civilian review and reform proposal, what they served to do was
derail an organized effort from the grassroots for community
control of the police. That is a much different aspect where the
if the city had had that put on the ballot and passed in LA, from
the grassroots, the community would have elected boards supervising
the police entirely, not just reviewing their conduct in some
cases. It would have set up a special prosecutor to deal with all
police brutality and abuse cases. Civilian review boards in my
study have become coopted, by the agencies themselves proving to
be not too scary to the officers, in terms of holding them
JOSE: Here in New York, after an investigation, the best they can
do is make a recommendation which the commissioner does not
necessarily have to follow.
MICHAEL NOVICK: That's pretty typical around the nation.
JOSE: We've seen here in New York, a couple of Sunday's ago, there
was a what church goers out in Queens say was a police assault with
a helicopter, and apparently someone high enough in the police
department was able to get those light turned out on the entire
block. And down in Philadelphia, a few weeks earlier, there had
been a very similar situation, with police going in and arresting
a man that they could have arrested at any time but chose to to
arrest him at the largest Black Church while he was in the process
of being married. A lot of boldness there, are they sending a
MICHAEL NOVICK: When they talk about community based policing, we
sometimes talk about police based communities, and I think that
this whole view that police function as an occupying army, and that
there's a role of terror. A group I'm with is called People
Against Racist Terror. And that terror is carried out not only by
nightriders in robes, I think that the police have a history of
terrorizing communities as a way to maintain control. There's a
magazine called LAW AND ORDER, which is one of the police trade
magazines in which they communicate to each other and try to sell
the hardware for surveillance. This magazine pretty openly refers
to community based policing as the domestic equivalent of
psychological operations in warfare. They do have the mentality
that says that they're at war, and both the military type of
activites they carry out, and the whole crime bill on the heels of
previous federal aid to police departments has basically been about
federalizing and militarizing the police. It is important for
people to see that community based policing is only an aspect of
that militarization. It is not a reform or transformation of the
role the police play.
JOSE: Are we headed toward a situation where we have a national
police state like some of the countries in Latin America?
MICHAEL NOVICK: We always have the federal system which has proven
resilient and useful for them in terms of increasing the size of
the police force. I doubt that they will completely nationalize
the police agencies. The federal division of local, state and
national police forces is being broken down ever since the law
enforcement assitance administration in the Nixon years continuing
with the crime bill, with the funding and the equipment coming from
the federal government. In the Waco hearings, it was startling
that they had one whole day of testimony from the military.
Unblinkingly, they didn't mind at all the fact they said its
policy, this Southwest joint task force 6, that all law enforcement
is able to make use of, all the resources and the manpower,
training, equipment of the army, and other military forces in the
border region of the Southwest under the control of 6 federal
agencies that transfer along to local agencies. The border patrol,
the INS, DEA, ATF are able to call upon the army in joint
operations with local police forces throughout the Texas, Arizona,
Colorado . . .
INTERVIEW WITH PASTOR WHERE PHILLY COPS MADE
THEIR INFAMOUS WEDDING CEREMONY BUST
Posted by Bob Witanek 8/31/95
"In Philadelphia, in many instances and parts of this city, when
you're confronted with the criminal at one end of the block and the
police at the other, you don't know which way to run."
- Rev. Joseph Patterson
INTERVIEW WITH PASTOR WHERE PHILLY COPS MADE THEIR INFAMOUS WEDDING
Philadelphia cops recently storm trooped in on a wedding ceremony
to arrest the groom at Philadelphia's largest Black Church. Jose
Santiago, reporter for Pacifica radio station WBAI 99.5FM (NYC)
recently conducted the following interview with the Pastor from the
JOSE: Earlier today, we spoke with the Reverend Joseph Patterson,
President of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia, who described what
happened at the Zion Baptist Church earlier this summer, when
police raided the church during a wedding, interrupting the service
and arresting the groom who was wanted for missing a court
appearance. Here is a segment of the conversation we had earlier
today with the Reverend Joseph Patterson of Philadelphia:
REV. JOSEPH PATTERSON: In our church there are 3 major sacraments.
There's the sacrament of Holy Baptism, Holy Community and Holy
Matrimony. The police went in during the ceremony, started some
pushing and shoving ... They were walking on the pews in the
Church. And when they got outside, a larger scene was caused by
the police and the way that they had gone into the church, in gear,
in their uniforms, to apprehend a person who was wanted by the
police. They tried to make an issue to say that we were against
them arresting this fellow. We have no sentiments at all as far
as the criminal was concerned. That was not the case. The case
was that they violated the sanctity of the Church. This fellow was
not considered to be a public enemy number 1. He was not even
considered to be public enemy number 101. But when it came time
to arrest John Dillinger, they didn't break into the theatre. They
waited until he came out because they said someone could get hurt
on the inside. Likewise, with Noriega. The whole army was after
him. The navy, the army, the marines and we chased him all over
Panama. And he ran into a church and we had Howlitzers, and
Sherman tanks and all sorts of weaponry. Aimed at that church, but
we would not go in because we wanted to respect the church. If we
could do that with the army, if we could do that with public enemy
number 1, then why would they go into our church.
JOSE: Is it your sense that the police had more than enough
opportunities outside the church to arrest this person?
REV. JOSEPH PATTERSON: Certainly. One of the reasons they said
they didn't arrest him outside is because there was a fair going
on across the street in the parking lot. That was the weakest
excuse because where the fair was going on, there was an 8 foot
fence. That was about 100 yards away and so, there was really no
justification for what they did.
JOSE: I understand that the church and the police district these
officers are from, is that the same district where there has been
all the revelations of police corruption?
REV. JOSEPH PATTERSON: Exactly.
JOSE: Do you think that there's any connection there.
REV. JOSEPH PATTERSON: I think that when you have a poorly
disciplined police station, you have a real problem, because first
of all you have men with a badge, with revolver and with the
authority to abuse people. They're just discovering this. This
has been going on for a multiplicity .. you have men who have spent
time in prison because of the what the police like these fellow
have done. I think that is what gives impetus to the OJ Simpson
trial. To show you how police manufacture proof, or evidence,
against criminals, against people who have been incarcerated for
being criminals. Not fair! When you think of the lives of men
have been ruined. This 39th. district, they just discovered it in
yesterday's paper. New revelations where they believe some of
those policemen beat a man to death.
In Philadelphia, in many instances and parts of this city, when
you're confronted with the criminal at one end of the block and the
police at the other, you don't know which way to run.
JOSE: Let me ask you, is your sense that what happened at the
church was just merely bad judgement or bad police practices on the
part of some cops, or do you have any sense that they were trying
to provoke something.
REV. JOSEPH PATTERSON: I wouldn't say they were trying to provoke.
I won't say that about the Sergeant. I think it's bad judgement
and the abuse of power. I think that's what it amounts to. But
there have been times when the police have tried to provoke things
in the city. They provide them, and once they get them started,
then they hide the hand. Throw the stone and hide the hand. ANd
then those persons who have been provoked into retaliation are then
labelled as troublemakers, renegades, what have you. This thing
going on in Philadelphia, especially up around that 39th. police
district, which is not the only district by itself. This thing is
widespread across the city but, it's almost like nazi Germany.
When they began their takeover, it happened the same way. The
abuse and flagrant use of power against minorities in particular.
They have a field day in Philadelphia.
JOSE: It's strikes me as ironic that this continues to happen while
at the state level there's a move to disband the civilian complaint
REV. JOSEPH PATTERSON: Of course.
JOSE: Is that something that the clergy has been involved in?
REV. JOSEPH PATTERSON: We've been trying our best to combat against
this. I'm not talking as a partisan man. But when you have
republicans who are hellbent on turning back the clock, when you
have them in authority, in high and key positions, there is very
little you can do. Because they are going to disregard whatever
you say with hope that they can go back to the good old days, as
they call them. There's the frustration because we can't go back
to those days. It's the same thing with Moses not wanting to go
back to Egypt. You can rest assured, we're not going back to those
good old days when we were abused and misused without any
consequences at all.
JOSE: How would you gauge the community sentiment in regard to the
increase in abuse by police.
REV. JOSEPH PATTERSON: The community is becoming more aware of it.
Before, there was little if any belief. They are now becoming more
aware of the truth about these things that we've been claiming over
the years. As a matter of fact, I got several letters from Jewish
groups offering there support to whatever we were striving to do.
The Catholic Community, they sent us letters, from Cardinal
Devolaqua (?), stating their dismay over what had happened in the
church. The community is beginning to wake up. We're beginning
to face the 21st century. If we take these patterns in full bloom
into the 21st. century, our country is doomed for destruction, the
same way the things have come apart in Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia,
Poland and all these other places, ... the same thing will happen
here. I don't think it will be as devastating. But I think more
bloodshed will be realized when you begin to pit groups against
groups. That is the most ridiculous thing. And it has no positive
consequences, none whatsoever. This is where they're headed with
all of this verbalization coming out of Newt Gingrich and Jesse
Helms and that crowd. All they're doing is exciting the American
people and turning up some flames into the minds of those who have
some philosophical or social problems within their own being. I
think the city fathers need to really do some soul searching and
not allow this thing to get out of control. Especially in a city
like New York. The song "I like New York?" We all like New York.
Let's not make New York the Selma, Alabama of yesteryear.
NEW YORK TIMES ON PHILLY COP FRAME-UP SCANDAL
PHILADELPHIA SHAKEN BY CRIMINAL POLICE OFFICERS, 8/28/95
by Don Terry
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 23 - The congregation at Refuge Evangelical
BaptistChurch was rocking here last Sunday to glory songs,
trumptes, and the word of the Lord. But no one has a reason to
shout "Hallelujah," louder than Betty (Mizzy) Patterson, a stout,
54-year-old grandmother in a flowered sun dress.
Mrs. Patterson, a widow, who cleaned other people's floors and
clothes to keep her family together and now delivers newspapers
before dawn with her grandson, was framed by corrupt police
officers and spent 3 years in prsison in the early 1990's after
being falsely convicted of selling crack cocaine.
Mrs. Patterson and her church always knew whe was innocent, but
only in the past couple of months has the rest of the city learned
And although Philadelphia has been rocked by one police scandal
after another in recent years, the new charges reveal a group of
officers so corrupt, so calloused to the rights and welfare of
residents, that the details have shaken the city to its roots.
Mrs. Patterson is one of dozens, perhaps even hundreds of victims
of a band of 5 renegade offciers who for at least 3 years haunted
her predominantly poor and Black North Philadelphia neighborhood,
beating, robbing, lying and planting phony evidence on the good and
the bad, Federal and local prosecutors said.
"She went to jail for 3 years for something she was completely
innocent of.," said Lynne Abraham, the Philadelphia District
Attorney, "This whole thing has made me physically ill. This is
the ultimate betrayal of the public trustm and it has some very
destructive consequences. It justifies people's suspicions of the
Earlier this year, the officers pleaded guilty in Federal Court to
being criminals in blue; nearly 50 drug cases that they were
invovled in, including Mrs. Patterson's have been overturned by the
courts and the District Attorney's office. Hundreds more could
also be thrown out.
Scheduled for sentencing in October are Officer Hohn Baird, 40,
Sgt. Thomas BeGovanni, 44, Officer Steven Brown, 48, Officer James
Ryan, 39, and former officer Thomas Ryan, 38, who is on disability.
Most of them have apparently been cooperating with investigators.
A sixth officer, Louis J. Maier, 38, from the same district, was
charged today in Federal District Court with conspiracy to violate
civil rights. There are reports that even more officers will be
charged, expanding the scandal and the city's potential liability.
Ken Rocks, a vice president of the local Fraternal Order of Police
said he expects more arrests any day, an expectation he called
"very, very distressing."
"This is killing morale," Mr. Rocks said of the department which
has already endured several brutality and corruption scandals over
the last 2 decades.
At least 1400 drug-related cases are expected to come under review,
and the scandal could cost the city millions of dolalrs in lawsuits
- dollars that Mayor Edward G. Rendell says "we desperately need
for human needs and basic services."
Prosecutors and defense lawyers also say they expect several murder
convictions to be reviewed or thrown out as a result of the
Mrs. Patterson;s lawyer, Jennifer St. Hill said that 3 of 5
officersm who had already pleaded guilty, used a warrant secured
with lies to illegally search her client's home, and at least one
of them planted drugs in her bedroom. None of the officers has
officially admitted doing thatm but during an interview with
investigators, one officer said his partner had planted drugs as
they searched for evidence against Mrs. Patterson's 3 sons, who
were suspects in a drug related killing.
"When the police are indistinguishable from the bad guys,: Mrs.
Abraham said, "then society has a serious problem."
So far about a dozen people have been freed from priosn or parole.
Mrs. Patterson was on parole before her case was vacated last
month, and most of the other overturned cases involved people on
probation, many of whom had criminal records.
"Shaking down drug dealers is no excsuse for breaking the law,"
Mrs. Abraham said.
Bradley S. Bridge, a local public defender asked the DA to dismiss
the cases after the foficers were indicted last February on Federal
charges including conspiracy, obsrtuctoin of justice and "pocketing
more than $100,000 ni cash they robbed from suspected drug dealers
through beatings, intimidations, illegal searches and denying
suspects their constitutional rights.:
The first batch of dismissals included 42 cases and nearly as many
defendants. Mr. Brudge has written prosecutors asking that another
60 cases be dismissed and, he said thaae other day with a sigh,
"The end is nowhere in sight."
Mr. Bridges said the scandal could change how juries perceive the
police. IN the past, Mr. Bridges said, many jurors took what police
officers said on the witness stand almost as the gospel truth.
"Too much credibility has always been given to the police in
court," Mr. Brudge said. Maybe that will change a little bit now.
Noe one who comes to court should be given a ticket to be
The revelations of police corruption have already given
encouragement to the supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Black radio
journalist condemned to die for killing a police officer here in
1981. MR. Abu-Jamal is seeking a new trial partly on the ground
that he had been framed by the police.
On the other side of the country, conjuring suspiscions of police
misconduct is a major strategy being employed by OJ Simpson's
lawyers to convince a jury that he was framed in the slayings of
his former wife and her friend. Judge Lance Ito is considering
allowing Mr. SImpson's lawyers to give jurors hours of tape
recorded conversations in which a former detective Mark Fuhrman
boasted of beating suspects and other abuses.
The 5 indicted Philadelphia officers were assigned to the 39th.
District, but they roamed through other rough patches of North
Philadelphia, a part of town plagued with unemploymentm poverty and
the deadly violence that often accompanies drug money.
Tjey were aggressive officers and several of them were well known
on the streets where drugs are almost as available as newspapers.
When the young men in he neighborhood saw the officers coming, they
would run or disappear in doorways.
The other day, Rashine Brown, 20, and Cynthia Taylor, 24, who works
for the IRS were puttng oil in their cars on their block in North
Philadelphia. Both said they had known about the renegade police
officers long before they were charged.
"I can't even remember all the bad stories I heard about these
cops,: Mr. Brown said. "They used to beat people down, take their
money. A lot of people were scared of them."
Mrs. Taylor said the officers operated for so long outside of hte
law because they patrolled a poor neighborhood ignored and
abandoned by the city, a naighborhood not ulinke Chicago's South
Side or Harlem, where a scandal in the NYC police department is
"You can't trust the cops around here," Mrs. Taylor said. "They're
in it for themselves, not the community. I guess they forgot why
they took the job. :
The human toll of the scandal will be difficult if not impossible
to calculate. Unlike Mrs. Patterson, George Porchea, 27, was still
in prison when the years of police lies became public. But on July
20 after being locked up for nearly 3 years, Mr. Porchea was able
to watch his daughter graduate from pre-school a few hours after
he walked out of a courtroom in City Hall a free man.
He has not seen his oldest daughter yet. She was placed in a
foster home in N. Carolina while he was in prison.
"I'm trying to geth her back," he said. "i'm trying to get my
whole life back."
Mrs. Patterson was released on parole in 1994, but long before that
she had much to be thankful for. Her church and its interracial
congregation stood by her since the day she was arrested in 1989.
And she remained loyal to her church. As soon as she could, Mrs.
Patterson got a job in the prison laundry, where she made less than
50 cents a day. Still ,each month she sent her $5 tithe, said the
Rev. Wilbert S. Richardson, her pastor.
To pass the time, Mrs. Patterson who made it to the 10th grade,
buried herself in her Bible and became a mother figure to many of
the younger inmates who called her "Miss P."
One of the women was Patricia Lytle, who was serving time on a drug
charge that she admits she was guilty of. On Sunday, Mrs.
Patterson brought Ms. Lytle to her church.
"The whole time" in prison, Ms. Lytle said, "you wouldn't believe
how the women would look to her. She was grinning and smiling
while the rest of us were crying. She was always hugging and
praying. Girls would come to her for comfort."
Last Sunday, Pastor Ruchardson asked Mrs. Patterson to come forward
and testify about her faith. She carried her Bible to the front
of the church and read from the Acts of Apostles where Herod had
thrown Peter into prison unjustly.
"That's me," Mrs. Patterson told the congregation, her voice heavy
with the accent of her native south. "I, too was like Peter in
prison. When people see me they are amazed at what can happen to
When she closed her Bible and smile, the church suddenly surged
with song and the sound of trumpets.
Mrs. Patterson waved her hand in the air and in a clear, free
voice, shouted, Hallelujah."
Posted by Bob Witanek 09/01/95
A TALE OF 3 CITIES AND THE COPS THAT OCCUPY THEM:
NEW YORK TIMES ON COPS IN PHILLY, LA AND NYC . . .
AP ARTICLE IN NEW YORK TIMES, 9/1/95
US IS SAID TO SEEK PHILADELPHIA LOGS
Philadelphia, Aug. 31 (AP) - Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed
the records of more than 100,000 arrests in 6 police districts in
the city as part of a widening investigation of police corrpution,
a newspaper reported today. The subpoenas, some for logs dating
to 1985, were served on Monday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
42 drug convictions have already been overturned because of
falsified police reports, illegal tactics and perjury by 6 police
officers in the 39th. District. In addition, 5 murder cases are
being reinvestigated because some of the officers were on the
On Wednesday a former 39th. District police officer, Louis Maier,
became the 6th. from his district to plead guilty to 1 count of
conspiracy to violate civil rights. Prosecutors said Mr. Maier and
his partner, John Baird, took the law into their own hands to
arrest drug suspects. They said Mr. Maier and Mr. Baird, both now
dismissed from the police force, took drugs from a district
building stash to use as evidence. They also said the former
officers lied on arrest reports to justify their illegal searches,
bullied suspects and stole their money. After pleading guilty
earlier this year, Mr. Baird gave investigators the information
they needed to charge his partner.
Mr. Maier, the 6th. officer from the 39th. District to plead guilty
in the growing scandal, admitted his part in 4 incidents in May and
June 1990. He agreed to cooperate with and ongoing Fed
investigation into police corruption in exchange for possible
leniency for his sentencing which is scheduled for Dec. 15. "He's
been upset for a while now," Mr. Maier's lawyer Felipe Restrepo
said after his client's appearance before Judge Harvey Bartle 3d
of Fed District Court here. "He feels very sorry."
In May, 1990, the plea agreement said, Mr. Maier and Mr. Baird
repeatedly rammed John Clouse's car with their unmarked police car.
When Mr. Clouse pulled into a parking lot, one of the men smashed
the driver's side window, pulled Mr. Clouse from the car and
ordered him face down on the ground.
Mr. Maier and Mr. Baird charged Mr. Clouse with possession of 12
vials of cocaine. Mr. Clouse, who told investigators he was a drug
addict at the time, denied having any drugs but said that a female
companion might have dropped some in his car.
Mr. Baird falsified a police report that said he and his partner
saw Mr. Clouse buying vials of crack. The report said that they
got out of their car and identified themselves as police officers
and that Mr. Clouse then smashed into their car.
FUHRMAN IS NOT AN EXCEPTION,
The following opinion piece by Joe Domanick, author of TO PROTECT
AND SERVEL THE LAPD'S CENTURY OF WAR IN THE CITY OF DREAMS, appears
in today's New York Times (9/1/95):
30 years ago, James Baldwin described the hate a white policeman
feels in every Black neighborhood in America: "He is facing, daily
and nightly, people who would gladly see him dead, and he knows it.
He moves ... like an occupying soldier in a bitterly hostile
country, which is exactly what he is."
This is the world Mark Fuhrman moved in for much of his career, and
it is clear from the hate-filled tapes in the Simpson trial that
this is exactly how the former detective felt. It's not unusual.
The most common reaction for a white policeman is to sink into deep
cop cynicism that culminates in detesting everyone who doesn't see
the world through his own narrow prism. After all, learning to
respect how hard it is for people in South Central LA and blighted
neighborhoods everywhere to survive their crushing lives requires
an effort and an empathy that most of us don't possess.
So to claim that the former detective's attitudes and apparent
actions are a gross aberration, as the LA political and police
union leaders are trying to do, is disingenuous at best. Mr.
Fuhrman' attitudes toward minority groups and women are not unique
to LAPD. Cops, as Anthony Bouza, the former Minneapolis police
chief has pointed out "have been given the very confusing and
unpleasant task of being society's char cleaners ... so they lie
... and stick together."
Just as the Knapp and Mollen Commissions revealed corruption
particular to, though not solely the province of, the NYPD, the
Fuhrman tapes tell us a lot about the LAPD: how 40 years of
unchecked power of the chiefs of police produced a tolerance, even
encouragement of racial attitudes and street justice. William H.
Parker, the chief from 1950 to his death in 1966, was so openly
racist that he would not allow patrol cars to be integrated until
the early 60's. In 1959, expressing his feelings about Mexican-
Americans, he said, "Some of these people have been here since
before we were, but some of them aren't far removed from the wild
tribes of Mexico." During the 1965 Watts riots, he warned of the
growth of the Black population: "It is estimated that by 1970, 45%
of the metro area of LA will be Negro. If you want any protection
for your home and family .. you're going to have to support a
strong police department. If you don't do that, come 1970, God
Ed Davis, the chief in the 70's was not overtly racist, but he
found his own ways to echo Bill Parker. Mr. Davis seemed to think
that the only good cop was a white, male, x-marine. He railed
against the idea of women on patrol and bitterly fought increased
hiring of women and minorities. He said that homosexuals could not
become officers because no one would be able to use the radio
microphones in police cars after they did. He answered complaints
that too many Blacks were being killed by the police by pointing
out that more white people had been "fatally shot by police
officers last year than Black people ... so we don't discriminate."
These attitudes continued under Daryl Gates, who became police
chief in 1978 and served until he was forced to resign after the
riots in 1992. He once differentiated Blacks from "normal people;"
"joked" that Latinos who were slow to rise through the LAPD ranks
just might be "lazy;" and advised the Senate Judiciary Committee
that casual drug users "ought to be taken out and shot." The sign
sent by the leaders of the police force were crystal clear to the
Mark Fuhrmans on the force. So clear that the Christopher
Commission, which had been appointed after the Rodney King beating
to investigate the department, spent 23 pages of its report
documenting the extent and virulence of the LAPD's sexism and
In response to that report, the new police chief Willie Williams,
was brought into root out these entrenched problems. Maybe the
Fuhrman tapes, postions of which will be used in the Simpson trial,
will now give him the backbone to do that. The message officers
received in years past was that a good cop was willing to confront
people constantly and be hard-nosed and aggressive as a matter of
course. As the complaints rolled in, the tacit understanding was
that they would be ignored. As the Christopher Commission
documentedm out od more than 2000 complaints of excessive use of
force filed by the public against the police from 1966 through
1990, only 2% were sustained.
None of this is any great revelation to anyone living ni LA. We've
seen the Fuhrman attitudes before from the shooting and chokehold
deaths of scores of unarmed suspects in the late 70's and early
80's to the baton blows to Rodney King's back. When will the LA
political establishment stop pointing to Mark Fuhrman as if he
sprung out of a vacuum of just dropped down from Mars?
GHOULIANI ENDORSES POLICE RIOT AGAINST JAMAICA, QUEENS CHURCH
We recently posted the comments of Rev. Emmanuel Osei-Acheampong
regarding a police attack on his congregation in which roughly 30
of his followers were wounded. Yesterday, NYC Mayor Guiliani
endorsed the vicious assault, saying that the police were
responding to provocations, including bottle throwing. In response
to Guiliani's comments, the Rev. Osei-Acheampong stated "When you
sit in this office and say that people coming out of a church with
Bibles are throwing things, it bothers me because its a revelation
that he has no facts." (New York Times, 9/1/95)
>>02 NJ COP ISSUES
COP ESCAPES INDICTMENT - SHOOTING VICTIM DOES NOT
Posted by Bob Witanek 08/30/95
Paterson Officer Heriberto Rodriguez, shot Colombian immigrant
Jiovani Ruiz on May 27. The officer claims that Ruiz was holding
a gun. Witnesses have disputed those claims. They say that Ruiz's
hands were in the air when he was shot. A grand jury declined to
indict the officer, but instead has indicted Ruiz for unlawful
possession of a weapon. Ruiz faces a 3-5 year jail term and $7500
fine if convicted. He has suffered brain damage and has speech
problems from the shooting. The witnesses who refute the police
side of the story were not called to testify before the grand jury.
(Star Ledger, 8/30/95)
KEARNY VICTIM OF POLICE BRUTALITY SUES COP
Posted by Bob Witanek 08/31/95
Austin Burke was a witness whose testimony helped convict Kearny
Cop Ronald Johnstone on federal police brutality charges. He says
that his head was bashed into the side of a cop car before he was
chargesd with damaging the car, and has filed a civil right suit
against the brutalizing cop. The lawsuit has been filed by
Denville Attorney Anthony Macri. It names the Town of Kearny and
Johnstone as defendants. The suit requests an extension of the
statute of limitations given alleged bad advise Burke received from
another attorney about such statute. Shortly after Johnstone's
conviction, town workers received a request from the payroll office
to authorize 'police brutality tax' deductions from their
paychecks. Assistant US Attorney Lisa Russell-Charles who
prosecuted the cop, stated during the trial that Burke was
returning from a nightshift job when he was accosted by Johnstone
without cause. She testified that Burke was hospitalized as a
result of his head bashing. (Star Ledger, 8/31/95)
W ORANGE CHIEF ACCUSED OF TIPPING WOMAN TARGETED IN INVESTIGATION
OF ILLEGAL DRUG USE AND CHILD ABUSE IN COP'S LAWSUIT
Posted by Bob Witanek 09/01/95
W. Orange Police Chief Robert Spina, already trying to fend off
repercussions from having been found guilty in civil court of wife
abuse, having been sued for alleged non-enforcement of a protection
order and having been suspended from the force in 1985 for admitted
cocaine use, has a new worry. W. Orange cop Gregory Boyle has
filed a lawsuit charging that the chief, who was asked to extend
a 6 week leave with pay by the township council, tipped off a
target of a police investiagation of illegal drug use and child
abuse that she was being so targeted. Boyle charges that he was
demoted from his detective rank when Spina, the son of W. Orange
mayor Samuel Spina, was given the police chief job 7 months ago.
He claims his demotion was retaliation for reporting Spina for
having tipped off the target of his investigation. (Star Ledger,