Why we need a police review board--another example
This is the description of an incident in April witnessed by James Callahan (he gave a brief summary of the incident during the July 8 City Commission meeting). After he wrote this, his complaint was found by the police to be "unfounded."
"Tuesday on 4/23/02 one of my [tree cutting] crews was working off of N.E. 9th Ave and NE. 8th Street. I was assisting them with a removal of a pine tree in the back yard. We heard dogs barking and shouts. Thinking someone was being attacked by dogs we all ran over to assist the person. What we saw was a police officer running up to a black man with his pistol drawn at arms length held on the side, gang style, shouting angrily. He then jammed the pistol in the man's face-the man tried to turn away and the officer kept the pistol no more than three feet and sometimes almost touching or touching the man's head. He ran around the man at least twice doing this. I was afraid he was going to shoot the guy so I yelled police brutality. The cop looked over his shoulder at us and quickly put his gun away and pulled out a telescopic baton and proceeded to hit the guy again and again. The suspect never acted violently or tried to escape. The guy went down and they handcuffed him and took him to jail.
"I wrote an e-mail and then called the police station. The internal affairs guy got back with me and said I checked into this and the guy was a know drug dealer. I said so is a pharmacist but we don't treat them that way. He calmly agreed and said he would get back to me. I asked him for the name of the suspect and he said he would give it to me. He asked for the telephone numbers of my crew and I told him I would get them if he would agree to give me the name of the suspect. He said he would.
"The next day I gave him the names and asked him for the name of the suspect. He said he talked to his supervisor and he was told I had come down and request it officially. I said I would be there in five minutes. I called him from the lobby and he took me up to his office and interviewed me on a tape recorder. He then finished the interview and said by the way until this investigation is over you cannot contact the suspect or the witnesses. If I did it would be a misdemeanor for interfering with police business or something of that sort.
"The next day I called Judge Morris and got his secretary. She listened and said that it just didn't seem right but Judge Morris could not give legal advice. She suggested I call the State Attorney's office which I did. Bill Cervone wasn't in this week so I talked to another guy which told me the police had to release this information to me and that the internal affairs guy was wrong that I was allowed to contact the witnesses and suspect. He suggested that I call the city manager which I did. They have not gotten back with me. What citizen is going to go through this process? The police won't give me the arrest information because I have to know the guy's name or the case number. Is this so that by the time this man goes to court there will be no witnesses? . It seems almost impossible to break through this corrupt legal system. I guess we have said good bye to Democracy a long time ago.
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