Dekalb County police Officer Jerad Wheeler is under criminal investigation for kicking a pregnant woman in the stomach before arresting her. According to the Huffington Post, the incident happened on December 12, 2011 when Wheeler and other officers responded to calls of a domestic disturbance. [Read more…]
Officers with the Atlanta Police Department are being accused of invasive searches. Last year, the city paid almost $300,000 in just two lawsuits brought against officers who inappropriately touched the genitals of citizens, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The issue is that officers aren’t stopping either—seemingly learning nothing from the past lawsuits.
This week the City Council voted to settle a case with five men for $470,000. The men say that officers pulled down their pants when looking for drugs and touched them inappropriately. No drugs were found, incidentally.
Current policies allow for cops to detain and search someone when they have reason to believe a crime is occurring and when they think the suspect is armed. Former police officer and consultant in police abuse cases, Michael Tate says that officers are trained to also conduct searches when they believe a suspect is buying or selling drugs.
Proposed policy changes will amend the current practices to state strip searches, including placing their hands inside suspects’ clothing, are only to be done at the jail and in private.
Marlon Kautz of Copwatch, a grassroots law enforcement accountability organization, says the problem is department-wide and not just isolated to one or two troubled officers. “It’s an observable pattern throughout the department. That’s got to make one ask is this a deliberate strategy on the part of APD to humiliate people.”
Cops have to balance their own safety with the rights of suspects and while a search for weapons is rational if a suspect may be armed and if the cop is in potential danger, grasping their genitals, even though the clothing, is inappropriate and over the line.
The AJC reports that most such complaints arose from incidences in known drug areas or young men in traffic stops. One complaint, however, was searched outside of his restaurant, the Black Lion Café, after “shooing” away the homeless outside who were hassling his customers. Not only was he searched, but the police officer put a gloved hand down his pants well within the sight of the customers eating inside.
“I told them I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I told them I owned the café. I told them I was protecting my property,” said Abera Gebru.
According to one witness, Gebru’s customers within earshot were told to leave the scene or they too would be arrested. Gebru filed a formal complaint with the Atlanta Citizen Review Board. Drinking in public charges against him were dropped.
When you are the subject of an arrest, it’s normal to feel like your rights are being removed. In essence, some of them are. However, you are protected by the constitution, and while it may be in your best interest to follow the orders of the police, your criminal defense attorney can help ensure your rights were not violated.
Whether you are accused of a drug offense or a violent crime, you need the assistance of a legal advocate. Contact our offices today to discuss the details of your case and how we might be able to help.
Two Dekalb County police officers have been charged with beating a suspect and violating their oaths. They were caught by one of their own, who nobly reported them right away. While we often hear stories of police officers sticking together no matter how questionable the acts of one are, this is a story of one officer doing the right thing. [Read more…]
This summer downtown Atlanta will be on camera. Yes, nearly every corner will be equipped with a camera of one kind or another. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution even private business footage will be streamed into a Police “video integration center” where it’s expected at least 500 cameras will be hooked in by mid-summer. [Read more…]
My Fox-Atlanta reported this week on what they called a “major” fake pot bust in Gwinnett County. According to the report, a fifty-seven year old man was arrested with sixty packages of “spice” and 1,000 “marijuana pipes”. The brief report states the arrest happened off of I85 when the man was stopped for a broken tail light. [Read more…]
Under the United States’ Constitution, we are protected against illegal searches and seizures. Because of this protection police can’t just walk up to someone and search them for no reason. If the search isn’t justified the evidence found during the search isn’t likely to be admissible in court.
The legitimacy of a search is often questioned during criminal trials. If the defense attorney can show the search was illegal, the evidence against a defendant can be thrown out and the charges potentially dropped. [Read more…]