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no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Conservative Blogs Circulating Fake Court Records for Freddie Gray Jr

April 29th, 2015

NOTE: Updated at 2:31pm Eastern to reflect new or updated information.

A few conservative blogs are circulating some unsubstantiated rumors that Freddie Gray Jr. had spinal surgery a week prior to his fateful arrest and subsequent death in Baltimore Police custody.

Examples of the allegations can be found on Snopes, since I’m not interested in linking to those other blogs. Snopes currently lists this rumor as “unconfirmed”, although they indicate:

The claim appeared almost simultaneously in three places: The Facebook page of Baltimore-based Fox affilate WBFF, the blog The Conservative Treehouse, and the blog The Fourth Estate.

Public records from Maryland County courts were linked, but much of the claim hinged on “sources” and dot-connecting.

At the time of my search, I found this case for Fredericka Gray (Gray’s mother).

unaltered screenshot of a case involving fredericka gray

Due to some 404 errors (the Maryland public records search may have been temporarily offline or overloaded with requests), I was initially unable to find the related 13C14101574, I mistakenly concluded that this screenshot had been doctored to use Freddie’s name in lieu of his mother’s. Case 13C14101574 is from the original screenshots, and so they do not appear to have been altered, as I had originally suspected. Here are the screenshots from that case number:

fake freddie gray court records

In any case, this case involve Gray as party to an out-of-court civil settlement with Allstate, and not from a “recent car accident”.

The Baltimore Sun has since reported that these cases involve the restructuring of that settlement.

Court records examined by the Baltimore Sun show the case had nothing to do with a car accident or a spine injury. Instead, they are connected to a lawsuit alleging that Gray and his sister were injured by exposure lead paint.

Of course it is still possible that Gray was involved in an automobile accident and/or had spinal surgery a week prior to his arrest, but the dots certainly do not connect in the manner that the conservative blogs would have you believe.

And even if Gray had a recent surgery, that still does not absolve the Baltimore Police Department of what appears to be obvious neglect of a suspect in their custody.

Update

WBFF, Baltimore’s Fox affiliate network has since pulled the story from their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FOXBaltimore/posts/10152842719584607

Snopes has gone back and forth on this all day, sometimes it is listed as “False” and sometimes as “Undetermined”. Until evidence supporting the “Car accident and surgery” narrative surfaces, though, I’m inclined to believe it’s false.

Detroit to Implement New York Style “Stop and Frisk”

August 20th, 2013

In Detroit, when you call the police because you actually need their assistance the average response time is something like 40 minutes; this is clearly a Department which needs to direct every available resource towards providing actual help and assistance to those in immediate need.

Instead, Detroit is moving forward with a stop-and-frisk policy, designed by the same consultants who implemented the controversial (and recently-ruled unconstitutional* program in New York City).

Defenders of these “stop-and-frisk” programs, like Detroit Police Assistant Chief Eric Ewing, are quick to argue about “reasonable suspicion”,

If we have reasonable suspicion someone is about to commit a crime, we’re allowed to stop that individual. If we have a good reason to believe they may be armed — say, if we see a holster, or a bulge that looks like a gun — then we’re allowed to search them. That’s just being proactive.

We’re not telling our officers they have to go out and stop X-number of people each day. But we are telling them to do police work.

But the basis of this “reasonable suspicion” is deference to the officer’s judgment, which statistical evidence — this is data coming from the NYPD — demonstrates to be laughably unreliable: About 90% of those stopped were completely innocent of any wrongdoing, i.e., the officer’s judgment was wrong, 90% of the time.

Let that sink in: Ninety percent of the time, they’re wrong. Yet we’re supposed to defer to their judgment?

The real issue is that stop-and-frisk, especially in light of the data, is essentially a fishing expedition. It’s NOT good policing, it’s an absolute and undeniable abrogation of people’s right to be secure in their person, and not to be harassed by the police at every corner..

While Ewing and other apologists may argue that their officers are stopping people “with a reason”, the statistics demonstrate otherwise. I suspect the reality is a combination of these three factors (hopefully more of 1 & 2 than of 3), among others:

  1. Officers are just not very good at determining whether there is a reason to make a stop in the first place.
  2. Or, Officers are being forced to make more stops than their judgment dictates, because of quotas imposed from their CO’s (this is fact in NY, and probably true in most other locales)
  3. Or, they are simply harassing people because they can.

To put this in some additional perspective: Detroit is literally bankrupt. It can’t afford streetlights, snow removal, garbage pick-up, etc. Further, there is a half-century (or more) of well-deserved mistrust and hostility towards law enforcement. Police response time is win-the-internet level of epic failure. Yet somehow, they think that randomly stopping people who are doing nothing wrong (and a 90% failure rate is akin to random stops) is a good use of what few resources they have?

No. It’s a waste of time, and it’s likely to be counterproductive. Every minute they spend harassing 90% of innocent people is a minute which could’ve been used doing actual police work, solving real crimes, doing community outreach, being available for real emergency calls and citizens in distress, etc., is a minute invested in fomenting even more distrust and hostility towards law enforcement.

Notes:

* The News spends a lot of time on the racial issue, and while this may be a concern for some, I think it’s a red herring, and “journalists” should be ashamed for playing this card in lieu of addressing the real, tangible problems. I take issue with Scheindlin’s ruling on similar grounds: it simply is not the right reason to oppose these tactics.

Cops Beat Up Black College Student (Video)

August 20th, 2012

Ronald Weekly is a college student at Xavier University. He was recently stopped by a member of the Venice CA police department, according to his sister, for “riding his skateboard on the wrong side of the street”. What happened in the immediacy of that detention is unclear, but what we know now is that Weekly has suffered a broken nose, broken cheekbone and a concussion at the hands of the Venice CA police department.

Venice Cops Beating up Ronald Weekly

At least 4 officers were involved in the gang beating of Weekly, and it’s on YouTube thanks to some quick-thinking bystanders, who unfortunately captured it as a dreaded “vertical video”

Regardless of whatever happened leading up to this, it is pretty clear that the three officers have a handle on Weekly, who is semi-restrained, prostrate, and pinned by two of them, by the time this video cuts in.

Yet at the 22-second mark of this video, you can CLEARLY see one officer wind up and punch Weekly in the face. Regardless of whatever happened leading up to this, that last punch is unarguably criminal battery and that fucking pig should lose his job and benefits, and be charged accordingly.

By the end of the video there are perhaps a dozen police officers or more. At least four of them are trying to usher the onlookers further and further away, keeping the camera as far from the incident as possible. Whatever started this incident, it’s probably safe to assume that it wasn’t worth 12 cops and loads of paperwork and a video about to go viral portraying the Venice PD as just the next group of thugs in uniform.

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