Killer Cops Next to DC

The #2 Homeland Security official for Prince George’s County, Maryland recently shot two furniture delivery guys who brought a new bed to his house.  The headboard had a scratch, according to local news reports.   Since one of the delivery guys died a few days ago, the story won’t vanish, regardless of how many times the local government changes its story.

The shooter is also a long -term employee of the Prince George’s County Police Department.  This police department has long had one of the worst records in the nation for gunning down innocent civilians.  (Prince George’s is next to the District of Columbia).

Here’s a piece I did on the P.G. Police that Playboy published in December 2001. (The piece was written before 9/11).   The response from the police chief and the local union chief follows after the article. *****

Playboy

December 1, 2001

KILLER COPS : a case study in callousness; Maryland law protects corrupt police in Prince Georges County

by James Bovard

In the last decade, they killed and maimed more unarmed people than the Unabomber and the Aryan Nation combined. They have a worse human rights record than the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If they were a foreign-based entity classified as terrorists (such as Hamas),* and you contributed to their cause, you would face up to 10 years in jail for supporting terrorism. Instead, they are supported with your tax dollars. 

    They are the 1400 members of the Prince George’s County police department. 

      Prince George’s County, adjacent to Washington, D.C., is home to thousands of federal bureaucrats. In a series published in July, The Washington Post highlighted some of the police department’s accomplishments: “Since 1990, Prince George’s police have shot 122 people, killing 47 of them. Almost half of those shot were unarmed, and many had committed no crime.” 

    Among the shootings the police department ruled as justified: “An unarmed construction worker was shot in the back after he was detained in a fast-food restaurant. An unarmed suspect died in a fusillade of 66 bullets as he tried to flee in a car from police. A homeless man was shot when police mistook his portable radio for a gun. And an unarmed man was killed after he pulled off the road to relieve himself.” 

    Some local police practices appear to be borrowed from South Africa in its police-state days. “No one knows how many people have died while in the custody of Prince George’s officers,” the Post noted. “Police said they don’t keep track of such deaths. By examining autopsy reports and other documents, however, The Washington Post was able to identify 12 people who have died in police custody since 1990.” 

    The Post discovered the death of one person in police custody from a workers’ compensation filing by a policeman who requested disability payments because he suffered “emotional” problems after permanently subduing an arrestee. At least one suspect died after being severely beaten while wearing handcuffs. Medical examiners have ruled two of the deaths in police custody to have been homicides–yet the department has not disciplined a single officer in an incustody death.

    The system is scrupulous and idealistic when it comes to respecting the rights of killer cops. Police are protected by the “Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights”–a Maryland law (similar to laws in many other states) that prohibits the questioning of a police officer for 10 days after any incident in which he or she used deadly force. In Prince George’s County, there is no greater offense than prematurely asking a cop why he gunned down a citizen. The Post noted that “a lawyer or a police union official is always summoned to the scene of a shooting to make sure no one speaks to the officer who pulled the trigger.” A toothless citizen police-oversight panel complained that the 10-day rule “invites abuse and raises serious concerns about collusion and the code of silence among officers.” 

    Even after the 10-day muzzle expires, police enjoy their version of the Miranda warning. Nothing they say can be used against them in any criminal proceedings. They enjoy the privilege of confidentiality–all statements to internal affairs investigators are kept from public scrutiny. 

    This bizarre policy might be unnecessary. One homicide detective who looked into the suspicious death of a man in police custody explained that he did not try to question the two policemen involved “because he didn’t want to violate their constitutional rights against self-incrimination.” In some cases, police are not questioned about shooting civilians until months after the victim has died. 

    Prince George’s seems devoted to covering up official killings. County lawyers refused to provide internal police records of police shooting investigations because it would be “contrary to the public interest”–even though state law seems to require that such information be revealed. Wayne Curry, the first black chief executive officer of Prince George’s County (which is the nation’s most affluent majority-black county), revels in the bad-boy record of his police, declaring last year that “people don’t want no pansy police force.” 

    Many other professions keep records of lethal mistakes, although reluctantly. Ford and Firestone issued a recall after a flurry of accidents. Medical errors cause tens of thousands of deaths every year. Since 1990, in an effort to protect us from incompetent practitioners, a national data bank has tried to track iatrogenic, or “doctor-caused,” fatalities. We don’t have a word for “police-caused” deaths. 

    In 1994 Congress passed a law requiring national record keeping on police shootings, justified or otherwise. However, neither the Justice Department nor most local police departments have bothered to keep track. As a result, it is difficult to know how many other police departments may have cops as trigger-happy–and as legally untouchable–as those in Prince George’s County. 

******************************************

Three months later, Playboy printed letters it received regarding the piece:

Copyright 2002 Playboy.com, Inc.   

HEADLINE: READER RESPONSE; Letter to the Editor 
March 2002

BODY:

    DEADLY FORCE 

    “Killer Cops” (The Playboy Forum, December), which alleges abuses by the police force in Prince George’s County, Maryland, is loaded with incorrect information. 

    Six years ago, I came to Prince George’s County to lead one of the largest police forces in the region. The department had a history of high-profile incidents involving allegations of brutality and excessive use of force by some officers. The county was experiencing a high level of crime. 

    Things have changed. Today, crime is down in the county, excessive-force complaints are at a 16-year low and police use of deadly force is at a 15-year low. These reductions in complaints and shootings become even more impressive when one considers that the department has 512 more officers and handles 150,000 more calls for service than it did 16 years ago. 

      PLAYBOY’S report relies on accounts in The Washington Post. Regrettably, the Post reporter, who, along with his editor, spent hours reviewing our training changes and reductions in use of force, left out all references to the significant progress that has been achieved. In fact, the majority of shootings he referenced occurred five to 10 years ago. My first full year as chief was 1996. Since that year, officer use of deadly force has been reduced 69 percent. 

   John Farrell 

   Chief of Police 

   Prince George’s County 

   Palmer Park, Maryland 
Response from Playboy editors:

    Chief, thanks for writing. The Washington Post did mention your order that officers be retrained in the use of deadly force. It also noted that cops face difficult situations when deciding whether to fire their weapons. But since 1996, your officers have shot and killed suspects at four times the national average. Not a single officer has been demoted since 1990 for the unjustified use of his or her weapon. That’s hard to believe given other incidents the Post recounted, such as the 1997 case in which your officers claimed they had killed a distraught college student because he attacked them with a knife. When his family sued, the officers admitted under oath that the weapon had been a butter knife sitting on the counter, and that the student never touched it. A year later, two of your officers said they had killed a teenager in self-defense after he tried to grab their guns. But medical records indicated that the teen had been shot 13 times in the back while unconscious and lying facedown on the floor. 

*******

    James Bovard sits in his cushy little office while I, along with 1399 other officers, patrol the second most dangerous and violent county in the country (behind Los Angeles). That “innocent” man mentioned in the article–the one police shot at 66 times–was a suspected burglar and under the influence of cocaine when he stole an idling police car after a foot chase. As a transit officer reached into the driver’s side door, the suspect put the car in reverse. Police shot him to prevent the officer from being dragged under the car. 

    As for the unarmed man who was killed while relieving himself, he was intoxicated and reaching into his waistband after being ordered to show his hands. As an officer, would you have waited to shoot until after he shot you? How can I expect Bovard to understand that? His biggest worry is carpal tunnel syndrome. Mine is dying in a neighborhood I don’t live in but risk my life for. 

    When you tally the number of unarmed people shot by police, are you including the dozens of suspects shot while beating officers into unconsciousness? How about suspects shot after striking officers with vehicles, or those killed after trying to wrestle away an officer’s weapon? Put yourself in a cop’s shoes. If a man reaches into his waistband after he sees you approaching in uniform, what would you think? Is he going for a gun? For drugs? For a radio? His wallet? Decide! There are no time-outs. 

    The police are tired of being scapegoats. I know officers who have started “de-policing” because they fear criticism. They do what the radio tells them to do, nothing more, nothing less. De-policing is being practiced in cities across the country, despite what police officials tell you. It will continue until police scrutiny is laid to rest. 

   H. Simmons 

   Bowie, Maryland 

    “Killer Cops” stopped me dead in my tracks. At first I was disgusted. But then I thought about the police officers I know and the ones I have seen on TV digging through the rubble of the World Trade Center. They are good people. So perhaps the police officers in Prince George’s County are the victims of circumstance. Maybe the man they shot outside a fast-food restaurant wasn’t all that innocent. Maybe The Washington Post put a spin on the truth. Police, like other citizens, are innocent until proved guilty. Right? 

   Jose Manning 

   Evansville, Indiana 

______________________-

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23 Responses to Killer Cops Next to DC

  1. Scott February 4, 2007 at 12:31 pm #

    All cops are guilty until proven innocent.

    The proof is in their “defense”: He was reaching near his waistband – What are you gonna do, wait to see if he’s got a gun or not?

    He’s my solution: Fire all the cops in America, and then anyone who wants their job back has to let me tazer them until I feel like stopping. If they die, well that’s just too bad. In other words, apply their standards to themselves.

    Then the dead one’s can rot in hell where they belong.

  2. M. Seghetti February 4, 2007 at 1:32 pm #

    The guy relieving himself and then reaching into his waistband? Think he might have been trying to zip up? Thats what I would be doing if the cops shined thier super bright lights on me while I had my genitals out. I will avoid Prince George’s county from now on, thanks for the tip.

  3. Jim February 4, 2007 at 1:42 pm #

    The unofficial P.G County motto is “Wiz and Die.”

  4. Vanilla February 4, 2007 at 2:36 pm #

    Ah Jiim, I’m sorry to hear that your office is tiny but at least it’s cushy. And I hope you don’t lose too much sleep over getting carpal tunnel syndrome.

    We’re lucky to live in a country where dedicated public servant union mob bosses care enough point these things out.

    I guess the suspected burglar got off easy. He only got shot at 66 times, not 666.

  5. Iraqvet February 4, 2007 at 4:27 pm #

    Dear H. Simmons,

    So now let me see if I have this right, you as a public servant are refusing to do your job until we stop requiring you to do your job properly and stop scrutinizing you? I wish to God I was in your chain of command, I’d have your badge and gun you lazy arrogant scumbag. Here’s how it goes public servant, you WILL be scrutinized, you WILL follow procedures and you WILL have to explain yourself. Start “de-policing” and we will start “de-jobbing”, got it? We pay your salary, give you your uniform and the limited authority necessary to do your job. When you take a life or use force, we WILL have questions and you BETTER answer them. Additionally, your departments past performance indicates there is a seroius problem which merits additional scrutiny and it is becoming increasingly obvious that you folks have a little problem killing innocent people. (If you are, I hope you go to prison like the other criminals and terrorists). You are NOT our boss, we are YOUR BOSS. Got it? Don’t like it – QUIT, while you make up your mind quit killing innocent people! It’s a tough job but you obviously aren’t tough enough to do it.

  6. Dan T February 4, 2007 at 7:03 pm #

    I’m from Australia and we of course have this problem too, though I don’t recall the statistics. Relatively common are instances with even less ‘mitigating circumstances’ than the case of the Improvised Roadside Urinator. I refer to times when armed police squads burst into a home at 4am and shoot dead the occupant, before realising they got the wrong house. Any surviving occupants will tell how they believed a gang of criminals had burst into the house – some of course try to defend themselves (at their peril). So, I ask the apologists, is it OK in these cases of mutual mistaken identity for the occupants to kill the police? (Never mind that it’s not likely they’ll even be able to).

    And what’s with those British police who don’t even carry guns? Obviously I’m not referring to the ones who killed Jean Charles de Menezes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Charles_de_Menezes) . . .

    “As an officer, would you have waited to shoot until after he shot you? How can I expect Bovard to understand that? His biggest worry is carpal tunnel syndrome. Mine is dying in a neighborhood I don’t live in but risk my life for.”

    I don’t know about Bovard, but my big worry is dying in a neigbourhood I DO live in – – oh, what’s the point in having this argument? I can’t argue with your gun, sir.

  7. Tom Blanton February 4, 2007 at 8:27 pm #

    I don’t see how anyone can sit around their cushy office and criticize a peace officer risking his life to defend his furniture from dangerous deliverymen.

    Poor Officer Washington has had problems in the past with wrong-doers and dangerous people in a home-owners association, according to the Washington Post:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/25/AR2007012500482_pf.html

  8. Jim February 4, 2007 at 8:35 pm #

    Tom – thanks for posting the link.

    He has flown off the handle outside of HOA meetings as well. The Washington Post had an article today on his glorious record.

    Right after the shooting, the P.G. government announced that it probably would be indicting the two victims for assault.

    Or maybe they would be charged with “impeding the course of a lawman’s bullet.”

    After a backlash, the government backed off exoneration-by-indictment.

  9. Mike February 5, 2007 at 12:28 am #

    “As for the unarmed man who was killed while relieving himself, he was intoxicated and reaching into his waistband after being ordered to show his hands. As an officer, would you have waited to shoot until after he shot you? How can I expect Bovard to understand that? His biggest worry is carpal tunnel syndrome. Mine is dying in a neighborhood I don’t live in but risk my life for.”

    Officer Simmons, you don’t have to wait until he shoots you but you do have to at least wait to see if he has a weapon. Shooting first and asking questions later means that you are probably too scared to do your job effectively. It’s a tough job and not everyone can do it, do yourself and your community a service and seek other employment.

  10. Gregorio February 5, 2007 at 12:32 am #

    The instant case is characteristic of a mind set for most drawn to law enforcement, especially after military service. The one officer who shot Sean Bell in New York 33 times, and had to reload his pistol to do this, was back from duty in Iraq only nine months. There should be a law prohibiting those who have been in the service from getting into law enforcement or prison guard duty. We’re about to see an epidemic of police excessive use of force on citizens thought of as ‘towel heads’ and potential terrorists.

  11. A. G. Phillbin February 5, 2007 at 3:40 am #

    The cowardly whine of Officer Simmons went something like this:

    “As for the unarmed man who was killed while relieving himself, he was intoxicated and reaching into his waistband after being ordered to show his hands. As an officer, would you have waited to shoot until after he shot you? How can I expect Bovard to understand that? His biggest worry is carpal tunnel syndrome. Mine is dying in a neighborhood I don’t live in but risk my life for.”

    Really, Officer? What about us innocent civilians, who might just be taking a whiz at the wrong place and time, and get stopped by one of you tax fattened drones? Should we risk our f**king lives because we’d like to zip up our fly before dealing with your inane questions and/or searches? You don’t want to wait to even see a glint of metal before you shoot someone down, right? It is just that stupid, arrogant attitude that guarantees that more innocent people will die at your hands. Is it your contention that the job of protecting the innocent requires killing the innocent? Well, here’s a news flash for you, officer – if you are unwilling to risk your life to prevent YOURSELF from shooting an innocent person, then you are too much of a COWARD to be out there protecting the innocent from criminals. Must we fear the police as well as the criminals? If you can’t take the kind of risk to avoid killing the innocent, then go get a job pushing a broom.

  12. americanintifada February 5, 2007 at 6:41 am #

    Hey everybody! Lighten up on these poor, abused police officers! We should be thanking them for performing their duties with a ‘Fox Attitude’!

    I have to show support because one of these alleged officers may end up as my own personal ‘renditioner’ when they haul me off to the gulag!

  13. john February 5, 2007 at 8:34 am #

    Scott is being sensitive and lenient. NEVER trust a cop. If a cop lies it is called “good police work”.

  14. Sean February 5, 2007 at 1:18 pm #

    The police are always around to give an open container ticket, a parking ticket, a cell phone ticket, or to mow down minorities. They are never around when they are needed. Glass on my car has been broken twice, my friend’s skull wash bashed in on the subway, and another friend of mine was recently mugged.

    Where can I sign up for this depolicing? It would be much more effective if my neighbors and I were allowed to carry firearms and keep the block clean ourselves. In order to do that one might need to clean off some of the criminals who carry badges in the process.

    Cops are concerned primarily with quotas and their own job security. If they feared street-level retaliation, like they once did, that would be the true deterrent from them killing innocents. Right now they literally get away w/ murder everytime.

    The police do deserve equal treatment. We should start by taking away special punishments for those who injure or kill cops. Their lives aren’t any more valuable than anyone else’s and they choose a dangerous profession. After that we can start arresting and questioning them immediately after these shooting incidents like the murder suspects they so often are.

  15. expat February 5, 2007 at 8:46 pm #

    I think the reason why the ongoing police lawlessness/terrorism continues with no great cry for corrective action is probably the following: the police are black, as are the victims. Without a racial angle politicians and the MSM can’t sustain much interest in the problem.

  16. Jim February 5, 2007 at 11:05 pm #

    Actually, in P.G. County, a number of the victims have been white. I don’t recall seeing a breakdown in the race of cop shooters versus cop victims.

    There was also a horrendous case of a white PG policewoman siccing her police dog on some Hispanic males who had been taken into custody. That cost P.G. taxpayers a heap.

  17. Jim February 5, 2007 at 11:06 pm #

    I’m just guessing here, but, I’m assuming that none of the commentors on this thread want to purchase tickets for a full table at the upcoming Patrolmen Benevolent Association dinner?

  18. Mike February 6, 2007 at 12:58 am #

    I think that it’s unfortunate that so many people have this view of police officers. The situation has been caused by both the police and the community. The legislature has criminalized so many actions that almost anyone can be arrested or cited for something. The job of a police officer is to protect the public and enforce the laws. What happens when one conflicts with the other? The war on drugs does nothing to protect the public, should police officers refuse to enforce drug laws? Should they pick and choose which laws to enforce? Regardless of whether or not you think this is a good idea most police officers have already made the choice and have decided to enforce the laws rather then protect the public. Police officers feel a commitment to the law and not the people. This has caused a rift between the police and the public. The public has become secondary to enforcing the law. I don’t think this can be changed without a drastic reduction in the number of laws and a lot of time to untrain most of the current officers.

  19. americanintifada February 6, 2007 at 1:40 am #

    Jim:

    You’re correct. I will NOT be buyihg any alleged “benevolent association” tickets at anytime, anywhere. I have always been cautious of the police due to my upbringing. I was a Navy brat raised in Southern California whose ‘lifer’ daddy served as a Shore Patrol in LA and Long Beach back in the 40’s and 50’s. Drunken sailors and Marines felt very lucky indeed if they got hauled off to the brig by burly MPs and SPs rather than beaten close to death with rubber hoses by ‘benevolent LAPD officers’ if arrested by those particular sadistic hate-filled racists.

    My pappy used to patrol the notorious Pike in Long Beach back then, which happened to be the hottest ticket in Southern California. This was after the infamous Zoot Suit riots, but some things in LA never change. We ended up in Orange County, but the attitude of police officers was the same, as if there was no separation between counties – including San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino.

    Long Beach and San Diego may have been Navy towns, but locals used to put signs on their front yards “Dogs, Sailors and Marines – Keep off the grass!”

  20. Pg officers wice March 1, 2007 at 11:24 am #

    Until you walk the thin blue line you will never understand what it is like to be a police officer. If you think you can do a better job I suggest, no I urge you to fill out an application. PG is hiring!
    Just remember next time you need to call the police (I think I heard it best said on the back of a t-shirt) “Don’t like the police, next time you need one call a crackhead”

  21. Rob May 27, 2007 at 1:24 am #

    Here in nashville,tn ,our police and sheriff’s departments, DA’s and others we pay to serve and protect us have adopted attitudes and dishonest tactics as nasty as those of the carachters seen on tv shows such as C.S.I., Law and order, Criminal minds and N.C.I.S. These people are a bunch of lawless thugs who enjoy impunity from the laws they are supposed to uphold. The police here feel free to manhandle anyone with no regard for the perosns rights or safety. Most of the laws here have been written so that a person can be imprisoned with no proof of a crime needed for conviction. Justice is for sale here and the price is extrememly high. The police and DA’S know most people here work for less than $7.00 per hour. This means they can’t afford a decent attorney,so they have to settle for a public defender(“public pretender”). no ordinary civilian is safe. I used to be a member of the police benevolence association but ,after the way a cop treated me, no more. I’m tired of my rights being violated by terrorist thugs.

  22. mammy May 20, 2008 at 7:11 pm #

    I know someone who was just killed by pg police, also had no weapon and shot in the back. And the cop was back from iraq. Just like philben predicted.

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