Deputies transgressions caught on videotape

July 16, 2010

Deputy Darren Murphy is at right.

Which has the most weight in a court of law — the testimony of a law enforcement official, or that of an average, law-abiding citizen?

A rare opportunity to see, and hear, how some San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputies view the U.S. Constitution is contained in a 22-minute “mini-documentary” on a news website just launched. That opportunity is presented by deputies themselves, talking into their shoulder microphones and standing in front of their vehicle-mounted cameras.

In this case, the recordings tilt the argument in favor of the citizen… in a big way.

Deputy Darren Murphy is featured in the first video report by KCCN.tv, a project of Central Coast News Agency. Murphy leads a squad of heavily armed deputies into the yard of a North County man,  then into the man’s house , and ultimately, into a locked gun safe. Sheriff’s department recordings made by the deputies themselves clearly illustrate their lack of concern for individual rights; deputies can be overheard manufacturing reasons for the intrusion into the home, the gun safe, and for the pending arrest of longtime resident Matt Hart.

[youtube SSy6LcVEesc 630 375]

The video report is the first of what Central Coast News Agency editor Daniel Blackburn says will be monthly offerings by the new Web site.

Blackburn, who helped found CalCoastNews.com, cited “Deputy Murphy’s uncensored, darkly disturbing observations and behavior following his Code 3 arrival at the rural home of Hart. Those utterances were picked up by Murphy’s and other deputies’ own recorders,” Blackburn said.

“Those recordings provide a rare, frighteningly revealing, behind-the-scenes perspective of how one local law enforcement agency views the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and other laws its personnel are sworn to uphold,” he said.

Watch the full video documentary at KCCN.tv. Note, you may have to download plug-ins in order to view the video.


114 Comments

  1. CCWheelers says:

    Very Sad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. ThomasPaine says:

    Suppressing Evidence

    by digby

    It looks like this is going to be crazy Tuesday. Get a load of this:

    The ACLU of Maryland is defending Anthony Graber, who potentially faces sixteen years in prison if found guilty of violating state wiretap laws because he recorded video of an officer drawing a gun during a traffic stop. In a trend that we’ve seen across the country, police have become increasingly hostile to bystanders recording their actions. You can read some examples here, here and here.

    However, the scale of the Maryland State Police reaction to Anthony Graber’s video is unprecedented. Once they learned of the video on YouTube, Graber’s parents house was raided, searched, and four of his computers were confiscated. Graber was arrested, booked and jailed. Their actions are a calculated method of intimidation. Another person has since been similarly charged under the same statute.

    The wiretap law being used to charge Anthony Graber is intended to protect private communication between two parties. According to David Rocah, the ACLU attorney handling Mr. Graber’s case, “To charge Graber with violating the law, you would have to conclude that a police officer on a public road, wearing a badge and a uniform, performing his official duty, pulling someone over, somehow has a right to privacy when it comes to the conversation he has with the motorist.”

    The ACLU has posted a fact sheet (PDF) about this case.

    You can see the video here.

    This isn’t the only incident. It’s a trend:
    In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.

    Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.

    The legal justification for arresting the “shooter” rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested. Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where “no expectation of privacy exists” (Illinois does not) but in practice this exception is not being recognized.

    Massachusetts attorney June Jensen represented Simon Glik who was arrested for such a recording. She explained, “[T]he statute has been misconstrued by Boston police. You could go to the Boston Common and snap pictures and record if you want.” Legal scholar and professor Jonathan Turley agrees, “The police are basing this claim on a ridiculous reading of the two-party consent surveillance law – requiring all parties to consent to being taped. I have written in the area of surveillance law and can say that this is utter nonsense.”

    There’s no reason that police officers should ever have an expectation of privacy when dealing with the public. Ever. The mere idea of it is authoritarian. I realize that videos and audio tapes don’t always reflect the context, but the burden of proof is on the government, not the citizen and police have to factor that into their behavior.

    Police have a very difficult job. They should be paid very well, have many benefits and be allowed to retire with good pensions at a fairly early age, a package which most of them have (thanks to unions) and which no one begrudges them. The stress level is extremely high and the dangers are many. But being a police officer requires a specialized set of skills that includes being able to govern their emotions and use common sense in difficult situations. Trying to suppress evidence of when they fail to do that is both illegal and immoral. And it flies in the face of American values on all sides of the tribal political divide. Let’s hope the courts don’t decide that we need to ratcvhet up the police state by siding with officers who hope to cover up their unprofessional and illegal behavior.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

    • ApathyWillKillYou says:

      I believe this story to be true…

      But it is hard to believe that if you take a picture of a police officer in Maryland in a public place you could spend 16 tears in prison!

      Why are we fighting terrorists in the Middle East when our own governments can be just as bad!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

      • Cindy says:

        There are some States where the police have been trying to make it illegal to tape them. So far they haven’t done well in the higher courts. Also the citizenry is starting to speak out in unprecedented numbers. This isn’t something that the citizens (regardless of political affiliation) are willing to stand for. It makes the police look very bad, they seem to forget that the people can “crack down” on them. It’s worth following the stories that TP is bringing to our attention, who knows, they might “try it on in a city near you”!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  3. StevenSLO says:

    I agree with katieevans. Linden needs to be kicked out of her seat, and Parkinson needs to be kept from gaining any more authority. I’ve heard the same thing about Parkinson and that officer, Amy Chastain. It’s well known that he’s been having a relationship with her, and that she’s been getting special favors and assignments within the police department in return for her special favors to him.

    I love CCN for always breaking open the stories that nobody else finds. I’ve been waiting for Karen to post her story about the sexual misconduct in the sheriff’s department leading to the false police report. I’m almost positive I know exactly who she’s referring to, and I hope she’s able to finally blow the top off all the despicable things those people have been pulling while they should be doing their jobs for SLO county. Don’t let the sheriff’s office get away with keeping another scandal under wraps.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

    • KatieEvans says:

      Thanks StevenSLO, I’m waiting for the false police report story to. I heard Karen mention it on Dave Congalton. It sounds like your saying that the catalyst surrounding the generation of the false report is centered around sexual misconduct. Karen better hurry up and write the story before all the details get leaked in the blogs! Hahah, I think it’s going to be a good story. Unfortunately, she is the only investigative reporter and it takes time to line all her ducks up before she can be 100% certain of “all” her facts. I know there are times when she would rather hold up a story rather than have to leave some of the facts out, the more information, the better.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      • StevenSLO says:

        I hope you’re right! When I heard Karen say that one county employee used a boyfriend to file an alleged false police report against someone, a little bell went off in my head as to who she was referring to, based on some things I’ve been hearing. If I’m right (and hopefully Karen will write something soon and confirm my suspicion), then there are rumors of a whole mess of sexual misconduct going on with these people. I think it’ll be a great story, too, and I hope CalCoast is the one to break it. Go, Karen, Go! LOL

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  4. sloslo says:

    We can at least be thankful that it seems the SLO Sheriff’s never learned the whole “erase all the audio, video AND the interrogation tapes and then claim all the equipment mysteriously malfunctioned” trick that the SLO PD used after they served an illegal beat down on poor Jeff “Babbo” Milne. Luckily, it still didn’t stop them from having to cough up $195,000 for their police brutality.

    See http://calcoastnews.com/2009/12/san-luis-obispo-slated-to-pay-195000-for-alleged-police-brutality/

    Perhaps these recording devices were sealed and inaccessible to the officers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 3

    • Crusader says:

      Was Parkinson in any way involved in that mess?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

      • KatieEvans says:

        Yes he was involved in that mess. I suggest that everyone read the story that sloslo has referenced (above) because it’s an appalling ‘dozzie’. These officers worked directly for Parkinson and one of them by the name of Amy Chastain was doing more for Parkinson at work than just working. They were never disciplined for their actions and if CalCoastNews hadn’t been tipped off about it, the story never would have seen the light of day. The entire story had been swept under the rug and the CC was already meeting in closed door session to agree to pay Milne the $195K which was a good deal for the city considering his injuries.
        Parkinson was the person who was responsible for the oversight and discipline of the officers as well as the video and audio equipment that they all claimed malfunctioned. Linden and Parkinson claimed that it had been determined that the officers all acted appropriately. Read the story and you be the judge. If they acted so appropriately then why did the taxpayers have to settle the case behind closed doors? Linden is just as bad as Hedges in my opinion. There is no leadership in that PD. If Parkinson becomes Sheriff nothing will change. LInden needs to be replaced and Parkinson needs to join the lineman.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 2

      • ApathyWillKillYou says:

        from Parkinson’s own website…

        “Ian is directly responsible for the adoption and installation of the integrated Mobile Data Computer and Mobile Video Camera units in all patrol cars”

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  5. PaulJones says:

    Speaking of a ” police state”, How is Mr. Summers doing with retrieving the 911 tapes from the call placed to the APD the night that he was violently assaulted in his own home by off duty SLOPD officer Cramer?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  6. Crusader says:

    “Crooked law enforcement is the worst form of state sponsored terrorism.” — Crusader, 2010

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 2

  7. cheseburger says:

    Wow, do you need a warrant to get into that gun safe????? Dud! And to think Darren Murphy just recently passed the state bar and became a lawyer who stomps on others civil rights!!!!!!!!!!
    It took him many tries at passing the bar and his actions are possibly way below where the bar should be set. Shame on you Darren and how did you know he was an A-hole, physic?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 2

  8. choprzrul says:

    Looks like an example of state (gov entity) sponsored terror to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

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