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.

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.


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R.Hodin

Yet another good reason to support the efforts of FIJA to slow down the weakening of power of juries.

http://fija.org/


PaulJones

Hodin – This is some excellent information. Everyone should read the jurors guide available on the FIJA site. I suspect many potential jurors including some who served past and at present might be surprised to learn the full extent of their legal powers. The power of the jury is probably the strongest means that the people of the US can apply to effect change. Funny how the gov doesn’t want us to know these facts or the power we hold.


R.Hodin

Just don’t let the judge know that you are aware of the concept of jury nullification while you are in the voir dire, or jury selection process or during the trial or deliberation, or you will be removed from the jury. No judge wants to have an informed juror in the courtroom.


Cindy

The behavior of these deputies is reprehensible. When the new Sheriff is elected, he needs to terminate at least 3 of them.


I have to question where Hart’s attorney was when he excepted a plea bargain? Why did he allow Hart to get railroaded into pleading guilty to anything? Was it legal for Hart to target practice on his property and if not what sort of violation would he have been charged with, otherwise? I have to agree that Hart was extremely lame when he reached for his cell phone, I know I need say nothing more about that as it’s no brainer to follow instructions when your under gun point. He’s lucky that they didn’t jump on him and beat him up, all the while claiming that he was resisting arrest because he was wiggling from getting beat up to begin with. We’ve all seen that one before.


Fact is that if this wasn’t on audio and video Hart probably would have got sold up the river. It isn’t illegal to video the police. Anything that is said or done in public or where there is reason to believe that you can be observed or over heard isn’t considered private. I agree that all police activity should be be recorded at all times but here is a case point. The night that Parkinson’s 4 officers beat up and injured an innocent citizen in his own home not to mention hand cuffing him and then holding his eyes open so they could pepper spray him a second time, all 4 officers claimed their camera’s and audio had malfunctioned. To add insult to injury, even the recorder at the station where the citizen was later interviewed malfunctioned! This is a problem and why this was swept under the rug with a pay out and no media isn’t anyone’s guess. We all know why. Is this who we want for a Sheriff? I think not.

BTW, Glad Murphy liked the guns so much, the one that he said he wanted so much, did he think he would get to keep it or did he just want to play with it for a while? Too bad guns don’t have counters on them, wonder how much additional target practice would have registered on it?


ApathyWillKillYou

Cindy,


Great job at connecting the dots to Parkinson’s probable involvement in the innocent citizen’s nightmare.


Parkinson’s own web site states verbatim…


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


And no cameras worked in BOTH the patrol cars and at the station?


Well at least Sheriff Hedge’s recording device WORKED when he illegally bugged a subordinate’s office!


PaulJones

It wasn’t just the camera’s that weren’t working. All the officers carry audio on their shoulders that are transmitted back to the cars. The audio didn’t work either. In short, nothing worked except the pepper spray, the handcuffs, the batons and the flexed muscles.


Paperboys

There is plenty of blame to go around with this one. We’re supposed to have a system of checks and balances, not just the Judicial-Legislative-Executive Branch check and balance listed in the Constitution, but checks within each of these branches too.

The beat cops are supposed to be checked by their supervisors and on up the chain in the LE agency, who are then checked by the DA’s office when it reviews a case and the charges that have been filed.

And the DA’s actions are supposed to be be checked by judges. In this case, this poor man had all the felony charges against him fall apart because of illegal search and yet the DA was allowed to bully him into pleading guilty to something he was probably not guilty of.

Where was Judge Dodie Harmon? Did she ask this man if he was entering a guilty plea of his own free will? He could have said NO he was being coerced into it by the DA, in which case the judge would have been hard-pressed to accept this phony-baloney plea bargain and call the DA’s threat (bluff) of charging him with 4 felonies.

I’ll tell you what would put an end to this shit immediately, if the DA’s office were to have to pay all legal fees to a defendant acquitted of all charges. They bully people by telling them it’ll cost them a fortune to fight charges and they’re doing them a favor by plea bargaining, even if they did absolutely NOTHING WRONG.

Each of these people — Sheriff, DA and judge Harmon — are ELECTED officials, and as such each and every one of them is subject to being recalled or voted out of office, if only someone had the courage to run against them.

Look at what happened here. The deputy’s commander was actually on the scene with him at the time of this incident and yet did nothing to stop this blatant abuse of power.

They say it’s illegal to videotape a cop or record a cop. Well I say it ought to be standard procedure for cops to be under constant surveillance, with microphones on their persons and in their cars too. After all, they don’t hesitate to use recordings made in cop cars against people under arrest.

But you know what, it does no good (other than to vent) to go on this or any other web site and spout off. The only thing that ever gets their attention is when people take to the streets and protest actions such as these.

What will it take for something to be done? Will these fanatics finally have to shoot to death a child? A pregnant woman? Or kill an innocent person during a high-speed chase going after some petty thief (which has already happened in this county)?

People need to get active. We’ve all urged the formation of a citizen’s law enforcement oversight commission. Are there any politically active folks out there who would lead the formation of a campaign committee and draft a countywide ordinance that sets up such a commission? You realize of course that this is the ONLY way a citizen’s oversight commission could ever be realized, right?

Where’s Penny Harrington? She had this idea years ago and was ridiculed into dropping it by the county sheriff. I’ll bet he’d keep his mouth shut this time around…


mkaney

The additional checks are in fact listed by the Constitution, under the first ten amendments. The fourth amendment is about as clearly worded as it could possibly be. It doesn’t say that they have a right to search based on probable cause, it says that a probable cause is required for a WARRANT. If there is no warrant, there should be no search, PERIOD.


The check and balance is the citizen’s right to RESIST unconstitutional actions, like searches. But that right has been taken away, and therefore there is no lesson to be learned by Law Enforcement. You can build in additional checks and balances all day long within the system, but like I said the system protects itself, so it will do no good.


It is not illegal to videotape a police officer. They have claimed that it is in violation of the wiretap laws to have an audio recording, and then leave it up to the courts to decide whether that is true. The police unions have dedicated themselves to making sure that cops cannot be held accountable for pretty much anything.


The final check and balance is the second amendment. It was meant to put the citizenry on equal footing with those who might be oppressed. It was intended to be an equalizer. Thus, if the federal government is allowed to have a tank, then so should citizens. People may not like this concept, but as things evolve they’re going to like the results even less.


Crusader

If you happen to be reading this Mr. Hart, here is the ACLU’s on-line complaint form/request for legal assistance:


https://secure.aclu.org/site/SPageNavigator/CS_Survey_LegalIntake


mkaney

This is not an isolated incident folks. This is the state of law enforcement NATIONWIDE. It is the also the state of District Attorneys and the judicial system. Kep in mind that it is the courts which have added exception after exception to the fourth amendment, not to mention all of the others.


The system protects its own, and has become insulated from the public and saturated with so much propaganda that it has basically developed into a civil religion. Unfortunately, because the second amendment has not been upheld in the manner it was intended, we as a public are for all intent and purposes disarmed and have no true, viable militia.


You may want to believe that this video just represents the few bad officers, and that for that the most part the rest are honest, hardworking professionals. You would be wrong. The few honest hardworking professionals are the minority, and they still defer to the system becuase they believe in it.


ThomasPaine

I’m afraid that you’re right, this isn’t about one incompetent Sheriff, this is nation wide and what is to be expected when LE works for those in power.


coyote

As we steadily march towards martial law to control those who will not submit to the NWO.


justme

But if it does all go south do you really want to be a cop-hater? It’s like the old cop saying goes, “If you don’t like cops then the next time you need help, call your plumber”. Our cops are like all cops, their biggest threat are crazies with guns so they want ’em all. Especially the ones that don’t have in their collection yet. What’s new?


yourstoall

Joe Cortez will clean it up. Ian may be to close to the present county scene. Do some research on Joe. You will be amazed.


Fedup

SLO District Attorney Gerald Shea is up for reelection this fall running unopposed. It is my belief that no honest person wants to get involved with the corrupt good old boy’s network that Shea’s and his cronies has created during his many years in office. I also believe it is naive to think that it really matters who is elected to the office of sheriff in November. The corruption is too entrenched in this county and state to be overcome by the mere will of the people.


Saveslocounty

The right person does have the ability to clean up the place just as history has demonstrated. The drinking and corruption ended shortly after Sheriff Ed Williams took office (somewhere around 1988 or so)and he started administering discipline. Have your pay suspended fo 30 days or loose your job for doing an unprofessional action and it is a great motivator for the rest of the staff to conform to the new rules. Today, there are no rules, no accountablity and no consequences. The result should not be too surprising. However, a true leader can take care of this mess and start the recovery process in short order.


Sorry, the problems at the State level are well above my pay grade. However, a true leader would encourage legislature to balance the budger before they get a check and suspend all perks at the same time. That would be a good start.


Sorry to disagree but leadership can be effective.


Crusader

Williams was certainly better than Hedges but that’s not saying a whole lot. Williams was no William Parker. He didn’t come close to purifying the department. The rot runs deep, all the way back to the Murray Hathaway days (Great Depression) and likely before that.


Leadership is desperately important. But so is integrity and a Board of Supervisors who would be willing to swallow deeply and back any sheriff who was willing to institute real reform once and for all.


Given the civil service protection and the slimy unions it would be a very tough job…


Saveslocounty

Good point in that the Board of Supervisors must have the fortitute to stand up for the new Sheriff and also tell him when he is wrong. That, we have not seen from the current or pervious Board. Williams did an outstanding job of cleaning the department up but to say he was no William Parker doesn’t relate. Parker was a world class leader in police reform but he never came to SLO. There were some other problems with prior Sheriff’s including Hathway, but very minimal when compared to the past 11 years Hedges. I would rather have Hathway in office today (if he were alive) than Hedges.


accountnumber

Fedup, I can understand the feeling most have towards the sheriff’s department. But I don’t agree with your statement that it doesn’t “really matter” who is elected to the office of Sheriff. Joe Cortez has a proven track record of cleaning up organizations he has worked for. On the other hand, Parkinson has sold his sole (ethically and morally) to gain votes. He is also on record saying that it will take two to three terms (8 to 12 years) to straighten up the Sheriff’s Department. Do you think we can wait that long? To me, now that we’re down to a choice of two, Joe Cortez is the obvious choice to be the next Sheriff of SLO County.


accountnumber

Just when you think it can’t get any worse. The smoke hasn’t even settled in the DUI arrest of the Under Sheriff and now this. I hope the voters open their eyes and see that now is not the time for the “good old boy” nice guy to become the next sheriff. What the Sheriff’s Department needs is an experienced leader with a proven track record to straighten this mess up. Joe Cortez has both these traits plus the education you all should insist our next Sheriff have. If you believe Parkinson is only six classes away from obtaining his BA, then I have some ocean front property to sell you in Arizona cheap!


Dan Blackburn

Thanks, Dave, for posting the “Anonymous” comment about KCCN.tv’s debut documentary. Just a couple of points — while it may be apparent to Dave why this bloke wants to remain in the shadows, it is nevertheless typical behavior of many who criticize and snipe from behind a veil of anonymity. I funded and put out my report under my name, with my own ugly face in it. I placed it on my own Web site, which I have paid for myself. And my agenda? To keep doing the kind of reports that I believe need to be done. As to my going “over the line of objective journalistic reporting.” Whose line would that be, sir? I make up the rules for KCCN.tv. Watch or don’t. And if that bothers you, why not start your own Web site and tell people what a jerk I am.? In the meantime, check out the new journalism. It ain’t your ol’ daily’s journalism.


Saveslocounty

Dan:


Your material was outstanding and should serve the community to help clean up the Sheriff’s Department. But, your marketing approach to KCCN leaves much to be desired. This is intended as a constructive comment. I know, I know, I am a jerk and could start my own site too.


standup

A dirty sheriff, a DA that won’t stand up for the rights of the citizens, what are we to do? I hope Hedges rots in hell for all the money he has cost the county and for all his shady activities. The DA can join him for not prosecuting him also. We the people of SLO County deserve better. Both positions are a waste of our tax dollars with the current incumbents. Can we recall the DA?