Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality and State Repression sends its condolences and sympathy for the tragic loss of 19 year old Ariston Waiters and stands in Solidarity with the Ariston Waiters family and the community's quest for justice.  We are outraged that a black teenager was shot in the back by a Union City police officer while it appears Ariston Waiters was unarmed.  Ariston Waiters, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, in addition to the many victims of police brutality throughout the United States, have become ingrained in our collective memory. Their lives are the unspeakable price we pay to live in a society based on racial injustice.  A major political movement was launched on January 1st 2009 with the police killing of Oscar Grant, a 22 year old, unarmed Black father executed by a white BART (transit) police officer.  Occupy Oakland renamed the City Hall plaza "Oscar Grant Plaza" because so many people were touched by the resistance and the power of the people that led to Johanes Mehserle being arrested, charged, tried, convicted and sentenced for killing Oscar Grant.  We made history: that was the first time a white police officer has gone to jail for killing an unarmed black man in the State of California.
We stand in Solidarity with any and every effort to stop police violence and murder. We demand Justice for Ariston Waiters and all victims of police terror everywhere.
Towards Justice,
Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality and State Repression
The Oscar Grant Committee meets the 1st Tuesday of every month at the Niebyl Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph (near Alcatraz) in Oakland at 7:00 p.m.  Call us at 510-239-3570.

Excerpts from Occupy Atlanta email: "Tomorrow, there is an action in Union City, [GA], also organized by Occupy Atlanta for Ariston Waiters. [!/events/137695716344291]
An extremely similar murder here to Ariston Waiters' and Oscar Grant's would be Joetavius Stafford- shot in the back by a MARTA police officer. []
On Wednesday, tomorrow there is an action in Union City to demand justice for Ariston Waiters. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011-12-20 "Ex-cop allegedly took coke, gun for 'dirty DUIs'" by Justin Berton from "San Francisco Chronicle"
 A former Danville patrol officer accepted cocaine and a gun from a private investigator as payment to ensure three men were pulled over for "dirty DUI" arrests, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed Monday.
Stephen Tanabe, 48, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Oakland to four felony charges of extortion under color of official right. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He was freed on bail after his father, Richard Tanabe of Hawaii, agreed to secure a $400,000 bond against a home he owns in Alamo.
The indictment said Stephen Tanabe, a former Contra Costa County deputy sheriff who was assigned to patrol Danville, had been compensated by private eye Christopher Butler, 50, who in turn was hired by women involved in divorce, child custody or family disputes.
On two occasions in January, Tanabe waited outside a Danville bar in his patrol car and pulled over men after decoys employed by Butler had "enticed the target to drink until he was intoxicated," the indictment said.
Tanabe falsely stated in his incident reports that he had been on "routine patrol" when he crossed paths with the inebriated drivers, the indictment said.
In a third incident in November 2010, prosecutors say, an off-duty Tanabe sat with Butler in a bar and watched across the room as the private detective's employees conducted a sting on a targeted man.
Tanabe then called a nearby on-duty deputy sheriff assigned to Danville and had the man arrested on drunken-driving charges, the indictment said.
In exchange for the arrests, Butler gave Tanabe cocaine and a firearm, according to the indictment.
Butler's attorney, William Gagen, said his client gave Tanabe $200 worth of cocaine for the 2010 arrest and a Glock handgun after the Jan. 14 DUI arrest of a Livermore winemaker.
Gagen said Butler had been given 10 handguns by Glock, which was sponsoring the detective's attempt to land a reality TV show tentatively called "P.I. Moms of San Francisco."
"There is plenty of evidence to corroborate what Mr. Butler has said," Gagen said.
Tim Pori, Tanabe's attorney, said his client had simply been doing his duty to investigate leads that Butler provided when he had the men arrested.
"Every police officer has to follow up on reports that drunk drivers are taking to the road," Pori said, "no matter where that report comes from or who it comes from."
The defense attorney said Tanabe hadn't known that Butler was hiring decoys to get the men drunk. He also denied that Tanabe had accepted cocaine or a gun from Butler.
Butler was indicted in August on felony drug and corruption charges with Norman Wielsch, 50, a former state Department of Justice agent who once commanded an antidrug task force in Contra Costa County. Both men pleaded not guilty and are free on bail.
In a written confession to prosecutors in March, Butler also said he and Wielsch had operated a brothel in Pleasant Hill that fronted as a massage parlor. Wielsch has denied any involvement in the alleged brothel.
In addition to the federal charges, Tanabe pleaded not guilty earlier this year in state court to bribery and conspiracy charges connected to the two drunken-driving arrests he made in Danville in January.
Pori said the grand jury's indictment was based on Butler's confession, and that the former private investigator was motivated to lie about Tanabe to lessen any prison sentence he might receive.
 "If all the government has is Butler's word, then it's the word of a liar, a thief, a drug dealer and a pimp," Pori said. "Butler is singing for his supper."

Former Danville patrol Officer Stephen Tanabe is accused of arranging DUI arrests.
Lacy Atkins / The Chronicle

Thursday, December 8, 2011

2011-12-08 "Local Cops Continue Killing and Corruption Spree"
Mar. 30, 2011- MPD arrests one of their own officers, Anthony Trock, for seizing illegal drugs (including cocaine, meth, and marijuana) and failing to submit the narcotics into evidence. Trock has been with the department for four years, working as a patrol officer. Although the officer Trock has been stripped of his law enforcement powers, he is still on PAID administrative leave. The Stanislaus County district attorney’s office will conduct the criminal prosecution.
Anthony Trock:

April 26, 2011 – Modesto Police Chief Mike Harden announces that the process for police accreditation cost the tax-payers of Modesto $94,000 including $5,000 to enroll in CALEA (Commission for Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, which is nothing more than an organization of police and former police) and a full time employee at an approximate cost of $89,000. At a time when budget cuts threaten to shut down everything from hospitals to day care centers – do we really think this is the best use of our money?
Mike Harden:

May 3, 2011 – Stanislaus County Sheriff Kari Abbey was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Abbey is charged with the murder of Rita Elias, a mother and resident of West-Side Modesto. Elias was murdered by Abbey in September of 2010 during an argument in which Abbey attempted to evict Elias from her property. Abbey’s parents are landlords and according to documents released from the investigation, Kari along with other law enforcement officers have helped illegally evict people. Abbey is also charged with conducting this “family business” all while on the clock as a Sheriff.  In court documents, the Stanislaus County district attorney’s office said Abbey abused tenants at her rental properties, used fellow deputies to serve eviction papers while they were on duty and conducted her business on county time. In addition, a March 30 search of the home and outbuildings she shared with her husband and father yielded a sophisticated marijuana growing system, several weapons, counterfeit bills, steroids and items from the Hayward Police Department. Abbey’s husband, Bennie Taylor, worked for the Hayward police until last year. Investigators said Abbey and Taylor trespassed on properties they owned and managed, harassing and intimidating tenants, assaulting at least one of them. One tenant called police after Taylor hit him, the affidavit said. Witnesses said the Modesto police officer who responded to the call seemed familiar with Abbey, hugging her and shaking Taylor’s hand.
Kari Abbey

May 24, 2011 – Modesto Police shoot and kill Jeremy Atkinson after responding to an armed robbery at a store on Coffee Rd. During a chase of Atkinson, police claimed that he reached into his waistband and they fired in self-defense, as it turned out he was unarmed. Again, like a mantra, we hear the police repeating the same line over and over again. A suspect “reaches for their waist-band” and the officers “fearing for their lives” shoot them in self-defense. Only later it turns out that the suspect is armed with only a spatula – or no weapon at all.

June 1, 2011 – About 15 people demonstrated inside and outside of the Stanislaus County court-house while Kari Abbey faced a judge, charged with the murder of Rita Elias as well as numerous other charges.

June 3, 2011 – The 5-month long “independent investigation” of the Modesto Police Department ended with a $75,000 bill while completely exonerating the cops. The investigation was launched to look into charges of police brutality that steamed from a series of leaked emails by both former and anonymous police officers claiming that the beating of suspects was common and that higher-up police, including Chief Harden, knew about the violations. The investigative report, issued by a Palo Alto based lawyer, which cost tax-payers $75,000 (on top of the nearly $100,000 for police accreditation), concludes that there is not a problem with rampant police brutality or corruption. The report issued by Robert Aaronson (who gets paid by the cops to do these investigations and as long as the results are good the cops, he’ll keep getting paid) claims that the series of emails issues about ongoing brutality are unfounded, based largely on interviews with police officers. He also cites the shooting death of Francisco Moran, claiming that officers shot Moran in order to protect “his family members and themselves,” only later discovering that the weapon he had was in fact a spatula.

June 8, 2011- Ernest Duenez Jr. was unarmed and fatally shot multiple times in the body and face by a Manteca Police Officer. According to several witnesses, Ernest posed no threat to the officer as he exited the back of the truck with his hands up. His leg became entangled in the seatbelt and as he fell to the ground he was shot by the officer without hesitation. Manteca PD has released different accounts of the incident, including that Ernest had a gun, then a knife, then an unidentified weapon) all which have proven to be untrue. The officer was allowed to return to work 2 weeks after the shooting even though the investigation is still ongoing. They have also refused to release the video recorded on the police car dash-camera.
Ernest Duenez Jr.

June 12, 2001 – Hundreds marched through the streets of Oakland to protest the release of former BART officer Johannes Mehserle from jail after only serving 72 days behind bars for the murder of unarmed Oscar Grant as he lay face down on a BART platform in Oakland in January of 2009. Michael Vick spent more time in a cell for killing a dog.

June 21, 2011 – Stanislaus County CHP officers gunned down and killed another unarmed mentally disturbed man, Eric Vigen, with semiautomatic rifles, shooting him 55 times (that’s right, 55), several miles south of Modesto on Crows Landing and West Main. The officers involved were Sgt. Ian Troxell, a 12-year CHP veteran, Jonathan Box, and Adam Percey. The shooting happened within minutes of officers arriving. According to Vigen’s family, Eric had bipolar disorder and was in a manic state before the shooting. Thinking that law enforcement could help her son as they had done in the past, Eric’s mother called police and told them that he needed help. Eric’s family was given the murderous details of his untimely death when Sheriffs gave the family their report. A CHP officer also killed 19 year old Ricky Miranda in January.
Eric Vigen

Get involved in the fight for Justice for the victims of police abuse and murder.  Contact Modesto Copwatch at (209) 730-6744 or

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

2011-12-06 "The First Amendment right to record the police" by Fly Benzo (DeBray Carpenter) from "San Francisco Bay View" newspaper
Fly Benzo, aka DeBray Carpenter, has become the Bay Area’s best known copwatcher for his monitoring of San Francisco police, especially since they murdered Kenneth Harding on July 16, 2011, and for his targeting by police for a series of retaliatory beatings and jailings. He is a student at City College and an accomplished videographer and journalist as well as a popular rapper. Bay Area residents are urged to pack the courtroom for his next court appearance – he faces four years in state prison for copwatching – on Monday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m., at 850 Bryant St., San Francisco, in Department 23. On Wednesday, Dec. 21, 8 p.m., a fundraiser party for Block Report Radio will feature performances by Fly Benzo and other rappers, including Ms. B, 5 Star Generalz and S. Venom at Twinspace, 2111 Mission St., San Francisco. Fly can be reached on Facebook or at To hear more from Fly and learn about his case, see “Police critic Fly Benzo keeps catching hell since police murder of Kenneth Harding,” an interview with Fly by Minister of Information JR [].
Support Fly Benzo twice on Friday, Jan. 6:
1) Pack the courtroom for the first day of his trial on Friday, Jan. 6, 9 a.m., at 850 Bryant in Department 22
2) Party with Fly at his ‘Conscious Minds at Work Reggae, Arts and Hip-Hop Mixer & Fundraiser’ on Friday, Jan. 6, 7 p.m., at Twin Space Continuum, 2111 Mission St., Third Floor #300, San Francisco
According to the United States Constitution, the First Amendment is written as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
There have been many instances when video evidence has contradicted an officer’s testimony and either an officer was convicted of wrongdoing or a suspect’s charges have been overturned or dismissed. In the interest of justice and the protection of United States citizens from abuse of authoritative power, there is no logical reason why there should be a law prohibiting the filming of police officers other than blatant governmental repression.
Gayle Falkenthal, in her Washington Times article, “All Journalism Is Citizen Journalism,” clarified that in the case Glik v. Cunniffe, the court ruled that a citizen’s right to film government officials is protected by the First Amendment. Simon Glik, a client of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), was arrested for “illegal wiretapping” after he recorded officers using force to arrest a young man on the Boston Common. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, on Aug. 26, 2011, “ruled that a private citizen’s right to videotape police officers performing their duties in a public space is ‘unambiguously’ protected by the First Amendment.”
Richard Winton, in his article, “Sheriff’s Department sued over detention of photographers,” expressed the fact that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department on behalf of the National Press Photographers Association and three photographers who were harassed, detained and illegally searched while legally taking pictures in public places. The senior staff attorney for the ACLU declared that “photography is not a crime” and that for the police “to single them out for such treatment while they’re pursuing a constitutionally protected activity is doubly wrong.”
Thomas Clouse and Meghann M. Cuniff, in their Spokesman newspaper article, report on one case in which an officer was convicted of wrongdoing after a store’s surveillance tapes told a different story than the officer in question. Spokane Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. claimed that Otto Zehm assaulted him in his 2006 encounter in which Zehm was beaten and tased into a coma from which he never recovered. Three years later the FBI launched a federal investigation. The jury, after review of the video evidence in contrast with Thompson’s statement, convicted him of excessive force as well as lying to investigators. This is one case in which video footage has served to ensure that justice was served and that an officer did not completely get away with murder.
Another case in which video evidence has been used to convict an officer was the 2009 shooting of BART (San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit) rider Oscar Grant by former BART PD Officer Johannes Mehserle. Although many people were outraged with the verdict and the short amount of time Mehserle served in custody, it was video evidence from several onlookers’ cell phones that aided the prosecution in the historic involuntary manslaughter conviction. Johannes Mehserle was another case of a cop who almost got away with murder, as well as an officer whose testimony contradicted the videos of the respective incidents and, therefore, yet another reason filming government officials is rightfully protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
According to the May 27, 2011, press release of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, Officer Peter Richardson arrested Jesus Inastrilla and claimed that three undercover officers arrested Inastrilla after witnessing him spit a crack rock in his hand and sell it to Officer Guerrero, one of the undercover officers. However, video footage shows that no exchange was made. The charges were dropped after Guerrero claimed that he could not locate the alleged seized drugs in evidence.
The same day in San Francisco, 25 other cases were dropped due to lack of evidence, police credibility issues and a string of tapes with contradictory evidence to that of the statements of officers. With this lack of accountability and integrity of sworn SFPD officers, without cameras, there is no way of knowing whether or not an innocent person will be wrongfully convicted. Therefore, the protection of citizens with cameras is absolutely necessary in the best interest of justice.
San Francisco Examiner Staff Writer Brent Begin, in his article “San Francisco police to carry video cameras during arrests,” asserts that the misconduct of officers had become so prevalent and the controversy so widespread that SF Police Chief Greg Suhr proposed the idea of equipping SFPD officers with cameras to record their arrests, especially in drug cases and cases that require consent or a search warrant. These ideas come in the wake of the aforementioned string of videos. The officers involved in the arrests in question were all removed from plainclothes duty pending further investigation; however, Chief Suhr insists that the officers are innocent until proven guilty. Being an officer of the law requires a person hold himself to a higher standard and, with their superior officers brushing such violations off in such a way, justice cannot possibly be served.
By exerting such abuses of authority, officers of the law make justice unattainable without the interference of good Samaritans and “copwatchers” who record the cops’ often reckless and over the top behavior. Also, as in the cases of Mehserle and Inastrilla, the American people cannot trust officers of the law to police themselves and their fellow officers, because time and time again they have lied under oath and violated the rights of, and even killed citizens unlawfully and conspired amongst themselves to continue to sweep things under the rug.
The right to film officers while performing their duties in a public space is rightfully protected by the First Amendment and it is evident that political prisoners as well as the family members of those wrongfully killed by police officers are thankful for the court ruling that helps make justice possible for them and their respective families.

Fly Benzo lets the community know that police are retaliating against him. This is Mendell Plaza, the central gathering place in Bayview Hunters Point.

 Fly Benzo rides the T-Train, the light rail line that connects downtown San Francisco to Bayview Hunters Point, Fly’s lifelong home. The T-Train has been central to controversies over the community’s exclusion from construction jobs when it was built and, since then, over police abuse of passengers who cannot show them a transfer as proof they’ve paid their fare. Police murdered Kenneth Harding, 19, on July 16, 2011, for lack of a $2 transfer.

This is how copwatcher Fly Benzo is treated by SFPD – in full daylight in Mendell Plaza in full view of a crowd of community residents. – Video frame: TryntaGetIt

This is the incident that led to Fly Benzo currently facing four years in prison. Readers are urged to pack the courtroom for his trial, beginning on Friday, Jan. 6, 9 a.m., at 850 Bryant St., San Francisco, in Department 22.

Note by mezkillercop -
The day after this event (to announce the annual October 22nd Protest Against Police Brutality), Fly Benzo was beaten and arrested by the police. … After most of the speakers spoke, the police came and told us to shut off the sound system because we did not have a permit. One of the more vocal people who spoke up was Fly, who pointed out the pettiness of the police action when there were unsolved murders in the neighborhood. Note the passive aggression being displayed when the officer’s hand is playing around with his gun when Fly was speaking out. Fly’s arrest is police retaliation plain and simple. It’s unjust and corrupt.
Just like the unsolved murder of Tupac Shakur, whose mother was a Black Panther, the “powers that be” like to shut up popular music artists who people can rally around. This is the same thing. Fly Benzo is a talented hip hop artist who has a future. He also speaks out about the police repression in his community, San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point. The “powers that be” who tell the police what to do want to silence him.

This serene scene is Mendell Plaza as it should be used. Fly Benzo (DeBray Carpenter) is at far right; his father, contractor and community leader Claude Carpenter, teaches drumming to a youngster in the foreground. Too often, however, SFPD destroys the peace by barging in and harassing, beating and arresting people without provocation.

Friday, December 2, 2011

2011-12-02 "Johannes Mehserle, 4 other BART officers cleared; Case alleging excessive force by 5 officers was unrelated to Grant killing" by Bob Egelko from "San Francisco Chronicle"
(12-02) 10:55 PST SAN FRANCISCO — (12-02) 10:55 PST SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal court jury on Thursday cleared five BART police officers, including Johannes Mehserle, of using excessive force against a passenger who was thrown to the ground and injured after an angry confrontation at an Oakland transit station in November 2008.
Kenneth Carrethers, 43, of Oakland accused the officers of beating him, then hog-tying him and taking him to jail on bogus charges in retaliation for his profanity-laced tirade against the police for failing to prevent burglaries of his car in the Coliseum Station parking lot.
The officers said they held and subdued Carrethers after he approached one of them from behind with his fists clenched and raised.
After about five hours of deliberations, the seven-member jury found unanimously that Carrethers had failed to prove the officers used excessive force or punished him for exercising his right of free speech.
The incident occurred less than seven weeks before Mehserle fatally shot Oscar Grant of Hayward, who was lying facedown on the platform at BART's Fruitvale Station in Oakland after a disturbance on a train.
Mehserle, who said he thought he was firing his Taser stun gun instead of his pistol, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served about half of a two-year prison sentence. He quit the BART force six days after the shooting.
Lawyers were not allowed to mention Grant's case in the trial of Carrethers' civil suit.

No video presented -
Carrethers' attorney, Christopher Dolan, said Thursday that a crucial difference between the two cases was video evidence - jurors in the Grant case saw other passengers' cell-phone videos of the shooting, but neither side in Carrethers' case offered any evidence from bystanders, and BART did not preserve videos from a camera at the station.
"Had a video been there (for Carrethers), justice would have been served," Dolan told reporters.
Mehserle testified that he saw no need to obtain videos or contact passers-by because the officers and two station agents all agreed on what had happened. BART now requires its officers to get videos from station cameras after such incidents, said Dale Allen, the lawyer for BART and the five officers.
"This case emphasized the need to change procedures in the department," Allen said.
Carrethers was returning from his job at a San Francisco hotel on the night of Nov. 15, 2008, when he saw a group of officers in the Coliseum Station and started telling another passenger how lazy and worthless they were.
Mehserle spoke up - telling him to mind his own business, according to Carrethers, or trying to calm him down, according to Mehserle. Carrethers then cursed at the officers and said he would fight them if they were civilians.

2 versions of incident -
After a confrontation with another officer, Frederick Guanzon, outside the fare gates, Carrethers said he was walking away when Mehserle grabbed him from behind and swept his legs from under him.
The other officers then piled on and beat and kicked him, he said.
But Mehserle, the other officers and a station agent said Carrethers was following Guanzon from behind and about to hit him when Mehserle intervened. They denied punching or kicking Carrethers and said he was kicking and flailing, which he denied.
The officers also disputed Carrethers' allegation that they hog-tied Carrethers, linking his cuffed wrists and ankles behind him, and carried him to the police car by the fastening strap.
Allen, their lawyer, noted that Carrethers had no injuries or marks on his wrists, evidence supporting the officers' testimony that they lifted him from below.
Carrethers was treated for facial bruises and jailed for two days on suspicion of assault and resisting arrest, but the charges were dismissed.