The polling is closed and the results of our reader’s votes have been tabulated in our Worst Police Misconduct Videos of 2010 Reader’s Poll.
This is the second year that we’ve run this poll here at this site and the third year that it has run overall. Each year we do this we don’t post every single videotaped instance of police misconduct out there because, well, many people don’t have the bandwidth to load that many videos on a single page and it’s very difficult to keep track of them all. In fact, this year, at least two potential candidate videos came out shortly before our polling ended.
While it’s important to remember that these are not all of the police misconduct related videos that were released in 2010, videos are rarely released in association with an incident of police misconduct. In fact, out of the over 5,000 reports we tracked, only a little over 200 of those reports had known video associated with the incident and, of those 200, only a little over 50 of those videos were released to the public. So it’s important to understand that, while the videos are horrific, they are not necessarily representative of the worst cases of police misconduct overall.
I know it’s a lot of me to ask our readers to view all of these videos and pick which one seems worst to them when all of them seem wrong in their own right. But I do think that it helps drive home that police misconduct happens anywhere, can happen to anyone, and it makes it far easier for people to put themselves in the shoes of a victim. This poll helps me understand public perspectives of police misconduct and helps bring more attention to the issue. It would be worse, I think, if they were just ignored or forgotten after they were originally released.
For those who are interested, the candidates that were voted on for 2010 are available for public review here. The Worst Videos of 2009 are here while the candidates used for that poll are available for review here.
With that said, here are the 5 worst police misconduct videos of 2010 as voted on by our readers:
5th Worst Video of 2010
This March 16, 2010 videotaped incident in Denver Colorado involved Denver Police officers John Diaz and Jeff Cook who were captured on video grabbing Mark Ashford and wrestling him to the ground while trying to take his camera from him after he had told a motorist they were giving a ticket to that he saw what happened and would testify on the motorist’s behalf that the ticket was wrong. Ashford, who was walking his dogs to the park at the time, had to be treated for a concussion and was arrested on interference and resisting arrest charges but those were dropped later. Last we knew the officers were still the subject of an investigation with no known disciplinary action taken against them. But it’s interesting to note that officer Diaz was the subject of a 2007 Denver Post reporton how the Denver Police Department kept a tight reign on police records and mentioned Diaz as being disciplined for an honesty issue.
4th Worst Video of 2010
This March 3, 2010 incident in Prince George’s County Maryland was captured on surveillance cameras which contradicted police reports describing the arrest of University of Maryland student John J. McKenna during student celebrations after their team won a basketball game over Duke University. Police reports claimed the student was taken down and arrested after he assaulted a police horse but the video showed he was complying with commands to back up when riot-gear clad officers rushed him and repeatedly beat him with batons.
To date, three Prince George’s County Police officers; Reginald H. Baker, Anthony J. Cline and James Harrison Jr, remain on paid leave or modified duty for their alleged roles in the beating while a fourth officer, Sean McAleavey, was briefly suspended for writing the flawed report but was quickly returned to duty without punishment and it is unclear if he’s still the subject of an investigation that has just been taken over by the FBI.
3rd Worst Video of 2010
The video of this November 11, 2009 incident involving a Texas State Trooper was just released this year showing the officer slamming a handcuffed woman, 23-year-old Whitney Fox, face-first into a concrete highway retaining wall shortly after he reportedly told her that she was “fixing to get hurt” while he was arresting her on drunk driving charges after she had called police to report an accident she was involved in. The woman suffered facial lacerations and was never charged but the now-former state trooper, Arturo Perez, was charged and ultimately sentenced to 6 months of probation for misdemeanor assault.
2nd Worst Video of 2010
This February 11, 2010 videotaped raid on a Columbia Missouri family’s home was based on questionable information Columbia Missouri police received from a paid informant. That raid resulted in a family’s corgi and bull terrier being shot while a 7-year-old was nearby inside the home. The cops say they did the evening raid because they expected this guy to be some big dealer but all they found was a pipe with resin and a grinder. The couple was charged and took a plea deal for simple possession and child endangerment but the raid and backlash sparked a civil rights lawsuit listing 12 officers as defendants that is still pending as well as promised reforms from the department itself about how it conducts raids and performs investigative work prior to raids… even though the police chief initially reacted to the backlash by claiming “I hate the internet.” and still backs his officers who were not disciplined or found to have violated any departmental policies.
Worst Video of 2010
This August 30, 2010 incident in Seattle Washington was partially captured on dashcam video in which you can see Native American woodcarver John T. Williams walking across the street with a piece of wood and his legal-length carving knife before Seattle police officer Ian Burke exits his car and approaches Williams who was wearing headphones and was deaf in one ear. While both are out of visual range you can hear the officer ordering Williams to drop his knife and then, about four seconds later, five shots are heard, four of which fatally hit Williams in the back and the side.
Initial reports released from the police department insisted that the officer fired after Williams charged him with his knife but that version of events was quickly withdrawn after several witnesses contradicted that and said Williams didn’t even appear to hear the officer. Subsequent information released indicate that Williams’ knife might not have been opened at the time and an initial review of the incident ruled that the shooting was unjustified. Burke is still suspended pending an inquest scheduled to occur this month but Burke still insists he opened fire because he feared for his life. This incident was one of several occurring over the last few years that have sparked calls for a federal investigation into the department from multiple groups not associated with this project.