Spokane Police Abuses: Past to Present

The People of Spokane vs. Law Enforcement Abuse, Impunity, Corruption, and Cover-up

One way to stop abusive cops — Put a video camera in your car

Posted by Arroyoribera on October 15, 2007

Update: Officer Kuehnlein was fired by recommendation of the Chief of Police of St. George and by a 5-0 vote of the St. George’s aldermen. In Spokane, where we have no civilian control of the police and no independent oversight, Kuehnlein would have been suspended with pay and lived to bully and abuse citizens with a badge and a gun paid for by the same citizens. It is time for Spokanites to stand up for themselves and prove in fact that this is a democracy of, by, and for the people. Otherwise the Kuehnleins, Toroks, and Olsons will prevail and the police state will be the future of our children.

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Please read the following article and make sure you watch the video at the end of the article with the volume turned up. (And if you really want to understand the attitudes of law enforcement towards their own misconduct and towards the public, read the comments after the article at PoliceLink.com which including references to the young man as a “puke” and “punk” and a “cop hater”, among other things.)

This is what out-of-control police officers are about. Abuse of power. Power trips. Intimidaton. Bullying.

This officer — Sgt. James Kuehnlein of St. George, Missouri — basically threatens to set this kid up, f#*@ this kid up, and fabricate charges against him. In any number of other occasions the kid would have been tasered, a certain number of other times the kid would have been shot. If this kid were black, odds are he’s a dead man. This scene repeats itself all over America but the only place that you ever see it is, guess…. YouTube or GoogleVideo or the occasional incident that a passerby or cellphone user records. You won’t see it on COPS TV, of course, because the police retain editorial authority over COPS TV broadcasts.

The officer’s constant references to the young man’s attitude reminds me distinctly of Chief Kirkpatrick’s comments to the Spokane public on September 19, 2007 during her Chat/Forum when she said that things with the Spokane Police would get better when people in Spokane change their attitudes.

Please, dear Chief. Don’t pull that on us. Not after Zehm, and Eagle, and Pete, and Fitzpatrick, and Alford, and the Firehouse Sex Scandal, and Cpl. Frietag, and Al Odenthal, and the 4th of July, and so it goes and so it goes….

Yeah, we got an attitude, Chief. You work for us. We pay your salaries.

At that same event, Chief Kirkpatrick had a hard time understanding what bullying was despite clear, concrete examples being provided to her by the public. The clearest examples were 1) the case of the young man threatened late at night behind Yokes by an SPD officer who refused to provide his badge number and name when asked and 2) the case of the SPD officer who told Carmen Jacoby that his job was to remove homeless “shit bags” from a park and when she asked for his name and badge number was threatened with being put in the back of his patrol car.

Now hear this: The video which follows contains bullying. B-U-L-L-Y-I-N-G.

WARNING: Despite Chief Kirkpatrick’s repeated statements that her officers are obligated always to provide their name and badge number when asked, please consider whether or not you really want to try the line “Officer, I need your name and badge number” with a Spokane Police officer unless you have a witness or a video/audio recording.

Keep in mind that as this article and video indicate 1) the officer threatened to tear the young man’s car and camera apart, and 2) the video footage from the officer’s patrol car “is nowhere to be found” with the local police chief commenting about what happened to the video, “That’s the million-dollar question. Our policy says any contact the officer has with the public has to be on tape.”

Police are armed and trained to kill. They have other instincts, among them the instinct to not end up behind the same bars they send the public. As a result, they are not to be trusted in situations where they are violating the law or department policy. In general, law enforcement personnel do not tolerate the assertion of citizen rights and have been known to do serious bodily harm or fabricate charges rather than be challenged by a citizen.

Stay tuned for more.

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Man Wants Officer Fired Over Stop

By Georgina Gustin, St. Louis Post Dispatch – Sep 12 2007 Man Wants Officer Fired Over Stop

St. George Police Chief Scott Uhrig talks with Brett Darrow, 20, Tuesday afternoon. (St. Louis Post Dispatch)

 

 

ST. GEORGE, Mo. – A young St. Louis man who videotaped a police officer’s angry taunts during a traffic stop, and later posted the footage on the Internet where thousands of viewers have watched it, said Tuesday he wants the officer fired.

Brett Darrow, 20, met with St. George Police Chief Scott Uhrig for more than an hour Tuesday afternoon and also filed a formal complaint against the officer, Sgt. James Kuehnlein.

During the meeting Darrow asked to see the videotape from Kuehnlein’s police car. But according to Uhrig, that footage, inexplicably, is nowhere to be found.

“That’s the million-dollar question,” Uhrig said. “Our policy says any contact the officer has with the public has to be on tape.”

Darrow had pulled into a commuter lot at Spokane and Reavis Barracks roads at around 2 a.m. Friday, when Kuehnlein approached and asked him what he was doing. When Darrow questioned why, Kuehnlein launched into a series of taunts and threats.

“The attitude escalated when he thought I was questioning his authority, but I was just trying to figure out what he was doing,” Darrow said Tuesday. “I was really scared. He was up in my face, spit coming in my face.”

A camera in Darrow’s Nissan Maxima captured the incident. Darrow, a St. Louis Community College student, said he put the camera in the car about a year ago after getting a speeding ticket.

“I got a ticket I didn’t feel like I deserved,” he said. “I was thinking tickets, not this.”

In the footage, Darrow can be heard citing his Fourth Amendment rights – his reasonable expectation of privacy – to Kuehnlein. He said Tuesday he’s familiar with the law, through “reading statutes, reading constitutional law, reading case law. It’s just something I’m interested in.”

He said he was not trying to entrap the officer.

Kuehnlein could not be reached for comment.

After the incident, Darrow posted the footage on the Internet, where news of it spread quickly. He maintains he did not contact news media and had no idea the matter would get so much attention.

“I didn’t mean for it to be what it was,” he said.

Darrow said he was in the lot at that late hour because he had just left his cell phone at his girlfriend’s house, and the two decided to meet there to hand off the phone because the location was convenient.

Kuehnlein has been an officer with the department for about two years, and had come from the Riverview Police Department. Uhrig said Tuesday that, perhaps, Kuehnlein was not accustomed to having someone question him as Darrow did, with a camera recording his responses.

“Most officers aren’t used to being questioned like that,” Uhrig said.

St. George, a city of about 1,300 people, sits along Interstate 55 at ReavisBarracks Road. Its police department has four full-time officers and three police cars. An officer can patrol every street in the city in about 20 minutes, Uhrig said.

Uhrig said he has worked hard to cleanse St. George of its image as a speed trap with a police department staffed by unqualified novices. He said he has implemented new, more stringent hiring policies and expanded the department’s policy manual since becoming chief two-and-a-half years ago.

“We have a reputation for being traffic enforced,” he said. “It’s not true. My officers are told to enforce the law. I want quality, not quantity. I want the drugs, the impaired drivers. Those’re the things that make a difference.”

Uhrig said he would submit a report on the incident to the city’s police review board and the St. Louis County prosecutor as early as this week.

Watch the video:

Update: Officer Kuehnlein was fired by recommendation of the Chief of Police of St. George and by a 5-0 vote of the St. George’s aldermen. In Spokane, where we have no civilian control of the police and no independent oversight, Kuehnlein would have been suspended with pay and lived to bully and abuse citizens with a badge and a gun paid for by the same citizens. It is time for Spokanites to stand up for themselves and prove in fact that this is a democracy of, by, and for the people. Otherwise the Kuehnleins, Toroks, and Olsons will prevail and the police state will be the future of our children.

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