Boise made another national list last week. This time it’s “Top 7 Shocking Taser Incidents” at ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=8156219&page=1
Last week’s report from the Ombudsman about Boise coppers firing a taser up the bum of a handcuffed suspect is featured in the national story. A supervisor also destroyed audio evidence. The GUARDIAN predicts we have seen only the tip of the ice berg on this one, since the coppers are still on duty among us.
A civil suit has been promised by the victim’s attorney and unless Boise City makes an instant payoff to prevent filing, the names of both the coppers and the victim will be made public soon.
Officially the Chief called actions of the copper of five years, “conduct unbecoming an officer.” It was also torture, assault, a criminal act, and deprived the victim of his civil rights. Had the man been a minority, a Harvard professor, or this was L.A., there would have been fears of civil unrest.
All the efforts of Chief Mike Masterson to to change the culture (and reputation) of the Boise PD were undone in eight seconds when officer #3 sent several thousand volts of electricity into the anus of a man struggling for breath while handcuffed.
Apart from the instant furor, there is a long lasting damage to the reputation of the department. The event calls into question the conduct of the supervisor who destroyed an audio recording of a jail interview with the victim as well as failure of officials to terminate the rogue coppers from the force. Then there is the Ada County prosecutor who didn’t see reason to prosecute this act of torture.
The standard defense attorney question in any future trial of a copper on the stand will be, “Have you ever altered or destroyed evidence?”
While Mayor Dave Bieter publicly claims “the system worked,” he is sadly mistaken. What the system did was detect a vicious rogue copper–thanks to the Ombudsman. But the “system” left a terrible blemish on a department struggling to gain public trust.
The police accounts are full of lies, including a female officer repeatedly saying the police outside the door identified themselves–which according to recordings and the Ombudsman’s report they failed to do. Listen to audio excerpt. BPD_IA_July2009_Audio.source.prod_affiliate.36
It is time for citizens to demand a civilian authority over their police. We have it with the U.S. military. In Boise we have citizen boards for airport, public works, library, zoning, parks, historic preservation–but elected officials have denied us any voice when it comes to police and fire which together account for nearly half the city budget.
These same elected officials (mayor and councilors) claim THEY act as a police commission. If so, they failed us on this one. Any candidates for council need to make public their position on allowing rogue coppers to remain on the force.
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