Police Accountability Report: Episode 92 – LRN.fm
This week, a couple stories that should cause anyone critically thinking to see that those wearing badges aren’t always operating with the best intentions.
Ex-Wellford Officer Accused of Abusing Vulnerable Adult
A former Wellford, South Carolina police officer was arrested this past Tuesday by state agents after they said he sexually and physically abused a vulnerable adult.
The State Law Enforcement Division said between July 1, 2012 and Jan. 1, 2013, 32-year-old Bennie Hand sexually battered and physically abused the victim, who suffers from a mental condition impairing her from providing her own care or protecting herself.
During the abuse, SLED said Hand worked as a Wellford police officer.
Wellford Mayor Thomas Watson said the city received a complaint about the allegations made against Hand and called in SLED to investigate. He was placed on administrative leave when the investigation began and was fired following his arrest, Watson said.
Hand was arrested on charges of misconduct in office, criminal sexual conduct third degree and abuse of a vulnerable adult.
State agents were called in to investigate at the request of Wellford police and the 13th Circuit Solicitor’s Office will prosecute the case.
Hand is being held at the Spartanburg County Detention Center.
St. Paul to Settle $237,500 Excessive Force Lawsuit
In other news, the city of St. Paul is set to reach a $237,500 settlement, which taxpayers are forced to pay, with a Twin Cities man who says that St. Paul police officers used excessive force and caused significant injuries that sent him to the hospital when they arrested him several years ago.
James Newbill, who has since changed his name to Ras Yirehmiel Tafari, said he had been the victim of excessive force, battery and assault during a 2010 arrest. Tafari sued the two police officers along with the city originally seeking damages of more than $1 million.
The settlement agreement is expected to be approved at a City Council meeting Wednesday.
The two officers had been working in the narcotics/vice unit on August 17, 2010, when they came upon a suspected drug deal in a church parking lot near the State Capitol. According to the complaint, the officers rushed Tafari “without giving any commands or instructions,” and he ran to the front of the church.
As Tafari raised his hands, one officer used a Taser gun on him, causing him to fall to the steps, the complaint said. The other officer then kicked Tafari in the face, knocking him out.
Tafari was handcuffed and taken to Regions Hospital, where he spent three days in the intensive care unit. According to the complaint, his broken jaw needed wiring for nearly three months. Oral surgery was required to repair his teeth and cuts to his mouth. Tafari needed to wear a neck brace for nearly four months because of broken vertebrae.
Tafari eventually pleaded guilty to possession of a small amount of marijuana – a harmless plant.
In the settlement agreement, the city does not admit any wrongdoing or liability.
It is the third settlement having to do with police conduct that the city has agreed to this year.
How far will you let these public officials go before you speak out, or stop funding their violence?