Police Accountability Report: Episode 70 – 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.

Story 1
Geoffrey McGann, Man With Strange Watch, Arrested At Oakland Airport
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/17/geoffrey-mcgann-arrest-oakland-airport_n_2149963.html

A Southern California man was arrested at Oakland International Airport after security officers found him wearing an unusual watch they said could be used to make a timing device for a bomb, authorities said Friday.

Geoffrey McGann, 49, of Rancho Palos Verdes was taken into custody Thursday night after he tried to pass through airport security with an ornate watch that had switches, wires and fuses, according to Sgt. J.D. Nelson, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.

A bomb squad arrived within five minutes and determined there were no explosive materials in the watch, Nelson said.
McGann was taken to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin where he was charged with possessing materials to make an explosive device, sheriff’s officials said. He was still in custody Friday night.

While no actual explosives were found, McGann is being charged anyway.

McGann told Transportation Security Administration officers that he’s an artist and the watch is art, Nelson said.

LinkedIn.com lists McGann as the owner and creative director of a media production company called Generator Content. He attended the Art College Center of Design in Pasadena from 1984 to 1987, according to the website.

Do you think it is reasonable to arrest and charge somebody for possessing a watch that, allegedly, could potentially be used in an unsafe manner, but has not been?

Story 2
Otto Zehm Beating: Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. Sentenced In Death Of Man With Mental Disabilities
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/16/otto-zehm-beating-death-karl-thompson-mental-disabilities_n_2143920.html

A Washington police officer was sentenced Thursday to more than four years in prison for using excessive force against a mentally disabled janitor who died after being erroneously suspected of stealing money from an ATM.

Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr., 65, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle to four years and three months for his role in the 2006 death of Otto Zehm.

Van Sickle also ordered that Thompson be taken into custody immediately, over the objections of defense lawyers, who wanted him to remain free while the verdict is appealed.

Thompson was convicted last year by a federal jury of violating Zehm’s civil rights by using excessive force and then lying to investigators in the case.

On March 18, 2006, police received a report that a man matching Zehm’s description might have stolen money from people at an ATM. Surveillance video showed that Thompson found Zehm inside a convenience store and immediately struck him repeatedly with a baton and shocked him with a stun gun.

“There were seven baton strikes in less than eight seconds,” said Tim Durkin, an assistant U.S. attorney. “There is compelling medical evidence in this case that Mr. Zehm sustained serious bodily injury.”

Other officers arrived and hogtied Zehm, put a rubber mask over his mouth, and sat on him until he passed out. The 36-year-old died two days later without regaining consciousness.

Zehm had committed no crime.

His last words were: “All I wanted was a Snickers bar,” according to trial testimony.

Despite anger in the community, the Spokane County prosecutor’s office declined to bring charges against any officers.

Federal prosecutors eventually charged Thompson with violating Zehm’s civil rights through use of excessive force and then lying to investigators – although he ought to have been charged with murder.

Prosecutors also alleged the case involved an extensive cover-up by police. That investigation is ongoing.
Victor Boutros, an attorney who helped prosecute the case, said it was important to remember that Zehm, a mentally ill janitor going to buy soda and candy, had committed no crime.

“Thompson’s actions warranted prison time,” said Boutros. “A badge cannot equate to a free pass.”

That’s this week’s Police Accountability Report brought to you by CopBlock.org.
Until next week, stay safe and remember that badges don’t grant extra rights.

EPN

Darryl W. Perry

Darryl has spent most of his adult life as an advocate & activist for peace and liberty. Darryl is an award winning author, publisher & radio/TV host. He is a regular contributor to several weekly and monthly newspapers. He hosts the daily newscast FPPRadioNews, the weekly news podcasts FPP Freedom Minute and Police Accountability Report, hosts the weekly radio show Peace, Love, Liberty Radio, and is a regular co-host on Free Talk Live.   Darryl is a co-founder and co-chair of the NH Liberty Party.   Darryl is the Owner/Managing Editor of Free Press Publications.