55 Stories Of Awful Stuff Done By Law Enforcement
We're not sure we'd say, as some do, that all cops are bastards. For example, take the NYPD's John McClane. In 1988, Detective McClane made headlines by thwarting an entire group of terrorists, showing initiative, bravery, and skill. Other than him, though, yeah, law enforcement doesn't come off too well. In the following true stories, they're buffoons at best when they're not outright evil.
1. Internal Affairs
In 2017, officers from Detroit's 12th precinct, posing as drug dealers, met officers from Detroit's 11th precinct, posing as drug buyers. They all tried to arrest each other, leading to a massive brawl.
2. The Butt Dial
In 2009, the FBI was in touch with someone they suspected may be a serial killer. They accidentally pocket-dialed him during a discussion of their investigation. He cut off contact and fled, and they never found him after that.
3. Antifreeze Arrest
St. Louis police arrested a woman, suspecting she was feeding her child antifreeze. She received life without parole and was only released when she proved that her genetics gave her children the appearance of having antifreeze in their blood -- proved this by giving birth to a second child.
4. Colorado Poachers
To catch poachers, San Luis Valley offered bounties on a bunch of protected animals. They did manage to arrest 57 people, but the operation made these criminals kill thousands of additional animals, including 35 bald eagles.
5. The Wolverhampton Wanderers
British police planted a simulated bomb in a stadium as part of a training exercise. Then they forgot to take it with them when they were done, leading to a bomb scare.
6. The Fake Gangbang
7. The University of Farmington
To crack down on visa fraud, the Department of Homeland Security created their own fake university, got students abroad to enroll, and then deported them all. The students were fooled by info on the government's own website and are now banned from the US for life.
8. Chowchilla Kidnapping
After they grabbed a bus full of children, a gang of kidnappers wanted to contact the police, which is how many kidnappings are ultimately foiled. But they couldn't get through. The lines were tied up.
9. Bob Lambert
This officer got a little too close to the eco-terrorists he was watching, undercover. Not only did he possibly firebomb a department store, but he also carried on a relationship with one woman for four years, fathering a child -- then vanished when his assignment ended.
10. The Mann Act
In 1989, D.C. police came up with an idea for ridding the district of prostitutes: march them, at gunpoint, across state lines. A photographer caught them, and the women then just walked right back into D.C.
After receiving reports of a 14-year-old wandering outside, drugged and nude, police showed up but called off the ambulance when a man claimed to be his 19-year-old lover and accepted custody. This man, Jeffrey Dahmer, was already wanted on molestation charges and killed the victim half an hour later.
12. The Rat
The LAPD realized an inmate was an FBI informant, there to report on them. So they moved him to a different jail, under a fake name and fake description to keep him hidden. They had to move him repeatedly to avoid having to fingerprint him, which would expose the fraud.
13. The Nord-Ost Siege
14. Strange Turn-On
Officer Avi Maharaj had to report to a home where a 14-year-old boy had killed himself. Bored, he ordered porn off the TV, charging it to the family.
15. Bernard Whitehurst
Not only did Alabama chase down the wrong Black suspect and kill him. They planted a gun on the body then smeared anyone who tried to dig into the story, planting fake drug and sex stories about the district attorney and a newspaper editor.
16. Walter Jenkins
Police in Washington squeezed into a YMCA men's room, three officers to a stall, so they could peep on men having sex. Things got complicated when one man they peeped on turned out to be a top aide to President Lyndon Johnson.
17. Gator Chow
Florida man Mike Williams was probably eaten by gators, said police. It took the murdered man's mother 18 years to convince them that in December, gators aren't even active, much less man-eating.
18. Jean Seberg
A couple big films last year covered how the FBI attacked the Black Panthers. The agency also discredited the group's supporters, like the time the FBI spread the story that actress Jean Seberg was carrying a Panther's illegitimate child. She was so shocked, she went into failed premature labor and later killed herself.
19. William James Clark
When a bridge collapsed in Arkansas, officers took orders from an army man at the site. None questioned why the army was in charge, not until the man (who wasn't really with the army) stole a truck and fled the scene.
20. What a Dick
New Mexico police thought a man they stopped was clenching his buttocks. Figuring he was hiding drugs, they took him to a hospital so doctors could search his anal cavity against his will. They searched him a second time, then performed an enema, made him shit in front of police, gave him a second enema, made him shit in front of police again, did a third enema and forced defecation, then sedated him for surgery to search his intestines for drugs. He had none.
22. Free to Go
Here's how a different traffic stop went: Police stopped serial killer Richard Ramirez while he was wanted and driving a stolen car. "You're not that guy killing people in their homes, are you?" asked the officer. "No way, man," said Ramirez. Then he drew a pentagram on his car and fled into the woods. He murdered six more before cops got him.
23. The Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI
This group broke into the FBI's office at night, and the bureau of investigators was never able to solve the case of the break-in of their own headquarters.
24. In Your Area
Officer Leonel Marines ran searches on the police database to find potential dates. Then he'd show up at their homes, pretending to be on official business, before switching gears and propositioning them.
A Walmart shoplifter barricaded himself in someone's home. So police tossed in grenades, blasted the wall open with explosives, then drove an armored truck into the house. The homeowner, who had done nothing wrong, was not pleased with the $400,000 in damages.
26. Parents Against Goths
Investigators spent two years building a case against this online group, which called for the death of goths. It took two years to read the website, which revealed the whole thing was satire.
27. The Shannons
28. Kim Philby
For 30 years, Kim Philby ran the anti-Soviet unit of Britain's MI6. All along, he was actually a spy working for the KGB.
29. Robert Hanssen
When the truth about Philby came out, FBI agent Robert Hanssen was so inspired that he approached the KGB about spying for them. He did this for 20 years without the FBI figuring it out, continuing even after the USSR collapsed.
30. Gary DeVore's Body
A year after screenwriter Gary DeVore disappeared, someone found the body. Police laughed and told him to go away unless he was confessing to the murder.
31. Not Ed!
Serial killer Ed Kemper called the police to turn himself in. They didn't believe him. They knew Ed, you see, and figured he couldn't be a killer.
32. Left in the Dust
In 2005, Kansas police raided a senior's home, seeing what they thought was marijuana in the front yard. It was actually sunflowers. That's the Kansas state flower and is on the state flag.
33. The Mad Handcuffer
When a series of accusers said a woman had handcuffed and robbed them, police arrested her. They absolutely didn't believe the woman's story that her rapist was framing her ... until she'd spent seven months in prison and cell phone records proved her right.
35. East Baton Rouge
Even dumber was when East Baton Rouge officers arrested men for gay sex in 2011, only to discover that gay sex was now perfectly legal.
36. Jimmy the Bear
Thanks to their surveillance, the FBI knew that their informant, "Jimmy the Bear" Flemmi, was going to commit a murder. Not only did they let it happen -- they then framed four others for the crime to protect their informant. The men (those still alive, anyway) were only released after 30 years in prison.
37. Bawdy House
In Illinois, police set up their own brothel in a residential neighborhood. They ended up arresting six prostitutes and four clients for paid sex in the police-owned brothel.
38. Safe Environments
In the 1960s, the Denver police robbed people. We're not talking and civil asset forfeiture or anything like that -- they broke into businesses and stole safes full of money. Officers were frequently assigned to investigate their own thefts.
39. 1999's Outstanding Lawman of the Year
Texas officer Tom Coleman arrested 46 drug dealers in a year. This was more than 10% of his small town's Black population. He was framing them all; Coleman was a member of the KKK.
40. Pawn Stars
The ATF ran a series of pawn shops, hoping to get criminals to turn in their weapons. They offered such high prices that criminals stole weapons from police and sold them to the ATF.
41. John Z. DeLorean
42. Joe Arpaio
This Arizona sheriff was famous for absurd prison policies, but his craziest move was surely when he faked his own assassination, complete with framing an innocent sap as the killer.
43. On Deadly Ground
One more Arpaio story: He called in Steven Seagal to train his men. Steven Seagal had no expertise to offer, but Arpaio had guest-starred in a Steven Seagal reality TV series.
44. The Moon Rocks
Suspecting a 74-year-old woman of smuggling Moon rocks, police set up a sting at a Denny's then detained her there till she wet her pants. She'd come by the Moon dust honestly and later successfully sued.
45. The Baker Street Club
Back in 1918, San Francisco police cracked down on an apartment building where men had sex, occupying the place for a ten-day siege. Charges didn't stick: They charged men with "fellatio," which wasn't in the dictionary at the time, and a recently passed measure said only English-language laws were enforceable.
A North Carolina Highway Patrol officer was caught speeding, not for an emergency but to get to Dunkin Donuts.
47. The Gentleman Bandit
Maybe we can't fault police for arresting a priest for a series of thefts. But we can blame them for holding on to him after the crimes continued with him in custody and after the real bandit phoned police to tell them they had the wrong guy.
48. Charles Moore's Murder
49. Police Threesome
Police investigating a Washington massage parlor insisted on receiving full services and documenting their activity in hilarious detail.
50. The Newport Sex Sting
Navy investigators took it up a notch by making operatives have gay sex with suspects to investigate gay sex. These operatives were straight, they swore.
51. Well-Regulated Militia
A Cincinnati officer put an AR-15 in the back seat of his car, planning to move it to the trunk at some unspecified time. A passer-by stole it, and that was the last he heard of it.
52. Color Blind
Ted Bundy's girlfriend told police her boyfriend might be the guy they were searching for. He had the right name, looked like him, owned the murder weapon, and drove the right car. Police ignored her. They were looking for a suspect who drove a bronze Volkswagen. Her boyfriend drove a tan Volkswagen.
53. Bite Out Of Crime
An Indiana officer launched an investigation of a McDonald's after he said someone took a bite from his sandwich. The investigation concluded that the officer himself had taken the bite and then forgot about it.
54. The Taylor University Crash
Police informed parents that their daughter Laura died in a car accident. The family held a funeral and buried the body. Months later, Laura awoke in the hospital. She was alive, and they'd buried some other girl -- authorities mixed the bodies up.
55. The MOVE bombing