5 Ridiculous Police Scandals (That Keep Happening)
Headlines are full of police misconduct stories, probably because these days every citizen has a camera on them to catch it in action. But when you take a closer look, weird patterns emerge. I'm talking about bizarre screw-ups and scandals that you probably never thought happened even once, but are in fact somewhat common. I'm talking about things like ...
Staging Bodycam Footage
In Pueblo, Colorado back in 2017, a police officer pulled over a suspect for driving while being not innocent of stuff. The car was searched and a gun turned up, along with some heroin. Unfortunately for the policeman, he forgot to turn on his bodycam when he searched the car and found all that damning evidence. He of course had only one option: Put that shit back where he found it when the car was in the impound lot, turn on his camera, and pretend to discover it all over again. Sadly, the gritty reboot of Officer Finds The Shit received terrible reviews, and all of the charges against the suspect were dropped.
Similar things happened in 2017 in Baltimore with three separate videos in a month. In one, an officer with his camera off is filmed by another officer's working camera as he discovers evidence, then drops it, turns on his own camera, and "discovers" it again. They don't seem to be planting evidence that wasn't there before, but it should send up all sorts of red flags that they're so willing to reshoot scenes like they're trying to fix a blockbuster due to poor test screenings.
And in fact, Trenton, New Jersey cops may have gone to the next level by planting a rusty gun to bolster their case that a suspect had tossed a weapon before he was arrested -- the finding of which was recorded on their body cameras. Sadly, when plotting to illegally use the cameras strapped to their bodies, they didn't count on the cameras strapped to their bodies: They actually recorded themselves working out how to explain the apparently staged discovery of the gun. Were their training videos just montages of Chief Wiggum from The Simpsons?
You'd probably assume that shooting a gun would be a serious deal to most cops. And it might be! But the keyword here is "most," because it wouldn't account for all the cops who have faked shootings in order to get attention or for some other equally unfathomable reason.
In 2011, a school police officer was found with a bullet in his vest. He claimed that a suspect had shot him, which led to the deployment of over 550 Los Angeles police officers and multiple school lockdowns. They spent ten hours conducting house-to-house searches over an eight-square-mile area before the cop changed his story to say that there had been no shooting, and that he'd shot himself while cleaning his weapon. But that was also a lie, as everything seems to indicate that the dude literally shot himself for the attention. It worked, too, since he ended up shilling out a $309,000 lump sum to the city to pay for his waste of a day.
More than one cop has made up fake shootings during traffic stops, like this one from near Philadelphia and this one in Ohio, both of which could be legally classified as "shitshows." In the first, a cop was sentenced to jail time after he shot himself with his own gun outside a swim club, claiming that a criminal had open fire on him and then Fast and the Furious'd out of there. In the second, a cop was fired from the force because he lied about a failed suicide attempt and said it had been the work of a gunman. Jesus.
And in Jackson County, Georgia, a white officer claimed that she'd been shot by a large black man. Luckily, it didn't take too much time to uncover the truth, as ... no wait, it took over 600 hours to reveal that she had lied about it. Eventually, she was sentenced to 15 years in prison. She told the news that her small community was involved in a "cover-up," but that sounds an awful lot to me like "Shit, I shouldn't have made up a shooting." Especially after forensic pathologists determined that her wound wasn't even caused by a bullet.
Losing Evidence, Then Saying Rats Ate It
"The dog ate my homework" is a strange excuse, because it's based on the idea that dogs are prone to devouring book reports on The Grapes Of Wrath, and that you're such an incompetent human that when you finish your work, you just drop it around at dog level and call it a day. But that hasn't stopped cops from crafting their own version of it: The rats ate the evidence.
I don't doubt that sometimes an evidence lockup could end up with a rodent infestation, because they're everywhere. Even the White House has a problem with them, and I'm not just talking about Trump's cabinet. Pow! GOT 'EM. And maybe it's possible that those rats are super hungry for marijuana, as according to this blog from a company that sells seeds, mice really do like to eat pot plants. But when you claim that mice ate 1,000 pounds of marijuana in a police warehouse, as several officers did in Argentina? Forgive me for being skeptical.
Yes, mice and rats getting into evidence is a worldwide problem. Police in Kenya blamed rats for 540 missing rolls of bhang (cannabis). The rolls had been stored in four separate suitcases, and they claimed that all of it went missing thanks to rats, which were so crafty that they apparently managed to open the suitcases without chewing holes in them, remove all the rolls without leaving scraps and crumbs, then close the suitcases up again! So the problem isn't the rats; it's the supervillain who obviously got fired from his university job for his experiments on said rats.
Meanwhile, cops in India blamed about 45 kilograms of missing weed on rats back in 2017, after they had months earlier blamed 900,000 liters of missing moonshine on rats. So if these cops are all innocent and aren't letting contraband slip out of their evidence rooms, do we need to start having interventions for rats? It sounds like they need help.
Using Tasers ... On Each Other
I just Bing'd the history of the Taser and learned it was patented back in 1974. Thanks, Bing! Anyway, cops have been stunning people's asses for decades now, so it's not going to surprise you that the wrong person gets tased every now and then. But maybe it is surprising that the hypothetical wrong person I just mentioned is sometimes another cop, either by accident or just for the hell of it.
A dispatcher in Colorado got tased by an officer who was relieving him for a break when the officer was goofing around with his stun gun. That officer kept his job, while one who tased a dispatcher accidentally in Michigan resigned. An even more slapstick version of the same situation occurred in 2015 when two deputies stunned two different deputies during the same incident, which involved all four of them trying to restrain a single man.
Things only go downhill from there. An officer in Florida got a reprimand after chasing a female officer around Benny Hill-style and accidentally tasing her right on the ass, all of which was caught on camera.
But we couldn't possibly end this list without a story about a cop tasing another cop in the dick, and the gods have been kind to us. While running up some stairs for a roll call, a cop dropped his Taser. Nimble of neither finger nor mind, the cop tried to grab it, bumbled it in midair, and ended up triggering it right into the crotch of another officer. Thankfully, the barbs didn't embed, so he only got a mild jolt of electricity. Seriously, is every police department an Adam Sandler comedy?
Talking Shit About Suspects On Social Media
You know how people keep shitting the bed on social media because it's like a weird succubus of bad behavior that draws out our worst impulses? Yeah, cops do it too, except they'll post sensitive information about cases, often just to talk trash about suspects.
Like the officer in the UK who posted about arrested suspects in a battery case by stating he got the guilty parties and that they were "guilty by suspicion." He received an official reprimand for that action, and his department had to follow up to remind everyone that people are still innocent until proven guilty, no matter what some jackass on Twitter says.
A Des Moines officer lost his job after posting a screenshot on Facebook of a couple's call for assistance with the caption "You can't make this stuff up, folks." He still may not have lost his job if he hadn't also been disciplined about a dozen times in the past for everything from sleeping on the clock to driving his squad car into a goddamn airplane. On the upside, the Police Academy reboot has found its muse.
By far the biggest issue police seem to have with social media is the tendency to want to shame suspects. Cops have mocked everyone from looting suspects to NBA players to this lady with a lizard in her bra. CBS News actually covered the entire trend of officers sucking at social media while pointing out it does tend to go beyond just the stupid, as in the case of a guy whose mugshot was posted on the local police Facebook page even though he turned out to be innocent. The published photo essentially shamed him like an old-school leper, all because the police wanted to dunk on him on the internet. But why wait for a judge to declare them guilty, right?
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