|Brian Encinia's arrest of Sandra Bland|
The indictment and termination of Brian Encinia comes as salon.com reports that police perjury threatens the criminal justice system across the nation. (Newsflash: Our justice system at all levels already is a mess, a problem President Barack Obama has ignored, and police perjury is an issue in both criminal and civil cases.)
Meanwhile, the Missouri sheriff's office that brutalized my wife, Carol, during an unlawful eviction and left her with a shattered left arm stands in an uncomfortable spotlight as one of its own deputies was indicted yesterday on federal child-pornography charges. Juan T. Jones, who had been a patrol officer with the Greene County Sheriff's Office since September 2013, was fired yesterday and charged with possession of child pornography.
Jones worked for Jim Arnott, the sheriff who stood about five feet away on September 9, 2015, as three of his deputies surrounded Carol Shuler, slammed her to the ground, and left her with heavy bruising, a possible concussion, and a shattered left arm.
Where does police dishonesty enter the picture in the Missouri case? Arnott immediately pointed at Carol and claimed she had "assaulted a police officer"--when, in fact, she was the victim of an assault. Arnott caused Carol to be falsely arrested and imprisoned, and she was released only when X-rays showed her arm was so badly broken that it would require trauma surgery. Our guess is that threw a bit of a wrench into Arnott's plan to bring bogus assaulting-an-officer charges.
Did Arnott, or someone under his command, file a false incident report that would amount to the kind of perjury that got Brian Encinia fired and indicted in Texas? Do the arrest and termination of Juan T. Jones, who is black, raise issues about possible racial discrimination in Arnott's department? We will examine those questions in upcoming posts.
|Juan T. Jones: Arrested on child-pornography charges in|
Greene County, Missouri
A Texas grand jury found yesterday that Encinia lied under oath in his report about the incident. From a report at Yahoo! News:
Encinia, who is white, pulled Bland over on July 10 for making an improper lane change near Prairie View A&M University, her alma mater, where she had just interviewed and accepted a job. Dashcam video from Encinia's patrol car shows that the traffic stop quickly became confrontational.
The video shows the trooper holding a stun gun and yelling, "I will light you up!" after Bland refuses to get out of her car. Bland eventually steps out of the vehicle, and Encinia orders her to the side of the road. The confrontation continues off-camera but is still audible.
How did perjury enter the picture? From the Yahoo! report:
Encinia's affidavit stated he "removed her from her vehicle to further conduct a safer traffic investigation," but grand jurors "found that statement to be false," said Shawn McDonald, one of five special prosecutors appointed to investigate.
The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. At least one protester called the misdemeanor charge a "slap in the face to the Bland family."
|Jim Arnott answers questions at press conference about|
child-porn charges against Officer Juan T. Jones
That Chicago police who witnessed Officer Jason Van Dyke kill Laquan McDonald in a hail of sixteen bullets may have lied to cover it up is a reminder that misplaced trust in law enforcement can lead to injustice. According to civil rights attorneys, the systemic police lying evidenced in Chicago is a nationwide problem.
“It has been shown repeatedly that police usually close ranks and form a narrative that immediately puts the police in the defensive to justify whatever force was used,” says Ezekial Edwards, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Criminal Law Reform Project.
Lies, he says, are told not just to cover up major events like a shooting but also to justify illegal searches in run-of-the-mill cases.
“If the facts are very helpful to a police officer, obviously they’re going to tell the truth. But if they’re not,” says Edwards, “a lot of the time you’ll be dealing with testimony that’s less than honest.”
This all hits close to home because Carol and I have seen considerable evidence that we are dealing with systemic police lying in Greene County, Missouri, which is home to Springfield, the state's third largest city.
Carol's case, plus the arrest and termination of Juan T. Jones, indicates the overwhelmingly white Greene County Sheriff's Office might have radically different standards for white officers and black officers. Should that merit a federal civil-rights investigation? Did someone commit perjury in Carol's case, much like what Brian Encinia is alleged to have done in Texas?
We will address those questions, and more, in upcoming posts.