Tag Archives: police

Why Dan Pabon’s DUI Stop Matters To Everyone, And Why He Must Resign

Pabon Apology

Colorado Rep. Dan Pabon (D. North Denver) was considered a rising political star. Among his well-publicized public policy triumphs was to  help pass a law forcing convicted drunk drivers to appear before a DUI victim-impact panel.

Then Pabon himself was pulled over in his vehicle on St. Patrick’s Day evening for driving under the influence of alcohol. Instead of Pabon accepting his fate as an honest lawyer and elected official should, the video of the stop shows the legislator trying to persuade the officer who stopped him not to make the  arrest. He tells the officer that he is a state representative who is driving a car without his legislative plates. He asks the officer to call a supervisor or the city attorney so they can direct the officer to give him mulligan. When Officer Brian Bienemann explains that he cannot let Pabon off and indeed would be subject to discipline if he did,  Pabon pleads,  “Is there any way we can avoid this possibility? This is going to change my life.”

After Pabon pleaded guilty and gave an emotional apology (above) to the public and the legislature, saying  “I have taken full responsibility. I have done everything above board,” the editors of The Denver Post begged to disagree. They called for his resignation in an edotorial. They were correct, but they weren’t clear enough about why.

The Post was upset that Pabon didn’t specifically apologize for trying to use abuse his position and power to avoid legal accountability for a serious violation of the law, even after the video of the stop was leaked to the news media. Of course he didn’t. Like most current elected officials, he didn’t see anything wrong with that. Don’t they deserve special consideration and privileges?

There can be no sufficient apology for what Pabon did. Elected officials and other government personnel must not view themselves as deserving special immunity from the laws and regulations they impose on society. Pabon’s attitude and attempt to play the “Do you know who I am?” card is poison to democracy, and exactly the kind of “fix” Donald Trump’s speech last night correctly condemned.

The public sees a Secretary of State expose sensitive information to discovery by the enemies of the United States, and not only is she not punished, she is selected to run for President. The public sees HUD Secretary Julian Castro blatantly violate the Hatch Act, combining an official appearance with campaigning for Clinton, and  then learns that the President will not discipline Castro in any way. Casrto is also considered a “rising political star.” A nation in which individuals who break the law are still considered “rising stars” and prospects for national leadership has its values in a tangle. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Ethics Dunce: “Late Night” Host Seth Meyers

meyers-giuliani

Seth Meyers is a comedy writer and performer, and his job, on the show following the Tonight Show, is to be funny, not to use the program as a platform for his political views. His predecessor twice-removed, David Letterman, increasingly ignored that line as time went on and he moved to CBS. This stratified his audience, and abused his role, but massaged Letterman’s massive ego. (Meyers’ immediate predecessor, current Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, may not always be funny, but he knows his place.) Meyers is relatively new to the job, and this week went much, much farther than Letterman ever went, while being supremely smug about it. Here were his hilarious comments last night:

MEYERS: So there were some incendiary and counterproductive responses to the tragedy in Dallas, but there were perhaps no worse response than that of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who complained, in perhaps the most galling and offensive way possible, that those peacefully protesting for police reform should shift their focus.

RUDY GIULIANI (on video): If I were a black father and I was concerned of my child, really concerned about it, and not in a politically activist sense, I would say, “be very respectful of the police. most of them are good. some can be very bad. and just be very careful.” I’d also say, ‘Be very careful of those kids in the neighborhood and don’t get involved with them, because son, there’s a 99% chance they’re going to kill you, not the police.’

MEYERS: Okay, first of all, don’t ever start a sentence with the phrase, “if I were a black father.” If you are black father, you don’t need to say it. And if you’re not, you should probably just shut the fuck up. And if Giuliani’s willing to say that some police can be very bad, you would think he’d see the value in the Black Lives Matter protests. But instead, he condemned them.

Observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Race

Unethical Website Of The Month: “Above The Law”

above-the-law

Stay classy, Above The Law!

Above The Law, which styles itself a legal profession gossip site and half-baked professional ethics watchdog, has been a useful resource for me on occasion, though the commentary of its writers, particularly lead writer Elie Mystal, has often left a lot to be desired ethically and logically. My last four posts regarding Above the Law, going back a year, have been Ethics Dunce entries, and there easily could have been more.

I used to get Above the Law’s stories sent to my in box, as I had subscribed several years ago. Then I noticed that I wasn’t getting them any more, so I subscribed again. I got notices for a few days, then they stopped. Again I subscribed. Again, my subscription vanished.

I just re-subscribed today, and expect that I will again be cut off.

Ethics Alarms has, it seemed, been “unfriended” by Above The Law, because I have had the impertinence to point out the increasingly lunk-headed ethics confusion and partisan bias of the site. Wow, that’s petty!  That’s also cowardly: the site seems to think that if I don’t know about their frequently misguided posts, I wouldn’t be able to criticize them. In fact, they are mostly right. I have now more than once gone many weeks without noticing the lack of the site’s notices in my e-mail. Life without “Above the Law’ is still rich and full of joy.

I did check today, however, which is when I discovered my latest subscription was gone with the wind. While I was responding positively to the site’s invitation to me to subscribe (for the 4th time), I checked the most recent posts, and saw this, from Elie, naturally…

Praising a recent post by a professor who was criticized for openly supporting Black Lives Matter—a group that declares on its website that the deaths of “Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police” were “murders” before any investigation or assessment of the events leading up to the shootings has been completed—Mystal’s post, titled “To Be Honest, I’m In No Mood To Explain #BlackLivesMatter To White People Today” reads in part… Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, The Internet, Unethical Websites

Ethics Hero (And Author Of Perhaps The Best Facebook Post Ever): Palm Beach Florida African-American Police Officer Jay Stalien

Jay Stalien

When I read published quotes from police officer Jay Stalien’s Facebook page post, now deservedly in the process of going viral, my immediate reaction was that it was a hoax, a measured and well-researched explanation of the racial unrest surrounding police shootings and the Black Lives Matter movement written by a professional pundit  and placed in the metaphorical mouth of a black police officer to give it added power and credibility. It was, in short, too good to be true.

It is true, however, as well as good. To be presented at this time is an act of courage and civic responsibility by Stalien, and his effort redeems the existence of Facebook and social media, not to mention the internet, as few posts have. In the past, someone like Stalien would have to submit a column to a newspaper editor, and agree to cuts and edits that reduced its effectiveness, if his important observations were to have any impact beyond his living room or workplace. Now he can publish himself. The First Amendment has seldom been better served.

The post is very long, but you should read it all, here.  I will only point out some highlights.

He begins, in part…

The following may be a shock to some coming from an African American, but the mere fact that it may be shocking to some is prima facie evidence of the sad state of affairs that we are in as Humans.

I used to be so torn inside growing up. Here I am, a young African-American born and raised in Brooklyn, NY wanting to be a cop. I watched and lived through the crime that took place in the hood. My own black people killing others over nothing….I used to be woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of gun fire, only to look outside and see that it was 2 African Americans shooting at each other.

It never sat right with me. I wanted to help my community and stop watching the blood of African Americans spilled on the street at the hands of a fellow black man. I became a cop because black lives in my community, along with ALL lives, mattered to me, and wanted to help stop the bloodshed.

As time went by in my law enforcement career, I quickly began to realize something. I remember the countless times I stood 2 inches from a young black man, around my age, laying on his back, gasping for air as blood filled his lungs. I remember them bleeding profusely with the unforgettable smell of deoxygenated dark red blood in the air, as it leaked from the bullet holes in his body on to the hot sidewalk on a summer day. I remember the countless family members who attacked me, spit on me, cursed me out, as I put up crime scene tape to cordon off the crime scene, yelling and screaming out of pain and anger at the sight of their loved ones taking their last breath. I never took it personally, I knew they were hurting. I remember the countless times I had to order new uniforms, because the ones I had on, were bloody from the blood of another black victim…of black on black crime. I remember the countless times I got back in my patrol car, distraught after having watched another black male die in front me, having to start my preliminary report something like this:

Suspect- Black/ Male, Victim-Black /Male.

Then Officer Stalien, in the same powerful style, proceeds to answer typical complaints from the black community by presenting  “FACTS” that too many African-Americans, elected officials, journalists and partisans refuse to believe, accept, or comprehend: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Facebook, Law & Law Enforcement, Public Service, Race, U.S. Society

KABOOM! The Tale Of The Third-Grader’s Racist Brownie Offense: No, I Don’t Understand This At All

brownies explosion

This story made my head explode, and thus it will be tagged “Kaboom!” Unlike most such Kaboom! posts, however, this one is likely to make my head explode every time I read it. Or think about it. Forever.

On June 16, a third grader made a comment about the brownies being served to his class during an end-of-the-year class party at the William P. Tatem Elementary School in Collingswood, New Jersey.  After another student opined that the remark was “racist,” the school called the Collingswood Police Department.

Okay, stop. I’m puzzled already, and my head exploded again just writing that:

  • How could a comment about brownies be racist? Did the child say, ” As with human beings, the blonde brownies are innately superior to the dark ones”? Somehow, I doubt it.
  • Another third grader pronounced the statement as racist. Not a teacher, now. An eight-year old. How can that trigger anything, in a sane world, but a discussion led by the teacher about what is and isn’t racist, and how people shouldn’t leap to such  inflammatory observations, because it makes human interaction difficult if not impossible?
  • The school called the police department? For what? A threatened brownie massacre? How is this conceivably a police matter? Why did the police come?

“What is the nature of your emergency?” “A third-grader in my class made an inappropriate remark about brownies!” “Calling 911 with prank calls is a crime, ma’am. Don’t do this again.” 

It is per se unethical and irresponsible for any police department to treat such trivia seriously.

All right,slogging on… Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

It’s Time To Fire And Discipline Marilyn Mosby

Mosby in 2015, ruining lives, pandering to the mob, and undermining justice...

Mosby in 2015, ruining lives, pandering to the mob, and undermining justice…

The third (of six) indicted Baltimore police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray was acquitted last week, and how the rest of the trials, if they even occur, will play out is now a foregone conclusion. To be fair, this was a forgone conclusion from that moment that Baltimore City Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged the officers a year ago without sufficient justification beyond her own political ambitions, those of her husband (who is now running for mayor), racial bias and a desire to mollify rioters. Most commentators believed the charges were premature, rushed to avoid civic unrest. To say that is really to say that she allowed a mob to dictate to law enforcement. This was unethical, dangerous and despicable then, and remains so today.

If officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., who drove the police transport van in which Gray suffered the spinal cord injury that killed him, could not be found guilty of intentionally killing Freddie Gray, nobody can. Says the New York Times,

“His acquittal on seven counts leaves the state without any convictions after three trials, in one of the nation’s most closely watched police misconduct cases — and continues to leave open the question of what, exactly, happened to Mr. Gray inside the van….Judge Barry G. Williams, who presided over the Goodson trial, issued the verdicts to a hushed, packed courtroom. He drew no conclusions about exactly when during the van ride Mr. Gray got hurt, saying there were several “equally plausible scenarios.” And he rejected the state’s contention that the officer had given Mr. Gray an intentional “rough ride” and knowingly endangered him by failing to buckle him into the van or provide medical help.” 

The prosecutor isn’t supposed to ruin the lives and careers of presumptively innocent law enforcement officials to try to find out what happened to Freddie Gray. The prosecutor is supposed to investigate until sufficient evidence tells her that a crime was committed, and the she has enough of that evidence to get a legitimate conviction. The three trials have shown that such evidence either doesn’t exist, or was never found. No, we don’t know what killed Freddie Gray, and that’s called “reasonable doubt.” Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

“We Understand One Of My Colleagues Raped You. Here, Have A Taco, And Shut Up”

taco

Some sadistic and none-too skilled cynic appears to be writing the news, and I don’t appreciate it, especially the news about how our justice system deals with rape.

Felipe Santiago Peralez, a La Joya, Texas police dispatcher, repeatedly assaulted, raped, terrorized,  and forced a woman into performing various sex acts during an “all night invasion of her body” while she was in the custody of the La Joya police department for a misdemeanor probation violation. Even after Peralez’s colleagues and superiors saw the jail security video, they refused to take his victim to a hospital for an examination as required by Texas law for all rape investigations. One of them was  kind enough, she says, to offer her a taco. (It is unknown if she actually ate the taco, or if it was yummy.) An officer also told her that if she breathed a word about what happened, she was liable to go “missing.”

This happened in 2014. The La Joya police chief at the time also saw the video, and reported it to city authorities. As a result, a Hidalgo County grand jury charged Peralez with three counts of civil rights violations and one count of “official oppression”—yes, I would agree that a cop sticking various objects, organic and otherwise, into a confined woman’s vagina without her consent qualifies as “oppression”— and he was sentenced to a whopping 6 months in state jail and 30 days in county jail after a plea bargain.

See? Those Texas types know how to handle rapists with rough, effective frontier justice…none of this lame California sentencing, with a rich kid Stanford swimmer getting just six months because he promises that he’ll devote his life, well, some time anyway, to telling other rich kids not to drink so much that they think unconscious women are blow-up sex dolls. Yup, none of that slap on the wrist nonsense in Rick Perry’s domain! There, a police rapist gets six months AND another month. It serves him right! Don’t mess with Texas!

All of this comes to light in a law suit filed by the victim, referred to as A.R., that names Peralez, the City of La Joya, its former and current police chiefs, its city administrator, several La Joya police officers, the city of Peñitas, its police chief and two more officers there, and asks for 70 million dollars in damages.

I feel like I’m losing my mind. How can an entire community become so corrupt that it would behave this cruelly and unjustly? The police officer who warned A.R. to keep her mouth shut was a woman. The whole story reads like the screenplay of a lurid revenge fantasy like “I Spit On Your Grave,” except that it’s missing the fun part where the victim meticulously tracks down her abusers and tortures them to death in the most ingenious and disgusting ways possible. Of course, it appears that A.R. would have to track down the whole town, including its police force and the grand jury. And the local news media. When the justice system delivers this kind of outrage, isn’t the media supposed to report it, and loudly? Maybe reporters were told that they might go missing too.

Or someone offered them tacos.

The absence of any national reporting on this two-year-old horror is just one of the aspects of the story I find disturbing. Such as… Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society