As 2020 draws to a close, the year is likely to go down in history as a time when people across the United States finally decided to take a stand against systemic police brutality and widespread human rights abuses at the hands of law enforcement. Despite the protests, however, the widespread abuse of U.S. residents under color of authority is showing few signs of disappearing.
And in one especially egregious recent incident, a Texas police officer can be seen arresting a motorist for allegedly making too wide a right turn. The officer then proceeds to call for backup, after which the officers pepper-spray the driver and then beat the man’s father for lawfully filming the arrest.
The North Texas man is now suing two officers with the Keller Police Department for the disturbing incident, which occurred on Aug. 15 and has already led to the police chief disciplining the offending officer and apologizing to the family.
“It’s undeniable that their conduct was horrible,” Scott Palmer, one of the lawyers suing Keller PD, told New York Times. “They’re supposed to preserve and protect, and they caused havoc and mayhem.”
Dillon Puente, 22, was on his way to his grandmother’s home when he was pulled over for making a wide right turn. In police bodycam footage, Sergeant Blake Shimanek can be seen requesting that Dillon exit the car before he placed him in handcuffs.
In a police report reviewed by WFAA, Shimanek claimed that he arrested Puente for the mere traffic infraction out of fears for his own safety.
After Dillon was arrested, his father Marco Puente arrived at the scene to video record the arrest.
“He was ticketed and taken to jail for a wide right turn,” Marco later recounted.
Marco parked his truck in the lane adjacent to his son before Shimanek sharply warned him to move his vehicle, warning that he could be arrested for obstructing the roadway. Marco quickly complied before returning to record the arrest with his phone from the sidewalk across the road.
“The officer didn’t like me being there recording anything,” Marco said.
At that point, Shimanek ordered Officer Ankit Tomer to place Marco under arrest for filming the scene, which was well within his rights.
“Put your phone down,” Tomer said in footage captured by his bodycam. “Put your hands behind your head.”
“This guy is arresting me for just standing here,” Marco said.
It was at that point that Tomer escalated the situation by initiating force against Marco, an innocent civilian who was simply watching out for his son.
“They tried to take me down and pepper spray me, and it was a fiasco,” Marco said.
In the video, the officers can be seen tackling Marco to the ground and repeatedly spraying him with mace before placing him, too, in handcuffs. The father-son pair were then detained and hauled to the local jail.
However, Dillon Puente was ultimately only given a minor citation for the initial wide turn. Marco wasn’t charged with any crime, and he was quickly released.
Two days after the incident, the Keller police chief himself met with Marco to apologize for the conduct of his officers. Shimanek was also demoted from sergeant to officer for his role in the unnerving altercation.
In the lawsuit against the two officers, Keller PD leadership are quoted as calling the use of force and arrest of Marco Puente entirely “inappropriate.”
Regardless of the police department’s apologies, the lawsuit is being filed as a matter of ensuring basic accountability.
“Marco is not a criminal. This is a man, a concerned father, and if this can happen to him, it can happen to anyone,” Marco’s attorney Scott Palmer said. “These officers knew better. I believe they were trained better, but why did they not execute better? I don’t know.”
Shimanek also has a history of misconduct, including a 2016 incident where he unlawfully entered a home without a search warrant and other incidents.
“It’s disturbing to know that these are the people we are entrusting with providing safety in the community and they are abusing that power,” said James Roberts, an attorney who works with Palmer’s law firm. “I know that they knew better. I know that they knew what they were doing was wrong, yet they still did it.”
The Puente family is still disturbed by the incident, months after it transpired. And while Marco recognizes that the apology was a “nice” gesture, further accountability is required.
“This is going on everywhere,” Puente said about police brutality. “If people keep on brushing it under a rug, it’s going to keep happening.”
Trump “Pretty Likely” to Land in Jail For Many Alleged Crimes, Legal Analyst Says
Legal experts continue to say that it remains likely that former President Donald Trump could land in jail if convicted on one of the many legal challenges he faces.
Throughout his life, Trump has been involved in a number of lawsuits – both as the subject and instigator of them – but he is currently facing no less than 29 lawsuits and is also the subject of several criminal lawsuits, including one which saw his tax returns opened up to lawyers.
Trump is being investigated for potential bank, tax and insurance fraud by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for what Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office calls “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization,” reports the New York Times.
The former head of state denies any malfeasance and has said that he is “proud” of his tax returns.
However, legal analyst Jay Michaelson told Daily Beast’s The New Abnormal that Trump is “pretty likely” to face jail time if found guilty.
“Trump’s lawyers will always come up with something, but there should be no reason why the grand jury won’t get these financial records tomorrow,” Michaelson said.
“Will he go to jail for, like, the rest of his life? Probably no,” he continued. “Is it possible that this would lead to criminal charges that would carry jail time? I would say that’s pretty likely, and we could have a grand jury indictment fairly soon.”
Last month, the Supreme Court rejected the Trump legal team’s appeal to keep his tax returns closed from prosecutors. The move opens the door to the returns being shown to a grand jury in New York.
Following the ruling, Trump denounced the move as a result of him being a victim of “’the greatest political witch hunt in the history of our country.”
“In the meantime, murders and violent crime are up in New York City by record numbers, and nothing is done about it,” he added. “Our elected officials don’t care. All they focus on is the persecution of President Donald J. Trump.”
“I will fight on, just as I have, for the last five years (even before I was successfully elected), despite all of the election crimes that were committed against me. We will win!”
Minneapolis Police Lieutenant Calls Chauvin’s Use of Force On George Floyd “Totally Unnecessary”
The head of the Minneapolis Police Department’s homicide division flatly denounced former officer Derek Chauvin’s use of force against George Floyd as “totally unnecessary.”
Lt. Richard Zimmerman testified on Friday about his over three decades of police training and the lethal dangers of the techniques used on Floyd on May 25, 2020.
Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer, is currently facing trial for his role in the killing of Floyd, 46, a Black man, by pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes as he lay handcuffed on the ground.
“Once you handcuff a person you need to get them out of the prone position as quickly as possible, because it restricts their breathing,” Zimmerman said, adding that being handcuffed “stretches the muscles back through your chest and it makes it more difficult to breathe.”
“That would be the top tier, the deadly force,” he said, noting that escalating to such a degree goes against use-of-force training at MPD. “Because if your knee is on someone’s neck, that can kill them.”
When asked if such force was necessary, Zimmerman responded that it was “totally unnecessary” given that any potential threat from Floyd had been subdued.
“First of all, pulling him down to the ground facedown and putting your knee on the neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for,” Zimmerman said. “I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that’s what they felt. And that’s what they would have to feel to use that type of force.”
Continuing, Zimmerman noted that handcuffing a person quickly alters the permissible use of force that can be used in a situation.
“Once a person is cuffed, the threat level goes down all the way to, they’re cuffed, how can they really hurt you?” he said. “That person is handcuffed, and the threat level is just not there.”
At that stage, the use of force quickly declines, he added.
“If they become less combative, you may just have them sit down on the curb,” Zimmerman said. “The idea is to calm the person down and if they are not a threat to you at that point, you try to, you know, to help them so that they’re not as upset as they may have been in the beginning.”
Derek Chauvin has faced at least eighteen complaints during his 19-year career with the Minneapolis police, including six times in which prosecutors claim the former officer used force against arrestees.
However, these incidents – like George Floyd’s own criminal record – won’t be introduced to jurors in the Chauvin trial so that the defendant isn’t punished for prior misconduct, and is instead evaluated on the charges he faces for the death of Floyd: third- and second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Jeffrey Epstein Threatened to Feed Young Woman to Alligators After Raping Her, New Lawsuit Claims
The disgraced pedophile Jeffrey Epstein may be dead, but he is facing a fresh allegation that he raped a 26-year-old real estate broker and threatened to feed her to alligators, all with the help of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, according to the brutal details of a new lawsuit.
In the federal complaint filed last week, the woman – identified only as Jane Doe – claims that Epstein sexually abused her at his Palm Beach estate in 2008 with the “assistance” of Maxwell, who is currently facing a range of charges for the sexual exploitation of minors, sex trafficking and perjury.
According to Jane Doe, a married woman and devout Muslim of Turkish descent, following the rape Epstein and Maxwell drove the woman to pick up her 8-year-old son before stopping the car “at a large body of water that was infested with alligators.”
“Epstein then ushered the Plaintiff to the body of water and told her in explicit detail that, as had happened to other girls in the past, she would end up in this body of water and be devoured by the alligators, should she ever reveal what Epstein had done to her,” the suit filed in South Florida Federal Court reads.
The federal filing, reported first by the Miami Herald, also notes that she was “repeatedly raped” by Maxwell and Epstein, even in the presence of her young son, and that Epstein forced her to have sex with other men, including one man identified as a local judge.
Doe also alleges that she was forced to “unwanted and unnecessary vaginal surgery” to give the false impression that she was a virgin, and that the “violent and illegal procedure” was botched and left Doe “permanently sexually dysfunctional.”
According to Doe, she met Epstein and Maxwell at a barbecue hosted by her boss in late 2006 or early 2007 before being hired to find a property for Epstein.
It was at that point, she claims, that she was recruited and groomed by Maxwell to be abused by the multimillionaire pedophile.
In the following months, Epstein and Maxwell sex trafficked her while threatening her with rape, deportation, arrest for prostitution, and having her son seized from her.
“While making these threats, Epstein emphasized his personal connections to many powerful actors within the legal system and elsewhere whom he asserted would not hesitate to act on his behalf,” the suit noted.
Epstein also told Doe, who looked young for her age, to tell clients that she was 17. Additionally, she claims that she was coerced by the pair into helping them sex traffic other young women, including some believed to be underage.
The details of the case are especially gut-wrenching, even by the standards of the Epstein case.
Epstein, 66, was found hanged in a lone cell in the special housing unit (SHU) of a federal Manhattan prison in Manhattan on Aug. 10, 2019, while facing a potential prison sentence of up to 45 years on charges of pedophilia and sex trafficking. A city medical examiner ruled the death a suicide.
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