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New Jersey Man “I questioned cops’ authority and got beat up for it”, suit claims

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A 44-year-old man who was forcibly arrested for refusing to produce his license in a Voorhees Township traffic stop is suing the officers who punched and pepper sprayed him.

In the May 5, 2016 stop, Sean M. Shaw, then a state employee, said he wouldn’t produce his ID until the cop showed him a “writ or warrant” or other proof that he was required to do so.

Officers Michael J. Hagner and Kevin R. Branagan reported that they pulled Shaw from the car and he started throwing punches. Hagner punched him several times in the face and then pepper sprayed him, while Branagan said he punched him once in the chest, according to their reports.

Shaw maintains that he never resisted or assaulted police. The body camera footage shows a struggle, but it’s not conclusive about whether he was violent.

Hagner, then 23, wrote in his report that he suspected Shaw was a so-called sovereign citizen and worried he might be violent because of it. People who call themselves sovereign citizens refuse to recognize most federal criminal laws.

But Shaw’s attorney, Richard M. Wiener of Marlton, said that police only included that in their report to try to brand him as a violent extremist.

“Mr. Shaw does not and never has considered himself a sovereign citizen or a follower of sovereign citizen beliefs,” Wiener said in a statement. “It appears the arresting officer added that characterization to his report to provide a pretext for his use of force against Mr. Shaw, who simply questioned the need to produce his driver’s license.”

The body camera footage, spanning from the beginning of the sto to Shaw and Hagner at the hospital, captures Hagner discussing the incident several times but never mentioning anything about sovereign citizens.

Drivers in New Jersey are required to provide a license when stopped by police, as opposed to people stopped on the street, who do not have to give ID unless an officer has a court summons.

Hagner, then 23, said he saw Shaw driving slowly in the left lane of Route 73 around 1 p.m. and pulled him over at Green Lea Florist after seeing his registration was five days expired.

Shaw gave his registration and insurance card but did not give Hagner his license. He placed a call to someone he described as his “legal advisor” and told the officer the advisor was coming.

After Shaw continued to ask for proof of the law requiring him to show ID, Hagner called for backup and Branagan, then 31, arrived. He also asked for the license and warned Shaw that he would be “yanked out” of the car and arrested for obstruction if he did not comply.

The video shows the officers open the door, order him out and after a few seconds pull him out.

“Mr Shaw began to pull away and became combative with Officer Branagan and I,” Hagner wrote in his report.

The video shows a struggle, but it isn’t possible to tell if Shaw was throwing punches. An officer quickly orders him to the ground, but the video cuts out because the body camera broke, according to Hagner’s report. Branagan’s camera captures only part of the struggle on the ground, in which an officer orders him to give up his hands and the other officer says, “cuff him” nine times.

According to the police reports, Shaw said he was having trouble breathing. The video shows him sitting disheveled on the ground and not responding to questions.

When EMTs and supervisors were on scene, the video shows, Hagner told another officer that he hit Shaw several times in the face and that’s how he believes he injured his hand. He suffered a sprained finger, the report said.

One of the officers told Shaw’s wife, who arrived on scene, that he had scrapes and a bruise on his face but wasn’t seriously injured. His wife seemed at a loss for why he would refuse police requests, telling them that he was a youth counselor for the state’s Juvenile Justice Commission for 12 years and a Boy Scout den leader, according to the video.

Shaw faced charges including aggravated assault on a police officer and traffic violations, but they will be dismissed if he complies by the terms of a pretrial intervention order he and the prosecutor agreed to in 2017, according to the lawsuit.

Shaw maintains in his lawsuit that he never resisted or assaulted police, and said police did not give him a chance to get out of the car before they grabbed him and started assaulting him.

His suit claims police used excessive force in their arrest, subjecting him to injuries, trauma, humiliation and civil rights violations.

The lawsuit doesn’t specifically say that the incident cost Shaw his state job, but a spokeswoman for the Juvenile Justice Commission said that Shaw’s last day of employment was July 27, 2017, the same day that he agreed to the pretrial intervention program without admitting guilt.

The lawsuit also names the township and Voorhees Police Department, saying the department is negligent because it insufficiently trains officers to deal with people they suspect are sovereign citizens or who simply refuse to produce a driver’s license. Shaw is seeking damages, fees and costs.


 

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WATCH: Copwatch | Gang Unit Vehicle Stop Foot Bail | Tossed Gun | Man Tasered

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San Diego Copwatch April 10, 2018

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POLICE claim Man said ‘shoot me’ twice before he was shot to death by police, Audio Experts Heard Different

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Las Vegas Metro police shot and killed a 22-year-old man early Friday morning after he reached for a weapon and defied commands repeatedly, police said.

 

Officers Francisco Rivera, 28, and Padilla Mills, 23, were involved in the shooting in the 200 block of Madge Lane, near Charleston Boulevard and Sloan Lane.

Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Monday said officers were on their way to another call when they spotted Junior David Lopez driving recklessly with two women in a blue Chrysler 300.

“Hey, what are you doing? Stay in the car man,” one of the officers yelled. “Stay in the ****ing car! Don’t move! Do not ****ing move!”

When officers stopped the vehicle, Lopez got out of the vehicle with a Smith and Wesson Bodyguard .380 firearm in his hand then tossed it on the ground, police said.

Zimmerman said Lopez defied officers’ commands to put his hands up and step away from the weapon. Instead Lopez grabbed the firearm and raised it, he said.

“Hey, get away from the gun!” officers yelled. “Do not move! Don’t reach for the gun, man. Do not reach the gun.”

Officers believe the body camera footage shows Lopez twice saying the words “shoot me.”

“I don’t know what was going through his head, but he was given ample opportunity to be taken into custody and he wasn’t,” Zimmerman said.

Officers Rivera and Mills both fired their weapons. Lopez fell to the ground and rolled over. Police say he reached for the guns once more. Officer Mills fired one more round, striking Lopez.

“We’re going to need medical for the subject,” one of the officers said, over his radio. “He’s reaching. Don’t reach for it! … His 4-13 is about one foot from his left hand. Don’t!”

Lopez was taken to Sunrise Hospital where he later died at 5:15 a.m.

The two women in the car were not injured. One was Lopez’ girlfriend and the owner of the vehicle. The other was a friend.

Both women on Monday night.

“I remember when we got pulled over they told us to get the **** out of the car, for him to get the **** out of the car. Why don’t I hear that in the video?” said Lopez’s girlfriend, Amber. “He was the best thing in my life… He said, ‘Don’t shoot me. Don’t shoot me. Don’t shoot me.’ You can’t hear the don’t, but you can hear him. ‘Don’t shoot me. Don’t shoot me.'”

Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman said 22-year-old Junior Lopez told officers to shoot him, twice.

“I don’t know what was going through his head but he was given ample opportunity to be taken into custody and he wasn’t.”

Lopez’s girlfriend said he was yelling, “Don’t shoot me!”

Lopez’s girlfriend also says officers told him to get out of the car… before they yelled at him to get back in the car. She argues that the first portion was conveniently cut out of the video released today.

“Everything they said is not true,” said Jorge Luis Martinez, Lopez’s father. “The video is not complete. ”

Lopez had one prior charge for false statement to a police officer in North Las Vegas in 2016

Both officers have been employed with Metro since May 2016. They are both assigned to the Community Policing Division Northeast Area Command. They were both placed on routine paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

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Freedom of Speech Everywhere except a Courthouse so Says the US Attorney General

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How an anti-illegal immigration YouTuber turned a $280 fine into a federal criminal trial

How an anti-illegal immigration YouTuber turned a $280 fine into a federal criminal trial

Gary Gileno

Gary Gileno is shown outside the federal courthouse on Friday before his trial. Gileno was fighting a $280 citation for failing to comply with orders while trying to bring a video camera into a L.A. County Sheriff oversight meeting in 2017. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

 

It began as a $280 citation for using a video camera in a courthouse.

But to Gary Gileno, at stake was much more than the couple hundred bucks he was told to pay.

An attorney for the anti-illegal immigration activist and prolific YouTuber told a judge Friday that the four-hour trial over the fine was really about preventing government abuse of power, protecting the rights of journalists and ensuring that citizens can hold public officials accountable.

“If he is convicted … it’ll chill speech, it’ll chill journalism, it’ll say the federal government has a superpower to do whatever it wants,” attorney William Becker said. “This is unprecedented. This is what we expect to see in a police state.”

A federal prosecutor dismissed the rhetoric, arguing the Class C misdemeanor charge was simply about Gileno’s refusal to follow a security officer’s orders.

The unusual legal battle came after Gileno, 32, tried to bring a video camera into a meeting of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission last year. California law specifically allows the public to use recording devices at such meetings, but the commission’s meeting in August was held at a federal appellate court building where filming is prohibited.

Someone just detained at federal courthouse, where public Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission meeting takin place, 4 trying 2 take pic

The commission, a civilian panel set up to monitor the Sheriff’s Department and listen to public concerns about the agency, had been gathering in different locations around the county since it began meeting in January 2017. This was the first time commissioners had met at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals building in Pasadena.

As Gileno entered the courthouse, deputy U.S. marshals told him he had to leave his camera in his car. Gileno insisted he had a right to record the meeting under the First Amendment and the state’s open meetings law, known as the Brown Act, and began filming the officers.

They responded by handcuffing and detaining him for about an hour.

After Gileno was cited, Robert C. Bonner, a former federal judge who chairs the commission, told The Times he wasn’t aware of certain provisions of the state’s open meetings law and relied on the county’s lawyers for legal advice.

Rather than pay the fine, Gileno opted to take his case to trial, facing a penalty of up to a $10,000 fine and 30 days in jail if found guilty.

Gileno, who began his YouTube career after showing up at his local council meeting in West Covina, said he has made a living off of his channel in recent years. His copious videos — 3,237 and counting — focus primarily on denouncing illegal immigration and promoting supporters of President Trump. His criminal case may have been a boon for his channel — a recent screed on his own prosecution was viewed more than 10,000 times.

On Friday, two court security officers who clashed with Gileno took the stand and testified that there were signs clearly posted saying photography wasn’t allowed in the courthouse. They said Gileno grew belligerent and disruptive, turning on his camera after being warned several times that it was not allowed.

Testifying in his own defense, Gileno said he was a freelance citizen journalist who has attended and filmed local government meetings and legislative town halls for about five years.

“I believe in the United States of America, you should be able to keep tabs on the government,” he said.

In more than 250 other public meetings he attended, he said, he never had an issue with bringing in his video camera. He said the security officer all of a sudden “exploded” at him, so he turned on his camera “to document what I felt was a violation of my rights at the time.”

Assistant U.S. Atty. Benedetto Lee Balding said Gileno’s disruption of security officers working at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was no small matter. It was Gileno who escalated the encounter by refusing to go along with the officers’ orders, he said.

“He decided unilaterally he didn’t have to follow the rules,” the prosecutor said.

Becker, who primarily represents conservatives and Christians in free-speech cases, worked for free on Gileno’s case. He argued that the federal courthouse essentially became a “limited public forum” when it hosted the commission meeting, which Gileno should have been allowed to film under the state law.

Magistrate Judge Jean P. Rosenbluth said she could understand why Gileno was angry and frustrated given his past experience filming the meetings, but she said that didn’t excuse his failure to follow orders. Security at the appellate courthouse, where justices could be filmed without their knowledge, was a serious concern, the judge said.

“Even if these seem arbitrary or don’t make any sense to Mr. Gileno or anybody else, clearly they serve this very important purpose,” Rosenbluth said, finding Gileno guilty.

Acknowledging that a “misunderstanding” had led to the kerfuffle, the prosecutor recommended a sentence of no fine, which would leave Gileno having to pay just $35 in court fees. Rosenbluth said she felt the need for “some consequences” and ordered Gileno to pay a $50 fine, bringing his total penalty to $85 with the fees.

Gileno said he was “outraged” and “astounded.” After the verdict, he turned to nine supporters in the audience, including a man in a red “Make California Great Again” hat, and exclaimed, “I was never read my rights!”

His attorney said they would seriously consider an appeal and possibly a civil lawsuit against the government.

“What the judge just said is if a city council can move to a federal building, they can keep the meeting secret,” Gileno said. “That’s grossly illegal.”

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