The Ferguson police have indicated that there were no disciplinary reports in Darren Wilson’s file.
What Chief Jackson didn’t tell anyone at any of the press conferences was that, until he took over in 2010, use of force complaints were not kept in an officer’s personnel file.
Jen Hayden wrote about the Henry Davis case on Friday: Ferguson police beat a man and then charged him with ‘destruction of property’ for bloody uniforms
What I found interesting in the Daily Beast article by Michael Daly, was the way use of force complaints were treated by the Ferguson PD.
In brief, Henry Davis was arrested in Ferguson on Sept 9, 2009, when he took the wrong exit off of the highway and pulled over to wait for a heavy rain to lighten. He was arrested in a case of mistaken identity, beaten by four officers in his cell, after they knew he was innocent, and then charged with damaging police property i.e. he got blood on their uniforms. BTW, first they handcuffed him. Then they beat him.
When Henry Davis’ lawyer, James Schottel tried to find out what type of record the officers who beat his client had, he uncovered a can of worms.
Schottel got another unpleasant surprise when he sought the use-of-force history of the officers involved. He learned that before a new chief took over in 2010 the department had a surprising protocol for non-fatal use-of-force reports.
“The officer himself could complete it and give it to the supervisor for his approval,” the prior chief, Thomas Moonier, testified in a deposition. “I would read it. It would be placed in my out basket, and my secretary would probably take it and put it with the case file.”
No copy was made for the officer’s personnel file.
No investigation. Just an officer writing up his excuse. The excuse went in the case file and nothing went on the officer’s “record.”
Chief Jackson changed that policy when he took up the reins of the department in 2010, but a policy change that fundamentally alters the long term relationship between the police and the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect, would probably take a while to implement. If it could, in fact, be implemented.
According to his deposition in the Davis case, Jackson instituted a system that required all complaints to cross his desk and be “assigned a number in an internal affairs log.” There is no indication when this new system was begun and/or how effective it was. It should be interesting to see if any mention is made of this in regards to Officer Wilson, if and when he is ever charged and tried.
The fact that Officer Wilson had no disciplinary record is different from the fact that he has no record of using excessive force. It could mean that he was not disciplined for use of force. Or that he never used excessive force. But the information that is coming out on him, in drips and drabs, makes me wonder. He was at best an unfeeling, foul-mouthed asshole according to the report of one woman who had an earlier encounter with him.
But while the police department is trying very hard to portray Darren Wilson as a good cop, we should keep in mind the history of a department that had officers commit perjury to claim that another innocent victim bled on their uniforms. Police Officer John Beaird, Police Officer Christopher Pillarick, and Police Officer Michael White were all named in the Daily Beast article as signing the complaint and then denying the facts in their depositions.
And don’t forget that the policewoman, Kim Tihen, who straddled Mr. Davis and cuffed him before her fellow officers beat him badly enough to cause a concussion, is now a member of the City Council of Ferguson, as reported here by a member of Daily Kos.