Things That Matter

A Man Seated In A Vehicle Was Attacked By A K9 Unit And The Community Wants Answers

Police officer Dan Lesser resigned from a K-9 unit after using threatening language on a suspect who was inside a vehicle, then releasing a police dog on him. The Spokesman-Review discovered numerous revelations following the release of public records regarding the investigation into the officer’s conduct. 

The Washington paper discovered that a U.S. marshal and many of Dan’s supervisors did not approve of his actions, but failed to file formal complaints with internal affairs. 

The Spokesman-Review parsed through hundreds of pages of records of an internal investigation into Dan’s conduct. 

“The result of that meeting on 2-13-19 was that Officer Lesser resigned from the K9 unit,” Capt. Tom Hendren wrote in a report. “His resignation was accepted and he has since been reassigned to patrol.”

Dan used a police dog to attack a suspect in a vehicle. 

Dan, who was with his nephew and fellow officer Scott Lesser, was found to have violated his department’s policy when he threatened to kill a suspect. Dan and Scott were also reprimanded for not turning on their body cameras soon enough.

“I’m going to put a bullet in your brain,” Lesser told the suspect Lucas Ellerman. “I’m done f***ing with you.” 

Dan broke the windows of Ellerman’s vehicle and continued to threaten to kill him before telling Scott to get his police dog. 

“I’m coming. Please, don’t,” Ellerman says holding his hands up while climbing out of the backseat. “I’m coming. I’m coming. I’m coming.”

As the dog came closer, Ellerman insists that he doesn’t have a gun. Dan and Scott sicced the dog on Ellerman telling the dog “fass” which is the German command to bite. Ellerman was left with multiple puncture wounds on his leg which later got an infection. 

“I think at that point I’d already made a decision in my mind to already deploy my K-9,” Dan told internal affairs investigators. “Based on all the factors. Based on his active resistance. Based on the crimes. Based on the threats. Everything that I was told, he was armed with a handgun.”

Dan was faulted by supervisors for making violent threats at the suspect and failing to activate his body cam in time but they exonerated Dan for siccing the dog. 

However, the investigation records revealed that three superiors expressed dismay about Dan’s deployment of the animal, but none filed formal complaints with internal fairs as was required. 

Dan’s supervisors face criticism for failing to file formal complaints.

A U.S. marshal who chose to remain anonymous told police Ombudsman Bart Logue, who is an advocate for more oversight of internal affairs investigations, that they questioned Dan’s judgment in releasing the dog. The marshal also expressed serious concerns over the conduct of the police department’s Patrol Anti-Crime Team of which Dan belonged before he resigned. 

Three months before the department’s official investigation, Lt. Rob Boothe sought a second opinion on Dan Lesser’s conduct. Boothe who had been involved with several disciplinary reviews of Lesser feared he might be biased. With Sgt. John Everly’s approval he came to his decision. 

  1. “It is my belief that the suspect posed a potential threat of violence or serious bodily harm, but that threat was not imminent at the time of the application of the canine,” Boothe concluded in his report.

Another supervisor, Sgt. Sean Wheeler was also unconvinced that Ellerman posed a threat to Dan. 

“Ellerman eventually put his hands up and stated he was coming out as he crawled toward the front seat,” Wheeler wrote eight days after the arrest. “This is when Officer D. Lesser deployed his K9.”

While these supervisors were correct to take note of Dan’s behavior, they failed to file an official complaint as the department policy mandates. 

Logue finds the lack of transparency in the case unsettling. 

Because the supervisors failed to file formal complaints the ombudsman was not able to participate in interviews conducted by internal affairs investigators. Logue believes a lack of transparency is a major issue. It is unclear if Dan resigned of his own volition or received pressure from the department to do so — because the records don’t specify either way. 

“There should be nothing off the record” in an internal investigation, Logue said. “Thankfully we don’t have these kinds of cases a lot. But when we do, it seems critical to have all of these things happen aboveboard.”

He believes all of the interviews and conversations conducted should have been meticulously documented. Logue says the investigation “was not being done correctly and in accordance with policy,” until he filed a complaint of his own after being tipped off. 

“There is such a huge difference between an internal affairs investigation and a chain-of-command review,” Logue told the Spokesman-Review.

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Apparently Cops Are Playing Music While Being Filmed And It’s For A Very Sinister Reason

Things That Matter

Apparently Cops Are Playing Music While Being Filmed And It’s For A Very Sinister Reason

Over the past few years, cops sure have become increasingly vocal about their disdain of average citizens exercising their constitutional right to record interactions with authorities. It’s almost as if many of them feel they are above the law itself.

Now, some officers appear to be trying to evade videos of them circulating on social media through a crafty — if not exactly airtight — strategy: playing copyrighted music loudly and for long enough to be flagged by automatic censoring software on apps like Instagram.

A report has emerged of police using copyrighted music to trigger social media takedowns.

According to VICE News, a well-known LA activist went into the Beverly Hills Police Department to obtain body cam footage from a recent traffic stop. Sennett Devermont, the activist, did what he normally does during his interactions with police and live-streamed the interaction to his more than 300,000 followers on Instagram.

It all started out friendly and chill, however, things got weird when the officer started scrolling through his phone. Shortly after, Sublime’s hit from the 90s, “Santeria”, started playing and the officer stopped talking.

Sir, you’re putting on music while I’m trying to talk to you. Can you turn that off? It’s a little ridiculous,” Devermont can be heard saying, followed by a sizable pause from Sgt. Fair. “I’m just trying to see how many people are watching this. Since you didn’t answer my simple question, I tried to find it myself,” the officer finally replies from behind a Blue Lives Matter face mask, alluding to their discussion from a few moments earlier regarding how many people might be watching the livestream.

A separate encounter with the same officer plays within the same edited clip near what appears to be an active crime scene. “What — why are you playing music?” repeats Devermont, to which Sgt. Fair teasingly asks, “What? I can’t hear you.”

So is it working?

Theoretically, the strategy could make the videos subject to content flagging, or even account suspensions and bans. That said, Instagram’s content monitoring algorithms are inconsistent at best, and every upload of Devermont’s encounters remain on the social media app.

In most cases, filming on-duty police is an American right protected by the First Amendment. Law enforcement is more aware of this than most citizens, so people like Sgt. Fair and others know exactly what they are doing when they start playing music. The question is whether these are the acts of a few industrious police, or a recommended policy handed down from on high.

Take all this as a polite reminder that it is absolutely legal to film cops in situations like the ones in these videos, and you should feel free to do so if inclined. There are even apps to help you do just that, so don’t let Sublime’s “Santeria” — or any other tunes, even ones you hate — dissuade you.

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Mexican Police Officers Arrested In Connection With Migrant Massacre Near U.S.-Mexico Border

Things That Matter

Mexican Police Officers Arrested In Connection With Migrant Massacre Near U.S.-Mexico Border

News of Mexico’s latest bloody massacre shocked the world. Nineteen bodies had been found near the U.S.-Mexico border with gun wounds and they had been burned to try and conceal the crimes.

Quickly it began to become clear that most of the victims were migrants en route to the U.S. from Central America, including many Guatemalan citizens. Now, new evidence shows that state police officers were likely involved in the murders and attempted coverup.

The massacre is the latest chapter in Tamaulipas’ history of police corruption. Most towns and cities in the state saw their municipal police forces dissolved years ago, because officers were often in the pay of the cartels. A more professional state police force was supposed to be the answer, a belief that came crashing down with the arrests announced yesterday.

Officials have arrested 12 police officers in connection to the deadly massacre.

A dozen state police officers were arrested in connection with the killings of 19 people, including Guatemalan migrants, whose bodies were found shot and burned near the U.S. border late last month.

Tamaulipas state Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica announced that all 12 officers were in custody and face charges of homicide, abuse of authority and making false statements.

The victims were found piled up in a charred pickup truck in Camargo, across the Rio Grande from Texas, in an area that has been bloodied for years by turf battles between the remnants of the Gulf cartel and the old Zetas cartel. Another burned vehicle was found at the scene and authorities say it had been seized by immigration officials in a raid that detained 66 migrants on their way to the U.S.

The motive behind the massacre is still unclear.

The attorney general did not say what motive the officers might have had, though corrupt local and state police in Mexico are often in the pay of drug cartels. It’s also common for cartels to charge migrant smugglers for crossing their territory, and kidnap or kill migrants whose smugglers have paid a rival gang.

Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero said that immigration agents tied to the case had been fired, though she provided no details on their number or their alleged role.

“These violations of the rights of migrants are absolutely unacceptable,” Sánchez Cordero said. She said no member of the security forces or immigration authority was above the law.

Since many of the victims have been identified as Guatemalan migrants, authorities are trying to find their families.

Credit: JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Authorities have said four of the dead have been identified so far — two Guatemalans and two Mexicans. Of the 19 bodies examined by experts, 16 were found to be males, one was confirmed as female and the two others were so badly burned their gender had not yet been determined.

The forensic results confirmed the fears of families in a rural Indigenous farming community in Guatemala who have said they lost contact with 13 migrants as they traveled toward the United States.

Guatemala’s foreign affairs ministry said late Tuesday that it was working closely with Mexican authorities. In a statement, it asked that “the full weight of law be applied to those responsible for such unfortunate events that have Guatemalan families mourning.”

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