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January 08, 2013

"I Was Raped—and the Police Told Me I Made It Up"

This is an interview with the woman in question. I Was Raped—and the Police Told Me I Made It Up | VICE
If you think India is the only place where cops treat rape victims like shit, think again. At age 19, Sara Reedy was working as a cashier in a gas station in the 1000-person burgh of Cranberry, Pennsylvania, when one night a serial rapist named Wilbur Brown opened the door to the station with cellophane wrapped around his fingers. He forced her out in front of the station, where he made her perform oral sex on him while holding his pistol against her head. There were no security cameras. He then went back inside with Sara, robbed the cash drawer of around $600, and afterwards, hid her in a room behind the office in the back of the service station, where he forced her to tear out all of the phone lines in sight. Incidentally, tangled with one of those phone cords was the power cord to the station’s meager security system, a screwy detail that would later endanger Sara’s chances for justice. The office also happened to have an emergency exit, which Sara bolted through to safety. She sought shelter in the mechanic’s shop next door. One of the tow-truck drivers on duty at the shop telephoned the police while the other went out with a gun to look for the assailant. What followed, even after such a nightmarish encounter, was worse. Sara was accused of lying to the police. Frank Evanson, the detective who interviewed her in the hospital room where she was undergoing her rape kit examination, accused her of stealing the cash from the drawer and fabricating the assault story as a cover-up. She was put in jail for five days, and waited eight torturous months for her criminal trial. All the while, she was pregnant with her first child. Wilbur Brown was arrested for a similar crime a month before Sara’s trial date in 2005. He confessed to both Reedy’s assault and the robbery, in addition to numerous other rapes. In response, after Sara was released, she sued the Cranberry Township Police Department. But the suit was dismissed in 2009, after Detective Evanson presented evidence claiming that Sara had pulled the power cord to the gas station’s security system an hour before the time she claimed to have been assaulted. She pulled the cord, he testified, in order to steal the $600, and then invented the rape story as a mere diversion. Except, it turns out, the good detective had misread the security company’s timestamp data indicating when the cord was disconnected, and failed to consult the security company experts who actually knew how to read it. . . .

December 14, 2012

Oakland cops are terrible at solving crimes

Read the whole article. Most troubling to me is that the Oak PD doesn't bother with DNA or fingerprints or rape kits or any actual science to get convictions. They solely work with eyewitness testimony, which is notoriously flawed and open to abuse. Getting Away with Murder | Feature | Oakland, Berkeley & Bay Area News & Arts Coverage
But perhaps the most telling statistic is OPD's solve rate — known in criminal justice circles as the clearance rate — for homicides. According to the department's Criminal Investigations Division's annual management report, OPD investigators solved and prosecuted just 32 of the 110 homicide cases of 2011, or a clearance rate of 29 percent. Similarly, OPD posted a 30 percent clearance rate in 2010, when investigators sent 27 of the 90 murders that year to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office for prosecution. This is a decrease from 2009's clearance rate of 43 percent, when OPD investigators arrested and prosecuted individuals in 47 of the 109 homicides that year. "People are literally free to kill again if they want," said Eugene O'Donnell, a professor of criminology at the City University of New York-John Jay and a former NYPD lieutenant, after being told about OPD's low clearance rate for homicides. "There's nothing more undermining to a community's sense of order," he added, referring to how Oakland's high number of unsolved murders contributes to the distrust of police prevalent in the city's impoverished neighborhoods, already heightened by The Riders scandal and recent officer-involved shootings. By comparison, the San Francisco Police Department's homicide unit posted a 52 percent clearance rate in 2011 and a 64 percent clearance rate for this year to date. The California Department of Justice's report on 2010 homicides put the statewide clearance rate for homicides at 63.8 percent for that year.