Zikomo Peurifoy, 25, was Tased three times, handcuffed and arrested by police officers in Casselberry, Florida recently after he refused to provide law enforcement with photo identification after allegedly jaywalking across the street. The entire incident — at around ten minutes long — has been published on the Web. And while critics are charging that Casselberry cops used excessive force in apprehending a single suspect over not crossing at the corner, the city’s police department is insisting that their officers handled the situation entirely by the books.
“The officers were polite the whole time through and gave good verbal commands,” Casselberry Police Captain David Del Rosso told reporters, the Daily Mail writes. “You hear the officer saying why he stopped him.”
While that might be so, the question of what warrants stopping someone — and demanding identification — has some critics calling the officers’ recorded statements yet further proof of the escalation of America into a police state.
When first told to produce ID, Peurifoy is filmed telling the police that their request was not a “lawful order” and demanded he be provided with a statute that proves otherwise. From there the video does not seem to show any of the arresting officers introducing a charge against Peurifoy — aside from jaywalking — but repeatedly requesting ID. As he refuses to comply, he announces, “I am not resisting arrest” and tells the officers that they are committing assault by forcibly placing their hands on him without reason.
Only after being struck with a Taser three times is Peurifoy finally apprehended, to which the video shows him screaming, “This is assault.”
The New York City Police Department frequently treats condoms as proof that the person carrying them is a prostitute, according to a report [pdf] issued yesterday by the Providers and Resources Offering Services to Sex Workers Network and The Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center. In 2008 and 2009, condoms were used as evidence in 39 Brooklyn prostitution cases, and one police form for reporting prostitution arrests includes a space for recording the number of condoms. Apparently even one is considered suspicious: a deposition by a Brooklyn officer describes an alleged prostitute as carrying "sexual paraphernalia, namely: One condom."
According to the report, this has made sex workers and non-sex-workers alike afraid to carry condoms. And it's made it harder to keep condoms if they do carry them — even if the police don't end up using them as evidence, they often confiscate them. The report's authors surveyed sex workers and others about this practice, and came up with some disturbing statistics:
• 42.8% of the 35 sex workers surveyed reported having condoms taken away by police at some point.
• 45.7% said they'd refrained from carrying condoms at some point because they were afraid of police.
• 22.9% had actually turned down free condoms from aid agencies out of fear of the police.
• Two out of 20 people surveyed who did not do sex work said they were also afraid to carry condoms. Explained one, “I had heard that they can lock you up for a certain number of condoms.”
Preliminary analysis suggests that many crime labs claim evidence is stronger than it is.
The Post reported that out of about 30 possible traits used to determine hair matches, analysts often based their conclusions on only 6 or 7 matching characteristics. In one case, an FBI scientist based his testimony — which landed a defendant 28 years in prison before being exonerated — on only three characteristics: “it was black, it was a human head hair, and it was from an African American.”Justice Department and FBI Launch Largest Ever Post-Conviction Review | ThinkProgress
In an attempt to reassess the validity of the nation’s crime labs, the Justice Department and the FBI have launched a sweeping review of thousands of criminal cases. The Justice Department will initially focus on 10,000 hair and fiber analyses, many of which are believed to have led to a wrongful conviction. According to the Washington Post, “the undertaking is the largest post-conviction review ever done by the FBI. It will include cases conducted by all FBI Laboratory hair and fiber examiners since at least 1985 and may reach earlier if records are available.”
The review follows an April panel of the National Academy of Science that urged Congress to overhaul the current crime lab system and the methodological standards of forensic evidence. The Post also reported on the issue in April, finding that flawed forensic evidence has likely led to widespread wrongful convictions of innocent people.
Both reports found that forensic examinations such as hair and fiber analyses were “subjective and lacked grounding in solid research and that the FBI lab lacked protocols to ensure that agent testimony was scientifically accurate.” The lack of standards for effective examinations and convictions has allowed forensic analysts to base their conclusions on very few matching characteristics. . . .