Pulling It Out of Their Asses (And Sticking It In Ours)

Ken White over at PopeHat — I’ve been waiting for this post for a while now — asks the question, “What Is The Quantum of Proof Necessary for Police to Rape and Torture you in New Mexico?”

Turns out the answer is, “There basically isn’t one.” If New Mexico police want to rape and torture you, it’s a done deal.

Ken’s question, though, suffers from the fact that it implies rape and torture by cops is limited to New Mexico. 

In a story ironically posted on 9/11/2013, we learn that in Chicago,

…120 men were tortured by Burge and other detectives during a period between 1973 and 1991.

So far as I know, no cops were ever punished for this, although one was “dismissed” from the department in 1993 — two years after the time period just noted. No criminal charges were ever filed against him, but he eventually was convicted for lying during the civil trials and given 4 1/2 years in prison. At least two men mentioned in the story did twenty-one years after being convicted because of these cops.

In New York in 1997, we had Abner Louima. The cops did not get away with the rape and torture, but that’s actually somewhat rare — and they certainly believed they were going to get away with it that time. More recently in New York, officers raped a fashion executive after she became drunk and was taken home by the officers.

Recently, in California, a transgender woman said she was raped by an officer who, after groping her, asked if she was “a nasty she-male.” The officer has been placed on leave, but not arrested, while DNA results are pending. Also in California (Sacramento), another alleged rapist-officer was caught after the son of an elderly stroke victim who had trouble communicating put up a video camera, whereafter her rapist returned for a third go at her. Again in California, two LAPD cops apparently got their rocks off raping female informants and sex workers over a period of years.

In Milwaukee, in a story which endorses my oft-proclaimed admonition that people should never call the cops for help, a young woman called 911 after someone threw a brick through her window. One of the responding officers raped her. The District Attorney allegedly believed the woman, but did not believe the evidence would be strong enough to convict; the officer is still on the job. [UPDATE: An astute reader noted I was wrong on this. The cop was later fired. See the comments below. The woman herself? Still raped.]

This isn’t unusual: police who rape are not often punished until they become so brazen, the fact that they rape can no longer be hidden behind the “thin” blue line that normally functions as a perfect blockade to this disgusting truth. If the line fails, police who rape are sometimes punished. Just ask former Houston police officer Adan Jimenez Carranza, sentenced to 10 years for raping a woman in his custody.

According to the National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations, the United States outdoes India when it comes to custodial rapes of women by law enforcement personnel. It can be difficult for the women to prove the rapes, because often the officers’ threats are enough to overcome the women’s refusal to engage in sex acts. In other words, it can sometimes look consensual, even if there is evidence of sex. (This is also the claim of the Sacramento officer already mentioned above, accused of raping the elderly stroke victim.)

Who knows? Maybe it’s true. After all, cops don’t always use force to commit rape. (The stat rape thing is just too common: even Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer has been accused of sleeping with underage girls, although to my understanding those claims did not result in charges, and were never proven.)

By the way, the New Mexico police torture-and-rape stories? Police in New Mexico don’t just rape ordinary citizens: they even go after their own. And when they aren’t actually raping, it’s sometimes because they’re busy arresting women for reporting rapes.

“Well, okay,” you’re thinking. “Sad as it is, I get the rape thing. That’s part of an unfortunately common impulse that many men — not just police officers — have problems resisting.” (I’m not sure how that makes it better, but I’ve heard the “it’s not just police officers” argument.)

What about torture? Unless you count beatings — and there are good arguments for doing so, but I won’t here — it’s a bit rarer than rape. Still…

Hell, San Diego police are apparently so good at it that they train Mexican police officers on torture techniques.

If you want to include police torturing dogs, by the way, here’s a really long list.

No, sadly, very sadly, too sadly, the problem is not limited to New Mexico. It’s just another symptom of the Panopticon.

Quantum of proof? It’s nothing. Just words. And with each new court case that guts our Constitution, “quantum of proof” has become shorthand for what is only a series of formulaic excuses the police pull out of their asses, usually only after they get caught shoving things up ours.


Endnotes:

  1. This story contains references to at least five other people tortured to death while in custody in different parts of the United States. It is, perhaps, “unfair” to include this in the list, since it is American prison torture, rather than torture by regular police officers. And prison torture — that is, torture by correctional officers — has its own long and sordid, and ongoing history. []
  2. This one gets close to being about a beating, but the word “torture” was used to describe the incident, and it did also involve bending back fingers. []

About Rick

Rick Horowitz is a criminal defense attorney with an extreme dislike of the criminal "justice" system which routinely ignores the Constitution, the Law, and the lives it ruins.

In addition to this blog, Rick also writes at Fresno Criminal Defense.

Comments

  1. ‘“Well, okay,” you’re thinking. “Sad as it is, I get the rape thing. That’s part of an unfortunately common impulse that many men — not just police officers — have problems resisting.” (I’m not sure how that makes it better, but I’ve heard the “it’s not just police officers” argument.)’

    No, actually, I was thinking that if “the rape thing” is such an “unfortunately common impulse” that many men can’t resist, then maybe post-pubescent men should be chemically castrated until another person files signed, notarized paperwork indicating a sexual interest in that man, at which point the depo-provera would be withheld on a trial basis. That’s the only way to be sure those penises stay where they fucking belong.

    • Yes, I’m completely with you on the idea of condemning an entire class of people — in this case, just under half the planet — because some of them commit crimes.

      You may — I don’t know; I’m not you — wish to consider a more intellectually-defensible stance.

      Otherwise, it’s hard to take you seriously.

      • I was trying to be funny and sarcastically overstating an extreme position, since I thought your sentence referring to the “rape thing” as something some men just can’t resist doing was more than a bit flippant. Ah well.

        • Well “LOL,” then.

          But on a serious note, you might (since apparently I’ve made it clear I can’t read you well) be surprised at how many articles I’ve read recently with misandrists leaving comments like that.

          *sigh*

          Another episode of humor transmission via the Internet between two complete strangers gone awry.

      • Rick, your comment is one that I see in every comments section after an article about rape and it’s always bothered me. Don’t read this in a confrontational light: I understand where you’re coming from, it’s just that you should know that it’s not intellectually sound to imply that gender should be left out of this.

        About 1 in 6 women will be raped in her lifetime, many by more than one person. 99% of rapists are male. We’ll try to avoid making a statistical error here, but no matter how many of those women were raped by the same guy, that’s still a lot of guys committing rape. Taking the gender out of the discussion is like trying to make chicken soup without any chicken involved. If you have a fair bit of time on your hands, please read this:
        http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175641/tomgram:_rebecca_solnit,_the_longest_war/

        I understand that you’re replying to an extremist comment about castrating all males, but it looks as if you’re coming from the same place and people who say “well women rape too, and lots of males are innocent, so this article is misandrogyny!” Just keep that in mind.

        • I honestly don’t know where you’re getting that. I said nothing about removing gender (not that I think gender is relevant to the point I was making, since a) cops rape males, too, because it’s about control; not sex, and b) I was addressing comments I’ve heard people make as an excuse, and noting that it was not apropos to what I was talking about), and I definitely didn’t say anything about women committing rape. In fact, I didn’t even comment about female officers committing rape, although they sometimes do (most of the stories I found relating to that were from other countries, oddly enough, which is why I didn’t use them; I was writing about the U.S.).

          Since I was discussing only the question of cops who rape, I doubt very seriously that you see my comment in every comments section after an article about rape.

          The rape of women, and our rape culture, is a very serious issue. It is not, however, what I was trying to address in writing this article.

          This article was about police officers who rape — and, again, they don’t just rape women — and the fact that use of rape for punishment, or as an adjunct of their power over “ordinary citizens,” isn’t, unfortunately, an aberration.

  2. Minor fact correction: the piece of human excrement that raped the girl who called about the brick is not still on the job; he was later fired and convicted of violating her civil rights in federal court – it says so right in the DailyBeast article you linked.

    • Thanks. It’s not really minor. I appreciate your correction.

      As you might guess from the volume of articles I linked — and I read three times as many, because I try to avoid posting multiple stories on the same event — I’m speedreading.

      That article mentioned him remaining on the job in two places, one of which said, “The priors came as no surprise to the 19-year-old who was now accusing him of raping her while he somehow remained employed as a cop.”

      Because I flew through it, I didn’t catch all the info.

      I apologize, and thank you for catching it.

      Reading all these stories, btw, threw me into a deep depression. It’s sad there are so many…yet they just keep on coming.

      • Rick, I have to tell you, I’m not a cop, but I am a sworn peace officer (not in the US, thank God), and whatever depression these stories put you in, imagine that level of rage and doubled at my end. The only reason I caught your omission was because I could not fathom a progressive country in which that cop was NOT prosecuted and convicted.

        Law enforcement and policing in my country isn’t perfect by a long shot, but I’ve recently become a regular reader of PopeHat and – by extension – some related blogs like yours. I can honestly say that there is no way in which I could even fathom working in US law enforcement. It’s a whole different world from the one I know and still believe in. Hopefully, attention like this will see that change.

        • I really appreciate your catching this. I try hard to be fair and accurate. Even among U.S. Law enforcement, there are many more good guys than bad guys (a term that isn’t meant to exclude women).

          In my time, I’ve been shocked (really) to see how easy it is for cops I know, who I think are good guys, to do bad things.

          Lord Acton, frankly, nailed it.

          Still, I don’t want to mislead anyone. That won’t encourage others to help solve a very real problem. So, again, thanks for catching that.

Trackbacks

  1. […] always awesome Rick Horowitz has a great post about police who rape. Here's one fun fact among many: "the United States outdoes India when it comes to custodial rapes […]

  2. […] suggesting that we’ve been fighting the wrong battles all along.  Rick Horowitz at Probable Cause has been toeing that line for a very long time, and this year suffered for the strength of his […]