The recent explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement has caused an increased focus on officer-involved shootings, as well as the way law enforcement interacts with those in the community. There have been heated conversations from both sides of this debate, with some saying that the incidents show blatant abuse on behalf of law enforcement and others saying that it shows a disregard for authority by today’s youth.
While there have been arrests made in some of the officer-involved shootings, many have criticized prosecutors for pandering to media scrutiny before all the facts of the case have been revealed. In fact, many instances have shown that once all of the evidence was discovered, the shootings were justified. Similarly, like in the Freddie Gray case, prosecutors dropped the charges against Officer Garret Miller and Judge Barry G. Williams doled out acquittals for all the other officers involved.
However, not all officers have become scapegoats for the media witch hunt of law enforcement personnel oppressing minorities in the U.S. With millions of police officers in the United States alone, it’s inevitable that there are those that don’t exactly adhere to the guidelines set forth of upholding the laws of the land. From theft to murder to organized criminal activity, not all police officers uphold their status of being a pillar of our society. Check out our list of 15 times cops were caught breaking the law, and see that even police officers can walk on the dark side at certain times.
15. Police Officers Breaking Traffic Laws
Although traffic violations don’t hold the same weight as other crimes, they can be equally as damaging. From racking up ticket fines to suspended licenses and even jail time, the rules of the road are not something to be taken lightly. Yet, there have been some police officers that don’t feel like these rules apply to them. From going through red lights even if they aren’t on a call to speeding unnecessarily, it’s not very often that they are called out on these kinds of infractions. Atlanta Police Officer Melissa Nowak was called out publicly in 2015 when a video surfaced of her blatantly disobeying traffic laws. She is seen unlawfully driving the emergency vehicle, obstructing a public sidewalk, and seemingly harassing citizens waiting for public transportation. Yet, this seems to be a much larger problem, since in 2011 more than 600 Queensland officers were caught breaking traffic laws within a two year span. From weaving through bus lanes, talking on the phone while driving, and even driving under the influence, it seems that some police officers don’t feel they need to adhere to traffic laws.
14. Cop Illegally Enters Home And Roughs Up Elderly Woman
In 2009, Venus Green, an 87-year-old retired educator was tending to her grandson after he was shot at a nearby convenience store. Yet police officers insisted that the shooting must have occurred inside the home, and refused to let the ambulance attendant treat him. During the altercation, Green claimed an officer began screaming, “Oh, you did it, come on, let’s go inside. I’ll prove where that blood is. You did it.” Green refused to allow the police to search the home without a warrant, and an alleged struggle ensued. Green claimed, “He dragged me, threw me across the chair, put handcuffs on me, and just started calling me the ‘b’ name. He ridiculed me.” Green, who has never been arrested and was once a department head of a high school, claimed she was roughed up and suffered a separated shoulder. After the altercation, one of the police officers went into the basement of the home, at which point Green locked the door. She essentially trapped him inside the basement, which he wasn’t granted lawful entry in at the onset. In 2012, a settlement was reached in Baltimore City awarding $95,000 to Green, which she says is “not enough.”
13. LAPD Officer Charged With Professional And Craigslist Theft
In July 2016, Los Angeles Police Officer Jessica Guzzetti was arrested and charged with three misdemeanor counts from events stemming from 2013 to 2015. One of the allegations involves the theft of a LAPD radio with an estimated value of over $3,000. Another allegation involves illegal access to information from a Department of Justice computer database in 2014. In 2015, Guzzetti responded to a post on Craigslist for a baby stroller retailing for $1,200, and selling for about $250. Jackie Robnett, the woman selling the stroller, said Guzzetti offered to pay for it with a personal check, and stated, “We trusted her because she was a police officer. She said she was with LAPD, and that made us comfortable.” However, the check didn’t go through, and after repeated attempts to obtain her money, she was never paid for the stroller. Robnett ultimately reported the incident to a supervisor at the San Fernando Valley police department, and was told to come to the station to receive the recovered stroller. Yet, it was not the same stroller that she sold to Guzzetti, and to-date she has neither received the original stroller nor the $250.
12. Atlanta Officer Arrested In Relation To Escaped Murder Suspect
In 2015, Jabri Mathis was on the run after allegedly shooting 50-year-old Gary Allen Mincy to death. Mincy’s deceased body was found inside his vehicle, and police issued a lookout report for Mathis. Officer Tommy Williams was present during that roll call, but never made any mention that he actually knew Mathis. About a month later, police surrounded a house Mathis was reportedly in, and assigned Officer Williams to watch the side of the house. Mathis escaped from a side window, but was later apprehended nearby. Other officers were already questioning how Mathis was able to escape via the side of the house if it was being watched by Officer Williams. Yet Mathis spilled the beans after he was apprehended. Mathis reportedly stated, “He let me go. I ran right past him.” He also knew the name of Officer Tommy Williams, and said that he was like an uncle to him. Williams was charged with violation of oath of public office, obstruction of an officer, and hindering the apprehension of a criminal. He was later suspended without pay, and ultimately relieved of his duty.
11. Connecticut Police Officer Recklessly Speeds And Kills Two Teens
In 2009, a Milford, Connecticut police officer was speeding down the road, when he slammed into a car. It was reported that the police cruiser was traveling at 94 mph in a 40 mph zone, and crashed into a vehicle with two 19-year-old young people. Ashlie Krakowski and David Servin were sweethearts from Orange, Connecticut. Officer Jason Anderson’s cruiser could be seen on a dash cam video from a different cruiser traveling on the same road. Anderson’s cruiser can be see flying past and then hits the teens’ car as it turned. The crash wound up killing both Krakowski and Servin during the t-boning incident. Anderson was fired from the department six months after the crash, and he was ultimately charged with second degree manslaughter and reckless driving. He was sentenced to five years in prison, three years of probation, 300 hours of community service, and a mandated $6,000 donation to the Gateway Community College scholarship fund. Both of the victims attended school there, and the judge also suggested Anderson relay his experiences to other officers training at the State Police Academy.
10. Sugar Land Officer Charged With First-Degree Felony Theft
Police officers are in charge of apprehending thieves and preventing theft, so it can get a little sticky when the robber is a police officer. In Texas, a large scale theft of heavy-duty construction equipment was committed, with an estimated total value of around $150,000. A number of agencies assisted in the investigation, including the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office, the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, the Sugar Land Police Department, and the Southwestern Cattleman’s Association Rangers. Four men were ultimately arrested, including one of the Sugar Land Police Department’s own officers. Officer William Allen was charged with engaging in organized criminal activity for his alleged involvement in this crime ring. The Sugar Land Police Department released a statement saying, “We are aware of his arrest. The officer has been placed on leave pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings and our own internal affairs investigation.”
9. Fresno Officers Allegedly Stole Cash And Accepted Bribes
Like something straight out of Training Day, police officers in Fresno, California had gained a reputation for their shockingly corrupt behavior. There have been numerous incidents involving corrupt police behavior, from requesting hush money to officer-involved shootings. In one incident, eleven Fresno police officers were involved in a lawsuit stemming from an alleged bogus raid that occurred in 2013. Two business partners accused the police of illegally seizing $100,000 when their business was raided for selling illegal gambling devices. Yet, only half of the money that was seized actually made it to the evidence room, and the men were never formally charged with anything. Also in 2013, Detective Derik Carson Kumagai was working in the Vice and Intelligence Unit at the Fresno Police Department. When law enforcement were investigating a group that was suspected of cultivation and distribution of marijuana, Kumagai said that he could close the investigation for $20,000. Kumagai was ultimately charged with conspiring to commit bribery, and sentenced to two years in prison.
8. North Carolina Detention Officer Fired Over Stolen Jail Meds Accusation
In Duplin County in North Carolina, Katrina Boney was working as a detention officer when it was discovered that there were medications that were missing from within the jail’s medical clinic. Duplin County Sheriff Blake Wallace notified the State Bureau of Investigation of the missing medications, and the inquiry resulted in Boney being charged with larceny by an employee. Boney had been working for the facility for ten years, and didn’t have any other charges on her record as a detention officer. After her arrest, she was fired from her position and was taken into custody on a $5,000 secured bond. A deep investigatory probe was unleashed to delve deeper into her work history. This incident occurred on June 9, 2016, but investigators want to see whether or not there were any other prescription medication thefts prior to the June 9 date. Boney has since posted bond, but the investigation continues as to how much medication was taken during her time at the facility.
7. Skokie Officer Shoves Woman Into A Concrete Bench
In March 2013, Cassandra Feuerstein was taken into custody for allegedly driving while under the influence. Officer Michael Hart was a 19-year veteran of the Skokie Police Department, and was helping with Feuerstein’s processing when he allegedly became angry that she wasn’t looking where he was instructing for the mug shot. Surveillance cameras of the holding cell show Feuerstein being led back into her cell, but she grabbed onto the walls to stabilize herself (and supposedly ask to try again to take the photo as instructed). Officer Hart can be seen shoving Feuerstein into the cell, at which point she hit her face on the concrete bench. She broke bones in her face, and required facial reconstructive surgery with a titanium plate. After Hart did not receive disciplinary action, Feuerstein filed a civil lawsuit and was awarded $875,000 for the officer using excessive force. Michael Hart pleaded guilty to official misconduct, but only received a sentence of probation.
6. Corrections Officer Accepting Bribes And Looking The Other Way
When two convicted murderers escaped from a New York prison in 2015, the world was in disbelief at how something like this could happen. Both inmates were considered extremely violent, and the area in question wasn’t suited for an easy getaway. The local population was terrorized, and many were forced to flee their homes. Law enforcement speculated that the convicts would force their way into a residence to avoid capture, and people were glued to their television sets for the duration of the manhunt. While searching for the convicts, Richard Matt and David Sweat, authorities began looking into whether or not prison workers played a part in their escape. Prison seamstress Joyce Mitchell, was ultimately charged with first-degree promoting prison contraband, and a misdemeanor criminal facilitation. Yet the real shocker came when it was discovered that Corrections Officer Gene Palmer had actually given the inmates specialty gifts, and even tools that were disguised in frozen hamburger meat. In return, he was given artwork and free electrical jobs performed within the facility. He was charged with promoting prison contraband, tampering with physical evidence, and official misconduct.
5. Former Police Officer Admits To Killing Wife
Police Officer Jeffrey Hawkins was working with the Elk Grove Village Police Department, a Chicago suburb, when he came under investigation for unnecessary force against a citizen. The complaint was made after Hawkins made the arrest, and resulted in Hawkins resigning his position in 1999 after nine years with the force. Yet he continued to work in security after his resignation, and was employed with Chicago’s Field Museum from 1999 to 2003 as a security officer. He later moved to Cincinnati, but the Elk Grove Village Police Department released a statement saying that they hadn’t had any contact with him since his resignation. In April 2016, Hawkins surrendered to officers after calling 911 and stating that he had just killed his wife. The 911 call revealed his calm state, where he can be heard stating, “I just shot and killed my wife. I’m not a threat to anybody. I’m a former police officer. I’m not sure what happened. She took all the money out of my bank account on my birthday on Saturday. …She just wouldn’t talk to me, and she kept saying, ‘Talk to my lawyer.’ It just happened.”
4. Off-Duty Police Officer Jumps Curb While Drunk Driving
Nicholas Batka was an off-duty officer employed with the Manhattan transit task force when he was out with some fellow law enforcement buddies. Shortly after 3 a.m., Batka jumped a curb with his SUV in July 2016 and rammed into four people. Witnesses reported seeing Batka trying to flee the crash, but then settled on switching over to the passenger seat in an attempt to hide the fact that he was driving. Three of the victims were taken to the hospital with serious but survivable injuries, but 21-year-old Andrew Esquivel died at Bellevue Hospital. Esquivel was attending MIT on a full scholarship, and was interning as a software engineer. Batka was charged with manslaughter, two counts of vehicular manslaughter, three counts of assault, driving while impaired, and driving on a sidewalk. NYPD Commissioner William Bratton released a statement after signing the termination documents for Batka, saying, “This sends the message loud and clear: as a police officer, you have an obligation even off-duty to be mindful of the laws that you’re supposed to be enforcing when you’re on duty.”
3. Fox Lake Officer Staged Suicide To Cover Up Theft
Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz was a favorite in the community in and around Fox Lake, Illinois. Gliniewicz ran the village’s Explorer youth program, and was affectionately nicknamed G.I. Joe by those in the community. As a 30-year veteran of the force, he had a highly respected reputation. Yet things were starting to fall apart behind the scenes. As the head of the Explorer Post, a police department-sponsored youth program, Gliniewicz was asked to provide a full financial report and inventory. In the midst of the threat of being found out for embezzling thousands from the program, Gliniewicz was inexplicably in pursuit of a “trio on foot.” Once backup arrived, he was already dead. Ironically, his death sparked even more investigation, with police looking into his finances and phone messages. George Filenko, Lake County Major Crimes Task Force commander, released a statement saying it was “a carefully staged suicide.” The investigation into the officer’s death concluded September 1, 2015, with Filenko stating, “This staged suicide was the end result of extensive criminal acts that Gliniewicz had been committing.”
2. Drew Peterson
Things definitely get a little suspect when you have four ex-wives and two of them are dead from mysterious circumstances. Yet, with a background as a retired police sergeant, it should stand to reason that Drew Peterson knew a few secrets on how to dispose of a body. Suspicions of his guilt over the death of his fourth wife, Stacy Ann Cales Peterson, and his third wife, Kathleen Savio, seemed to haunt him no matter where he went. Peterson was ultimately convicted of premeditated murder in the death of Kathleen Savio, but some continue to question it due to circumstantial evidence. Yet, in 2015, Peterson tacked on a few more crimes to his rap sheet when he was charged with solicitation of murder and solicitation of murder for hire. By allegedly attempting to have Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow killed, Peterson had an extra 40 years tacked onto his 38-year sentence.
1. Police Chief Shoots Wife In Front Of Children
In 2003, Tacoma Police Chief David Brame was in the midst of divorce proceedings with his wife, Crystal. Brame was a second-generation police officer that was highly respected in his community, as well as in the nation due to the attention gained through the East Coast sniper killings. Yet, stories from his personal life created a completely different picture of Chief Brame, with divorce filings being made public. In the divorce filings, Crystal claimed he was physically abusive, had pointed a gun at her, choked her, and had a “ferocious temper.” Ruth Teichroeb, a reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, defended her decision to publicize these documents with the explanation, “given that he was charged with upholding the public trust and upholding the law in a city the size of Tacoma, I think all we could do is report what we knew and hope that it would be investigated.” Chief Brame met his estranged wife and after some harsh words, he shot her and then himself. All of it was in front of their eight-year-old daughter and five-year-old son.