News 03.19.18

Why the Prevalence of Lying by Police is a Problem for the Innocent

By Innocence Staff

The New York Times published an article yesterday that documents the persistence of lies told by police to gain a conviction. Through their investigation, the Times discovered that in more than 25 instances since 2015, judges or prosecutors concluded that a New York City police officer likely presented false testimony. Such cases—most of which are sealed—were identified through interviews with lawyers, police officers and current or former judges.

The Times’ article highlights the common lies about which police testify, including: saying they saw a gun in a suspect’s hand or waistband when it was actually out of view; saying they witnessed an arrest for which they were not actually present; claiming they watched a drug deal occur, only to later recant or be proven to have lied. In two recent cases, officers appeared to have given false statements about eyewitness testimony. “These cases,” says the Times, “are particularly troubling because erroneous identifications by witnesses have been a leading cause of wrongful convictions.”

“These cases are particularly troubling because erroneous identifications by witnesses have been a leading cause of wrongful convictions.”

Why do police lie? According to the Times, in many circumstances, it’s to avoid restrictions against unconstitutional stop and frisks. In other cases, the motive is to convict someone, regardless of whether or not that person actually committed the crime. Some officers have stated they are pressured by their supervisors to write more tickets, to reach an arrest quota, or to close a case.

The 25 cases identified by the Times are a small portion of those in which officers are believed to have lied. This is because a large majority of cases result in plea deals. With a plea deal, if an officer lies, it is unlikely to be exposed: it is rare for a case to progress to a hearing where a defendant can question an officer’s version of events.

“There’s no fear of being caught,” a Brooklyn officer who has been on the force for almost a decade told the Times. “You’re not going to go to trial and nobody is going to be cross-examined.” The percentage of cases that progress to the cross-examination of an officer is quite small. According to the article, in 2016, for example, there were slightly more than 185 guilty pleas, dismissals, or other non-trial outcomes for each criminal case in New York City that went to trial and resulted in a verdict. There were 1,460 trial verdicts in criminal cases that year, while 270,304 criminal cases were resolved without a trial.

“Police lying raises the likelihood that the innocent end up in jail – and that as juries and judges come to regard the police as less credible, or as cases are dismissed when the lies are discovered, the guilty will go free.”

The persistence of lying by the police has inevitably become a contributing factor to wrongful convictions, in New York City and beyond. The Times writes: “Police lying raises the likelihood that the innocent end up in jail – and that as juries and judges come to regard the police as less credible, or as cases are dismissed when the lies are discovered, the guilty will go free.”

Read the full article here.

 

Leave a reply

  1. John Cottam says:

    Recently, I made an angry posting stating essentially that “all federal judges deserve to be hung as the traitors they are” or something very similar.. I wish this to be deleted as it does not represent my true feelings.. it represents an angry, emotional outburst at the final denial (by the US supreme court) of my attempts to bring a lying police officer to justice in some way, and the federal court judges involved refused to acknowledge the irrefutable evidence showing the well documented lies of the officer (Douglas Pelton) of the Wildwood Police in Florida, and they engaged in various tactics including complete denial of my rights under rule 56 and actually reversing it.. engaging in extreme bias, and actually using false legal precedent. Naturally I was.. and am.. very angry.. as every single true freedom-loving people should and would be, if this happened to them. There is a reason for the explosion of police brutality in this nation, and it is not merely “bad cops”. Those who have had anything similar happen to them understand this.. The fact that this site has been produced is evidence (when we are in a society with so much information, technology, and “brains” involved) that there is a problem that goes much deeper than police lying.. The fact that police themselves have coined the term “testilying” is telling.. This is only happening because of the complicity and aid of the entire law enforcement and judicial system. That does not mean there are not good cops and good prosecutors and good judges.. I would expect there are. There are an incredible number of case that have been shown that every single person in the case knew it was a lie: The police.. the prosecutors, and yes, the judge(s). This is a major problem that affects us all. In the near future, I will be showing here, the irrefutable proof (that was in the hands of the Federal courts at all levels) of the lies by Mr. Pelton, and the methods used by the federal judges in the case to let him get away with his crimes completely. I apologize to anyone I offended by being “uncivil”.

  2. John Cottam says:

    Update.. 4/22/19. Hello John cottam, MD here again – Tampa. The supreme court, with the same information as the lower courts, showing irrefutable evidence of fabrication of a felony by Douglas Pelton of the Wildwood police,, denied my petition for certiorari. The federal court judges.. at all levels.. are in complicity with lying law enforcement, and deserve being hung like the traitors they are to our people.

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