Nov 10 2013

Lowell police conducting internal investigation after woman dies in police custody

Dr. Q

WCVB reports:

Team 5 Investigates is exposing a local police department that failed to get a young woman who died in its custody medical care.

The troubling events leading up to her death were caught on surveillance cameras. Team 5 Investigates’ Kathy Curran obtained the exclusive video showing what went wrong.

Thirty-one year old Alyssa Brame’s last hours of life were spent at the Lowell police department after she was picked up for soliciting sex last January.

Team 5 Investigates exclusively obtained surveillance video of the night in question that shows the young mother highly intoxicated and unable to stand and walk on her own.

At first, police put her on the floor next to a stairwell where at one point as many as six people stood around assessing her condition. Then Brame was carried to the booking room where she was placed on the floor and quickly searched.

Brame was breathing, but not moving, so she was placed in a cell, unconscious, and left alone for more than an hour, in violation of department policies which state “at no time will an unconscious prisoner be placed into a cell,” and another policy that requires prisoners to be visually checked every 30 minutes.

Her mother, Alice Swiridowsky-Muckle, is outraged. “You know, the motto for the police department is ‘protect and serve’ and in no way did they protect or serve her,” said Swiridowsky-Muckle. “It’s negligence. They were negligent that night because they did nothing,” she said.

The video shows when two civilian workers finally checked on Brame, her arm and face were blue and she had no pulse.

Team 5 Investigates has learned neither one of them had current training in CPR. One left to alert a commanding officer, then several officers went back to the cell to try and resuscitate Brame. However, it took fourteen minutes before anyone called for medical help.

“It’s remarkable that there were so many officers who saw the state Alyssa was in and none of them said, ‘let’s call 911,'” said Howard Friedman, an attorney for the family.

Records show when EMTS finally arrived, they were told the patient was dead and had been gone for a long time.

“She died like a caged animal,” said Swiridowsky-Muckle.

Captain Kelly Richardson, a spokesman for the Lowell police department declined Team 5 Investigates request for an interview because he said the department is conducting an internal investigation.

Read the rest of this article and see the video here.

Update (11/14/2013): The Lowell Sun obtained a copy the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office’s report on Brame’s death. The district attorney found several policy violations, but concluded that no criminal charges against the police officers were warranted.

Jun 19 2013

New Bedford officers get four day suspensions for role in man’s death

Dr. Q

The Standard-Times reports that five police officers have received four day suspensions for failing to get medical attention in a timely manner for a man who was dying of a drug overdose.

Five police officers on duty when a man died in their custody each received a four-day suspension without pay, despite disciplinary recommendations that ranged from six months’ suspension without pay to termination.

The settlement reached between the city, the officers and the police union in August 2012 concerns the early morning hours of July 22, 2010, when Erik Aguilar, 42, overdosed while handcuffed and officers did not attempt to provide medical care until nine minutes after he stopped moving, according to investigations of the incident.

A March 2011 police review found that the officers had neglected their duties and failed to perform according to department rules and regulations. The review called the incident “an embarrassing disgrace to the New Bedford Police Department and a case of absolute negligence on the part of the … police officers on scene.”

Commenting on the suspensions, Police Chief David Provencher said Friday, “Am I completely satisfied? No, but I also understand that it was important to get the disciplinary action sustained and I think to that end, it’s an outcome that’s effective.”

The settlement, which also requires the officers to undergo three days of unspecified training, was based on the city’s calculation that a state arbitrator would have given the officers an even lighter punishment, Mayor Jon Mitchell said.

“The arbitrators are notoriously lenient and that’s a problem in my view, but that’s the system we operate in and I have to play by those rules,” Mitchell said.

While the officers all got off with slaps on the wrist, the taxpayers of New Beford will probably have to fork over some money to pay for what these officers did since they are currently being sued by Aguilar’s family.

Jun 13 2013

Assumption College campus officer shoots self in foot

Dr. Q

An Assumption College campus police officer negligently discharged his firearm at a firing range, shooting himself in the foot (Source: Telegram & Gazette).

Details here:

Deputy Chief Keith S. Hough, 55, received a bullet wound to his right foot when his handgun went off as he was placing it in his holster, according to District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s office, which investigated the 8 a.m. shooting.

The deputy chief was taken to UMass Memorial Medical Center — University Campus, where his condition was listed as good.

The shooting occurred inside a mobile firing range parked in front of the old fire station on Main Street, according to Police Chief George Sherrill.

“It appears to be accidental,” Chief Sherrill said. “State police are investigating whether the bullet ricocheted, was a stray bullet or a misfire.”

For the record, I treat all “accidental” shootings by police officers as cases of negligence for the purposes of my police misconduct database. Guns do not simply fire themselves; guns fire because someone pulls the trigger. For this reason, I add all “accidental” shootings to the database even if they are not labeled negligent by police or prosecutors.

Jun 5 2013

Lowell police officer falls asleep at the wheel, causes extensive damage to school

Dr. Q

A Lowell police officer caused extensive damage to a specialized classroom for students with autism after he fell asleep while driving and crashed into a school. The officer was been placed on desk duty pending a medical review (Source: The Lowell Sun).

More details here:

The impact of the crash broke a water pipe feeding the school’s HVAC system, resulting in substantial water damage to the classroom, said Jay Lang, an assistant superintendent in the School Department.

“The classroom was deluged with water,” Lang said, noting that among items destroyed were computers that assist students in communicating. “Of all the classrooms in the school, this is the one we can least afford to lose.”

The accident happened at about 3:30 a.m. on May 28. Police Capt. Kelly Richardson said an email that for the safety of the public and the officer, the officer has been placed on desk duty pending a medical review. The police department declined to identify the officer. The Sun, however, learned from numerous sources the officer is Daniel Hyde, a department veteran who makes nearly $70,000 a year.

Hyde was not injured and the cruiser’s airbag did not deploy. No one was in the school at the time of the accident.

Besides what Lang described as “significant structural to the school,” the cruiser — one of the department’s brand new Chevrolets — also sustained “significant” damage, according to a police report. One source said it was
damaged beyond repair.

Lang said it will be a couple weeks before he’s able to determine repair and replacement costs. “We’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars,” Land said. “Not just a couple hundred bucks.”

May 24 2013

Sheriff’s lieutenant negligently allows police dog to fire gun

Dr. Q

Here’s a story from earlier this year that I missed (via CNN):

So, the police charged three guys with gun-related crimes, but the police chief interviewed in this video just laughs about the fact that a sheriff’s lieutenant negligently fired a gun in a residential area.

The CNN article actually mentions that this police dog was specifically trained to “paw” at the things it finds, so why exactly is it being used to find guns? If you train a dog to touch potentially loaded guns with its paws, what do you think is going to happen?