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Articles by Edward Lyon

Perjurous New York City Cop Sentenced to a Single Day in Jail

Pedro Barbosa lives in New York City. Michael Bergmann is a former New York City cop who was fired from the force for providing false testimony in court that could have sent Barbosa to prison for up to 15 years.

“They [referring to Bergmann and his partner] would follow me wherever I went. They’d tell me, ‘We’re going to get you off the streets,” said Barbosa in an interview with the New York Post. “If they found anything in my car, even a screwdriver, they’d arrest me for burglary tools,” he added.

Bergmann reportedly had been harassing Barbosa for months, especially since Barbosa’s driver’s license had been suspended. In the wee morning hours of February 1, 2019, on a street devoid of witnesses, Bergmann pulled his prowl car next to Barbosa’s already parked car by the curb. Seeing his nemesis, Barbosa drove away.

With no witnesses, Bergmann filed a complaint against Barbosa for first degree assault. “The defendant locked eyes with me, turned the car into reverse, floored the vehicle into reverse approximately seven feet,” testilied Bergmann. And his perjury did not stop there. “As I’m still yelling, the defendant put it in drive, turned the ...

Report: Cops Ill-Equipped to Handle Mental Illness Crisis in Hospitals

by Ed Lyon 

The U.S. Department of Labor ranks hospitals as one of the most dangerous workplaces for a person to work. It seems that hospitals are even more dangerous a venue for a mentally ill person seeking treatment, particularly when police are involved.

“Cops are not trained in best practices to talk to or help someone suffering with mental health issues, let alone in an emergency room, and often arrest or hurt people they perceive as threatening—or worse,” according to Vice.com.

A report by the Treatment Advocacy Center titled “Overlooked in the Undercounted: The Role of Mental Illness in Fatal Law Enforcement Encounters,” reveals that mentally ill people “are 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter than other civilians approached or stopped by law enforcement,” and it urges lawmakers to enact public policies to reduce the number of lives lost. Many, if not most hospitals, have their own security personnel. Others employ off-duty cops or even contract with a police department or sheriff’s office if located in a rural area for security. The vast majority of cops are not trained in the methods needed to deal with mentally ill citizens, of which more will typically ...

Plenty of Practice Prevents Poor Police Performance

It is a rare week to pass without a report of an accidental shooting by police.

The reason for better than 99 percent of these accidental weapon discharges is the lack of ongoing firearm training after a law enforcement officer completes initial academy training.

Most firearms training instructors agree the average police officer is at his or her most proficient level of firearms familiarity upon training academy graduation. This finding leads to yet another surprising fact — there is no unified standard for academy firearms training for cadets at federal and most state levels — or subsequent ongoing training programs either.

At Washington state’s Law Enforcement Training Center (“LETC”), cadets undergo 90 hours of firearms training. According to LETC firearms instructor Sean Hendrickson, “Those skills that they receive here at the academy, firearms skills, degrade pretty rapidly after they leave the academy if they’re not practicing or getting more training.”

According to an Associated Press report on December 9, 2019; Washington state’s required 90 hours of academy training topped the list of states that responded to queries about training standards. Amounts reported by other states varied, with Florida at 80 hours, Missouri at 66 hours, Utah at ...

Notorious Louisiana Prosecutor Fired for Misconduct Technicality

Jason Brown was a ‘lock ‘em up tight and throw away the key’ type. One of the most disliked prosecutors in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, history, he was a hard-charging and inflexibly tough prosecutor who pushed for maximum punishments. Several of them were recounted by investigative journalist Jon Campbell in The Appeal.

Back in 2015, Brown left his Assistant District Attorney (“ADA”) job with 11 other DAs immediately after retired Court of Appeal Judge James Stewart became the parish’s first Black District Attorney (“DA”). Brown was fired.

In March 2020, Calcasieu Parish District Attorney’s Office fired Brown as a prosecutor for his handling of a continuance motion in the Joey Julian murder trial. In addition, the defense in that case accused him of withholding “a mountain” of exculpatory evidence.

In Caddo, Brown worked with death penalty champion Dale Cox, who appeared on 60 Minutes, saying the state should use capital punishment more often.

Among Brown’s many victories was winning a guilty verdict with a life without parole prison sentence for Fate Winslow. A homeless man, Winslow sold a $20 baggie of marijuana to an undercover cop.

Brown secured a life sentence for Larry John Thompson over ...

Pennsylvania Prosecutors Cash in on Low-Level Drug Crimes

Examples include Rachel Rollins of Boston, Kim Ogg of Houston, Joe Gonzales of San Antonio, and Dan Satterberg of Seattle.

Bucking this trend in a major way is Democratic district attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Appeal pored over 30,000 criminal docket entries for Allegheny County from 2017 and discovered some extremely disturbing numbers. For that year alone, over 1,700 low-level, misdemeanor drug cases were referred to his office for prosecution. Even more disturbing, Zeppala actually prosecuted over 90 percent of those referred cases. The convictees were found to have accrued over $2 million in court-imposed debt resulting from their convictions.

As is usually the case, the overwhelming majority of those arrested and prosecuted for those low level misdemeanor drug cases were people of color and the city’s poorest citizens.

Northwestern University’s law and health sciences professor Leo Beletsky is less than enamored by Zeppala’s choice to waste law enforcement monies better ...

Advanced DNA Technology Helps Free Innocent Georgia Man After Nearly 18 Years in Prison

On January 8, 2020, Kerry Robinson began the New Year and a new life as he left Georgia’s Coffee Correctional Facility a free man. He had spent nearly 18 years in prison for a brutal group rape he had nothing to do with.

As science in general and DNA scientific techniques in particular advance, so have avenues available to innocence projects across the nation to exonerate wrongfully convicted citizens. The latest scientific advance called probabilistic genotyping was championed by the Georgia and Idaho Innocence Projects to secure exoneration and release from prison for Robinson.

Sometime prior to 1993, the law-abiding teen Robinson reported Tyrone White to police for an alleged crime. On February 3, 1993, White and two teenage accomplices broke into a 42-year-old woman’s home and raped her. A sexual assault kit (“SAK”) was assembled at the hospital, and the victim gave a detailed comprehensive statement. DNA testing was performed on the fluids found in the SAK. Prominently identified was White’s and the victim’s DNA with the remaining mixture showing two more donors, but with the technology available at the time, those two were not able to be identified to a certainty.

The victim positively identified ...

Sex Offenders Go to W.A.R.

by Ed Lyon 

Seventy-two-year-old grandmother Vicki Henry has a mission in life. Because of what she perceives as injustices affecting her son, who is serving a 25-year sentence on child pornography convictions, she aims to do away with all public sex-offender registries. She heads a small group of like-minded ...

Court Rulings Condemning Cash Bail Systems Increasing

by Ed Lyon

A historically overlooked, or at least minimized, constitutional guarantee is that excessive bail amounts must not be imposed upon citizens accused of crimes. Cash bails routinely far exceed not only most people’s ability to pay but are usually far in excess of the severity of the crime ...

For the Mentally Ill, Calling 911 Could Prove Deadly

by Ed Lyon

Police responding to 911 calls that involve individuals in a mental health crisis might resort to deadly force rather than exercise restraint and give support, according to a trend identified by The Intercept’s Shaun King. And, in areas such as New York City, the vast majority of ...

Oklahoma: Cocaine Bust Was Really Only Powdered Milk

by Ed Lyon

Cody Gregg of Oklahoma is a member of a growing segment of America’s population—he is a homeless person and also receives food from a community pantry. On August 12, 2019, Gregg was doing a probated sentence for a drug conviction. He had been to a food pantry ...

 

 

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