A Nurse with a Gun

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rogue or Sell-Out?

Former Shreveport police officer Wiley Willis had received at least two other excessive force complaints prior to allegations that he beat Angela Garbarino to a bloody, unrecognizable mess during a DUI arrest. An unrelated lawsuit, filed in Caddo District Court in 2006 by Shreveport resident Darlene Atkins, alleges Willis put his service weapon to the head of her son, Dillon Freeman in 2005. Atkins claims Willis threatened to shoot Freeman if family members came closer to the pair. Her lawsuit states the incident happened after Willis pursued Freeman, who was riding a scooter, to the family’s home.

Another lawsuit, filed in 2006, alleges Wiley Willis arrested Shreveport resident Tomeka Bush and had her car seized as retaliation for a complaint filed against him about the incident involving Freeman. Bush’s lawsuit says she’s related to Atkins and Freeman. The lawsuit states video shot by Willis’ patrol car camera was available to the Police Department for review. Bush said the department investigated but didn’t discipline Willis.

Both lawsuits are pending. The city has denied Willis acted inappropriately in either case.

Willis, a four year veteran, was placed on paid administrative leave Jan. 24, 2008. Willis was fired during a predisciplinary conference with Police Chief Henry Whitehorn. "Officer misconduct will not be tolerated within the city of Shreveport. And all allegations of misconduct will be thoroughly and completely investigated," the police chief said during a news conference. "We will not tolerate violations of departmental policies and procedures." The Shreveport Police Department did not file charges against Willis. Willis is appealing the action.

Bill Flanagan, first assistant U.S. attorney for the Louisiana's Western District has stated federal law on police officers' use of excessive force gives the U.S. attorney and FBI authority to investigate. The Caddo Parish district attorney and the U.S. Justice Department will investigate the case.

Police union President Michael Carter asserts "This investigation is rather unorthodox. We wondered why there was a firing if there is no criminal case. You're not talking about some rogue cop. We ask for people to keep him in their prayers."

Whether this is a case of a rogue cop losing his composure, intimidating and beating the citizenry, or a case of a police chief selling out his officers who were performing their duties with professionalism and competence is a matter that only a few know for certain. What is certain is it is a polarizing incident that often tells more about the viewer than that which is viewed.

Update: A $400,000 settlement has not settled whether Shreveport police officers violated Angela Garbarino's civil rights. More.

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17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one knows for sure???? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? He shut off the camera!! DO you think he did that to give her a back massage? Then he turns it back on and shes laying in a pool of her own blood. She could very well be dead right now? Would you be so casual then? By the way, he also had been cited for atleast 3 other incidents of excessive force in the past. This guy should be on trial for attempted murder.. ITs amazing to me, how much police officers get away with in this country, some laws need to be changed..hes no more than a savage, and we need to be wise to this trend we are seeing. Something has to change now.

1:42 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Show me where I wrote "No one knows for sure." Anonymous, you are obviously guided by emotion. That's OK though, many people are guided by emotion and preconcieved notions.

I'm not surprised you can not read and respond to what was written instead of responding emotionally to something you only thought you read. You thought you "read" something, and you thought you "saw" something. They aren't that much different. Go figure.

Oh and that's two (2) accusations of excessive force previous to this one. I'm not surprised you massaged those numbers too.

5:24 AM  
Blogger Jp said...

I'd be interested to know how an honest, decent police officer would have handled this situation, vs a loose cannon. Clearly this Willis guy lost it. So what would have been the best way to handle it? Give her the Otis treatment and toss her in a cell to sleep it off? I don't know. I watched the full 34 minutes video with my girlfriend and at about the 2 minute mark, we were both already tired of listening to the lady. I'm guessing the best method for handling someone in that state would be to put them in a room by themselves until they've sobered up.

Any current or ex cops have some insite to this situation?

9:22 AM  
Anonymous TJM said...

I think people are really angry at what looks like a cop beating someone up. I would say if you are ever around a drunken person you know how illogical and disorderly they can be. The officer clearly tries to get her to sit and she is fighting him the whole way. Officers often need to be firm in the way they handle criminals. If they are not they put themselves at risk for injuries. And if you say “she is a woman and he didn’t have to be that rough” I would invite you to visit a psych ward at a hospital and watch as it takes four large men to pull a 110 lbs women off a nurse. I would have to also say that Wadical has a good point with all that he said.

Think about it, why would he turn the tape back on at all if he beat her? It would have been better to leave it off. I think he was trying to cover his butt after she fell and was attempting to avoid this very thing.

I might add that everyone is putting this woman on a pedestal, she was driving while intoxicated putting the lives of everyone on the road in danger. Maybe we should look at the way criminals and drunks act before we demonize a cop dealing with an uncooperative disorderly intoxicated woman. I don’t think officers get paid enough to deal with all this. We tell them to do a job and put their lives on the line then if anything looks suspect they are instantly guilty until proven innocent and even then still thought of as guilty no matter what is said. Let’s face the fact that a woman falling is not big news but a cop beating up a woman is. Just think about it, that is all I am saying.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Reno Sepulveda said...

It doesn't matter. We're just a bunch of people sitting at our computers. None of us know for sure what happened while the camera was off. We react and form our opinions out of our previous experinces and prejudice.

I say send him to Angola and make sure he gets to bunk with the biggest, meanest homo they have to offer.

2:03 PM  
Blogger bumper sticker philosopher said...

Let's reverse the situation.

Let's suppose the Cops came in and found Joe Six-pack standing over a woman laying semi-conscious in a pool of her own blood with two black eyes.

Joe Six-pack says, "She fell down and bonked her nose."

What do you think the cops would to to him?

They'd arrest his ass and probably rough him up on the way to the squad car for good measure.

Why should this guy be any different just because he wears a blue suit.

Yeah, maybe he was under stress because she was unruly, but he's PAID and TRAINED to deal with drunks.

This is inexcusable.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Matt G said...

Anonymous:

We do shut off the camera, when we're using tape. Sometimes, what with the stop, investigation, arrest, impound, transport, and book-in, the arrest can take 4 to 5 hours. All tape is dubbed to: evidence, file, officer, and D.A. for every charge filed. It's common practice to shut the tape off when you reach a non-evidentiary portion of the proceedings, if only to save tape to get to the end.

That said,

I personally suspect that this guy is as rotten as they come, and that the chief is only going half-way.

It's VERY unusual to fire a cop outright. Unfortunately, most cops are given the option of resigning. I don't know know why that is.

But when a cop is FIRED, except under probation (when they can let you go without cause), it's pretty serious.

There are some times, however, where an officer might well be fired without charges. If he clearly violated policies that were below the standard of criminal activity, he could be fired. If it is believed (51%) that he committed the criminal offense, he could be fired for it (civil issue), but not convicted of it (Proof Beyond A Reasonable Doubt) or even arrested for it (Probable Cause).

If the PD has P.C., then they need to work the criminal case, or turn it over to people who can (let's go federal.).

12:54 AM  
Blogger Matt G said...

Bumper Sticker Philosopher said:
"What do you think the cops would to to him?

"They'd arrest his ass and probably rough him up on the way to the squad car for good measure."


Not most cops that I've known.

All the child molestors and wife beaters that I've arrested have gotten gentle, courteous treatment.

Why would I want to screw up the 20 years + that my charges will bring him?

12:59 AM  
Blogger bumper sticker philosopher said...

The point that I was making is that a hypothetical Average Joe, with serious circumstantial evidence pointing to him severely beating up a woman and then throwing a lame-ass story like, "She fell on her nose" would get arrested.

This cop wasn't. I suspect it's because the blue fraternity wanted to "screw up the 20 years +" he won't be getting because he hasn't been and likely won't be charged by local or state authorities.

6:49 AM  
Blogger dropdownstairs said...

Having a hard tine writing this
I have heard Cops are often adult childreb of alcoholics.
I don't know
see tinyurl.com/2zbbdg

looks like cop on the edge fell off.

I also wonder why so many films[leathal weapon] are about the "cop on the edge"

6:56 AM  
Blogger SpeakerTweaker said...

I, as many others, have my suspicions. BUT, the cop is entitled to his fair share of due process just like everyone else. If his rights are shat upon, your rights will surely be shat upon as well.

That said, I'm thinking what most everyone else is thinking. He shut off the tape, beat this woman bloody, and that's that. When his due process is done with, I hope all sorts of bad things happen to him.

I see this woman's face, and honestly I'm quite filled with emotion, too. It sickens me that someone sworn to uphold the law could do this. But he's gotta get convicted FIRST.

Then, let the beatings begin.



tweaker

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever the facts are, this mess looks ugly and suspicious.

Unbruised idiot before the tape stops--badly bruised idiot after the tape resumes.

Are there now TWO idiots?

One in uniform and one on the floor?

Not pretty, and the whole thing looks very bad.

Idiots are well advised to cooperate, because they never know when they will push the wrong buttons on the wrong day with the wrong guy.

I'm not blaming the victim or making excuses.

A word to the wise is sufficient.

To the unwise: no amount of verbiage can ever suffice.

Was the officer guilty of misconduct?

Time will tell.

6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if he does the same thing to his wife?

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Scott said...

Word of the Day is DISCERNMENT..
This cop appeared physically capable of preventing a small, handcuffed, intoxicated female from "hurting herself", especially hurting herself in a way that resulted in the injuries she suffered as well as a sizable pool of blood. One would obviously be extremely naive to believe she did this to herself while in the "protective" custody of a "capable officer".

12:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not saying I support Officer Willis in any way but I will say that I had this conversation with a Shreverport Police Officer who is a friend of mine and to clear up any confusion, the camera was turned off according to policy. It is there strictly to view the correct administration of the Breathalizer. Once the person denies the test the camera is turned off and finalized so it can't be recorded over. There are hundreds of tapes turned off at this exact moment. He turned the tape back on because there were significant changes in the situation since the camera had been turned off. Please don't comment on what you know nothing about that is the problem with the media and legal system today, everyone immediately makes their decision without first educating themselves.

Shreveport

11:07 PM  
Anonymous beth said...

shreveport, did you expect willis to tell you that he beat this woman black and blue? i didn't think so.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Jp said...

Beth, at what point did Shreveport say he spoke with Officer Willis?

And for all of you people who think that it's impossible for a person to get two black eyes from hitting the ground face-first, you're absolutely wrong. Several years ago, my mom passed out at her desk at work. When she fell forward, her nose hit the edge of her desk. The end result: two giant black eyes.

So all of you need to stop assuming that this officer beat this lady into oblivion. Only two people know what happened and both accounts could be accurate.

9:33 PM  

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