The more technology advances, the more we learn the truth about cops.
That they lie through their teeth.
The latest evidence comes to us from Seattle where a cyber sleuth named Eric Rachner proved that his local police department not only violated his civil rights by arresting him for refusing to identify himself, but that they were lying sacks of shit when it came to providing video and audio of his arrest, which is public record.
It started back in October 2008 when Rachner and a group of drunk friends were playing “urban golf” where they were whacking a foam ball from bar to bar, creating all kinds of chaos.
At one point, one of his friends sliced the sponge ball where it hit a bystander in the face. When the group of drunks laughed and heckled the man, the man dialed 911.
Gabriel Scott Clark acknowledged he wasn’t hurt, he just happens to be a little bitch who now lives in Miami, according to the Seattle Press-Intelligencer.
So four cops showed up and detained at least 30 of the revelers, asking for each of their names.
When one of the cops asked Rachner for his name, he refused, something he is entitled to do under Washington law.
Confronted by officer Michele Letizia, Rachner politely declined to state his name. He also indicated where he kept his wallet with ID. The policeman removed the wallet from Rachner’s pocket, but both men declined to open it. The officer expressed fear he could be accused of stealing cash.
Letizia threatened to arrest the 32-year-old Capitol Hill reveler for obstruction if he didn’t provide his name as others had. The cop told Rachner that booking on a Saturday night could mean cell time until Monday. Rachner remained mum. Letizia arrested him, based on the refusal to provide ID, according to arrest and court documents.
Rachner was charged with obstruction, which is another code name for contempt-of-cop.
Rachner’s criminal defense attorney sought dismissal of his gross misdemeanor charge, citing the Washington State Supreme Court decision that says arresting a person for nothing more than withholding identification is unconstitutional. One reason cited by the court: This practice allows police too much discretion to pick targets and punish with arrest. Also, the state constitution is more protective of these rights than the U.S. constitution.
But then-city attorney Tom Carr’s office kept the prosecution going for half a year. William Ross, the former assistant city attorney who handled part of the case, acknowledged that it is illegal to arrest someone for nothing more than failure to give ID, but declined to discuss case details other than to say the office didn’t abuse its authority.
Realizing that they were going after him even though he did nothing illegal, Rachner began making public records requests to obtain the video and audio from his arrest, which should have been available considering every Seattle police officer is required to have video cameras in their cars and microphones on their uniforms because of inconsistent reports in the past.
At first, the Seattle Police Department refused to turn over the evidence because the charges were still pending, which means they are the ones who should have been charged with obstruction because this prevented him from building up a defense against them.
But Rachner continued to ask for the evidence more than six months later, even after they had dropped his case for lack of proof (and after he had spent more than $3,500 in legal fees).
Now they had another excuse why they couldn’t hand over the evidence.
The department responded: “These recordings are both past our retention period and can no longer be obtained. Please note that the majority of 911 calls and videos are retained for a period of ninety (90) days.”
And most people would just have to accept that answer.
But not Rachner, who used his cyber sleuth skills to prove they were lying.
Using his skills as a computer security geek, Eric Rachner spent long hours at his latpop in his apartment sleuthing out what happened to the police video and audio recordings of his arrest.
Rachner didn’t hack the police computers, but with attorney Stockmeyer’s advice he spent several late nights starting in October poring line-by-line over technical aspects of the video and audio recording system. He examined the Houston-area manufacturer’s contracts, specifications and procedures.
Why bother? With charges dropped, Rachner says a major incentive now is protecting his trust-sensitive career in which he is “frequently subject to background checks.”
“In this business, even having an accusation on your record has concrete financial implications,” said Kaminsky, who became internationally famous in 2008 when he discovered a security hole in the Internet — the entire Internet — and helped computer companies worldwide fix it.
Rachner hit pay dirt when a procurement contract and system specs revealed that a computerized log is kept permanently on every video and audio recording, showing when anyone uploads it, flags it for retention, plays it, copies it or deletes it.
He also discovered recordings aren’t regularly destroyed every 90 days, but are kept for a variety of reasons. While they can be destroyed after three months, that erasure isn’t mandated.
And the more he dug, the more lies he discovered, including a deliberate cover-up by internal affairs.
But even after all that, the cops continued to lie, offering weak excuses as to why they couldn’t provide the evidence in the first place.
“The explanation is our servers failed,” said Seattle Police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb. “Data was lost, more than his, and it took some time to recover it.”
So now defense lawyers are scrambling to find out in how many other cases the Seattle Police Department lied about when they refused to provide electronic evidence. And there’s no telling how many of those charges will be reversed.
Among other ID-refusal obstruction arrests Rachner uncovered were the “bizarre” ordeals of Howard Mulvihill Jr., 26, and his mother Beverly Mulvihill, 61. They spent two nights and one night in custody, respectively, after their September 2008 arrests, records show. The city attorney quickly dismissed both charges.
Police were suspicious because the pair lingered more than an hour in a car watching a movie in a downtown fast food restaurant parking lot, the arrest report said. Mulvihill Jr. said he was waiting that night to report for dock work.
After the man refused to give his identification, officers grabbed him, injured his head and Tased him while the mother objected, the report said. Internal investigations sustained a complaint against one officer, said a March 2009 SPD letter. He received additional training, Whitcomb said.
“At least we know it is supposed to be against the law for them to arrest us for that,” said the mother.
Sounds like the Seattle Police Department needs to prepare for some hefty settlements.