Category Archives: Traffic

White Granite City Police Officers allow dog to maul unarmed Black Teen

"Dogs have served as instruments of violence in incidents dating back to the days of slavery, and as recently as the Black Lives Matter protests." – Mauled – When Police Dogs are Weapons

Parker High School student Walter Gadsden being attacked by dogs during a 1963 civil rights demonstration in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.

Four white Granite City, IL police officers allowed a police dog to maul a law abiding unarmed black teenager while conducting a traffic stop, then they lied about what happened in the official police report.

Devondrea Williams was in the back of a truck his cousin was driving with a friend when police pulled them over around 2:30 a.m. Monday, July 19th. Williams said police never explained why they were pulling them over. According to Williams, police asked for his information and asked him to get out of the truck. Before Williams could comply an officer grabbed his arm and several other officers pushed him against the truck.

Williams explained, “and then I see the dog out of the corner of my eye and then the dog bites me.” The teen said he was bitten by the dog four or five times. When the dog latched onto the teen’s leg and would not let go, officers finally tased the animal in order to get the K-9 to let him go. Williams told KMOV after he was bitten by the animal, “I ain’t never screamed like that a day in my life.”

Regeana Canada, who lives close to where the incident took place, saw police lights and filmed the encounter on her phone. She said the dog was latched onto Williams for eight or nine minutes.

Granite City Police Capt. Gary Brooks provided an account of what transpired to KMOV in a statement, “Officers conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle with some of the individuals involved in the incident.  At this time, officers attempted to continue to gather facts to ascertain what exactly had taken place,” the statement said. “During the traffic stop, an individual obstructed the investigation and resisted arrest. They were taken into custody with the assistance of a police K-9. This investigation is still ongoing and as a result, no further information can be given at this time regarding this matter.”

Canada, however, refuted the captain’s claims of resistance. “No, he did not resist arrest at all,” said Canada.

Why wasn't the dog under anyone's controlled and allowed to run free? Regardless, why would it take police officers more than 8 minutes to stop their dog from attacking an innocent person? I can't imagine a situation where a private citizen watches their dog mauling someone for eight minutes and not being arrested. It's way beyond time to abolish qualified immunity for police officers. The officer responsible for that dog needs to be fired and any officers who lied need to be fired and prosecuted!

Under Illinios law, 720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(2-10) , filing a false police report falls under the Disorderly Conduct statute. According to 720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(4), a person commits disorderly conduct when he knowingly transmits to the police department a false report that a crime has been committed knowing at the time of the transmission that there is no reasonable ground for it. The penalty for such an offense is a Class 4 felony punishable by 1-3 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Under Illinois law pursuant to 720 ILCS 5/31-1, a person who knowingly resists or obstructs the performance by one known to the person to be a peace officer, firefighter, or correctional institution employee of any authorized act within his official capacity commits a Class A misdemeanor. According to 720 ILCS 5/31-4(a) and (b) a person obstructs justice:

“when, with intent to prevent the apprehension or obstruct the prosecution or defense of any person, he knowingly commits any of the following acts:

  • Destroys, alters, conceals or disguises physical evidence, plants false evidence, furnishes false information; or
  • Induces a witness having knowledge material to the subject at issue to leave the State or conceal himself; or
  • Possessing knowledge material to the subject at issue, he leaves the State or conceals himself.”

Remember the actor Jessie Smollett? On February 20, 2019, Smollett was charged by a grand jury with a class 4 felony for filing a false police report. Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. set Smollett's bail at $100,000 and he had to surrender his passport. On March 8, Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts of "false report of offense".  After completing 16 hours of community service and forfeiting his $10,000 bond, charges against Smollett were dropped on March 28.

At the time of publication, it was unclear whether Granite City police officers have body cameras. Granite City does has a Private Video Surveillance Camera Registration program. The Granite City Police Department signed an agreement with Amazon's home surveillance equipment company, Ring, in 2020 to gain special access to the company's Neighbors app. Someone should check to see if any other private video exist.

Driver’s license suspensions for failure to pay fines inflict particular harm on Black drivers

By Sian Mughan, Arizona State University

Imagine being unable to pay a US$50 traffic ticket and, as a result, facing mounting fees so high that even after paying hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars toward your debt you still owe money.

Imagine being fired from your job because you’ve been forced to use unreliable public transportation instead of your car.

And imagine going to jail several times because, even though your license is suspended, you had to drive to work.

These are some of the situations facing millions of Americans who were unable to pay fines – and whose lives were turned into a nightmare by overly punitive policies in response.

And these policies have an outsize, and damaging, impact on Black Americans, according to our research.

Black drivers are more likely to encounter police regardless of how they drive, research shows. Rich Legg/Getty Images

Cycles of debt

Most cities and states have policies that allow them to suspend a driver’s license for nonpayment of fines and fees, most commonly traffic fines.

These policies are so popular that judges have described them as “the most valuable tool available to the municipal courts for inducing payment on past due accounts.”

Studying the effects of these policies can be difficult because there is no uniform national reporting of crime statistics.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that failure to pay fines – not dangerous driving – is the most common reason for driver’s license suspensions in the United States.

And research indicates that these burdens are primarily borne by low-income people and people of color.

As a public affairs scholar who has written extensively about labor markets and criminal justice systems, I’ve conducted research with Joanna Carroll supports these conclusions.

But it also illuminates a previously unknown racial inequality of the policy.

Our research suggests that, by appearing on the driver’s record, license suspensions increase the probability that Black – but not white – drivers incur more traffic tickets. Even after the debt is paid and the license regained, these suspensions continue to harm drivers, and these harms exclusively affect Black drivers.

This shows that suspensions don’t just trap people in a cycle of mounting debt but also a cycle of negative interactions with the criminal justice system.

Long-term impact of suspensions

We studied a sample of over 2,000 drivers who received traffic tickets in Marion County, Indiana, home to Indianapolis, between 2011 and 2016.

In that county, if a driver fails to pay or contest a ticket within 72 days, their license is automatically suspended. This means that judges and other members of the justice system cannot choose who receives a suspension.

Every driver in our sample paid their ticket in the days surrounding the payment deadline.

This is an ideal environment to study the long-term impacts of suspensions because it creates two groups of people that are easily comparable: those who paid the ticket right before the deadline, thus avoiding a suspension, and those who paid after the deadline and received a suspension.

We found that Black drivers who received a failure-to-pay suspension increased their likelihood of getting another ticket by up to nine percentage points. White drivers, meanwhile, saw a roughly three percentage point decrease in their likelihood of getting another ticket.

We attempted to identify differences between white and Black drivers that might explain this result but were unable to do so. For example, Black drivers are not committing more offenses than white drivers, nor are the offenses they commit more serious. Black drivers are just as likely as white drivers to pay their tickets. And Black drivers are more likely than white drivers to reinstate their license after the suspension.

Moreover, regardless of race, following the suspension, drivers with larger fines are less likely to receive another ticket, suggesting that all drivers drive more cautiously after getting a suspension, likely to reduce the probability of receiving another ticket. This is consistent with previous studies on the effects of traffic policies, which show traffic enforcement leads to safer driving.

Ineffective strategies for Black drivers

We believe the most convincing explanation for our findings is that driving “better” to avoid being pulled over is an ineffective strategy for Black drivers, who are more likely to have an encounter with police regardless of how they drive.

This interpretation is consistent with studies showing Black people are more likely to be pulled over without cause. After pulling over a Black driver, the police officer discovers the prior failure-to-pay suspension and becomes more likely to issue a ticket.

This sequence of events does not occur when the driver is white because white drivers are able to minimize the chance of being pulled over by changing their driving behavior.

Our research is the first to study failure-to-pay suspensions in the United States, and it’s the first to demonstrate that they exert disproportionate harm on Black drivers.

This evidence could prove relevant to policymakers in states across the county who are currently debating discontinuing license suspension for nonpayment of legal debts.

Dr. Joanna Carroll co-authored this research while she was at Indiana University. She currently works at the Government Accountability Office.The Conversation


Republished with permission under license from The Conversation.