Michigan case illustrates how public trust suffers when police lie

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DETROIT (AP) — A black man who was stopped by police during a morning walk in a quiet community northwest of Detroit said the white officer who threw him against a police car, l had him handcuffed and also accused him of planning to break into a car. tells a big lie.

Brian Chaney says he asked for a supervisor during his arrest in Keego Harbor, Mich., and Officer Richard Lindquist told him another officer present was in charge. The problem: This second officer was not a supervisor or even a member of the Keego Harbor Police Department.

Lindquist was never disciplined, and his boss says that while a suspect has the right to request a supervisor, what the officer did was acceptable.

“An officer can lie in the field if he is not under oath,” Keego Harbor Police Chief John Fitzgerald said in Chaney’s $10 million deposition. trial for wrongful detention.

But with Americans’ trust in police plummeting, bolstered by cellphone and body camera videos that can reveal untruths, a profession once widely considered beyond reproach has seen its reputation suffer.

“It is well accepted that the weakest and most vulnerable members of society are the greatest victims of coercive practices, such as dishonest police behavior and deceptive interrogation practices,” said James Craven, legal partner at the Cato Institute Criminal Justice Project and former criminal. Defence lawyer.

In a Last year’s Gallup poll43% of respondents said they have a lot or a fair amount of confidence in the police, up from 51% in 2021 and 64% in 2004. Gallup says 43% is an all-time low.

“We need police we can trust,” Craven said. “We need to start looking at a police force built with integrity at the core.”

Several recent cases highlight this necessity.

In May, a Washington, D.C., police officer has been arrested for obstructing an investigation and lying about leaking confidential information to the leader of the Proud Boys extremist group, Enrique Tarrio.

A white police officer and union leader from Portland, Oregon, was fired in 2022 for disclosing a false report from a 911 caller who claimed a black city commissioner had been involved in a hit-and-run. The ministry later reinstated him.

Former officer from Louisville, Kentucky, admitted to court that she and another officer falsified information in a search warrant that led to the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman in 2020.

Police are allowed to use deception and present false evidence during interrogations and investigations to get suspects to admit guilt, according to a report. 1969 United States Supreme Court decision.

New York State considered legislation that would prohibit police from lying to suspects during interrogations, while Illinois,Colorado And Oregon prohibit police from lying when questioning minors.

Chaney, a licensed therapist and certified hypnotherapist from suburban Detroit, says in his lawsuit that in July 2021, he dropped his two teenage sons off at a gym. He was walking for exercise on a shopping street in Keego Harbor, about 30 miles northwest of Detroit, when Lindquist came up behind him and shouted, “Get your hands out of your pocket!” »

According to the lawsuit, Lindquist told Chaney, “I’m going to search you because you look like you have a weapon and you were going to break into cars.” »

Lindquist called him a “dog,” pushed him into the backseat and pushed him against the police car, injuring him in the groin. His wrist was injured by the handcuffs during the ordeal, which lasted more than 20 minutes, Chaney’s complaint states.

Chaney said Lindquist only released him after he asked, “What are you going to do next, put your knee in my neck?” referring to the murder of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer.

Fitzgerald said in his July 18, 2022, deposition that Lindquist was not disciplined for the lie about the supervisor, calling it “an attempt at de-escalation, a momentary speculation.” He insisted that lying was not a policy in his department but “it’s what they are allowed to do.”

Citizens who have been detained can request a supervisor – in this case, Fitzgerald – and officers must call them. Lindquist did not call and he did not believe the officer had given Chaney his phone number, Fitzgerald said.

The chief declined to comment to The Associated Press, citing the ongoing litigation, and several national and international organizations defending law enforcement did not respond to messages from the AP.

Lindquist no longer works for the Keego Harbor police and the AP was unable to reach him. Lawyers representing Lindquist in Chaney’s case did not respond to requests for comment.

“You shouldn’t be allowed to lie,” said Leonard Mungo, Chaney’s attorney. “This is something that we write into the moral fabric of the most powerful institution in our society that has the power to put you in prison.”

Detroit area attorney David A. Robinson said the lies were disappointing.

“People hold the police in high regard,” said Robinson, who spent 13 years as a Detroit police officer. “A cop’s disgrace is greater than that of an ordinary person when he is caught lying, simply because of that perception.”

Robinson is black and most of his clients are black people alleging violations of their civil rights by police.

“My experience in the profession reveals that police officers often appear to take liberties in their reporting in order to justify force or support an arrest,” Robinson said. “It is therefore foolish to take an officer literally.”

Once someone realizes an officer has lied to them, trust is difficult to rebuild, according to Robert Feldman, a professor of psychology and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“Basically, I think police officers lie because they can,” Feldman said. “Most of the time they aren’t caught lying, and even if they are, they get away with it. If you understand that the police are not credible and are using deception, it makes you suspicious of everything they say. »

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Associated Press researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this story. ___

Corey Williams is a member of AP’s Race and Ethnicity team.

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