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America's Killing Fields
Welcome to the Police State
Killings, other crimes by police go unreported and unpunished, study finds
Introduction to the recently released Stolen Lives book 
By Karen Saari 

Introduction to 'Stolen Lives'In the fall of 1996, a friend who was organizing for the first National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality asked me to help out. In the course of attending meetings, I met some of the relatives of victims of police killings. When I heard their stories of how their loved ones were killed, I was horrified. 

Excessive force by law enforcement officers killed at least 498 persons between Oct. 1, 1997 and Oct. 1, 1998, according to research conducted by Karen Saari and Project Censored at California's Sonoma State University -- a number much higher than the 'official' FBI statistics allege, researchers claim.Story

California leads the nation in police-related deaths/brutality.
Putnam Pit graphic
Download brutality database here
Other charts
  • Homicides:  More than five dozen persons were murdered by police, former police or security guards between 1982 and 1998.

  • Jail deaths: At least 125 prisoners died in U.S. jails from suicides or other unusual circumstances between 1988 and 1998.

  • Related story

  • National police force takes the field in Clinton's 4th quarter
    Putnam Pit editor

    Thank you, Jimbo Shipley, 
    for making Cookeville a police state
    On the Los Angeles Police Department's Web site, the Rampart area image evokes a colorful, tropical neighborhood close to downtown. But when you click your way through the site, what you get are stories of a former officer entering a plea agreement for stealing cocaine, questionable shootings, officers advised to plant weapons on unarmed victims they shoot and other criminal actions. What are the signs that officials should have noticed before it got to this? 
    What would you think if City Mismanager Jim Shipley forgave such actions in Cookeville because he knows the cop and "he didn't mean any harm?"
    Why did Shipley pick Sgt. Bob Terry, the man with the least education and whose self-approved overtime payments nearly broke the Drug Task Force, to lead a troubled department? 

    It's about justice, gentlemen

    Cookeville City Mismanager Jimbo Shipley
    Bob Terry
    Cookeville Police Chief 
    Bob Terry

    Public records are the fingerprints of government 
    They are the microscope you can look through to see the disease eating away at civil rights
    Cookeville City Attorney T. Michael O'Mara, good Christian gentleman against a free press
    Cookeville City Attorney
    T. Michael O'Mara: His bad advice has served him well. He collects fees sorting out strategies to avoid prosecution for his cowardly advice. 
    Under the Shipley regime, Cookeville has paid these men tens of thousands of dollars to fight having to make public records public. This is your government. This is your money.
    John Duffy: overdresses, tastelessly, at your expense
    Knoxville lawyer John Duffy. Represents Tennessee municipalities when they are sued for civil rights violations

    In L.A.
    A Dozen Officers Under Fire

    One officer has been fired and 11 others, mostly members of Rampart’s anti-gang unit, have been relieved of duty with pay as a result of the scandal.

    The district attorney’s office has notified defense lawyers that hundreds of cases Perez worked on may have been tainted, and judges have lifted two injunctions against gang activity because they were imposed based on declarations by some officers now caught up in the corruption case.

    Words From Jailed Cop 

    Perez, who was convicted of stealing $1 million worth of  cocaine from an evidence locker, has told investigators that Rampart officers framed people for crimes they didn't commit, lied in court to obtain convictions and, in at least one instance, shot a man in the head, put a gun in his hand and arrested him for assaulting a police officer.

    Javier Francisco Ovando, who was sentenced to 23 years in prison for assault, was released last week as a  result Perez’s information. He was paralyzed from the waist down.

  • LAPD Corruption Probe Grows to 7 Shootings, New Allegations: Moreover, investigators believe that a sergeant with the station's anti-gang unit instructed officers under his command to plant guns on unarmed suspects.
  • A Dozen Officers Under Fire: One officer has been fired and 11 others, mostly members of Rampart’s anti-gang unit, have been relieved of duty with pay as a result of the scandal.
  • Javier Ovando Released from Salinas Valley State Prison
  • Convicted Former LAPD Officer Perez Enters Into Plea Agreement
  • Rampart Area Distributes Christmas Cheer to Needy Residents During Their 8th Annual Christmas Food and Toy Basket Giveaway
  • Rampart Officers Involved in Shooting


    In Denver:
    It's the pinche cops, man
    Livin' the Blues

    Drummer Fito de la Parra's recently published book  claims crooked cops in Denver turned the good-times Canned Heat blues band into outlaws


    In Cookeville
    Police files are missing
    A Police Department official said he could not find any internal record of a complaint by former Police Officer Bill Drossman that Police Chief Bob Terry had an inappropriately close relationship with Mike Gaw, target of a federal probe into ticket fixing. Story

    Lewis Coomer calls cops on lawyer, editor, demanding to inspect altered indictment

    Shipley, O'Mara's efforts to hide information cost Cookeville  taxpayers $100,000 to defend -- much of it flowing back to O'Mara,

    Former paid informant John Dedmon rebuffed by city council as he describes framing innocent citizens for DA Gibson

    Then there's the case of Byron Looper
    How can any jury convict anyone of anything remotely connected with DA Bill Gibson or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. There is a reasonable doubt  that the defendant was framed in every case Gibson prosecutes. If this is not clear to you, you now see how people don't see it coming because you don't see it yourself and IT IS ALREADY HERE.

    People like Cookeville Councilman Harold Jackson are to blame when clear signs are concealed from citizens

    It is people like Harold Jackson who prefer that government cover up crimes rather than provide a decent place to live.
    Do you call this public service?

    • Did a crime occur? Is there a cover up? Does Major Fred White have information? Why does the city deny the allegations brought by an officer who passed a polygraph test but believe a major who won't take one? Won't a lie detector test reveal anything purposeful, like, for instance, who's lying? Story

    • LAPD Hiring Falters; Grant Funds Imperiled

    • The Los Angeles Police Department, which never before had to try very hard to attract new officers, faces an unprecedented hiring crisis, potentially jeopardizing a critical federal grant and forcing officials to undertake more aggressive -- and creative -- recruiting methods. From the LA Times
    • S.F. Officer Arrested In Theft Case

    • Police veteran suspected of cheating Elvis dealers


    Why do you suppose the state's biggest area for methamphetamines production, where Cookeville Police Chief Bob Terry used to head the Thirteenth Judicial District's Drug Task Force, didn't get money to fight methamphetamines handed out by Al Gore's Justice Department? 

    Return to The Putnampit

    By Karen Saari

    The reasons for including suicides in the data are:

    1.  I firmly believe that a great many suicides of "suspects" in the presence of police are actually killings
    by police.  One of the reasons I think this is that it is quite common that after a seige in which a suspect
    dies, the first reports state that the suspect died in a hail of bullets fired by officers.  The next set of
    press reports state that police are not sure if the victim was killed by his own firearm or by police.  The
    final set of press reports state definitively that the suspect shot himself.  I find this highly suspicious and
    have felt for a long time it was one of many ways in which authorities hide the high number of police

    2.  Some reports of suicides by suspects are ludicrous and simply not believable.  Take, for example,
    the case of the young man whose apartment was stormed by police recently in the San Diego area.
    When he did not immediately surrender to police, he was subdued (i.e. beaten), pepper-sprayed, frisked
    for weapons and handcuffed.  At this point, according to police, the young man (pepper-sprayed, beaten
    and handcuffed!!!) was apparently able to extract a gun hidden in his clothes and shoot himself in the
    head and kill himself.  I feel that it is irresponsible for a researcher to dignify this kind of police reporting
    by classifying such a death as a suicide.

    3.  Lastly, there is some thinking by some activists and researchers that any death (suicide, accident,
    etc.) in the presence of law enforcement should be included in the data.

    a) There are numerous cases of police chasing suspects into lakes where the suspects subsequently
    drowned, or off buildings or bridges where they fell to  their deaths.  It is my intutive feeling that in a great
    many of these cases, the police deliberately chase people to their deaths.  I know intimately about one
    such case in which the New York City police harrassed a Parsons Design School student and chased
    him into the East River where he drowned.  The NYPD spent years covering up that killing and even
    murdered a police commissioner (his car exploded on the way to an important meeting) planning to
    expose the case.The young man who was killed was the son of an affluent and prominent Virginia

    b)  In the case of actual suicides [even I believe there are some], police need to be held accountable in
    some measure for these deaths.  Police are charged with protecting people and being able to respond
    effectively to stressful, intense situations.  Clearly, they are clearly not able to do this and often a
    situation becomes much worse when police arrive on the scene.  As a society we need to ask why
    someone would rather die by their own hand than face being placed in police custody.  Also, if a
    psychiatric social worker or member of the clergy were called in cases of distraught persons threatening
    suicide, would the outcome be different?  I think so.

    4.  Cases officially listed as "suicide by cop" are always listed as shooting deaths in my database.  I
    suspect that "suicide by cop" cases may not be reported otthe FBI as police killings - I am not sure
    about this.