Ohio man calls police to report he’s being followed by a pig.


Police captured a pig after a man called 911 to report the animal following him. (North Ridgeville Police Department)

Police officers in Ohio were convinced a man who called 911 about a pig following him was drunk and hallucinating — but turns out the caller was telling the truth, and “very sober.”

North Ridgeville police officers received a call just before 5:30 a.m. Saturday from a man who said a pig was following him while he was walking home from the Amtrak train station in Elyria, located about 30 miles west of Cleveland. The caller added that he “didn’t know what to do,” the department wrote in a Facebook post.

Police officers were skeptical to believe the man and thought he was intoxicated and walking home from the bar.

“Night shift responded to the obviously drunk guy walking home from the bar at 5:26 in the morning. He was at least drunk enough to call the police on himself while hallucinating,” the police department said.

But the officers’ theory was actually wrong. Not only was the man very sober and walking home from the train station (like he said), a pig was actually following him.

“Yes, a pig,” the department added.

One of the officers managed to get the pig into the police cruiser and take him to the city’s dog kennel — that doubled as a pig pen for a few hours.

By 8:23 a.m. Saturday, the pig was returned to its owner, whose identity was not revealed, police said.

“You’d have thought we would have learned our lesson after the kangaroo incident,” the police department said, referencing to a 2015 incident when a “runaway kangaroo” was located in the town.

North Ridgeville officers corral kangaroo on Lorain Road early Friday morning

The police department posted a photo of the pig in the police cruiser on Facebook, which received more than 21,000 reactions, 11,500 shares and more than 2,000 comments as of Sunday morning.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/05/20/ohio-man-calls-police-to-report-hes-being-followed-by-pig.html

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the It’s Interesting community.

There’s a predictable pattern to a fatal police shooting in America. But not in the case of Justine Ruszczyk.

By Doug Criss

There’s a predictable pattern to the aftermath of too many deadly police shootings: Neighbors and anti-police brutality groups take to the streets. Groups supporting the officers stand up for them. Social media lights up over whether the victim “did something” to provoke the officer.

But none of that holds true in the case of Justine Ruszczyk, a white Australian bride-to-be who was killed by Mohamed Noor, a Somali-American black police officer in Minneapolis.

And that, say experts, speaks volumes about the state of America today.

What didn’t happen the days after the shooting

Ruszczyk was shot to death on Saturday after she called 911 to report a possible sex assault in an alley near her home.

A vigil was held for Ruszczyk, but there weren’t widespread protest marches, like the ones Black Lives Matter held last year after Philando Castile’s shooting death at the hands of an officer in nearby Falcon Heights.

When one pro-police Blue Lives Matter website had a story about the shooting, it only offered a theory on why the officers’ body cams were off.

Why the reaction is different this time

David Love, a Philadelphia journalist who’s written about race issues for CNN and others, has a theory why.

Because the race and nationality of the victim and police officer aren’t what has typically garnered headlines, people who normally speak up aren’t saying much.

There is no centralized structure for the Black Lives Matter movement, which results in non-uniform response.

New York Daily News writer Shaun King wrote a column in which he said “Police brutality jumped a racial fence.” Otherwise, Love says he hasn’t seen too many people from the movement express any anger or outrage about the shooting. That’s surprising, because in some past cases, Black Lives Matter has spoken up when the victim was white.

As for those who “back the blue,” Love says he hasn’t seen a lot of pro-police groups rally to Noor’s side, either.

“It seems very often that their response is in the lens of ‘black vs. blue,’ which is unfortunate because life is a little more complicated than that,” he told CNN.

What we’re likely to see

Love theorizes a different group of people may take the lead in rallying for the victim in this case: “people who may not have emphathized with the victims (in police shootings in the past) because the victims have been mostly black.”

Love compares it to media coverage of murders during the civil rights era. Killings of black people in the South during that period often received scant national attention. But if the violence took the life of a white person — such as the “Mississippi Burning” case — more people across America paid attention.

What else accounts for the different response

Pro-police groups are often quick to speak out when an officer is accused in a fatal shooting. But Noor isn’t white and that has made a difference, says Marcia Chatelain, a fellow at the New America Foundation and co-host of a podcast on the death of Freddie Gray.

“Because it’s an officer of color who, so far, is the only one accused of something here, it has shaped the response from pro-police groups like Blue Lives Matter, which usually has a very defensive response to officer-involved shootings,” she told CNN.

Chatelain feels the media response has been different, too.

“I’m pretty sure reporters haven’t been digging into (Ruszczyk’s) background, trying to find narratives to justify the shooting,” she said.

Too often in cases involving unarmed black men, Chatelain says, information on the victim’s criminal history or prior arrests makes its way into stories — even when they are irrelevant to the case.

What it says about America

So what does this say about America in 2017, where the race, gender or national identity of a victim or police officer can affect the public’s reaction to a shooting?

“It says despite the rhetoric about the US being a melting pot or whatever, people have different experiences based on their racial background,” Love said. “Those experiences give us, sometimes, a different set of lenses and a different view of reality. And we have to find some way of bridging that divide … to help people understand the experiences of other people.”

The different reaction to the shooting also proves that America is still learning how to deal with its tortured racial past, said Phillip Atiba Goff, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and president of the Center for Policing Equity.

“We haven’t reckoned with our history,” Goff told CNN, “so it shouldn’t surprise us to see a different reaction.”

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/19/us/minneapolis-shooting-upended-outrage-trnd/index.html

Police in Wyoming spread holiday cheer with cash

You could be the lucky recipient of a holiday bonus over the next few weeks in Wyoming if you’re on your best behavior.

Some generous Teton County philanthropists have given a “substantial amount” of money to local law enforcement to hand out to residents this holiday season.

“I have received cash from some anonymous donors to give out to people prior to the holidays,” Teton County Sheriff Jim Whalen told the Jackson Hole Daily.

Sheriff Whalen wouldn’t disclose how much money was donated but said there’s enough for officers to hand out $50 to $100 at a time.

Deputies, officers and troopers will be on the lookout this month for people doing good deeds, Whalen said.

“It could be almost anything,” the sheriff added.

For example, it could be a person who helps someone out of a snowbank, exercises good driving habits, calls dispatch with helpful public safety information or even witnesses a crime.

“It might even just be someone who is down on their luck,” Whalen said. “This is all about spreading goodwill in almost any way we can.”

The cash blitz will likely start in the next week, once the sheriff and his team “put a proper accounting mechanism in place,” Whalen said.

A similar operation took place last year, also thanks to donations.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” Whalen said.

The donors wished to remain anonymous, he added, but are all Jackson Hole residents.

Contact Emily Mieure at 732-7066 or courts@jhnewsandguide.com.

Bikini-clad cop in Sweden apprehends thief


In this photo provided by Jenny Kitsune Adolffson Swedish police officer Mikaela Kellner is pinning a man to the ground who is suspected to have stolen a friend’s mobile phone as she said, in Stockholm Sweden, Wednesday, July 27, 2016. She was off duty and wearing a bikini but that didn’t stop her from apprehending the man. (Jenny Kitsune Adolfsson via AP)

She was off duty and wearing a bikini but that didn’t stop Swedish police officer Mikaela Kellner from catching a suspected thief.

A photo of Kellner pinning the suspect to the ground was trending on social media in Sweden this week.

“My first intervention while wearing a bikini during my 11 years as a police officer,” she wrote on Instagram.

Kellner and three friends were sunbathing Wednesday in a Stockholm park, a homeless man selling newspapers approached, she told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.

After he left, one friend noticed her phone was missing. Kellner and a fellow police officer gave chase.

Kellner said she didn’t hesitate to make the arrest while wearing a bikini.

“If I had been naked I would have intervened as well,” she said.

http://bigstory.ap.org/9e7de40a60804db9b83762824e0c6940

An Iowa City’s football player’s Pokémon Go game ends with four police guns pointed at his face

By Cindy Boren

Faith Ekakitie, a defensive end for the University of Iowa, described in harrowing detail an encounter he had with police as he played Pokémon Go in an Iowa City park last week. This story, sobering as it is, ended not in tragedy but with Ekakitie thanking police.

“Today was the first time I’ve truly feared my life,” the 23-year-old senior wrote Wednesday on Facebook, “and I have the media to thank for that.”

The 6-foot-3, 290-pounder wrote that he was “happy to be alive” after five police officers stopped him and pointed four guns at him because he fit the description of a man who had just robbed a bank. At a time when police shootings of black men are under scrutiny, Ekakitie described the encounter from his perspective and tried to look at it through the eyes of police, too.

“My pockets were checked, my backpack was opened up and searched carefully, and I was asked to lift up my shirt while they searched my waistband,” Ekakitie wrote. “Not once did they identify themselves to me as Iowa City Police officers, but with four gun barrels staring me in the face, I wouldn’t dare question the authority of the men and woman in front of me. This is what happened from my point of view.

“From the police officers’ point of view, all they knew was that a bank had just been robbed less than ten minutes ago. The suspect was a large black male, wearing all black, with something on top of his head and the suspect is armed. As they drive past an Iowa City park that was less than 3 minutes away from the bank that was just robbed, they notice a large black man, dressed in all black, with black goggles on his head. They quickly move to action and identify themselves as the Iowa City police and ask me to turn around and place my hands up. I do not comply, they ask again, and again no response from me. So they all draw their guns and begin to slowly approach the suspect.”

Ekakitie wrote that he did not immediately respond to officers because he was wearing headphones and they approached him from behind. He was, he realized, in a situation in which “things can go south very quickly.” He wrote:

In this situation, what the media would fail to let people know is that the suspect had his headphones in the entire time the Police Officers approached him initially. The suspect had actually just pulled up to the park because he was playing a newly popular Game called Pokemon Go. The suspect didn’t realize that there were four cops behind him because his music was blaring in his ears. The suspect had reached into his pockets, for something which was his phone, but for all the cops could have known, he was reaching for a gun. The suspect could very well become another statistic on this day. I am not one to usually rant on Facebook or anywhere else, but with all of the crazy things that have been happening in our world these past couple of weeks it is hard to stay silent. I am thankful to be alive, and I do now realize, that it very well could have been me, a friend of mine, my brother, your cousin, your nephew etc. Misunderstandings happen all the time and just like that things can go south very quickly. It is extremely sad that our society has brainwashed us all to the point where we can’t feel safe being approached by the police officers in our respective communities. Not all police officers are out to get you, but at the same time, not all people who fit a criminal profile are criminals.

Jorey Bailey, a sergeant with the Iowa City police, told the Des Moines Register that the armed robbery had occurred less than a block from the park and that, because Ekakitie matched the description of a large black man in black clothes and did not respond, it was “reasonable” that officers drew their guns. He told ESPN that the officers were in uniform, not undercover, and told SB Nation on Sunday that more information would be forthcoming in the next few days. An Iowa spokesperson confirmed for ESPN that the Facebook account and its contents were Ekakitie’s.

“I don’t think race played a factor in this, nor does it in circumstances like this because of the detailed description, the location given by the person and the short time span in which this all occurred,” Bailey said.

Ekakitie urged people to be aware of their surroundings and to “unlearn some of the prejudiced that we have learned about each other.”

I would like the thank the Iowa City Police department for handling a sensitive situation very professionally. I would also urge people to be more aware of their surroundings because clearly I wasn’t. Lastly, I would urge us all to at least to attempt to unlearn some of the prejudices that we have learned about each other and now plague our minds and our society. I am convinced that in the same way that we learned these prejudices, we can also unlearn them.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2016/07/24/an-iowa-football-players-pokemon-go-game-ends-with-four-police-guns-pointed-at-his-face/?campaign_id=A100&campaign_type=Email

Deputy fires “1 in a billion” shot into suspect’s gun barrel

Arapahoe County prosecutors on Wednesday, July 13, cleared a Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy in an off-duty shooting stemming from an attempted robbery in January.

Deputy Jose Marquez was shot in the shoulder and abdomen during the Jan. 26 attempted robbery in an apartment parking lot on East Adriatic Drive near Rangeview High School.

One of the suspects fled the scene and has not been identified. The other, Jhalil Meshesha, was wounded in the leg and later arrested, prosecutors said.

In a letter to Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader and Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz, Arapahoe County Deputy District Attorney Rich Orman said Marquez, who was off duty and not in uniform at the time of the robbery, acted appropriately.

“Deputy Marquez reasonably believed that his life was in danger and acted reasonably in shooting Meshesha, and that he used an appropriate level of physical force. I further find that Deputy Marquez’s actions were justified and he did not violate Colorado law,” the letter said.

Marquez told police he was visiting his girlfriend at her apartment when he went outside to grab something from his car. As he walked back, he saw two young men with masks on their face. One of the men told him to “give it up,” Marquez said, and pulled out a pistol.

Marquez said the two men fired first and he returned fire.


One of Marquez’s bullets struck Meshesha’s pistol, traveling straight down that gun’s barrel and disabling it. Police called the shot “one in a billion.”

http://www.aurorasentinel.com/news/jeffco-deputy-cleared-aurora-shooting/

Dutch police training Eagles to grab drones out of the sky

For hundreds of years in the skies over Asia, people have used eagles to hunt down prey with deadly results.

That tradition has been in decline for decades, but now the bird’s keen eyesight, powerful talons and lethal hunting instincts are being used to take out a new kind of 21st-century vermin: drones.

The animal-vs.-machine moment is brought to you by Guard From Above, which describes itself as “the world’s first company specialized in training birds of prey to intercept hostile drones.”

The Hague-based company’s latest customers are Dutch police, who have been looking for ways to disable illegally operating drones. A police spokesman told Dutch News.nl that the effort remains in a testing phase, but he called the use of birds to combat drones a “very real possibility.”

“It’s a low-tech solution to a high-tech problem,” national police spokesman Dennis Janus told Reuters.

He added: “People sometimes think it’s a hoax, but it’s proving very effective so far.”

The rise of drone technology has been matched in speed by the rise of anti-drone technology, with companies creating radio jammers and “net-wielding interceptor” drones to disable quadcopters, according to the Verge.

“For years, the government has been looking for ways to counter the undesirable use of drones,” Guard From Above’s founder and chief executive, Sjoerd Hoogendoorn, said in a statement. “Sometimes a low-tech solution for a high-tech problem is more obvious than it seems. This is the case with our specially trained birds of prey. By using these birds’ animal instincts, we can offer an effective solution to a new threat.”

A video released on Sunday by Dutch police shows an eagle swooping in at high speed to pluck a DJI Phantom out of the air using its talons. The drone is immediately disabled as the bird carries it off.

“The bird sees the drone as prey and takes it to a safe place, a place where there are no other birds or people,” project spokesman Marc Wiebes told Dutch News.nl. “That is what we are making use of in this project.”

Said Hoogendoorn, according to Reuters: “These birds are used to meeting resistance from animals they hunt in the wild, and they don’t seem to have much trouble with the drones.”

Janus, the police spokesman, told the Associated Press that the birds get a reward if they snag a drone.

Eagles’ talons, as the New York Daily News points out, are known for their powerful grips; it’s unknown whether they could be damaged by a drone’s carbon-fiber propellers.

HawkQuest, a Colorado nonprofit that educates the public about birds of prey, says eagles have enough power to “crush large mammal bones” in animals such as sloths.

“Scientists have tried to measure the gripping strength of eagles,” HawQuest notes. “A Bald Eagle’s grip is believed to be about 10 times stronger than the grip of an adult human hand and can exert upwards of 400 psi or pounds per square inch.”

According to a study cited by Wired in 2009, raptor talons are not merely powerful, but also finely tuned hunting instruments:

“…accipitrids, which include hawks and eagles, have two giant talons on their first and second toes. These give them a secure grip on struggling game that they like to eat alive, ‘so long as it does not protest too vigorously. In this prolonged and bloody scenario, prey eventually succumb to massive blood loss or organ failure, incurred during dismemberment.’”

A handler in the video, the Daily News notes, claims the birds are adequately protected by scales on their feet and legs, but researchers hope to equip the animals with another layer of defense.

The potential impact on the animals’ welfare is the subject of testing by an external scientific research institute.

“The real problem we have is that they destroy a lot of drones,” Hoogendoorn said, according to Reuters. “It’s a major cost of testing.”

The decision about whether to use the eagles is still several months away.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/02/01/trained-eagle-destroys-drone-in-dutch-police-video/

Alligator eats burglary suspect hiding from cops


Investigators have identified the remains of a suspected burglar who was killed by an alligator. Police say it appears 22-year-old Matthew Riggins was hiding from law enforcement when the incident occurred.

Brevard County deputies have determined that Matthew Riggins, 22, was killed by an alligator in Barefoot Bay lake on Nov. 23 while possibly hiding to avoid law enforcement.

Investigators say that Riggins had told his girlfriend he would be in Barefoot Bay to commit burglaries with another suspect who is now in custody but not cooperating with officials, according to Maj. Tod Goodyear with BCSO.

Deputies responded to calls in Barefoot Bay on Nov. 13 that there were two men dressed in black walking behind area houses, who ran from responding officers. Later that day, Riggins was reported missing to the Palm Bay Police Department.

Police searching the area reported hearing “yelling” but could not determine the source that night, Goodyear said. Ten days later, Riggins’ body was found in the lake.

Sheriff’s dive team members encountered an 11-foot alligator behaving aggressively while recovering the body, according to BCSO.

“When the body was found, it had injuries that were consistent with an alligator attack,” Goodyear said. “We had trappers euthanize the gator and when we opened it up, there were some remains inside that were consistent with injuries found on the body.”

Riggins died from drowning and bites were discovered along his legs and body that led investigators to determine he had been dragged underwater by the massive animal.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/12/08/alligator-kills-florida-burglary-suspect-hiding-cops/76966512/

Many cities in the U.S. are making it illegal for people to give food to people who are homeless

Every Tuesday night, Joan Cheever hits the streets of San Antonio to feed the homeless. In a decade, she’s rarely missed a night. But on a recent, windy Tuesday, something new happens.

The police show up.

“He says we have to have a permit,” Cheever says. “We have a permit. We are a licensed nonprofit food truck.”

Cheever runs a nonprofit called the Chow Train. Her food truck is licensed by the city. On this night, she has loaded the back of a pickup with catering equipment and hot meals and driven to San Antonio’s Maverick Park, near a noisy downtown highway.

Officer Mike Marrota asks to see her permit.

Documents are produced, but there’s a problem: The permit is for the food truck, not her pickup. Cheever argues that the food truck, where she cooks the meals, is too big to drive down the alleyways she often navigates in search of the homeless.

“I tell you guys and the mayor, that we have a legal right to do this,” Cheever says to Marrota.

Marrota asks, “Legal right based on what?”

The Freedom of Religion Restoration Act, Cheever tells him, or RFRA, a federal law which protects free exercise of religion.

The officer isn’t buying it. He writes her a ticket, with a fine of up to $2,000, making clear that San Antonio tickets even good Samaritans if they don’t comply with the letter of the law.

The National Coalition for the Homeless says upwards of 30 cities have some kind of ban on distributing free food for the homeless. Many, including San Antonio, want to consolidate services for the homeless in one location — often, away from tourists.

Does invoking RFRA give Cheever and other good Samaritans license to ignore the law?

“That is not, actually, an easy question to answer,” says Michael Ariens, law professor at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. “RFRA applies when the government of any type substantially burdens an individual’s free exercise of religion.”

The key phrase is “substantially burdens,” Ariens says.

“RFRA doesn’t allow any do-gooder to simply to do whatever they wish — to make a law onto themselves without interference from local or state government,” he says.

Cheever complains that San Antonio has joined other cities in turning feeding the homeless into a crime.

On the next Tuesday night, Cheever is back in Maverick Park, risking another ticket. She could even be arrested.

But this time there are no police. Cheever and her Chow Train volunteers are greeted by dozens of supporters and homeless people.

“It warms my heart, but it doesn’t surprise me, because the community is behind me and they are behind every other nonprofit that does what I do,” she says.

In late June, Cheever says, she will challenge the ticket in court.

http://www.npr.org/2015/06/13/413988634/when-feeding-the-homeless-runs-afoul-of-the-law

Secret detention warehouse, Homan Square, used by Chicago police

The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
Shackling for prolonged periods.
Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.

“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. While those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage – trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black and brown.

Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.

“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.

Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor said Homan Square represented a routinization of a notorious practice in local police work that violates the fifth and sixth amendments of the constitution.

“This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years,” Taylor said, “of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”

Much remains hidden about Homan Square. The Chicago police department did not respond to the Guardian’s questions about the facility. But after the Guardian published this story, the department provided a statement insisting, without specifics, that there is nothing untoward taking place at what it called the “sensitive” location, home to undercover units.

“CPD [Chicago police department] abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other CPD facility. If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them. It also houses CPD’s Evidence Recovered Property Section, where the public is able to claim inventoried property,” the statement said, something numerous attorneys and one Homan Square arrestee have denied.

“There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is not any different at Homan Square,” it continued.

The Chicago police statement did not address how long into an arrest or detention those records are generated or their availability to the public. A department spokesperson did not respond to a detailed request for clarification.

When a Guardian reporter arrived at the warehouse on Friday, a man at the gatehouse outside refused any entrance and would not answer questions. “This is a secure facility. You’re not even supposed to be standing here,” said the man, who refused to give his name.

A former Chicago police superintendent and a more recently retired detective, both of whom have been inside Homan Square in the last few years in a post-police capacity, said the police department did not operate out of the warehouse until the late 1990s.

But in detailing episodes involving their clients over the past several years, lawyers described mad scrambles that led to the closed doors of Homan Square, a place most had never heard of previously. The facility was even unknown to Rob Warden, the founder of Northwestern University Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, until the Guardian informed him of the allegations of clients who vanish into inherently coercive police custody.

“They just disappear,” said Anthony Hill, a criminal defense attorney, “until they show up at a district for charging or are just released back out on the street.”

Jacob Church learned about Homan Square the hard way. On May 16 2012, he and 11 others were taken there after police infiltrated their protest against the Nato summit. Church says officers cuffed him to a bench for an estimated 17 hours, intermittently interrogating him without reading his Miranda rights to remain silent. It would take another three hours – and an unusual lawyer visit through a wire cage – before he was finally charged with terrorism-related offenses at the nearby 11th district station, where he was made to sign papers, fingerprinted and photographed.

In preparation for the Nato protest, Church, who is from Florida, had written a phone number for the National Lawyers Guild on his arm as a precautionary measure. Once taken to Homan Square, Church asked explicitly to call his lawyers, and said he was denied.

“Essentially, I wasn’t allowed to make any contact with anybody,” Church told the Guardian, in contradiction of a police guidance on permitting phone calls and legal counsel to arrestees.

Church’s left wrist was cuffed to a bar behind a bench in windowless cinderblock cell, with his ankles cuffed together. He remained in those restraints for about 17 hours.

“I had essentially figured, ‘All right, well, they disappeared us and so we’re probably never going to see the light of day again,’” Church said.

Though the raid attracted major media attention, a team of attorneys could not find Church through 12 hours of “active searching”, Sarah Gelsomino, Church’s lawyer, recalled. No booking record existed. Only after she and others made a “major stink” with contacts in the offices of the corporation counsel and Mayor Rahm Emanuel did they even learn about Homan Square.

They sent another attorney to the facility, where he ultimately gained entry, and talked to Church through a floor-to-ceiling chain-link metal cage. Finally, hours later, police took Church and his two co-defendants to a nearby police station for booking.

After serving two and a half years in prison, Church is currently on parole after he and his co-defendants were found not guilty in 2014 of terrorism-related offenses but guilty of lesser charges of possessing an incendiary device and the misdemeanor of “mob action”.

The access that Nato Three attorneys received to Homan Square was an exception to the rule, even if Jacob Church’s experience there was not.

Three attorneys interviewed by the Guardian report being personally turned away from Homan Square between 2009 and 2013 without being allowed access to their clients. Two more lawyers who hadn’t been physically denied described it as a place where police withheld information about their clients’ whereabouts. Church was the only person who had been detained at the facility who agreed to talk with the Guardian: their lawyers say others fear police retaliation.

One man in January 2013 had his name changed in the Chicago central bookings database and then taken to Homan Square without a record of his transfer being kept, according to Eliza Solowiej of Chicago’s First Defense Legal Aid. (The man, the Guardian understands, wishes to be anonymous; his current attorney declined to confirm Solowiej’s account.) She found out where he was after he was taken to the hospital with a head injury.

“He said that the officers caused his head injuries in an interrogation room at Homan Square. I had been looking for him for six to eight hours, and every department member I talked to said they had never heard of him,” Solowiej said. “He sent me a phone pic of his head injuries because I had seen him in a police station right before he was transferred to Homan Square without any.”

Bartmes, another Chicago attorney, said that in September 2013 she got a call from a mother worried that her 15-year-old son had been picked up by police before dawn. A sympathetic sergeant followed up with the mother to say her son was being questioned at Homan Square in connection to a shooting and would be released soon. When hours passed, Bartmes traveled to Homan Square, only to be refused entry for nearly an hour.

An officer told her, “Well, you can’t just stand here taking notes, this is a secure facility, there are undercover officers, and you’re making people very nervous,” Bartmes recalled. Told to leave, she said she would return in an hour if the boy was not released. He was home, and not charged, after “12, maybe 13” hours in custody.

On February 2, 2013, John Hubbard was taken to Homan Square. Hubbard never walked out. The Chicago Tribune reported that the 44-year old was found “unresponsive inside an interview room”, and pronounced dead. After publication, the Cook County medical examiner told the Guardian that the cause of death was determined to be heroin intoxication.

Homan Square is hardly concerned exclusively with terrorism. Several special units operate outside of it, including the anti-gang and anti-drug forces. If police “want money, guns, drugs”, or information on the flow of any of them onto Chicago’s streets, “they bring them there and use it as a place of interrogation off the books,” Hill said.

A former Chicago detective and current private investigator, Bill Dorsch, said he had not heard of the police abuses described by Church and lawyers for other suspects who had been taken to Homan Square. He has been permitted access to the facility to visit one of its main features, an evidence locker for the police department. (“I just showed my retirement star and passed through,” Dorsch said.)

Transferring detainees through police custody to deny them access to legal counsel, would be “a career-ender,” Dorsch said. “To move just for the purpose of hiding them, I can’t see that happening,” he told the Guardian.

Richard Brzeczek, Chicago’s police superintendent from 1980 to 1983, who also said he had no first-hand knowledge of abuses at Homan Square, said it was “never justified” to deny access to attorneys.

“Homan Square should be on the same list as every other facility where you can call central booking and say: ‘Can you tell me if this person is in custody and where,’” Brzeczek said.

“If you’re going to be doing this, then you have to include Homan Square on the list of facilities that prisoners are taken into and a record made. It can’t be an exempt facility.”

Indeed, Chicago police guidelines appear to ban the sorts of practices Church and the lawyers said occur at Homan Square.

A directive titled “Processing Persons Under Department Control” instructs that “investigation or interrogation of an arrestee will not delay the booking process,” and arrestees must be allowed “a reasonable number of telephone calls” to attorneys swiftly “after their arrival at the first place of custody.” Another directive, “Arrestee and In-Custody Communications,” says police supervisors must “allow visitation by attorneys.”

Attorney Scott Finger said that the Chicago police tightened the latter directive in 2012 after quiet complaints from lawyers about their lack of access to Homan Square. Without those changes, Church’s attorneys might not have gained entry at all. But that tightening – about a week before Church’s arrest – did not prevent Church’s prolonged detention without a lawyer, nor the later cases where lawyers were unable to enter.

The combination of holding clients for long periods, while concealing their whereabouts and denying access to a lawyer, struck legal experts as a throwback to the worst excesses of Chicago police abuse, with a post-9/11 feel to it.

On a smaller scale, Homan Square is “analogous to the CIA’s black sites,” said Andrea Lyon, a former Chicago public defender and current dean of Valparaiso University Law School. When she practiced law in Chicago in the 1980s and 1990s, she said, “police used the term ‘shadow site’” to refer to the quasi-disappearances now in place at Homan Square.

“Back when I first started working on torture cases and started representing criminal defendants in the early 1970s, my clients often told me they’d been taken from one police station to another before ending up at Area 2 where they were tortured,” said Taylor, the civil-rights lawyer most associated with pursuing the notoriously abusive Area 2 police commander Jon Burge. “And in that way the police prevent their family and lawyers from seeing them until they could coerce, through torture or other means, confessions from them.”

Police often have off-site facilities to have private conversations with their informants. But a retired Washington DC homicide detective, James Trainum, could not think of another circumstance nationwide where police held people incommunicado for extended periods.

“I’ve never known any kind of organized, secret place where they go and just hold somebody before booking for hours and hours and hours. That scares the hell out of me that that even exists or might exist,” said Trainum, who now studies national policing issues, to include interrogations, for the Innocence Project and the Constitution Project.

Regardless of departmental regulations, police frequently deny or elide access to lawyers even at regular police precincts, said Solowiej of First Defense Legal Aid. But she said the outright denial was exacerbated at Chicago’s secretive interrogation and holding facility: “It’s very, very rare for anyone to experience their constitutional rights in Chicago police custody, and even more so at Homan Square,” Solowiej said.

Church said that one of his more striking memories of Homan Square was the “big, big vehicles” police had inside the complex that “look like very large MRAPs that they use in the Middle East.”

Cook County, home of Chicago, has received some 1,700 pieces of military equipment from a much-criticized Pentagon program transferring military gear to local police. It includes a Humvee, according to a local ABC News report.

Tracy Siska, a criminologist and civil-rights activist with the Chicago Justice Project, said that Homan Square, as well as the unrelated case of ex-Guantánamo interrogator and retired Chicago detective Richard Zuley, showed the lines blurring between domestic law enforcement and overseas military operations.

“The real danger in allowing practices like Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,” Siska said.

“They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices. That’s how we ended up with a black site in Chicago.”

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/24/chicago-police-detain-americans-black-site

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.