Convoluted Brian

the weBlog of Brian McCorkle

The Importance of Understanding

Dangerous Investigators

A few criminal cases have me shivering in wonderment about the way a few police investigators behave. In some cases, they appear to be lying from the start. In other cases, they make things up as they go along. In others, they are simply incompetent.

There are many police officers and investigators who do their jobs with integrity and competence. These are the ones who don’t decide immediately on the guilt of an individual, do not ask leading questions that takes advantage of mental states, or do not assume their immediate interpretation of evidence and statements is absolutely correct.

The arresting officer in the Senator Larry Craig case made a statement in his filings that was bizarre. Sergeant Dave Karsnia claimed that Craig placed his roller luggage inside his stall against the door which in his experience was meant to facilitate a homosexual encounter.

I doubt that anyone will leave their roller luggage outside their stall. If they did and the luggage rolled away, they would be castigated for their foolishness. Now perhaps the luggage placement is used by lovers, but this would also be used by most other travelers as well and is not a very selective measure of an attempted sexual encounter. Plus, one man in a stall does not equal a homosexual tryst. It might be an autoerotic encounter, but it takes two or more for homosexual or heterosexual engagements.

Karsnia credited his experience for knowing the taking one’s luggage in a stall trick. Well, his experience was actually electric cart patrol at the Airport. And, there were an excessive number of travelers hurt by carts during his watch. Perhaps he was studying gays rather than paying attention to his responsibilities.

Karsnia also edited the arrest and followup notes without leaving a record of what was changed. So we are in the dark about the transition of his claims. But, we do know that his big piece of evidence, the secured luggage, is not even close to being his claimed evidence of a homosexual encounter.

Early in 2007, a detective in the Oshkosh, Wisconsin, police department gave a horrifying tale a child abuse. He claimed a teenager was locked in her room without food, blankets or warmth. He further stated that the girl was required to sleep on urine soaked bedding because her parents refused to allow her to use the bathroom. The local television news ate this up and reveled in dispensing this “disturbing” news.

Earlier, a police officer had been called to the home and the officer issued a ticket to the girl’s grandmother who stormed the residence despite being told not to. The officer interviewed the parties, including the children. There was nothing to indicate any misbehavior except by the grandmother.

Reporters wanted to know what consequences this officer paid. Oshkosh police spokesman Sgt. Steve Sagmeister said that he had a “talking to.”

It turns out; the detective lied. There were some inappropriate behaviors by the girl’s parents, but she was not locked in her room. She was allowed to eat. Her bedding was clean.

In the end, the parents agreed to a deferred adjudication in exchange for no contest pleas. Despite all the mouthing from this detective, the prosecution knew there were problems. It was not the slam dunk the news media reported.

The reporters who had a fit about the earlier reports were silent at the outcome. The outcome was not “emotional” enough or “disturbing” enough for their taste. The officer who was wrongfully accused of not doing his job was ignored. These reporters did a great disservice to local citizens by not investigating why the lie took place. They also did a great disservice to the original police officer who did his job professionally and did not deserve the shoddy treatment from the management of the Oshkosh Police Department.

Nor, did the Oshkosh Police Department issue a statement rescinding the “talking to” against an officer who was doing his job. They didn’t issue a “talking to” against the detective who fabricated and maliciously spread false information. The Supreme Court has said police could lie to gain a confession. That was not carte blanch permission to lie about everything.

The worst case I have observed lately is one involving sex charges against two early teen boys.

This case in McMinnville, Oregon, started when a female school employee reported that a boy slapped a girl on the butt.

McMinnville Officer Marshall Roache wrote in an arrest report about the two male juveniles that they had been dry humping girls. The officer had been informed that these two boys were involved in party boy dancing, but he translated that to dry humping.

This was the beginning of a case that involved the coercing of juvenile witnesses, attempted coercion of juveniles into victims, and coercing juvenile suspects, by taking advantage of the knowledge that children are taught to be compliant to police officers. This was severe misconduct by the officers involved, school officials, and the prosecution. Patton Middle School Vice Principal Steve Tillery took part in the initial witness interrogations.

Activities that were charged against the boys were also admitted by girls, but no charges were filed. The boys were charged with felony sex abuse and prosecuted by Yamhill County Deputy District Attorney Debra J. Markham.

One question is why Roache changed the party boy dance to dry humping. There is a world of difference. If he did not know what party boy was, didn’t he, as an investigator, have the obligation to find out? Why was he so determined to ruin the lives of two boys? This was clearly a case of falsifying police reports and court filings.

The charges were finally dropped, but the prosecutor’s office was obligated to save face.

Yamhill County District Attorney Bradley Berry defended the case despite its shaky basis and the falsifications in the charging documents. In the final agreement, the boys were forced to pay the girls $250.00 each (pay for touch?) and write letters of apology. Again, the girls who engaged in the same activity were untouched; evidence of the embedded sexism in our legal process. But, they were also treated as prostitutes when the prosecution forced the boys to pay the girls.

This last clearly demonstrates the corruption that affects some members of the law enforcement community, the ease which principals sell out their students, and the support prosecutors give to incompetence. Clearly both the vice‑principal and the officer were intent on coercing witnesses for the purpose of incriminating and destroying two male juveniles.

And, the damage that would be done to juveniles coerced into giving false testimony was completely ignored by the District Attorney.

And there are many more cases. The fact that so many death row exonerations occur is due to false statements by authorities and evidence falsely construed to be incriminating by overzealous police and prosecutors. And at least twenty‑five percent of the known wrongful death row convictions resulted from a coerced false confession. Where are the open‑minded and careful investigators?

I know there are many good investigators who are conversant with the difference between identifiable fact and making things up. The incompetent seem to get the good attention though. And the liars get the promotions.

by Brian McCorkle
posted on 28 September, 2007 at 20:33 pm
in category Criminal Justice,Rants

The District Attorney in Yamhill County, Oregon is teaching middle school girls to be prostitutes.

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