Cops conducted an illegal search of a house. So far, nothing new here. Cops found nothing. Still, nothing new. Cops decide to plant meth in the house. Interesting, but nearly impossible to prove. Cops get caught on their own dashcam talking about it. Bingo!
From Courthouse News:
A police car dash cam captured Santa Clara deputies plotting to plant drugs in a woman’s home after their first illegal search turned up nothing, the woman claims in court.
Allison Ross, who was arrested after the second search of her home, sued the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department, its crime lab, Sheriff Laurie Smith, and 12 of her officers, in Federal Court.
Someone always asks, can the cops be so stupid that they would forget there is video and audio running, and talk about it openly? Well, apparently so, though the question isn’t necessarily about the degree of stupid as opposed to the degree of brazen. Force of habit dies hard.
So first, they conduct a “security sweep,” one of those fascinating excuses that judges are always reluctant to second guess, as they never want to appear on the front page of the local paper as the judge who cost a cop his life. And then, well, they just “ransacked” the place and came up empty.
How much does that suck? So, if the perps won’t cooperate by leaving their meth around to be found, why not just “fix” the problem?
“The Incident Report states that two bags of white powder were found and confiscated. However, pursuant to the vehicle dash camera video and transcript, the officers are heard on the recording saying: ‘the house is clean, there is no meth in the house’, ‘we’re gonna spike that and we’re gonna spike him.’ ‘I got the meth in the ——- car,’” the complaint states. (Epithet deleted in complaint.)
But for video, you know which way this would have gone. The reason is twofold, because judges believe cops in the absence of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, and because the stock argument gets pulled out for the jury.
Why would the officer lie? The officer has no personal animosity toward the defendant. There is no reason why he would lie or plant evidence to “get” this person. There is no reason why he would risk his career over this individual. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, there is absolutely no reason in the world for this officer to lie about this. The defendant, on the other hand, has every reason to lie. The officer has none.
And this argument, repeated in some variation about a million times over, is a proven winner. The prisons are filled with people against whom this argument was made, each of whom can attest to its effectiveness with a jury.
And why would a cop lie?
The question is asked in polite conversation all the time, as if there is an answer. Beats me. Sometimes, they do it because they are sure someone is dirty and just don’t have the evidence. Sometimes, a person pisses them off, contempt of cop perhaps, and they feel the need to show them who’s the boss. Sometimes, it’s to cover up their own wrongdoing, by turning an innocent into a criminal, since a complaint of wrongdoing by a criminal is invariably dismissed. Sometimes, there is no explanation under the sun. But they lie.
And with the advent of pervasive video, combined with the similarly inexplicable stupidity to get caught on video, we learn that they lie. They plant evidence. They beat people for no reason. They just do.
If you want to know why a cop lies, ask the cop. How in the world should the defense know why the cop lied? We just know they did. Whether we can prove it is another matter, but as proof emerges, is there anyone on the prosecution side figuring this out? Is there anyone who wants to know the answer?
I suspect not, and the reason I suspect not is that if there is some empirical study as to why cops lie (and note here, this is not about process lies, like where the police falsely claim a person gave consent to search, but outcome lies, that they are guilty of the ultimate crime), the prosecutors wouldn’t be able to make the argument with a straight face. Well, maybe some would, but not all.
What is often lost among jurors is that the arguments made in closing aren’t brand spanking new notions, popping into some prosecutor’s head the night before he stepped up to the podium. These are arguments that have been drilled into their heads in training sessions, stock answers to stock questions, carefully prepared and presented in exactly the way they’ve been taught to do.
The defense argues X, so the prosecution responds with Y. Been there. Done that. Guilty. The effectiveness of the argument is so well proven that it could be played out in our sleep. It may be new to the defendant. It may be new to the jury. But it’s old, old news to the lawyers.
But video proves it false. It puts the lie to the “why would they lie” argument. Sometimes, cops lie. It doesn’t matter why. It matters that they do. And if it were not for video, no one would ever believe it.
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