Monday, November 17, 2014

Free in Kentucky: Gary Carver and the $96,000.00 Police Brutality Se...

Free in Kentucky: Gary Carver and the $96,000.00 Police Brutality Se...: There was a news story this past week about a police brutality/false arrest case I settled a few weeks ago.  The story was hastily written ...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gary Carver and the $96,000.00 Police Brutality Settlement

There was a news story this past week about a police brutality/false arrest case I settled a few weeks ago.  The story was hastily written and contained some incorrect statements of the case.  So I’d like to take this opportunity to straighten it out.  Also, some of the comments attached to the story seem to indicate that people think $96,000.00 was an exorbitant amount for this case, and that “taxpayers” shouldn’t have to pay it.  I’ll address that as well.

This post is written with the permission of my client, Gary Carver.

            First, the WDRB story indicates “Metro Government has paid $96,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a man who claimed he was unreasonably searched, assaulted and then wrongly arrested by two Louisville Metro Police officers in 2012. The city on Oct. 24 issued a check to Gary Carver and his girlfriend, Amanda Price, settling a lawsuit stemming from the arrest of Carver on Jan. 12, 2012, and a vehicle stop of Price two days later.”
            Those dates are wrong and it is not true that the stop of Amanda Price happened two days later.  The false arrest and brutality of Gary Carver happened January 14, 2012, and the illegal stop of Amanda Price happened April 4, 2012.
            WDRB also stated, “Gregory Simms, an attorney for Price and Carver, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.”  I’m not sure why they wrote that, because I was in contact with WDRB on multiple occasions during this incident.  My contact person was Natalia Martinez.  We exchanged numerous phone calls and eventually at least 6 emails, wherein I answered all of her questions and provided her with a slew of court documents.  In fact, at the end of the WDRB article, they reference documents that I sent them.  So it burns my toast a little that they say I didn’t return a phone call.
     The story also says that Carver "tensed up and "began pulling away," grabbing Trevino's leg and causing both officers to fall, according to the officers." This is not true, the police never said Carver grabbed a leg.  Rather, Trevino actually said that he is the one who grabbed Carver's leg.  That's pretty important.  

Here's a link to the full WDRB story:

           Regardless, this is the real story of Gary Carver’s interaction with the police: 

Gary Carver is one of many tall, thin, black men who live in Louisville, Kentucky (no citation).  On January 14, 2012, at approximately 2:00am, Gary Carver was walking on Lonsdale Avenue toward his mother’s house.  Carver was carrying a backpack of belongings.  Both police officers involved in this case concede that, as he walked down the street, Carver was engaged in no illegal activity. Suppression Hearing, July 18, 2012 (hereinafter “Hearing”) at 11:38:02, and 12:20:50; Deposition of Officer Meek (hereinafter, “Meek”), P. 56, 9-13.  
Carver was carrying a digital tape recorder on his person, because (as of January 14, 2012) he had been stopped nine (9) times by police officers in the preceding year when he was not engaged in illegal activity. Hearing. at 12:11:32.
        Although the Louisville Metro Police Department (hereinafter, “LMPD”) agrees that Carver was engaged in no illegal activity, Carver was stopped by officers Charles Meek and Michael Trevino.  According to the officers, they had received a call regarding a domestic violence altercation, and they were responding to the call and searching for the suspect.  Officer Meek testified that he was taught to include all facts of significance on a citation, and Meek filled out a citation for the arrest of Carver. Id. at 11:37:10.  Although Meek was taught to include all facts of significance on a citation, and the citation Meek wrote contains no description of the alleged domestic violence perpetrator, Meek testified that the alleged victim of domestic violence gave him the following description: “Tall thin black male wearing a dark shirt, dark pants, short dreads and he was carrying a backpack.” Id. at 11:26:12.  The woman who gave the description did not give any indication that the assailant had a “weave, extensions or any kind of fake hair.” Id. at 11:50:12.  Meek testified that once he received the description, he shared this description on the radio with other officers, and specifically in order to let Officer Trevino, his partner, know who to be looking for. Id. at11:26:35.
            Gary Carver does not have dreadlocks, and did not have dreadlocks on January 14, 2012 when officers approached him.  The police concede that on the night they approached Carver, it was readily apparent that he did not have dreadlocks. Id. at 11:39:49; Meek, p. 58-59, lines 23-9.  Additionally, the officers in the case have changed their stories about the description of the domestic violence suspect. 
On the night of the incident, Meek took a report indicating the description was that he was an 18 year old black male, 5-10 and 160 lbs and, “HAIR LENGTH - Short; BUILD - Thin; TEETH - Straight; HAIR FACIAL - Clean Shaven” Incident/Investigation Report, p. 2.  During a suppression hearing, the description given by Meek of the alleged domestic violence suspect was “Tall thin black male wearing a dark shirt, dark pants, short dreads and he was carrying a backpack.” Hearing, 11:26:12.  When Meek gave his deposition, the description changed again.  This time, the full description was, “about 6 feet tall, thin, had dreads, had some facial hair, had a dark shirt.  I believe she said he had dark or dark khaki pants on.”  Meek, p. 30, 17-21.
            Carver is 6 feet tall.  He is currently 30 years old – 10 years older than the teenage kid the police were supposedly looking for on the night in question.  On the night of the incident Gary Carver had facial hair, and had shoulder length hair, which was straight (not braided or in dreadlocks).  Over time, Meek’s physical description of the domestic violence suspect has transformed more and more into to a description that more closely resembles Gary Carver.  The alleged suspect has grown facial hair, grown 2 inches taller, and grown longer hair.  The suspect has gained and lost a backpack. 
            Gary Carver does not and did not fit any of the descriptions given by the police at any time.
            Meek agrees that his memory of the night of January 14, 2012 was more fresh on the night of January 14, 2012. Meeks, p. 23, 3-6.  Thus, the Incident/Investigation Report written the night of the incident should be most accurate. 
The facts are that the domestic violence suspect was a 5’10” black male, with short hair, and clean shaven.  Incident/Investigation Report, p. 2.  Carver was 2 inches taller, had shoulder length hair, facial hair, and was 10 years older than the 18 year old suspect.  In addition, Gary was carrying a backpack, which was not included in the description.  To state plainly, at the time of the incident, Gary Carver was a black male in the vicinity, and the alleged suspect was a black male in the vicinity.  That is the extent of the commonality.
            Officers seem to indicate that they recall the domestic violence incident and the stop of Gary Carver to be very close in proximity.  At roll call or immediately after (which would have begun at the beginning of the midnight shift and lasted approximately 15-20 minutes) they were dispatched to the run.  Meek, p. 24, 23-24.  The call was an assault in progress. Id. p. 19-20, 24-3.  And the victim indicated that the assailant had literally just walked out the door. Meek, p. 20, 17-20.   Meek’s previous testimony has been that immediately after leaving the domestic violence victim’s home and turning a corner, he saw Carver – whom he thought was the domestic violence suspect.  Hearing, 11:27:32.
            It only takes 6 or 7 minutes to get from the station to the area where the domestic violence victim was interviewed (which is basically a block from where Carver was stopped). Meek, p. 29, 7-14.  By his testimony, Meek would have been at the victim’s home, taken a description, and left the home at around 12:30am.  Meek’s rendition of that fact does not support the timeline herein because his brief interaction with Carver lasted only a few minutes, and Carver wasn’t arrested until 2:00am. The time of the arrest is evidenced on the Citation, written by Meek the night of the incident and attached hereto.  Meek also indicated in his Deposition that the arrest would have been at 2:00am. Meek, p. 25, 7-9.
            The truth is that the domestic violence run had absolutely nothing to do with Gary Carver’s stop.  The run, which occurred hours earlier, is now being offered by Defendant Officers to justify the arbitrary stop of an innocent black man who was carrying a backpack.  The police lied about the description and timing after the fact in a callous attempt to justify violating Gary Carver’s constitutional rights.
            The interaction with Carver supports this theory, in that the police did not confront him in any way whatsoever about domestic violence.  Officers never mentioned the basis for their stop of Carver at the time of the incident.  They didn’t ask one single question about a domestic violence incident.  Although Carver, in a reasonable manner, inquired to the officers as to the reason for the stop, he was met with a barrage of insults, had his person and personal belongings searched, and ultimately was detained and brutalized. 
            Upon observing Carver, Officer Meek spotlighted Carver, and got out of his cruiser.  At this point, Carver immediately started recording the incident using an audio device concealed on his person.  Officer Meek approached him and Meek called out “Eric.” Hearing. at 11:28:40.  The following is a transcription of the audio tape of the incident, in its entirety, as authenticated by Defendant Officer Trevino at the hearing on July 18, 2012:
Officer Meek:  “Eric your name?”
Carver:  “I’m Gary Carver.  What seems to be going on?”
Meek:  “Gary Carver?”
Carver:  “Gary Carver. G-A-…”
Meek:  “Do you have an ID on you?”
Carver:  “It’s at home.  I’m about to go over to my momma’s.  I got my backpack here…”
Meek:  “Over here.”

            (At this point, Office Meek orders Carver “over here” to place his hands on a police cruiser to be searched.  There is no justification for searching him or his belongings at this time.)

Carver:  “But I can prove I am who I say I am.”
Meek:  “Anything on you that you’re not supposed to have?”
Carver:  “No.”
Officer Trevino:  “Don’t open that bag.” 
Carver: “That’s got my stuff in there.  Don’t touch - Don’t touch my stuff.  Hey freedom of the press. Don’t touch my stuff.”

            (At this point, Meek roots through Carver’s backpack, looking for contraband.  Carver has no contraband, and this is an illegal search.  Meek then prepares Carver to be frisked.)

Meek: “Put your hands on the car.”
Carver:  “ I haven’t done a damn thing.  You can check my backpack.”
Meek:  “ID in here?”
Carver:  “No, I left that at the house.  But I do - you can keep checking…”
Meek:  “You have a soc…”
Carver:  “1417 Lynhurst.  Keep looking.  I gots other stuff in there that can prove I say - I who I am.”
Meek:  “What’s your name?”
Carver:  “G-A-R-Y C-A-R-V-E-R.  This is the Ninth time I done been pulled over this year for no damn reason.”…

            (Meek continues to frisk Carver.  Finally, Carver decides to object to the frisking.)

 “Are you finished checking my motherfucking nuts and shit?”

Meek:  “Shut up, man.”
Carver:  “You shut up and you just pulled my fucking hair.”
Meek:  “figure out what’s going on –“
Carver:  “-Hey man hey hey don’t touch my recorder! don’t touch my recorder!”
Meek:  “Stop resisting!”
Carver:  “I’m not resisting!”
Meek:  “Stop resisting!”
Carver:  “I’m not resisting.  I’m not resisting.  I’m not resis- (tape cuts off).”

           
            According to Officer Trevino, the recording documents a time span from the police’s initial interaction with Carver, and the tape recording continues until the time Carver is taken to the ground by Meek. Hearing at 12:24:01.  The audio recording is documentation of the entire verbal exchange with Carver from the time police called out to him the name, “Eric” until the time Gary Carver is physically searched, assaulted, taken down to the asphalt, and eventually handcuffed.  Any other verbal exchanges alleged in the Defendants’ version of the “facts” are completely fabricated.
            For reasons unknown to the Plaintiffs, the defendant police officers now claim that upon first contact with him, Carver immediately began yelling obscenities.  The audio tape of the incident evidences that throughout the entire incident, Carver cursed only twice – but only after being stopped, frisked, and the officers rifling through his belongings.  When confronted with Carver’s actual reaction to the police initiated contact, Meek admitted that Carver did NOT immediately begin cursing. Hearing, at 11:40:21 (EMPHASIS ADDED).  Any other assertion is falsehood.
            In stark contrast to what the officers claim, when confronted by police, Carver said “I’m Gary Carver, what seems to be going on?” Hearing, 11:28:45.  This type of initial contact is what Meek would refer to as “polite interaction.” Meek, p. 42, 9-14.
            The police agree that they never, at any time, questioned Gary Carver about the domestic violence incident.  Meek, p. 72-73, 2-5; p. 41, 7-13; Hearing at 12:25:06.  The central focus of the stop of Gary Carver was to check what was in his backpack and pat him down.  The Jefferson County District Court, in finding that the police violated Carver’s Constitutional Rights, indicated that the police gave “contradictory testimony” to the tape of the actual incident. Court Ruling, November 16, 2012 in open court (hereinafter, “Ruling”), at 9:27:15.  The officers knew upon their initial interaction with Carver that he did not match the description, and Carver specifically told the officers his name and gave his address.  Id. at 9:28:24.  At that point, the District Court found that the officers should have contacted the police department or did something in order to “make sure that they actually had, in fact, the right person.” Id. at 9:29:00.  If Carver engaged in any disorderly conduct, the “police officers instigated it.” Id. at 9:29:27.
            The defendant police officers agree with the District Court Judge regarding whether they could have taken a moment to figure out whether they had the right suspect.  When asked, “So you can tell that he does not have dreadlocks and he identifies himself as Gary Carver.  Is there anything that you could have done at that point to verify his identification before searching his person or contents of his bag?” Meek’s answer was, “Yes.” Meek, p. 59, 4-9.  “What could you have done?”  To which Meek replied, “Got his name, date of birth, and his social security number.” Id. p. 59, 10-12.
            Instead of doing that, Meek just ordered Carver to “Put [his] hands on the car” in order to be searched.  They grabbed Carver’s backpack and Carver said “Don’t touch my stuff.” Hearing, 11:29:00.  Then the police rifled through Carver’s backpack – although neither officer seems to remember which officer searched it, Meek admits it could have been himself.  Deposition of Officer Trevino (hereinafter, “Trevino”), p. 30, 8-15; Meek, 44, 3-17.  Meek began searching through the bag without permission, and without justification.  When asked if he would have searched the bag if he was Officer Meek, Trevino specifically indicated that he would not have searched Carver’s belongings. Meek, p. 31, 2-13.  Trevino agreed that he would have needed either a warrant, or at least an individualized suspicion that Carver had some contraband or a weapon.  Id.
            The alleged victim of the domestic violence incident did not claim that the supposed assailant was armed with any weapon.  Incident/Investigation Report, generally; Citation, generally; Meek, p. 53, 10-16.  Both officers agree that the suspect they were looking for was not alleged to have been armed.  Meek, p. 49, 5-7.  They also agree that nothing about Gary Carver, individually, made them think he would have been armed.  Meek, p. 49, 2-12.  And he was, in fact, not carrying any contraband whatsoever.  Thus, the pat down search ordered and performed by Meek was an unjustifiable violation of Carver’s 4th Amendment Rights. 
            Most appalling, both Meek and Trevino have lied under oath on multiple occasions in an effort to make the frisk search seem consensual.  First, Meek testified at the suppression hearing that he didn’t order Carver over to the vehicle to be searched.  Meek said that Carver just walked over to the car on his own and put his hands on the car, voluntarily. 
            Officer Meek testified that, rather than being told to assume a position for frisk, Carver volunteered.  Specifically, Meek testified that he asked “What’s in the backpack?”  Hearing, at 11:29:10.  This is false, as the audio recording evidences the fact that Meek never asked this question.  Rather, he went through Carver’s backpack over Carver’s verbal objection (although Carver concedes that after Meek was rifling through the backpack without permission, Carver said “you can check my backpack”).  Meek testified at the hearing that after he asked Carver “what’s in the backpack?” that Carver then “took his backpack off and assumes the position of someone about to be searched.” Id. at 11:29:18.
            This testimony from Meek is conclusively false.  The audio recording evidences Meek ordering Carver to “put your hands on the car.”  Further, Trevino testified contrary to Meek’s testimony; Trevino recalled Meek ordering Carver to put his hands on the car and then Meek conducting the frisk. Id. at 12:16:55.  This is only one of several instances where Officer Meek perjured himself.
            Later, after hearing the audio tape and confronted with proof of the truth, Meek finally admitted that he did order Carver over to the cruiser, in order for him to be frisk searched. Meek, p. 47-48, 20-13.  The audio tape evidences the fact that Carver never said “Go ahead, you’re going to do it anyway” or any version of that statement, as the defendant police officers now allege.  Carver was frisk searched without consent and without justification.  Then the Defendant police officers lied, under oath, in order to justify the violation with consent.
            After Carver was handcuffed, he was then charged with Disorderly Conduct in the First Degree, under KRS 525.055, and Obstruction/Interference with an Officer under KRS 150.090 (the KRS are referenced on Carver’s citation).  All charges were Dismissed by the Jefferson District Court upon the finding that the Defendant LMPD Officers violated Carver’s 4th Amendment Constitutional rights by unreasonably detaining and searching Carver.  Carver did not stipulate probable cause.
            Worse still, is the fact that Officer Meek has sought to harass and intimidate the Carver household because of this case.  Subsequent to the Carver interaction on January 14, 2012, Meek – without justification - effectuated a traffic stop on Plaintiff Amanda Price.  Price is Gary Carver’s girlfriend.  Meek claims the stop was because he couldn’t read the temporary license plate in Price’s rear window. Meek, p. 14, 7-9.  However, Meek agreed that he couldn’t recall anything obstructing the view, like a sticker or excessive tint that would impede his ability to view the tag. Meek, p. 16 4-9.  Also, Meek admitted that once he got out of his cruiser, he could read the temporary tag. Id., 12-14.  The truth is that the tag was clearly visible.  Deposition of Amanda Price, (hereinafter, “Price”) p. 6, 5-6.  The stop of Plaintiff Price was completely unjustified and a violation of Price’s constitutional rights.
            Regardless of the fact that Meek could read the tag outside his cruiser, he continued the stop of Amanda Price.  Once he learned that Price was Gary Carver’s girlfriend, Meek turned off his video camera.  Meek agrees that he turned off the video camera during this stop, and he was reprimanded for manipulating the video device through the LMPD.  Meek, p. 79-80, 12-16.  Meek threatened Price and told her she had a warrant for her arrest; that he could arrest her if he wanted to.  Price, p. 7, 19-23.  He threatened to take her children away from her and place them with the Home of the Innocents. Id.  (The Home of the Innocents is a non-profit organization that provides Social Services to children in crisis.)  But Meek made sure there was no record of this, by turning off his video.  For this disregard for protocol and inappropriate actions, he was reprimanded.
            Officer Meek stopped Plaintiff Price for no legitimate reason, thereby violating her 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure.  And once he found out that she was Gary Carver’s girlfriend, he turned off the video system in his cruiser so that he could threaten her and “show her who’s boss” without any record of the incident.  He intimidated a witness.  What Officer Meek did was felonious behavior.


            The bottom line on this case – and the reason it settled for $96,000.00 – is that Gary Carver was walking peacefully to his mother’s house, doing nothing illegal.  The police stopped him, berated him, searched him illegally, and took him to the ground.  They smashed his face to the asphalt, and broke his tooth.  Then the police lied about it.
            That’s why the case was worth $96,000.00. 
            Concerning “taxpayers” having to pay this money – Louisville Metro Government is self-insured.  That means the city has CHOSEN not to have insurance for these purposes (the vast majority of counties and cities in Kentucky do have insurance to pay for police misconduct).  So, yes, this money comes from city funds.  But only because Louisville government has chosen that path.  If you think the city should be insured for these kind of things, you should talk to your councilman.
            As for the people who say the money “should come out of the officers’ salaries” – I don’t disagree.  That would probably be more fair.


            In short, I hope this has helped to put a real name on police misconduct and brutality in Louisville – and I hope it makes people angry.  We should all be angry about this sort of police activity.  Gary Carver was walking down the street minding his own business, doing nothing illegal.  If it can happen to him, what is to stop this from happening to you?

     If you have been the victim of police brutality, call 502.618.4949 and ask for Greg Simms.  The first consultation is free.  

Questions answered in this blog post: How can I find a police brutality lawyer in Louisville Kentucky; Can I sue for False Arrest in Louisville; Which lawyers do false arrest cases and brutality cases in Louisville; Why did the city pay out $96,000 for the Gary Carver brutality case; Which police officers have a record of brutality in Louisville?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Take em or Leave em: my Suggestions for your District Court Ballot

If you’re looking for advice on who to vote for in the District Court Judge’s races, here are my suggestions:

1st Div: Annette Karem – She has experience and she’s fair.

2nd Div: Amber Wolf – Amber is a prosecutor.  Yes, I’m telling you that you should vote for a prosecutor.  She’s smart, professional, and she’ll be a great judge.  Amber also has a ton of endorsements from organizations across the city.

3rd Div: Matt Eckert – I don’t know much about Matt Eckert.  But by sheer statistical probability, he will have a better approval rating than his opponent.  That is all I have to say about that...

5th Div: Donald Armstrong – He has a ton of experience and he’s a smart, nice guy.  Very professional.

8th Div: David Bowles – David is a former police officer and to be completely honest, he’s a little “tough on crime” for my taste.  But he’s an incredible judge – He’s quick, smart, and he’s on the Judicial conduct committee.  His ethics are second to none.  David Bowles is the right choice for the 8th Division.

11th Div: Gina Calvert – Incumbent Judge Gina Calvert is a no brainer on this one.  She’s an amazing judge and a bigtime victim’s advocate.  And she really gives a damn about being fair.  I’ve seen her protect people’s constitutional rights when it needed done, and I’ve seen her give serious jail time to someone who hurt people in a DUI accident.  She cares about making the right decision.  Great judge.

13th Div: Anne Delahanty – When in doubt, go with a Delahanty.  That’s a good rule for voting on judge’s races.

14th Div: Stephanie Pearce Burke – She’s another no brainer.  Stephanie is a phenomenal judge because she’s not afraid to make some people angry by making the right decision.  She isn’t controlled by the media, or the county attorney, etc.  Stephanie has all the right qualities for a judge; you should keep her.


17th Div: Erica Lee Williams – This is the only race where I feel the need to tell you that her opponent would also make a great judge.  Dana Cohen has everything it takes.  Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice one of the best judges in our judiciary in order to put Dana on the bench.  Erica Williams is an absolute model for how a judge should act on the bench – she’s incredibly smart, professional and strong willed.  Erica Williams is the right pick.

If you don't go with my picks - to each their own.  But please vote!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Free in Kentucky: Opening Statement for a Rx drug DUI

Free in Kentucky: Opening Statement for a Rx drug DUI: You can click on this link to watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIkM9yVDnRQ The above link is for an Opening Statement on...

Opening Statement for a Rx drug DUI

You can click on this link to watch the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIkM9yVDnRQ

The above link is for an Opening Statement on a prescription drug DUI case.  This is a case where my client was accused of mixing narcotic prescription drugs and driving.  These cases are tricky because they usually get complicated and involve more evidence than a normal alcohol DUI.  For example, you may need to deal with toxicology results, testimony from KSP lab technicians, toxicologists, treating physicians, and medical records from diagnostic tests.  All of these were involved in this particular DUI case.

This is why I love doing DUI cases - every one is different. There's always a new, fun twist.  

Here's my advice (take it or leave it) for Rx drug openings:

1) Right off the bat, you need to highlight the fact that there is no alcohol in the client's system and no illegal drugs.  Repeat this a time or two during the trial and in a closing statement.  

2) If your drugs are in Therapeutic Range, say it slowly, repeat it, and explain what that means in language that sounds favorable to your client.  When jurors hear that this means your client took their medication in a way that was prescribed to them, and tends to show they aren't abusing medication, jurors remember that kind of thing.  And most jurors (especially those on medications) are hesitant to find someone guilty for DUI even if they took their medicine as prescribed - even if they believe the person might have been impaired. 

3) Own the bad facts.  In this case, my client was all over the road and the driving was extremely dangerous.  He came to rest across 2 lanes of traffic.  Obviously that's not good for me.  But I made it good for us by pointing out how odd this is for a DUI.  Normal intoxicated driving isn't that bad - which opens the door for consideration of another medical event.  Also, their expert says he was intoxicated.  You need to frame the issue on something like that.  Tell the jury what to look for - "Ask yourself whether Dr. Davis looked at any of my client's medical history or pharmalogical history."  I know the answer to that question and I know it's good for my client.

4) Own the good facts.  Fortunately for me, my client was actually not guilty.  He had an abnormal EEG after the arrest that showed a brain injury from either stroke, anticholinergic crisis, seizure, or some other medical event.  And he's on the same medications every day without an incident.  All of this really sets the tone for a Not Guilty verdict. 

The jury ended up making the right call in this case and returned a verdict of Not Guilty.  They took about 7 minutes to deliberate.

Anyway, I hope this is at least entertaining - and if you're an attorney, I hope this helps prepare you for a Rx drug DUI opening.

For any questions on Rx DUI cases, feel free to call me at 502.618.4949.