Police Abuse

What Gets a Bad Cop Punished? How About Intimidation, Abduction and Sexual Coercion?


Bad Lieutenant
Aries Films

In a narrative that will have an image of Harvey Keitel's face hovering before your eyes as you read it, Tim Lynch of the Cato Institute's National Police Misconduct Reporting Project describes the crimes and subsequent punishment of Officer Julian Steele of Cincinnati, Ohio. As horrible and blatant as Steele's actions were, this story is actually happier than most such tales of law enforcement abuse of power, because it ends with Steele behind bars for a lengthy stay.

We pick up Lynch's story after a series of robberies yields a "clue" in the form of Alicia Maxton's license plate scribbed down by a concerned citizen:

Now Officer Julian Steele enters the picture.  When he finds out Ms. Maxton has children, he goes to their school and arrests all three.  To protect the identities of the minors, the Court only provides us with initials.  One of the minors is RM.  RM  is driven to the police station where he is interrogated.   Mom is not informed because Steele instructed the school people not to tell her what was happening to her children.

RM denies any involvement in the robberies.  Steele tells this minor that if he does not confess, his mom will be jailed and she will lose custody of his siblings.  Frightened, RM falsely confesses, and Officer Steele records the "confession" a second time.  RM is then charged with the robberies and is imprisoned.

The next day, Steele tells the school that he does not really believe RM was involved in the robberies.  Among other things, RM does not match the physical description of the suspect.

Keep in mind that R.M. is now in jail, even though Officer Steele has publicly admitted that he suspects the kid of nothing. So, is R.M. released? Not quite. According to the Ohio Supreme Court (PDF), which heard Steele's appeal of his convictions in the case:

Although R.M. did not fit the physical descriptions of the robbers, Steele took R.M. to the police station and interrogated him extensively, using threatening and coercive tactics, prior to any attempt to offer him his constitutionally guaranteed Miranda warning.

Let's go back to Lynch:

Over the next week, Steele arranges several meetings with Mom under the guise of discussing RM's case. One such meeting is at Steele's apartment and he tells Mom that he thinks he might be able to get RM out of detention because he can cut through all the damn red tape. And he wants to help out because he does not personally believe RM was involved.  Then Steele changes the subject (or tries to anyway) to sex.  Mom goes along with the overture because she believes Steele is the one who has the power to get her son's release.

That's actually a bit delicate. The court says, "During one of Alicia's visits to Steele's apartment, Steele asked her to engage in sexual activity with him. Alicia testified that she complied with Steele's requests because she believed that he had the power over R.M.'s release."

That's right, R.M. is cooling his heels in jail all this time, even though Steele, the arresting officer, suspects him of nothing other than, apparently, having a hot mom. From the Supreme Court of Ohio, again:

The prosecutor mistakenly assumed that R.M. had been sent home on the day of his arrest. When, on the ninth day, she discovered that R.M. was still in lock-up, she immediately had R.M. released and dismissed his charges.

Even for the U.S. criminal justice system in its current state, this appears to be a bit much. Steele gets called on the carpet, investigated, and subsequently charged with several crimes. He is ultimately convicted of abductng and intimidating R.M.

The case ended up before Ohio's Supreme Court because Steele appealed, claiming that abducting and intimidating is what cops do, so what's the problem?

To his credit, for the majority, Justice William M. O'Neill answered, with regard to intimidation, "there is no authority for the contention that police officers may use physical force, unlawful threats of harm, or a materially false or fraudulent writing with malice, bad faith, wantonness, or recklessness as part of a legitimate interrogation of a suspect."

With regard to the abduction charge, O'Neill wrote:

The facts underlying Steele's charge for abduction wereinextricably intertwined with those underlying the charges for intimidation. He took R.M. out of school in handcuffs, placed him in an interrogation room, and blatantly intimidated him with dire threats directed at his entire family, including his school-aged siblings. …

[T]here is nothing in the record to support the proposition that Steele had anything even approaching probable cause to arrest when he took this youngster out of school in handcuffs.

As a result, Steele is thankfully behind bars for five years, with five additional years of "community control."

Lynch predicts "[t]his case will become part of police training materials in the places where good training programs exist.  It will also be taught in law school courses." He points out, though, that Maxton and her family are due some compensation for their ordeal, and that Steele may have left a trail of as-yet undiscovered victims.

If you don't want to read through the legal-ese of the court decision, there's a good official summary here.

If you're not yet following Tim Lynch at PoliceMisconduct.net, you should be.

NEXT: 73-Year-Old Minn. Man Faces Prison for Pot

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  1. The case ended up before Ohio’s Supreme Court because Steele appealed, claiming that abducting and intimidating is what cops do, so what’s the problem?

    Can someone explain to me the difference between the police and a gang of organized criminals, because I’m not really seeing it.

    1. The cops don’t dress as well!

    2. The mob buys off judges.

      The cops pay for political campaigns.

    3. Doughnuts.

    4. Baudjus, stinking buadjus.

    5. The mob is actually more effective against street crime.

      Seriously, come visit St. Louis. The safest part of the city (The Hill) is that controlled by the Mafia

      1. Isn’t Yogi Berra from The (dago) Hill?

        I’ve known a few cops in my day here in Montreal and they say the same thing. The mob keeps the streets clean. On the other hand, they prey on small businesses.

        1. You know who else preys on small businesses?

          Oh fuck it, I can’t stand it.

          The City Council.

    6. The police very rarely pay for their crimes.

    7. Organized crime is subject to RICO?

      Organized crime can’t invoke qualified immunity?

      Organized crime doesn’t have a union?

      Organized crime doesn’t get to buy military surplus directly from the government (it has to go through some channels and even then, most military hardware is too noisy and messy for street-level intimidation and gang warfare)?

      1. If the same standards for what makes someone a criminal conspirator or accomplice were applied to individual police officers, very few would stay out of prison.

        If the activities, policies and procedures of the average police department, particularly one that does a lot of asset forfeiture were examined through the lens provided by the RICO act, very few departments would survive.

        The only reason most police officers aren’t incarcerated is because the people in charge of investigating crimes and pressing charges simply refuse to look at police departments that way.

    8. Well it was the mafia that ended up offing the Bad Lieutenant.

  2. That is one depressing blog.

    1. No shit….that’s a regular “speed bag” of nut punchery. Somebody should send the link to Scalia.

    2. I hit that blog pretty regularly and often deliver my nut punches from it.

      But if you think I’m gonna quit, you’re sadly mistaken. My well of bad cop stories is a lot deeper than that Cato blog.

      1. Your stories are one of the things I most like about H&R.

      2. I’m beginning to suspect the h&r commentariat is a bunch of masochistic preverts given the penchant for scrotum abuse.

        1. I thought that most of us preferred drinking…

          1. Not mutually exclusive.

        2. given the penchant for scrotum abuse.

          Wait until you get to the threads on foreskin abuse.

          1. My foreskin was aborted.

    3. Jesus, I couldn’t even read all the headlines let alone the stories.

      And people read this everyday?

      I thought I had been toughened up by Balko, guess I was wrong.

  3. This whole thing sounds like one of those bondage romance novels. Especially the cop’s name. Julian Steele?? Did he change it to that himself or did his parents watch too much 1970’s porn?

    1. There’s a stretch of I-95 that is dedicated to a (presumably dead) state cop named Shaft S. Hunter.

      If you see that mad motherfucker coming at you in your rear-view mirror, you’d best just give up now.

      1. :::sigh::: mad = bad

        More coffee. Stat!

  4. The governor and state legislature need to act here. Two million dollars to Alicia Maxton and full college scholarships to the state universities for the minors sounds about right

    Wrong!! Why should taxpayers pay for this scum? Garnish his wages forever.

    1. Oh hell no. That requires him to have a well paid job. Better he should live in the gutter and have the remaining cops pound him weekly.

      1. How about every time a police force looses a lawsuit or settles it comes out of their budget?

        1. But then we wouldn’t get the STIIIIIMULUUUUUSSSSSS! that comes from all of those law suit payouts.

          Get your head out of your ass, Meerkat, and try to learn about something that those of us in the know call the ‘multiplier effect.’

        2. How about every time a police force looses a lawsuit or settles it comes out of their budget?

          Same difference. It needs to come out of the Union pension.

          Every time a cop fucks people up, you get $10 less a month on your pension.

          Think about it… how long do you think that would go on before cops would start policing their own. They’d get control of the bad apples in their midst very fast. There’d be a lot of Serpico-style killings. Except the irony is that it’d be the honest cops doing the corrupt ones.

          1. That’s the ticket! That’s reform I can get behind.

  5. Original Bad Lieutenant stands tall, but Port of Call: New Orleans is the better film.

      1. Edward Woodward is spinning in his grave.

    1. Detective Story with Kirk Douglas as a violent police detective is going to be on TCM next Monday (June 24) at 8:00 PM ET. I highly recommend it.

  6. OT, but too late for PM Links:
    Nurses (read ‘union hospital thugs’) swear: …”The proposed 1,700-mile pipeline, which would carry oil from the tar sands oil fields in Canada to refineries in Texas, is a public health risk to all,”…
    Yes, that nurse who is ‘helping’ you? Well s/he’s a lefty who hates prosperity, unless it’s his/her own:
    “California nurses go on weeklong strike”
    …”At issue are more than 75 individual concessions. These include increases in nurses’ out-of-pocket costs for individual and family health coverage, the elimination of health coverage for part-time nurses, and severe cuts to paid sick leave.”…

    1. Sevo really wants his next stay in a hospital to be his last.

      1. They preparing his ‘Elaine Benes’ chart as we speak.

        1. I bet he has the Uncle Leo look on his face right now.

          1. Hey, that wasn’t meant to be public!

      2. General Butt Naked| 6.20.13 @ 9:04PM |#
        “Sevo really wants his next stay in a hospital to be his last.”

        Absolutely correct! Along about, oh, 2050

        1. Too soon.

    2. “Back at the bedside, nurses see patients every single day admitted to hospital beds and emergency rooms as a result of air pollution, water pollution and the degradation of our environment,” said Deborah Burger of Sebastopol, who has worked as a nurse for 41 years and is co-president of the nurses union. “We knew we really had to speak up on this issue. The Keystone pipeline will have deadly consequences to our communities.”

      Well, since you lot are health service professionals, maybe you can clue us in as to the nature of the maladies you’re treating. Asthma? Is it asthma? It’s pretty much just asthma, isn’t it? And I’m willing to bet it’s pet dander-induced asthma attacks, right? Oh, and tainted water? No? Because tap water isn’t tainted be petroleum contaminants? You mean you just made up a bunch of bullshit to hype your Marxist pet peeve about modern industry?

      1. Um, unless that lady is a Nurse Practitioner, she has no fucking business diagnosing anybody. And if I was a patient I her hospital, I’d probably demand to see a doctor if she opened her stupid mouth. No, wait…a man doctor.

      2. Funniest part of all, I don’t know of any group that contains as many cigarette smokers as nurses. They are not in any position to decry potential etiologies of diseases.

        1. Not to mention a dearth of thin nurses.

          They must reinforce that area of the pants on the inner thigh, right below the Y, with Kevlar to resist all of the friction from the constant rubbing together.

    3. Deborah Burger of Sebastopol, who has worked as a nurse for 41 years and is co-president of the nurses union.

      Well, Ms Burger, all that lovely technology you have in those hospitals requires a hell of a lot of energy to build and operate. Unicorn farts ain’t going to be sufficient to run it.

      Also, the one of the reasons you see more asthma patients is that 100 years ago, the child with asthma was the sickly child that died young. Older people who developed asthma had it turn into pneumonia, which was almost 100% fatal before the development of antibiotics, which also take a lot of energy to produce.

      BTW, Ms Burger, do you really speak for all the nurses in your area or just the union activists who turn out to control the meetings?

  7. Cincinnati’s Finest.

    Your tax dollars at work.

    To Protect and Serve.

    The Thin Blue Line.

    The cops would kick all our asses if they could.

    1. Early ’70s, I was pulled over on the freeway in SF for speeding (as I recall; likely true).
      Anyhow as CHP is writing it up, I pull out a yo-yo given to me by one of the kids near where I work and start ‘walking the dog’, ‘jumping the hoop’ and some other tricks I learned.
      Only cost me a trip to city hall to prove the ‘fix-it’ ticket had been fixed; that’s all he could find and I smiled at him as he wrote that up.
      Nope, no dope in the car.

  8. I once asked one of ’em why they hate motorcyclists so much.

    He said they just do.

    1. You’ve got bigger balls than I do. The only question I’d ever ask a cop is “why did you pull me over, officer?” Under no circumstances would I ever enter into a casual conversation with one of them. They’re untrustworthy, prone to violent outbursts and have the ability to coerce and intimidate witnesses as well as manipulate or manufacture evidence as they see fit without any fear of consequence.

      Fuck the whole lot of them.

  9. Wow, I thought a cop had to, at the least, kill 3 senators on national live TV.

    Of course, he only got 5 years for several counts of each: aggravated rape, unlawful imprisonment, obstruction of justice, abuse of office, terroristic threatening and add on a 3 page list of other charges any prosecutor worth a dime would find to charge a general citizen with.

    “As a result, Steele is thankfully behind bars for five years”

    To hell with any thanks. If I or any other regular citizen had done half what he did, we’d be doing 10-15 years, at least, even after good behavior. The system protected its own yet again. He should be doing double life.

    This is not a victory for justice. This is a disgusting joke.

    1. a general citizen

      I think the word you’re searching for is “civilian”. That’s what they call us anyway.

      1. “A citizen accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic, defending it with his life; a civilian does not.”

    2. I haven’t read the article, but I suspect he’s not getting a paycheck while he’s in prison and might not even be able to get his job back when he gets out. I understand that’s like getting castrated twice for a cop – definitely cruel and unusual punishment from their POV.

    3. The list, according to the link, originally stood at “two counts of abduction, three counts of extortion, two counts of rape, one count of sexual battery, and two counts of intimidation, all with firearm specifications.” The trial pared it down to intimidation and abduction, the latter of which was overturned and later reinstated. Five years is probably the max he’d get given the convictions.

      1. How’s that jury nullification looking now?

        1. Steele thinks it’s lookin’ pretty good.

  10. What Gets a Bad Cop Punished?

    Going after another cop.

  11. So my wife thought that the stereotype was that black folk had overly big gums. Not lips, gums. And yes, she votes.

    1. Terrell Suggs is the only black person she knows?

  12. What Gets a Bad Cop Punished

    Wouldn’t it have been much easier to ask what doesn’t get a bad cop punished?

    And the number one answer is … ding ding ding…

    Shooting Fluffy!

  13. I really have always disliked cops. I mean since I was born. Since I started driving, legally, when I was 16, I have always just hated even seeing one of them in my rear view mirror. You know, because you never know what an experience with the bastards will be like if one pulls you over, for whatever.

    Probably my most interesting experience with that ever, is when I was living in Cincy. I was a driving a couple counties north of there visiting a friend in a mostly rural area when I see the dreaded fuzz in the rear view. Next thing I know, the lights are on and I’m thinking, fuck, what the hell?

    So this fat pig waddles up and ask for the license and registration, blah blah. Then he tells me asked me if I have any explosives in my car. LMAO, not making this up. Being a young cocky smartass like I was then, I said ‘explosives?’ and started laughing. Then he proceeds to tell me that my car matched one that was being reported in a robbery and I had to sit there for 2 freaking hours while pig boy was doing whatever in his pig car. Probably stuffing down some donuts.

    My last experience was in TN with officer Howdy Doody. He was actually really nice, but also asked me stupid questions, like do I have any illegal drugs in the car? WTF? Oh sure, I have lots of them, what do you like? Crack, some Meth? Get in and let’s party!

  14. radleybalko
    You find a dazed, nude, 11 y.o. girl along the road. If your first instinct is to Tase her, you might be a cop. http://www.kdrv.com/taser-used…..-wanderer/

    1. From comments:

      The officer didn’t know what she was on, if anything. Dealing with someone high on illegal drugs is very random. If he had touched her, she could have flown into a rage. Someone on bath salts or PCP can be very dangerous in that situation. He did what he was supposed to do: she did not follow his orders, so he used non-lethal force since she was not a threat. Considering the alternative, I think this officer did the best he could with the available facts.

      Yes, the naked eleven year old girl on bath salts would clearly be a major threat to a 200 lb man. I’m surprised this specimen of masculinity didn’t beat her with a baton in order to protect officer safety.

      1. When did being a pussy become a requirement for cops?

        1. When did being a pussy become a requirement for cops?

          Since the left made it a requirement for virtually every other aspect of American life.

          1. You can say that again.

        2. When did being a pussy become a requirement for cops?

          Since the left made it a requirement for virtually every other aspect of American life.

      2. The whole bath salts thing is such a prime example of how the media can create hysteria based on nothing more than wild speculation with no regards to facts. The whole panic started (or at least really got going) when they speculated that the Miami cannibal guy was on them, and it turns out he wasn’t. But did they report that fact nearly as much as they pushed the narrative that he was on bath salts?

    2. “I thought she was drugged. I thought she was on bath salts, too much meth, something.”

    3. State police officials say it was necessary to prevent her from wandering further into the road and putting herself in danger.

      The fucking piece of shit coward cop isn’t even named in the article. These cowardly fucks are circling the wagons, expect more anonymous officer stories from now on.

      You know that Officer Puke got a fucking erection while he was tazing that kid. They should see if he has any kids in his house and fucking remove them.

      1. He wanted to stick something in her. And the taser prongs are likely bigger than his dick.

    4. Officials also say she will not be charged with any crimes because she wasn’t aware of her surroundings.

      Even from beyond the hallowed halls of Reason (stop laughing!) Balko still manages to reach out and touch our hearts punch our balls.

  15. More OT:
    “Racist email ‘sets GOP back'”
    Uh, does Obozo’s defense of spying and murdering US citizens ‘set Dems back’?
    If not, why not?

    1. NO! Because, got to support the team, dude!

      1. It’s the man in the mirror.

  16. Heat win. The darkest timeline has now been enabled.

    1. It really boggled my mind how poorly the Spurs played down the stretch the last two games. They’re known for being smart well-coached veterans, and they completely failed to execute basic basketball plays. And Popovich made some stupid decisions

    2. Heat win. The darkest timeline has now been enabled.

      If you want to watch a sport that’s less choreographed try pro wrestling.

      The NBA….please?

  17. We had a downpour this evening and Ikea had to be evaced

    1. You know it’s bad when a new word has to be invented in response.

      1. Ikea is hardly a new word.

    2. So what’s the big deal…the Ikea in Sacramento always looks like this!

  18. That’s right, R.M. is cooling his heels in jail all this time, even though Steele, the arresting officer, suspects him of nothing other than, apparently, having a hot mom. From the Supreme Court of Ohio, again:

    This is why cameras everywhere, and the cops’ ability to randomly search your drivers license photo isn’t a problem.

  19. So the officer gets 5 years in prison and 5 years probation for abducting a child for 9 days? What would be the minimum sentence for someone who hadn’t sworn an oath to uphold the law, who did the same thing?

    1. We civilians need to start taking pride in our higher standards.

  20. Sounds like your every day, average cop to me dude.


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