A real police horror story out of Colorado.
Steven Talley said he's living a nightmare after being arrested not once but twice for the same bank robbery despite the star witness saying he's not the guy.
A Denver judge released the 45-year-old from jail after the witness stunned prosecutors during a preliminary hearing. U.S. Bank teller Bonita Shipp testified that Steven Talley, the man charged with aggravated robbery, was not the same man who held her up in September 2014.
Talley was arrested in September 2014 for two bank robberies: At a U.S. Bank on Colfax Avenue in May 2014 and at a U.S. Bank on South Colorado Boulevard in September 2014.
Talley said he had an alibi for the first robbery—he was working. His ex-wife identified him based on surveillance camera, but Talley's lawyer pointed out the man in the video has a mole on his face but Talley didn't.
Talley also alleged brutality during his arrest, a sort of nut punch:
Talley said he was beaten by members of the Denver SWAT team during his arrest. He said one officer swung a baton at his groin.
"I have what's called a fractured penis. I didn't even think you could break a penis," he said.
According to Talley, the second case was reopened after being dismissed as retaliation for Talley complaining about his treatment:
"I'm going to throw your ass back in jail, we're going to refile," is the threat Talley accused [Det. Jeffrey] Hart of making.
In December 2015, Talley was rearrested for the second bank robbery. He was living at a homeless shelter at the time after he said he lost everything because of the first arrest.
"Had a family, had a career and the worst part is I haven't seen my kids in like 17 months," Talley said.
Talley's story aired last Wednesday. On Thursday he faced new charges—an arrest warrant was issued accusing him of trying to influence a public servant.
In the last year and a half, since people started "waking up" on police brutality, there are still pernicious, if not malicious, misconceptions. Perhaps none is more dangerous than that the problem of police violence is merely a problem with individual cops. Such an attitude can be comforting—if we can only get better people onto the police force, the problems would go away. But "top men" never solved anything.
The racist cop as an individual has certainly become the most visible and covered aspect of the story of police brutality. If it's not an unarmed black man shot by a white cop, the mainstream media appears uninterested—as if black men did not have a right to be armed without being killed and as if police of all races weren't capable of killing people of all races.
But police violence is actually a systemic problem. That should, actually, be more comforting than the alternative. Humans create systems and humans can reform them. The rules that protect bad actions by cops, thus ensuring more bad action, are all man-made. The Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights (LEOBR) laws, for example, is an invention of the 1970s. Maryland was the first state to pass it, and through lobbying by police unions and other police apologists, the set of laws propagated across all 50 states.
The reforms can start the same way. The most powerful motivator in any employment is job security. I've seen the threat of firing, if it's real, yield some tremendous results in the private world. The public sector could use the same. Because stories like this about bad-acting individuals are stories about broken systems.
(h/t Stanton S.)