“A police officer fired for driving drunk in an unmarked police car while off-duty has filed a $6 million lawsuit against the city of Gresham, the police chief and others, alleging his rights were violated under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The lawsuit filed in Portland alleged the officer, Jason Servo, was suffering from alcoholism, a recognized disability under the act, and shouldn’t have been dismissed.” [AP] In my book The Excuse Factory I sketched some of the history of how alcoholism (at least when the subject declares a willingness to participate in rehab) came to be protected under the ADA.
Why they overlap [Noah Kristula-Green, U.S. News]
P.S. There was a flurry of national coverage last week when Cincinnati-area judge Robert Ruehlman struck down a traffic camera ordinance in the village of Elmwood Park, declaring the cameras a “scam” and “high-tech game of three-card monte.” [Cincinnati.com] Readers with long memories may recall that Judge Ruehlman appeared to favorable advantage in these columns back in 1999 when he threw out the city of Cincinnati’s abusive lawsuit against gun manufacturers, trade associations and a distributor, the first of the municipal gun suits to reach trial on the merits.
P.P.S. Why police drones aren’t the same thing privacy-wise as police helicopters [ACLU via HuffPo via Amy Alkon](& Bainbridge)
Then what do you think he does? “Carroll then started a business that cleans up gory crime scenes, a New Jersey Watchdog investigation found. Yet the state continues to pay him a disability pension for life, a sum that could total $1 million or more.” [Morris County, N.J.; Mark Lagerkvist, Reason]
When Andrew Henderson videotaped police frisking a man about to be transported by ambulance in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul, an officer confiscated his handheld videocamera, allegedly for evidence: “If I end up on YouTube, I’m gonna be upset.” Later, when Henderson sought to get his camera back, the sheriff’s office refused and instead charged him with misdemeanors. Among the notes on the citation: “Data privacy HIPAA violation.” A Stanford law professor says it would be nonsense to regard HIPAA, the federal health privacy law, as constraining the activity of bystanders like Henderson who are not legally defined as health providers. [St. Paul Pioneer Press]
“…so we can avoid negative coverage?” [NBC Los Angeles on LAPD enforcement of law against unauthorized animal selling]
“The family of a man shot and killed by his neighbor in Skagit County can proceed to trial on claims that the county’s emergency communications center mishandled its response to his panicked 911 call, Washington’s Supreme Court ruled.” According to his family, a 911 operator told William Munich that help was on the way but did not code the call as an emergency; a sheriff’s deputy showed up 18 minutes later, by which time Munich had been shot by the irate neighbor. “I am concerned the majority’s decision will put unwarranted pressure on every statement made by 911 operators, straining communications that depend on the free flow of information,” wrote dissenting Justice James Johnson. [KOMO; Munich (Gayle) v. Skagit Emergency Communications Center, holding, dissent (wrong link fixed now); background on Washington's unusual approach to sovereign immunity]
P.S. Another Washington sovereign liability case of interest: Robb v. City of Seattle, “Whether the city of Seattle may be liable in an action for wrongful death brought by the survivor of a murder victim based on the failure of police to confiscate ammunition while detaining the murderer for questioning just before the murder occurred.” [Temple of Justice]
No, these were not naughty pictures, they were driver’s license headshots. “The city’s liability could have been upwards of $565,000 because the statute provides $2,500 to be assessed per each unlawful look-up of the database, and we had 226 look-ups,” City Attorney Sara Grewing [of St. Paul, Minn.] told the Pioneer Press. “So we were looking at $565,000 plus attorney’s fees, if we were found liable.” St. Paul was one of several municipalities that settled with Anne Marie Rasmusson, whose picture fellow officers often looked up without proper authority in violation of a 1994 enactment called the federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act. [Kim Zetter, Wired "Threat Level"; CityPages.]
A brief history of the “law enforcement bill of rights,” pushed for by police unions and adopted in many states beginning in Maryland in 1972, which entrenches problem cops who have not actually been found guilty of a felony [Mike Riggs, Reason]
Steven Greenhut at Reason summarizes an extraordinary story from Costa Mesa, Calif. broken by Orange County Register reporting here, here, and here. Long and the short of it: if you get on the wrong side of certain police unions politically, be on your guard against trumped-up DUI charges and a range of “gangster cop” behavior.
“The mother of a Washington state parolee who accidentally shot himself to death during a gunfight with San Francisco police last year has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city.” [Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle]