Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Drug cops on tape

Jerry Stratton, September 3, 2005

Several Campbell County law enforcement officers have pled guilty to federal charges of torture during a July 8, 2004 “interrogation” of Campbell County resident Lester Eugene Siler. When Siler reported the torture to the authorities, they didn’t believe him. Such claims are made all the time. This time, however, Siler’s wife had recorded it on tape. Before she left, she started a tape recorder going; it recorded the first 45 minutes of a two hour torture session.

They proceeded to beat, threaten and torture him for two hours, allegedly rigging an eletrocution device out of a battery and hooking it to Siler’s testicles.

[From the recording] - “This (expletive) right here, he loves seeing blood. He loves it. He loves seeing blood. You’re talking too much. He loves (expletive) seeing blood. He’ll beat your ass and lick it off you.”

On the plus side, these guys are actually facing federal charges for violating Siler’s civil rights. If his wife had not pushed that record button, these officers would probably laugh as they told this story to their buddies at a bar.

If his wife had not pushed that record button, yet another grotesquely criminal act by law enforcement would have gone unpunished, one that everyone knows happens all the time in the name of prohibition.

“Things did go wrong, and I have taken responsibility for what I’ve done,” Officer Monday told the judge during his sentencing. But if it weren’t for that tape, he would never have taken any responsibility; he would have kept on beating confessions out of people in the kinds of gross violations of the law that have become so common in the war to maintain prohibition.

Many of these violations are committed not just with local support but are federally-funded with Byrne Justice Assistance grants. The Drug Policy Alliance is supporting a No More Tulias bill to reign in out-of-control anti-drug task forces. It is named after Tulia, Texas, where:

Fifteen percent of the African American population was arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced to decades in prison based on the uncorroborated testimony of a federally-funded undercover officer who had a record of racial impropriety in the course of enforcing the law. The Tulia defendants were eventually pardoned four years later, but these kinds of scandals continue to plague the Byrne grant program.

If the officers involved in the Campbell County scandal truly want to take responsibility for their actions, they’ll detail all of the other times they’ve done the same thing and not been caught.

One of the officers, Samuel R. Franklin, was the local DARE officer: that should make kids think twice about turning in their parents.

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