By ERIC NALDER
P-I INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER
Most police officers accused of using excessive force by citizens are either exonerated because their actions were lawful or the charges are ruled unfounded, meaning the event never happened. If the evidence is inconclusive, the finding is not sustained. If the department feels there was wrongdoing, the finding is sustained, which means misconduct occurred. If policy violations are deemed not willful, or if errors do not rise to the level of misconduct, then the officer is given retraining under a nondisciplinary category called supervisory intervention.
Here are cases in which supervisory intervention was ordered:
# An officer Tased an apparent bystander "before assessing the situation," admitting later she wanted to avoid having to chase the man and leave "other people" at the scene of a disturbance. She also claimed she didn't feel she had to file the normal use-of-force report because "the only force used was to protect the complainant from hurting himself."
# A witness complained an officer Tased a man too long. The witness said her wrist was bent back and she was arrested when she tried to intervene.
# An uninvolved couple told investigators that an officer slammed a skateboarder against a light pole downtown. The investigators rejected the officer's claim that when he confronted the young man over jaywalking he had taken a "bladed stance" with his legs apart and at an angle, and that he held his skateboard across his body, indicating aggression. "For the record, the 'bladed stance' argument is overworked and is not necessarily an indicator of preparation to attack offensively," investigators wrote. Though they didn't buy the officer's claims, the department rejected a recommendation that he be disciplined, and he got supervisory intervention.
# Two officers were parked side by side in their patrol cars when one sarcastically broadcast to a curious passer-by over his loudspeaker, "Haven't you ever seen a police car before?" The exchange ended with the citizen, who taunted the officers, bent over the hood of the car and searched for weapons before being released. Supervisory intervention was imposed on one of the officers who used profanity.
# A woman complained that she was forcefully escorted to a patrol car for violating the dog scoop ordinance, bruising her arm in the process.
# A man complaining about a bad haircut was escorted out of the barbershop by an officer who twisted his arm. When the man reached for the cop's nametag, the officer bumped him and yelled at him, the man said. No supervisor was called to the scene, and the man had a right to have his 'bad haircut' remedied, the department concluded in ordering supervisory intervention.