Sometimes police officers lie.
It’s a scary thought when you consider how much prosecutors, defense attorneys, juries and judges—hell, everyone who works in the criminal-justice system—rely on the testimonies of police officers, and the information they put in police reports, to determine whether a person ought to be indicted for, charged with, tried for or convicted of a crime.
In video footage released Tuesday evening by the New York Times, North Charleston, S.C., Police Officer Michael Slager fatally shot Walter L. Scott, an unarmed 50-year-old African-American father of four. The clip sparked a nationwide outcry, in part because in the police report, Slager said that he shot Scott because he had taken the officer’s Taser and Slager said that he feared for his life.
Here is a list of other incidents in which police officers were caught lying on the record.
1. Cleveland officers lied at least four times about Tamir Rice.
According to an MSNBC report, there were at least four items in the police report about the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice that video footage proved to be false: 1) that Tamir was sitting underneath the pavilion with a few other people; 2) that when Tamir saw the police car, he picked the gun up off the table—it was a toy gun, but that’s besides the point—and put it in his waistband; 3) that police got out of the car and told Tamir three times to put his hands up; and 4) that Tamir reached into his waistband to remove the gun and was then shot by police.
They’re all lies.
Video footage shows that Tamir was shot less than three seconds after the police vehicle pulled up. Tamir was standing up, not sitting down; nor was he with other people. Tamir was by himself.
2. A Seattle cop lied about a 69-year-old man swinging a golf club at her.
Seattle Police Officer Cynthia Whitlatch claimed that she arrested 69-year-old William Wingate because he swung his golf club—which he was using as a cane—at her and that he also hit a stop sign with the golf club. The officer even claimed that the dashboard camera on her patrol car would corroborate her account that Wingate had swung at her.
According to the Seattle Police Department, no such video exists of Wingate swinging at Whitlatch. What the video does show, however, is Whitlatch pulling over while Wingate was leaning on his club and yelling, "You just swung that golf club at me."
Wingate was arrested, spent the night in jail and was charged with a misdemeanor. A judge eventually dismissed the charge. The officer is on paid leave.
3. A South Carolina state trooper lied about a man retrieving his wallet.
Hours after he shot Levar Jones at a gas station, South Carolina State Trooper Sean Groubert can be seen in video footage telling his supervisor that as Jones made his way out of his vehicle, “I saw something black in his hands.”
But that’s not what Groubert’s police dashboard camera caught on film.
In that footage, Groubert stopped Jones for a seat belt violation in a parking lot. When the officer asked to see Jones’ license, he reached into his vehicle to get his ID. Suddenly Groubert shot at Jones several times, hitting him once in the hip.
Groubert was fired, arrested, and charged with assault and battery. Groubert is on trial and still waiting for a verdict.
4. Three New Jersey officers lied about a traffic stop that turned violent.
When Marcus Jeter was arrested in 2012, he faced charges of eluding police, resisting arrest and assault on a police officer. Jeter was going to accept a plea deal so that he would receive the minimum sentence of five years.
That was until footage from a police dashboard camera showed that Jeter had, in fact, complied with police officers’ requests when he was pulled over on the highway in New Jersey.
Footage shows that when police pulled Jeter over, he stopped his car and, contrary to what the officers later claimed, did not try to escape. A second police vehicle crashed into Jeter’s car, causing Jeter to hit his head on his steering wheel. None of that made it into the police report, however. When officers yelled at Jeter to get out of the car, Jeter said that he was afraid he would be shot if he got out, so he remained in the car with his hands up.
Footage from the second police-car dash cam showed that the officers then busted in Jeter’s driver’s-side window, punched Jeter in the face, and dragged him out of the car and onto the pavement.
That footage helped prove Jeter’s innocence and led to the indictment of two of the officers, who were charged with tampering, official misconduct, tampering with public records, and false documents and false swearing. The third officer retired after pleading guilty to tampering.
5. A paid police informant planted cocaine in a New York store owner’s shop.
Donald Andrews’ smoke shop in Schenectady, N.Y., was raided in 2013 after a paid police informant told Schenectady cops that Andrews was selling cocaine.
In the midst of all the legal drama, Andrews said that he had to close up shop for nearly two weeks because of the charges he faced.
But on April 17, after looking at footage from the store’s security camera, officers told Andrews that the charges against him were being dropped. The police informant was seen in the store’s security footage planting cocaine on the shop’s counter. Andrews said that he plans to sue the Schenectady Police Department.