Monthly Archives: April 2013

Biker gets 14 years for police chase following San Bruno fire

A motorcyclist who led San Bruno police on a high-speed chase down the Peninsula was sentenced to 14 years and eight months in prison for hitting and dragging an officer who spotted him lingering around the scene of the city’s deadly 2010 explosion and fire

Paul Anthony Lee, 36, faced up to 19 years and eight months in prison after a jury convicted the second-striker of evading a police officer, battery on an officer and assault on an officer with a deadly weapon, in reference to his vehicle.

The jury deliberated less than a day before returning its verdict in September 2012, two years after the incident. He had been free on a $100,000 property bond but was taken into custody once convicted.

Lee’s case made headlines because it was the first case linked to the deadly gas line explosion and fire that significantly damaged the Glenview neighborhood and killed eight. A San Bruno police officer and gang enforcement officer securing the area spotted Lee and a woman on his motorcycle at the end of the fire scene hours after the Sept. 9, 2010 blaze erupted. One officer, checking on Lee’s intent, asked him to dismount the bike but he instead sped away. An officer grabbed Lee’s jacket and was dragged several feet before Lee drove over his foot and sped up to 60 mph through the city to Highway 101. The chase ended in San Carlos when the motorcycle died and Lee was apprehended.

Lee reportedly told authorities after his arrest he was riding around the scene to look at the remains and fled out of fear because of previous convictions. At the time of his latest arrest, Lee was on parole for having been sent to prison in 2003 for possession of a controlled substance and a firearm, in 2005 for attempted kidnapping of his ex-girlfriend in front of her family and in 2009 for possession of methamphetamine.

Prior to sentencing on the new case, Lee sought a new trial on the basis of ineffective counsel but, after a five-hour hearing that included testimony from his original defense attorney, Judge Lisa Novak denied the request. She also denied the defense request to dismiss the prior strike conviction from sentencing consideration.

Source

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Hells Angels, Outlaws And The Politics Of The Patch

While searching for research information for a story I came across this online at Sabotage Times, it is always interesting seeing how people are quick to cash in on making money off of motorcycle clubs by bashing them and slandering their names and members.

Don’t, whatever you do, call them badges. And please don’t confuse MCC’s with MC’s, or it will get nasty very quickly…

Bikers can be found riding en masse in every city on every continent. Often they are drawn together because they are fans of a particular make or model of machine, or because they live in a certain area, but more often than not they bond simply through the sheer joy of riding. Many such clubs identify themselves with ‘patches’ or ‘colours’ sewn onto their jackets, but what untrained eyes see as random choices over positions and designs are actually the result of delicate and lengthy negotiations within the complex world of biker politics.

The majority of organised bikers belong to MCCs – Motor Cycle Clubs – and wear their patches on the front or side of their jackets. Joining such a club is easy and requires little in the way of ongoing commitment. Patches are available for purchase by anyone who turns up to a rally or meeting and the main goal of the club is to enhance the social life of its members.

At the other end of the scale are the MCs – Motorcycle Clubs. The absence of that one letter makes a world of difference. An MC is about more than brotherhood, more than camaraderie; it is less a club, more a way of life. MC patches cannot be bought, only earned, a process that can take many years. To be accepted by an MC you have to be prepared to give up everything and anything and make the good of the club your number one priority.

MC members wear a three part-back patch, sometimes sewn directly onto a jacket but usually on a leather or denim cut-off. The club name appears at the top on a curved bar known as a rocker. The club colours are in the centre while a bottom rocker will name the territory. Prospective members wear only the bottom rocker as a mark of their reduced status.

The major MCs also sport a diamond shaped patch with ‘1%’ inside on the front of their colours. This originates from a massive drunken riot that followed a 1947 drag race meeting attended by thousands of bikers in the small town of Hollister, California. In the aftermath the organisers, the American Motorcycle Association, said the trouble had been caused by a small minority and that ninety-nine per cent of those who attended had been well behaved. The riot went on to inspire the Marlon Brando film ‘The Wild One’ and MC gangs have called themselves ‘one percenters’ ever since.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of a set of patches to an MC member. They are his most prized possession and the loss of them under almost any circumstances is an unbearable disgrace. Patches are absolutely sacred and it is no exaggeration to say that MC members consider them worth fighting for and, if necessary, dying for.

With painfully few exceptions – such as when two new clubs emerge from an unclaimed area at roughly the same time – no new MC will ever wear a bottom rocker laying claim to an occupied area unless they are prepared to declare outright war on the current incumbents.

(When the Mongols MC launched in the early 1970s, their members wore a ‘California’ bottom rocker much to the annoyance of the Hell’s Angels who not only dominated the west coast state but also considered it sacred: the gang had been founded there in the aftermath of World War Two. The Angels warned the Mongols to remove the rocker. The Mongols, composed mostly of Hispanics who had been refused entry to the HA on account of their race, stood their ground. It took 17 years and dozens of murders on both sides before the Angels eventually agreed to a compromise.)

The 1% MC gangs not only control their territory but also, to some or other degree, oversee the activities of all other biker clubs within their area.  Nothing happens without their say so and any potential threat to their superiority, no matter how small, is dealt with harshly.

If you have any doubts that this is indeed the case, I suggest you try the following experiment: gather together a group of male friends (women are generally not allowed to join back patch clubs), equip yourselves with large motorcycles – ideally Harley Davidson’s – and choose a club logo. Stitch your colours to the back of a leather jacket with the name of your club above and the name of your county or state below.

Hold elections to appoint a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Sergeant-At-Arms (responsible for club discipline) then go out riding as a group and get yourselves seen by as many people as possible.

More…

Life Magazine: The Original Hells Angels

Forget Fear & Loathing, Hells Angels Is Hunter S. Thompson’s Masterpiece

Within days, possibly within hours, you and your friends will be intercepted by the massed ranks of whichever MC club is dominant in your area. If you are lucky and show sufficient reverence – that is, if they feel you can drink and party and fight and fuck with the best of them – they will invite you to a meeting at their clubhouse, explain the error of your ways, request that you stop wearing your patches (or charge you a hefty weekly fee in return for permission to wear an altered version) and then lay out the rules for your future conduct.

Far more likely, however, is that you and your friends will be stomped and beaten and chain whipped to a pulp, your patches and possibly even your bikes will be confiscated. Your arms or legs will be broken (to prevent you riding) and you will be told in no uncertain terms that your little club no longer exists. Period. The patches will be burned and the bikes stripped down for spares or resold. And if you even consider going to the police, you’ll just make an enemy of every other MC in the world and instantly prove that you didn’t have what it takes to make it in the scene anyway.

This scenario becomes even more certain if the dominant club in your area is one of the big three international gangs: the Hell’s Angels, the Outlaws or the Bandidos, or if you attempt to use a ‘protected’ colour combination: red on white for the Angels, black on white for the Outlaws, red on yellow for the Bandidos. Copying the designs of one of the big gangs would bring even more trouble – all three are trademarked and protected by international copyright law.

The issue of showing appropriate respect to an MC applies even when it is crystal clear that the other club is in no way any kind of a threat. In August 2010 a sixty-three-year-old bike-riding preacher from Altoona, Pennsylvania was beaten and robbed by members of the Animals MC after failing to seek permission to wear a back patch which featured a red cross on a white background along with the words: ‘Shield of Faith Ministries’.

In the UK the Brothers of the Third Wheel (BTW) go to great pains to point out that they are an association, not a club, for trike riders. They have many female members, revel in a family atmosphere and have never been involved in any form of conflict. Following careful negotiations their members are allowed to wear a symbol on their backs because the 1% clubs have designated it a badge, not a patch. Despite this the Hell’s Angels have forbidden BTW members from wearing their badges anywhere in Kent.

Such rules exist because an MC has to be seen to be the dominant club in the area it controls and the best way to do this is to ensure that no other club ever wears their colours there without permission. When clubs fail to follow this rule, wars start and all too quickly escalate out of control.

‘Outlaws: Inside the Violent World of Biker Gangs’ by Tony Thompson is published by Hodder & Stoughton at £12.99

 

 

ADD NEW RESOURCE

We have added a new link on our Resources page: National Speed trap Exchange make sure you go check it out.

Know Your Rights: Can You be Searched Without a Warrant?

In a 1991 episode of Law and Order, the detectives arrested a homeless man who was later convicted of murder based on the police’s discovery of the murder weapon in his “home” in Central Park. However, the conviction is later threatened on appeal because the police did not have a warrant to search his “home.” This is a familiar basis for many Law and Order storylines; obtaining a warrant before performing a search and seizure is a sticky situation in the popular legal drama. But, what about in real life? Can you be searched without a warrant?

Anyone who is familiar with the U.S. Constitution would emphatically say no to this question, as the Fourth Amendment protects private citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. The amendment reads:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Under the Fourth Amendment, police officers must obtain written permission from a court of law to legally search a person and his or her property and seize evidence while they are investigating possible criminal activity. And, as in the Law and Order case above, the exclusionary rule mandates that evidence obtained through illegal searches is not admissible in a court of law. However, many individuals under the pressure of the police may not be aware of this rule or their other rights under the Fourth Amendment. In addition, there are cases in which police can legally search without a warrant if probable cause is established or if consent is given by an individual.

What is a Warrant?

A warrant is a legal order signed by a judge authorizing the police to search a specific location and seize specific materials from that location at a specified time. For example, a warrant may specify that police can search 123 Main Street for marijuana between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The police must convince the judge, using sworn statements, that they have probable cause or a reasonable belief that a crime has taken place, in order to receive a warrant to search a particular area for evidence of that crime.

The police will provide their own evidence for the warrant and the suspect is not present when the warrant is issued. Once a warrant is obtained, the police can only search the location specified in the warrant, whether it is a home, a car, or a specific outside location. For example, if a warrant specifies that the police are searching the backyard of a home, they cannot legally also search the home or vehicle of the individual. In addition, they must only search for what is specified in the warrant.

When is a Warrant Not Required?

There are times when police can perform a search without a warrant, and most searches actually do occur without warrants being issued. That is not to say the police can barge into your home and search it without a warrant; if there is a reasonable expectation of privacy and there is not probable cause, a search warrant is required. However, if probable cause does occur, such as the suspect runs away, a gunshot is heard from another room in a home, or even when an individual makes a sudden movement, a search becomes legal without a warrant. Even with a reasonable expectation of privacy, the police can legally conduct a search without a warrant in situations in which certain exemptions apply.

Exemption 1 – Consent: If an individual freely and voluntarily agrees to a search of his or her property, without being tricked or coerced into doing so, the police can search this property without a warrant. Police do not have to inform you that you do, indeed, have the right to refuse a search, and individuals have been arrested and even sent to jail because they did not know they had the right to refuse search and seizure.

If two or more people live at the same location, usually one tenant cannot consent to a search of areas owned by another tenant. A tenant can, however, consent to a search of the common areas of a home, such as the living room or kitchen. A landlord is prohibited from giving consent to the search of his or her tenant’s private belongings, and the Supreme Court has also ruled that an individual cannot consent to the search of a house on behalf of a spouse. An employer, however, can consent to a search of a company, which includes an employee’s work area, but not an employee’s personal belongings.

Exemption 2 – The Plain View Doctrine: Police officers can legally search an area and seize evidence if it is clearly visible. If the police see an illegal act occurring outside of your home, they may perform a search and seize evidence from your home without a search warrant. For example, if a police officer stops a driver for speeding and sees marijuana in the window, a search can be conducted without a warrant. The police must still have probable cause, however, that the items are indeed illegal.

Exemption 3 – Search Incident to Arrest: Police officers do not need a warrant to perform a search in connection with an arrest. If you are arrested for a crime, the police have the legal right to protect themselves by searching for weapons, evidence that could be destroyed, or accomplices to the crime. For example, if you are arrested for drug possession, the police can search for additional drugs by searching you, your home, or your car, and any evidence found can be used against you in a court of law.

Police can also perform what is called a “protective sweep” following an arrest. This is done if the police believe a dangerous accomplice or accomplices may be hiding inside a specific location. The police will walk through the location and can legally visually inspect places in which an accomplice may be hiding. In addition, the police can legally seize any evidence located in plain view during the sweep.

Exemption 4 – Exigent Circumstances: If the police feel that the time it would take to get a warrant would jeopardize public safety or lead to the loss of evidence, they can perform a search without a warrant. For example, the police can forcibly enter a home if it is probable that evidence is being destroyed, if a suspect is trying to escape, or if someone is being injured. The police officer’s responsibility to preserve evidence, arrest a suspect, or protect an individual outweighs the search warrant requirement.

Know Your Rights…

If the police show up at your doorstep claiming they would like to look around, you are legally allowed to refuse this request. However, many times it is in your best interest to allow access in order to avoid injury or being charged with interfering in a police investigation. That being said, you are not required to give consent to a search without a warrant, and you should always ask the police officers for identification and an explanation as to why they are at your location. If the police do have a warrant, you can ask them to read the search warrant to you.

If a search of your home or vehicle has already occurred and you are not sure if it was done legally, you should contact a criminal defense attorney and be apprised of your legal rights going forward.

Source

US Supreme Court Strikes Down Warrantless DUI Blood Draw

US Supreme Court rules against use of forced blood draws in all DUI cases.

Justice Sonia SotomayorAmerica’s top court does not want cops forcibly extracting blood from motorists without a warrant. The Supreme Court on Wednesday found Tyler McNeely’s constitutional rights were violated when he was taken to a hospital for a blood draw after a Missouri state patrolman accused him of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) in October 2010.

The state trooper says McNeely was speeding and weaving across the centerline at around 2:08am on that fateful day. McNeely’s speech was slurred, he smelled of alcohol and he failed the standard field sobriety tests. The officer wanted a breath test, but McNeely declined. At a hospital, McNeely also refused a blood tests. The blood was taken anyway and his blood alcohol content (BAC) was measured at 0.15. The officer never sought a warrant.

Prosecutors argued no warrant was needed because the situation involved “exigent circumstances” in which the alcohol was evaporating from his blood at a rate, generally, of 0.02 percent per hour. The state wanted an automatic rule allowing police to take blood by force from anyone suspected of DUI, regardless of individual circumstances. The majority saw no reason why a warrant could not have been obtained in this routine DUI case, a decision that resolved differing conclusions arrived at by various state courts.

“Because a police officer must typically transport a drunk-driving suspect to a medical facility and obtain the assistance of someone with appropriate medical training before conducting a blood test, some delay between the time of the arrest or accident and the time of the test is inevitable regardless of whether police officers are required to obtain a warrant,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the majority. “This reality undermines the force of the state’s contention, endorsed by the dissent, that we should recognize a categorical exception to the warrant requirement because BAC evidence is actively being destroyed with every minute that passes. Consider, for example, a situation in which the warrant process will not significantly increase the delay before the blood test is conducted because an officer can take steps to secure a warrant while the suspect is being transported to a medical facility by another officer. In such a circumstance, there would be no plausible justification for an exception to the warrant requirement.”

The majority insisted having a neutral magistrate serve as a check on police discretion is essential. It emphasized the availability of technical advances that speed up the warrant application process.

“In short, while the natural dissipation of alcohol in the blood may support a finding of exigency in a specific case, as it did in Schmerber, it does not do so categorically,” Sotomayor concluded. “Whether a warrantless blood test of a drunk-driving suspect is reasonable must be determined case by case based on the totality of the circumstances.

A copy of the decision is available in a 250k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Missouri v. McNeely (US Supreme Court, 4/17/2013)

DIRTY COPS – Missouri: Man Sues Cops Over Speed Trap Warning Tickets

A man fed up with small town cops issuing tickets to people who warn fellow motorists about upcoming speed traps on Friday asked a federal judge to issue an injunction against the practice. Michael J. Elli filed a class action suit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of

Speed trap

Missouri claiming the traffic stops in Ellisville amounted to a violation of their First Amendment right to free speech.

On November 17, 2012, Elli noticed a speed trap on Kiefer Creek Road around 2:50pm. He flashed his lights at oncoming traffic to ensure they would adjust their speeds to avoid receving a citation. The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri’s legal director, Anthony E. Rothert, is arguing the on Elli’s behalf that this represents expressive conduct that is protected by the Constitution.

“The flashing of headlamps is commonly understood as conveying the message to slow down and proceed with caution,” Rothert explained.

Though Elli was not speeding or violating any other traffic law, he was pulled over by an unidentified police officer and handed a traffic ticket claiming a violation of a city ordinance mentioning the flashing warning signals installed on school buses.

“No reasonable officer would believe that plaintiff had violated Section 375.100,” Rothert argued.

Elli was threatened with a $1000 fine, but he insisted on taking the matter to trial. Charges were dismissed on February 12.

“The practice plaintiff seeks to enjoin violates the constitution in multiple ways,” Rothert wrote in his brief to the court. “First, a police officer stops and temporarily detains an individual in the absence of reasonable suspicion to believe any unlawful activity is afoot. A traffic stop is a seizure. Therefore, Fourth Amendment’s protection from unreasonable searches and seizures is implicated when police conduct traffic stops. Communicating by flashing one’s headlamps violates no law. Thus, effectuating a traffic stop for this lawful communication violates the Fourth Amendment.”

The ACLU argues the case is such a slam dunk that it has met the burden of proof needed for the court to issue an order that prevents Ellisville from stopping other motorists for flashing their headlights. The city has yet to issue a formal response. Source

Probation search leads to lawsuit

Probation search leads to lawsuit
December 27, 2012, 05:00 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff
Without being on probation, a South San Francisco man claims police detained him in his home while performing a probation search that led to an arrest and five-day stint in jail last year, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

Sean Joseph Penna is suing South San Francisco, San Mateo County, San Mateo Sheriff’s Office, San Mateo Gang Task Force, Sheriff Greg Munks, San Mateo Adult Probation Department, Chief Stuart Forrest, Officer Jason Pfarr, Officer Joshua Cabillo and South San Francisco Police Chief Mike Massoni in relation to a probation search of his South San Francisco home November 2011 that resulted in his arrest. The problem, according to Penna, is he was not on probation. He’s alleging violations of his civil rights, constitutional and statutory rights, negligence, false arrest/imprisonment, battery, conversion, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, trespassing, invasion of privacy and defamation, according to the 19-page lawsuit filed Monday.

County Counsel John Beiers said the county had yet to be served and has not been able to review the allegations. A request for comment from the South San Francisco city attorney was not returned.

On Nov. 17, 2011, officers Pfarr and Cabillo went to Penna’s house on Park Way in South San Francisco to perform a probation search, according to the lawsuit. Penna, who was not on probation, told officers he was not subject to such a search. Officers demanded entry into the home which Penna allowed. Penna was detained in his home while officers searched the home — including a safe within the bedroom from which officers took $1,000, a diamond ring, a diamond pendent, certificates of title for two vehicles, spare keys and several passports, according to the lawsuit. Penna gave officers the combination to the safe under duress, according to the lawsuit. That property is not included in a police report and is alleged to have been stolen by the officers, according to the lawsuit.

Penna’s home has security cameras which feed video to his bedroom. Film of the time officers were in the home was erased, according to the lawsuit. Officers returned to Penna’s home several minutes after leaving and arrested him for a bullet found in the safe, according to the lawsuit. The bullet was pulled from the shirt pocket of an officer to show Penna.

Penna spent five days in jail before the case was dropped, according to the lawsuit.

Penna is suing for unlimited damages and the cost of legal fees.

 

Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: heather@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.

Negative Press The Daily Journal

FrontWEBPAGE_02-1

San Mateo County gangs once stayed on their own turf, operating by world of mouth and using baseball bats as weapons.

Now, gangs travel, text message plans and use full arsenals of guns, machetes and even throwing stars to attack one another, according to the local law enforcement who say they must also evolve to keep the criminals in check.

Part of that cache was on display Friday as the San Mateo County Gang Task Force, a multi-city, multi-agency group, highlighted the 461 arrests, 61 weapons and thousands of grams of drugs seized during its annual 16-week summer crackdown. The county’s gang activity, particularly associated homicides, is quite different now from before the task force’s inception six years ago, according to Sheriff Greg Munks. Instead of the 16 gang-related murders the year before the county launched the task force, the average is now two to three.

Munks said he was publicizing the group’s work now to show that even in these tough budgetary times, it continues operating successfully using its own resources.

San Mateo County has approximately 2,700 validated gang members, said Detective Sgt. Leo Capovilla of the Sheriff’s Office Gang Intelligence and Investigation Unit.

Munks and Capovilla said the county will never be completely free of gangs but the task force is keeping it under control. The task force hits the streets daily for 16 weeks each summer, then monthly for maintenance. The numbers of arrests and seizures are up this year but Capovilla credits that to greater training and policing as much as increased gang activity. The task force seized 33 guns this summer and Colma Police Chief Robert Lotti said “these are not little pea shooters.”

Displayed in front of Lotti were other souvenirs of the task force efforts: blades, handguns, red and blue baseball bats, semi-automatic weapons, swords hidden in canes — even a heavy piece of rebar attached to a handle.

The world of modern gangs is a far cry from two decades ago when Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said he prosecuted his first gang case which involved two baseball bats and a golf club. The danger now has escalated and the task force should be commended for facing it, said Wagstaffe, who will take over as district attorney at the end of the year.

One new twist to gang culture is “net banging,” in which phones and texting is used to change plans and arrange crimes, Capovilla said.

After Los Angeles’ gang problem exploded, officials there warned others not to make the same mistake of not addressing it early before future members even hit junior high, he said.

The task force now combines its searches and field contacts with school and diversion programs, Capovilla said.

Wagstaffe said there are statistics available on how many of the summer’s arrests lead to prosecution and conviction but that gang case filings are up. Conviction rates, too, are higher than those of other crimes.

The flip side of the task force’s success is challenges housing the gang members in the county jail. The overall population can include up to 20 percent gangmember which must be separated so that Sureños and Norteños don’t battle. However, if too many of one gang are housed together they try taking over the pod, Munks said.

On top of existing overcrowding at the jail, the gang aspect adds another layer of concern but that does not mean suspects will be turned away or released unnecessarily, he said.

“There’s always room at the inn when it comes to getting violent criminals off the street,” Munks said.

 

GANG TASK IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL

It never ceases to amaze me that no one investigates the allegations of abuse by gang task force, mainstream media is quick to throw headlines together about gang task force arrested bikers as gang members, but you will never see a headline that tells the truth about how gang task force officers violate on a daily basis, the civil rights and constitutional right of bikers.  What will it take for government oversight to look into the illegal activities and actions of these unconstitutional groups of law enforcement.297902_10201025299862636_652253574_n

 

The members of these groups operate off of bad information in a poorly educated as to what a gang member really is, they harass and target anyone who wears a patch or has any type of support gear, patches, and stickers on their person, vehicles or motorcycles.  These groups are highly unconstitutional in the way they carry out their duties.

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This document alone shows that they are basically standing in the dark and tried to pin gang titles on motorcycle club members.  Their intelligence to put it frankly is a joke.  They have no clue what they are doing, nor do they have any of their facts straight.