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Occupy Kokomo protesters file suit against Howard County sheriff for civil rights violations

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Occupy Kokomo protesters filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Howard County sheriff and members of the sheriff’s department, claiming violations of their civil rights.

The legal action stems from a melee in late 2011 that erupted after two of the protesters informed Sheriff Steve Rogers that the Occupy group would not be protesting at the Howard County Courthouse that day. In the complaint, the two protesters, Darren Burke and Gregory Lambert, both residents of Marion County, assert they were assaulted by the sheriff and his deputies and then falsely arrested and imprisoned.

Burke and Gregory claim the sheriff and his deputies violated their Fourth Amendment rights by employing excessive force in arresting them and by arresting and detaining them without probable cause.

The case, Darren Burke and Gregory Lambert v. Steve Rogers, et al., 1:13-CV-825, was filed by the ACLU of Indiana in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Indiana.

“Most law enforcement officers serve bravely and admirably to protect us and preserve the peace,” ACLU of Indiana executive director Jane Henegar stated in a press release. “However, when these public servants abuse the trust and power, we, as a people have given them, the ACLU will stand up to correct the wrong. In a free and democratic society, no person should be subjected to brutality and abuse at the hands of our government.”

Members of Occupy Kokomo had been protesting at the county courthouse during the last week of 2011, generally staying on the east steps of the building and the lawn. On Dec. 30, 2011, Burke, Lambert and some other members entered the courthouse to tell Rogers and his staff that the protesters would not be demonstrating that day.

Burke and Lambert then turned to exist the building, and the sheriff began walking away. However, another protester, David Fox, asked the sheriff about a court order issued the previous day in Howard Superior Court that prohibited anyone wearing a mask from entering the courthouse.

As Fox was questioning Rogers, the sheriff told Burke to remove the dollar bill which he had taped over his mouth as a sign of protest. At this point, according to the complaint, Rogers attempted to remove the dollar bill from Burke’s face, then the sheriff deputies shoved Burke against the wall, tackling him to the ground and handcuffing him.

The complaint also asserts that Lambert was shoved so violently against a wall by Lt. Kurt Goerges of the Howard County Sheriff’s Department that Lambert suffered a concussion and lost consciousness.

A video was taken by the protesters of the incident. The complaint notes the picture becomes blurred and difficult to follow but the audio is still decipherable.

Lambert and Burke were retained for seven hours and 30 hours, respectively, at the Howard County Criminal Justice Center before being released on bail. Both were charged with resisting law enforcement as a Class A misdemeanor. Additionally, Burke was charged with false informing as a Class B misdemeanor.  

Charges remain pending, although both Burke and Lambert have entered into pretrial diversion agreements under which charges will be dismissed if they comply with the conditions for six months.

 

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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

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  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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