Here’s What Happens to Good Cops When They Stand up to Bad Cops

July 24, 2015   |   Claire Bernish

Claire Bernish
July 24, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Headlines and social media posts attest an inexcusable escalation in instances where law enforcement’s use of brutal tactics or lethal force are alarmingly unwarranted. In fact, the reality that police regularly inflict indiscriminate violence with blatant impunity has exhausted any expectations of justice for family members of countless victims. With numb cynicism, a sardonic common theory concludes that good cop has to be an oxymoron—because if there were any good cops they would arrest the rotten ones . . . right?

As a theory, that scenario works surprisingly well. But it ignores two interrelated points of considerable weight—and the first might shock you, so brace yourself. Good cops aren’t just a fairy tale—and they are everywhere. However, the reason the corrupt cops aren’t being arrested in droves or having their crimes exposed isn’t for lack of effort. For Lorenzo Davis, holding police accountable was in his job description—until he ran headfirst into the Blue Wall of Silence for trying to do exactly that.

As former supervisor of the Chicago Police Department’s Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), Davis was tasked with investigating the department’s shooting incidents with an impartial eye to determine if they were justified. In eight years of shootings, as Davis told the Daily Beast, he discovered six cases where no possible justification existed for the officers involved to have used a firearm. Tragically, three of those “bad shootings”—police jargon for unjustified officer-involved shootings—cost people their lives.

But Davis’ findings were never made public.

Instead, his boss at IPRA, Scott Ando, ordered him to falsify the report in order to eliminate any police culpability. When Davis flatly refused to follow his boss’s orders, he was fired and even accused of “anti-police bias”—despite having been with the Chicago Police Department for 23 years. In fact, IPRA has only found wrongdoing by one officer in probes of nearly 400 police shootings since the agency’s inception in 2007—though Davis estimates about 5% of the shootings investigated are problematic.

Ando took over as IPRA director in 2014 after almost 30 years with the DEA, but Davis said that between Ando, the police department, and the police board, supervisors are routinely overruled when they find incidents are unjustified. The previous director assigned police shooting investigations randomly to one of 12 supervisors, but just before firing Davis, Ando hand-selected a single supervisor to oversee all of those investigations.

Ando tried to rope IPRA employees into signing a non-disclosure agreement, but investigators didn’t sign based on union policy. Though supervisors had the option, Davis refused since he believed IPRA policy and procedure “should be public.” His integrity, honesty, and dedication to ethical standards in policing are laudable, partly due to their rarity. That is a striking indicator of where standards could be headed, considering such integrity was an expected aspect of policing just a few decades ago.

However rare a cop like Davis may be, he isn’t the only one—but the Blue Wall of Silence is working to ensure they are a diminishing breed.

Corrections officer John Pisciotta was 3½ years into his job at Florida’s Charlotte Correctional Institution in May 2008 when he was part of an extraction team tasked with removing an inmate who had barricaded himself in his cell. This particular extraction would change his entire perception of the unofficial Blue Wall doctrine of prison employees: “We Never Walk Alone.”

Kelly Bradley suffered from schizophrenia and was housed in Charlotte’s psych ward when he barricaded himself in his cell using his mattress. Pisciotta and four other officers in riot gear breached Bradley’s makeshift blockade and found him hiding in fear under his blanket—certainly not a threat to anyone. As they shackled his wrists and ankles, Officer William Hamilton Wilson dug his finger into Bradley’s right eye socket with such force his eyeball came completely out—and he did it intentionally.

Captain Scott Anderson called the team to his office after the incident and told them not to even mention the eyeball injury in their write-up of the extraction. All of them complied—at least at the time. Pisciotta was so unsettled by what had happened and the instruction to cover it up that Anderson asked him, “Are you OK? You’re making us all a little nervous here.”

But he wasn’t OK at all, so he went to the Department of Corrections Inspector General’s office to give a statement about what had really happened. Almost immediately, he realized the reality of that unofficial doctrine and how similar it is to the Blue Wall. “I just couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t tell the truth,” he said. “I knew that it was morally wrong. They wanted us to prepare statements and not say anything. I told them I just couldn’t go along with it.”

Wilson was arrested for aggravated battery, and his arrest affidavit—which included the fact that Pisciotta was a witness—was emailed to 19 guards. And the harassment began in earnest. COWARD was spray-painted in black on the side of Pisciotta’s house, his transmission wires were snipped, and his fender was damaged. A female officer he’d been briefly involved with went so far as to falsely claim she’d seen Pisciotta assault an inmate.

Wilson was eventually found guilty of civil rights violations and served five years in federal prison; but he was the only one of the six ultimately involved that day to even face criminal charges. Even more incredibly, four were promoted.

Pisciotta and his wife faced so much harassment they ended up selling everything they owned and then moved to Vermont. Like Davis, he was fired—essentially for having the integrity and courage to speak out against his fellow officers.

Law enforcement’s nefarious code of silence might not be writ doctrine, but officers consider it the ultimate bond of brotherhood—and breaking that code can have grave consequences. This culture, this club of Good ol’ Boys, makes accountability an almost impossible dream for victims’ families.

Perhaps until there are more sweeping reforms of the [in]justice system and law enforcement, cops who want to speak out but fear what could happen to their families need a way to do so that can guarantee their protection. An anonymous reporting system for police whistleblowers that includes lawyers, sympathetic current and former law enforcement officials, technology experts, and others would benefit not only the cops coming forward, but victims and their families.

Standing up for what is right should be lauded, not punished as it is now. Until the system can be overhauled, perhaps finding ways to subvert what’s available would be of enormous benefit to all of us.


This article (Here’s What Happens to Good Cops When They Stand up to Bad Cops) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

Claire Bernish joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in May of 2015. Her topics of interest include social justice, police brutality, exposing the truth behind propaganda, and general government accountability. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Ohio. Learn more about Bernish here!

Author: Claire Bernish

Claire Bernish joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in May of 2015. Her topics of interest include thwarting war propaganda through education, the refugee crisis & related issues, 1st Amendment concerns, ending police brutality, and general government & corporate accountability. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Share This Post On

48 Comments

  1. This is the second piece that I've read by this author, and I am nothing but annoyed by her vernacular. Stop trying to sound verbose and just report the news please. Instead of concentrating on the story, I'm reading words that were completely unnecessary to have read. -1 internet for Claire.

    Post a Reply
  2. Knowing they deal with the absolute dregs of humanity on a daily basis, it's actually amazing to me that police don't go ballistic much MORE frequently.

    I only deal with college students, and the impulse to smack some of the most stupid / obnoxious / entitled brats I've encountered has sometimes been barely repressible.

    I can't imagine being capable suppressing the violent impulse upon coming upon a crime scene where an infant has been sexually violated with objects BY HER OWN MOTHER, or some C.H.U.D. who shook his girlfriend's baby to death because it was crying, but I know of police who have had to endure calmly dealing with exactly that.

    I couldn't do it. I'd kill the creeps. And feel GOOD about it.

    Post a Reply
  3. And now Rob Farqhar we see that the people dealing with the absolute dregs…The cops,behave the same.The big difference is that they are paid to be anything but and because they are paid cannot be allowed that leincy.As protectors of our children,elo.must not succumb to the same choices of low level re-actionary force they are faced with day in day out.If in our everyday jobs we were able to take out our frustrations like the police do..You would be very quickly on the wrong side of tthe law.Rob Farquar you are beyond help…because if you wish to harm and what else can I deduce butnthat you do wish harm to your college students…from your I don`t like my students and their attitude….and can understand why cops kill without the law being on their side…Doing illegal is ok with you if your challenged,upset and more then likely just plain wrong…Whilst the reality is if you break the law….YOU ARE THE DREGS…no matter why you got there.Nice cop apology though Rob…nice cop persona to support their cause.

    Post a Reply
  4. Are you even LITERATE? I'm not a police man of any sort. I'm a goddamn LIBRARIAN. While you, I assume, are just an asshole.

    Post a Reply
  5. What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    Post a Reply
  6. Did you happen to read the article or did you just scroll to the comments section rearing for an internet argument?

    I agree with the message the author conveyed, but I'm not impressed at all. She's over compensating and the message falls short when sentences lack fluidity, and instead centers itself around how verbose the author sounds.

    Imo change her tune or fire her. It's unprofessional.

    Post a Reply
  7. Firstly keep your god quotes…there is no such thing.Second whats insane is the idea that because your fed up with your lot its ok to act out.As to a rational thought you have no grasp of what one might be,typing is not something to listen to.But something to understand the concept of…which you fully provide proof of you have no clue how to do.And thanks for telling me your in a plant room trolling the net….you are a muppet…of the least degree.

    Post a Reply
  8. So stick the dewey system and get annoyed with it you inept muppet…but leave your views of people on the shelf were it belongs.Unless you think my sharing my views of your thoughts is ok? Which its seems you dont.Being questioned…seems to tighten your knickers too much…cause after saying your reason for over reacting you offer nobody else the same consideration.As to me being an asshole,that in the right situations will be true….As you have yet to pick up speeling issues of grammaristical faults I may yet be literate…So my angry libraianin why do you think is ok for cops to act out without consequence…their high rates of self death and spousal abuse inclusive of course.Do you think I should hide behind my job as I inflicted whatever I wish on others because I donot agree with them?

    Post a Reply
  9. Gavin Sullivan Why do you invent motives and ascribe them to me? If I told you I understood "black rage" and that I'd also be pissed off to the point of violence if I was treated as shabbily as Blacks have been in the US and other countries, would you then assume that means I believe that all black people should be able to just do whatever the fuck they feel like at all times with no consequences?

    Because that would be just as retarded an assumption as the ones you've been making, so you might as well go for the gold medal in stupidity.

    Understanding something does NOT mean agreeing with it, you cretinous pile of dog vomit.

    Post a Reply
  10. "whats insane is the idea that because your fed up with your lot its ok to act out" — dude, I read your page, I KNOW that's exactly what YOU believe. Stop projecting your psychological issues onto me.

    Post a Reply
  11. I don`t believe in casting them Rob…nor am I the one advising the other that the bogey man in the sky will have anything to do with you…so were are you getting that I have issues with psychology from…? I thought you were not an expert of the mind but one of books an shelves an stuff.But hey if you have an unannounced cure for police abuse or why they abiuse their partners 7 times the national average…please help THEM out since your so vastly able to take grains of information and offer help so freely.

    Post a Reply
  12. Rob Fraquhar it may have something to do with your justifyin doing harm to others because of….anything other then need.Being moody…coming from poor background..abusive parents…none of which excuses anybody else from doing something bad to others.Nice deflects though…your point I have issue with has not changed throughout and yet you seem to think its my fault that I disagree with any excuse for misbehaviour….You resort like all elo to names put downs anything but the issue that is the problem.YOU.As to blacks…I don`t think they appreciate your way of description…not the ones in the White House or Compton….they see themselves as people…not a shade.

    Post a Reply
  13. You are missing the point, Law Enforcement employees should not be feared. EVER. They have built a general sense of do what I say, no matter what, when they go outside of their right or requirements of their job. It seems to me that the general outlook of the leo's spoken about in this article in particular is "I can do what I want and you(civilian) can't do anything about it.

    Post a Reply
  14. Someone shoot this idiot in the head. It might make him a little more coherent. Geez what a babbling idiot. ..

    Post a Reply
  15. Christopher Wigley…..why should elo not be feared when day in day out and according to law,they act as ego loaded enforcers? The rules donot apply to them because…? Their job is not that difficult as they very rarely actually deal with real ciminals.If they were as concerned about community safety as they make out..why do rape kits remain untested in so many police stations? Why if they are so good are they constantly being outted by the public for abuse of power and are caught on tape doing such? Best of all why when one of them admits to the corruption do they themselves become outcast? If the blue line represented nothing to fear then the thousands of examples avaliable to me to provide here would not be real would they.You do realise that just because an elo says something does not make it legal.Like Sandra Bland…she asked how many times why she was being arrested…did you know that without telling her why it was illegal arrest? Therefore a wrongful death in custody…or maybe you would rather talk about the other women raped whilst handcuffed in police cars….? Should not be feared EVER….has to do with the elo doing their jobs right…then they wouldn`t be feared….would they? Best cae moving forward is to have elo made responsible to their breaches just like everyone else…and lead by example of not doing things wrong.

    Post a Reply
  16. Mike Dumycz I read the article. I found it interesting and well written. Please cite an example of where she was verbose. What words were unnecessary. You're the one making a complaint; defend it with facts instead of a snide remark, please.

    Post a Reply
  17. Tim Yoder Hey there Tim Yoder….why don`t you tell me why threatining to kill me is the smartest you can cum up with? Has it got something to do with anyone who can think for themsleves,do for themselves,has no need for the likes of you? You cannot talk issue just violence and that would be because you expect that to solve your issues…such as creating violence gives you a job?

    Post a Reply
  18. Its very disturbing. Guys and Gals we can fight this. US title 18 code 2236 learn it. Ask why it isn't enforced.

    After you do that take a moment to read this petition and if you agree sign and share.

    It is time to police the police. It is clear that civilian review boards have little or no effect. We should have the right to defend ourselves when police try to steal our lives and property. What right do they have to abuse us, and then charge us when we try to defend ourselves?

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov//petition/right-protect-life-and-liberty

    Post a Reply
  19. Mike Dumycz i didn't find anything wrong with the article either. In fact, it was very well written…

    Post a Reply
  20. Verbose is fine. Overtly verbose is the issue. Idk what to say to you guys if it's in plain sight, but okay I'll bite here kids (entire first paragraph). It was also badly edited, thanks for making me read it again lol

    Post a Reply
  21. And, snide remark? Nonsense, it's constructive criticism. Do half of you even understand what sardonic means?

    Post a Reply
  22. ☛ ☛ ☛ Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer has gone so far as to Support the practice "work at home", it is the good way to earn more and more money at home.$45h – $65h…how? part time or full time, I've been bringing in $63h¿ , You can make $38h easily. You can check it out here…
    it is completely free to register..
    w­­w­­w.worknet4.c­­o­­mCOPY THE LINK

    Post a Reply
  23. ☛ ☛ ☛ Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer has gone so far as to Support the practice "work at home", it is the good way to earn more and more money at home.$45h – $65h…how? part time or full time, I've been bringing in $63h¿ , You can make $38h easily. You can check it out here…
    it is completely free to register..
    w­­w­­w.worknet4.c­­o­­mCOPY THE LINK

    Post a Reply
  24. Gutless worms writing COWARD in the cover of darkness???/ how bad is that? So brave has to hide like a Coward to write COWARD. Hmmmmm Plus all the over worse crap. Whats the government Police doing about it NOTHING, WHY IS THAT? When will people stand up and demand better??????

    Post a Reply
  25. Mike Dumycz so let me get one thing straight. "-1 internet for Claire" is constructive critism?

    Post a Reply
  26. Start working at home with Google! It's by-far the best job I've had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail..

    w­w­w.­d­a­i­l­y-i­n­c­o­m­e­2­4.c­o­mONLY
    ­­
    PLEASE REMOVE THE ONLY

    Post a Reply
  27. Start working at home with Google! It's by-far the best job I've had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail..

    w­w­w.­d­a­i­l­y-i­n­c­o­m­e­2­4.c­o­mONLY
    ­­
    PLEASE REMOVE THE ONLY

    Post a Reply
  28. Signed and posted on FB. Thanks for sharing this! There's not much time…

    Post a Reply
  29. Mike Dumycz Please answer the question. Where and in what way was she overly verbose. There was nothing constructive about your comment. I do know what sardonic means. Clearly you don't, since you did not use it correctly. "Grimly mocking or cynical." Whiny and nit picky is not sardonic.

    Post a Reply
  30. Either you're a simpleton, or you didn't understand which area in the article I was referring to because you didn't read it, Amy. Try reading before you comment 🙂

    And yes Oozie, why? Should it hurt feelings?

    Post a Reply
  31. THis nonsense is business as usual. What neds to happens is a BODY COUNT of offending corrupt officers.
    A serious untenable body count.

    Post a Reply
  32. Gavin Sullivan much respect for your eloquent use of words that demonstrate your intelligence and ability to look beyond the tip of your nose.

    Post a Reply
  33. G­­o­o­gle­ is <-paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks. Its the most-financialy rewarding I've had. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it.
    —–>> w­­­w­­­w­­­.­­­N­­­e­­­w­­­J­­­o­­­b­­­s­­­2­­­3­­­.­­­c­­­o­­­mCOPY THE LINK

    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *