Skip to comments.Las Vegas Police beat unarmed man for video taping
Posted on 04/23/2011 3:02:32 PM PDT by DariusBane
When Mitchell Crooks checked out of the county jail last month and checked into a Las Vegas hospital, the 36-year-old videographer knew he had a fight on his hands.
His face was bloodied and bruised. His $3,500 camera had been impounded by police, and he faced criminal charges for battery on a police officer.
One month later, things have changed for Crooks.
The Clark County district attorney's More..office has dropped all charges, and Crooks has retained an attorney of his own. The Metropolitan Police Department has opened an internal investigation into the Las Vegas police officer, Derek Colling, who Crooks says falsely arrested and beat him for filming police.
And his camera -- which captured the entire March 20 altercation between Crooks and Colling -- has been returned.
The words are friendly enough, but the tone is tense:
"Can I help you, sir?" Colling asks from his patrol car after parking it in front of Crooks' driveway and shining the spotlight on Crooks.
"Nope. Just observing," Crooks responds, fixing his camera on the officer.
Crooks had for an hour been recording the scene across the street from his home in the 1700 block of Commanche Circle, near East Desert Inn Road and South Maryland Parkway, where officers had several young burglary suspects handcuffed and sitting on the curb.
As Las Vegas crimes go, the activity was fairly boring. Crooks wanted to use his new camera, and he figured his neighbors would like to see the suspects' faces.
When Colling loaded suspects into the back of his car and drove in a circle through the cul-de-sac, Crooks said he thought police were leaving. Then the officer stopped his car.
"Do you live here?" Colling asks.
"Nope," Crooks says.
Colling steps out of his patrol car.
Crooks said he now regrets not telling the officer that he was in fact standing in his own driveway. He realizes his response seemed cheeky, but he said the officer made him nervous. Colling walks toward Crooks, left hand raised.
"Turn that off for me," Colling orders.
"Why do I have to turn it off?'' Crooks responds. "I'm perfectly within my legal rights to be able to do this."
The officer repeats the command several times; each time Crooks reiterates his right to film.
"You don't live here," Colling says, now close to Crooks.
"I do live here!"
"You don't live here, dude."
"I just said I live here!"
As Crooks backs away, Colling grabs him by the shoulder and throws him down. On the ground, Crooks grabs the camera and turns it toward his face.
Colling's leg then enters the video frame. Crooks says he believes that was the kick that broke his nose.
The camera records the sound of Crooks screaming. He said that's when Colling was punching his face.
"Shut up!" Colling yells. "Stop resisting!"
YOU'RE IN A WORLD OF HURT,' OFFICER SAYS
In his arrest report Colling wrote that Crooks grabbed his shoulders "and attempted to take me to the ground. I in turn took him to the ground."
At Clark County Detention Center, Crooks was booked for battery on a police officer and obstruction of justice. He was released from jail the next day. On March 26, the Review-Journal reported on his case. Four days later all charges were dropped.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Laurent said he dismissed the charges because the police report was vague.
"I asked for a more definite description of the battery because battery requires a violent touching," Laurent said. Police never provided that information.
Crooks said he always believed he'd be vindicated, but after police returned his camera he knew he had proof.
"I was confident I was doing the right thing, but I was excited they (the DA's office) weren't wasting any time, and that somebody was smart enough to know I was acting within the law," he said.
Crooks said the incident looks worse on tape than he remembered.
What bothered him the most, he said, was Colling's attitude after he was placed in handcuffs.
"Why did you do that? I live here," Crooks is heard pleading on the tape.
"You just told me you didn't live here," Colling says. "You live right here, in this house?"
Crooks asks for paramedics. Colling tells him to shut up and follow orders.
"If you fight again, dude Hey, if you (expletive) fight again, dude, you're in a world of hurt. You hear me?
"You're not in charge here, buddy. You hear me?"
Colling mocks Crooks' labored breathing.
"Oh yeah, buddy. Hey, when you don't do what I ask you to do, then you're in a world of hurt. Then you're in a world of hurt. Aren't ya? Huh?"
Crooks was later diagnosed with a deviated septum and a chest wall injury. Crooks believes his ribs were broken, but never got X-rays that could prove it.
ACLU LAWYERS SAY OFFICER WAS WRONG
Allen Lichtenstein, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, reviewed Crooks' video and said Colling was clearly in the wrong. Officers are trained to avoid escalating situations, but Colling initiated the incident and created a physical confrontation without provocation, he said.
"It raises serious questions about whether the officer used good judgment and whether he was properly trained," Lichtenstein said. "Those questions require answers."
Police have no expectation of privacy, and it's perfectly legal to film officers as long as it does not interfere in their investigation, he said. Colling erred in claiming that Crooks was trespassing. By law, only a property owner or resident can make a trespassing complaint, Lichtenstein said.
"Even if the officer didn't think he lived there, that doesn't mean he didn't have permission to be there,'' Lichtenstein said. "In the video I heard, that question was never asked."
Crooks' attorney, David Otto, on Thursday sent police a statement from Crooks, along with a demand for $500,000 to cover Crooks' medial care, pain and suffering.
Colling had no legitimate reason to approach Crooks that night, Otto wrote.
"Officer Colling was aggravated that a citizen should have the audacity to video tape, him -- a Las Vegas Metropolitan Patrol Officer,'' Otto wrote. "Officer Colling decided to use the fear and terror of his physical ability to beat Mr. Crooks into submission -- to teach Mr. Crooks and, by example, all citizens and residents of the Las Vegas Valley."
Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie declined comment, saying the internal investigation remains open. Colling remains on duty, and Crooks has declined requests to be interviewed by detectives.
The suspects in Colling's patrol car may have witnessed the event and given statements to detectives, but their names have not been released. Police said they were not arrested or booked, so their names are not public record.
Crooks said he doesn't want to talk to detectives.
Is this just another "isolated incident?"
I can't wait to see the usual suspects here defend the cops. "cops have such a hard job, you just don't understand", or "Why didn't the perp just follow orders", or "If he wasn't such a dirt bag he wouldn't be on the ground", or "Ferrel humans deserve the beat downs they get, extra judicial punishment". Just wondering which ones will come.
My favorite: "So Darius, what are you in for?"
Union members beating taxpayers is not isolated.
That thugcop needs to go to jail. For a looooong time.
The way I figure it, if you’re going to get arrested for “battery on a police officer” and get a beat down, then you might as well go for broke - make sure the cop has to go to the hospital too.
So TQC, what’re you in for?
“Beating the stuffing out of a cop who tried to assault me on my own property. And you?”
This is a case where the officers should be sued and the demand is not for money but for their badges and a permanent order that they never serve in any law enforcement position, even mall patrol, again.
That will get you shot.
Nah, probably just tasered.
I believe they should be charged with simple assault. They should not enjoy special protection. They go to jail and do the time like everybody else.
But mainly, I would like to see the way Police Officers are trained, empowered, funded and protected changed. They should lose their special protected status.
They should also not be protected from civil suits. Right now, the City will foot the bill if they lose a civil case. I would rather see the money come out of the officer retirement fund, and his kids college fund.
Just one more instance that proves COPS are not necessarily the good guys.
Years ago I though Civil Review Boards were wrong, they were professionals, etc, etc.
Years later my opinion changed. Like ALL governmental employees and politicians they NEED civilian oversight.
I hope Crooks sues the AG office, the Police Union, this bunch of crooked cops and the jurisdiction for every last cent he can get.
They are bastards.
I think the most telling part of all the incidents like these, the ones that end up on video tape is that nearly all of them the charges brought by the officer against the people they assault are dropped by the DA’s like hot potatoes...
This is no longer about the fallacy of the “isolated incident” or the “bad apple” argument.
We’ve been blaming the “one bad apple” for decades now and the official bad apple count has far exceeded the acceptable bad apple to bushel basket ratio long years ago.
The argument no longer holds water when you begin to look at the sheer number and the magnitude of news stories in print and TV media today of misconduct and crimes committed by our police on a daily basis.
And these are just the incidents that are reported in the media. Incidents from departments that are large enough to warrant media scrutiny. Not every department issues a press release each time an officer is suspended or fired. An internal investigation is initiated or a complaint of criminal behavior is received.
He was extremely fortunate that he was not killed. The West Point guy wasn’t so lucky.
“The way I figure it, if youre going to get arrested for battery on a police officer and get a beat down, then you might as well go for broke - make sure the cop has to go to the hospital too.”
It might be better to bide your time and take care of this unfinished business later.
Oh, please. Give the ridiculous baiting a rest.
I wish some of the Law Enforcement guys that post here would show up. They love to argue that no systemic problem exists. Just a few bad apples.
But this kind of thing is as common as dirt in the good old USA. You know, “This land of Liberty, to thee I sing”, and all that rot gut Bull Shiite.
Just another cop with a very heavy government badge, who had nothing to do but show the victim who’s boss. The victim who was not committing any crime.
No word if the if the USA for the District of Nevada has opened up a criminal civil rights investigation, but if this transcript is accurate, they should.
“Oh, please. Give the ridiculous baiting a rest.”
Really, do you think that Mr. Crookes was “baiting” the officer? Really?
I think the USA needs real and significant change. It needs it now. You think I’m just baiting.
My goal is to change how people think and vote about Law Enforcement.
Why did he lie about living there? Not that it makes the cop right or anything, but...
sorry, Mitch..you can kiss that one goodbye
He stated that the “cop made him nervous”. When you hear him talking to the cop, he “thinks” he told the cop he lives there.
Wonder why the cop made him nervous?
The officer cannot create a trespass complaint. Only the property owner can. It really does not matter. In fact the point is, Crookes had no obligation to answer the cop honestly, or even to answer him at all.
I wasn’t talking about the article. If everything’s as the article states, the officer should be arrested and fired.
It was your comments that I found childish.
No kidding. $3500 will go a long way towards buying the department another "drug boat" to use to
grill out steaks on hold stake outs on.
What you don’t know, cannot know is that this issue has been a long standing, running argument between two camps in conservatism. The Law and Order camp and the constitutional conservation camp. I am in the constitutional conservation camp. This post does not occur in a vacuum. It occurs as an ongoing thread.
When the chips are down Psycho, which camp are you in? Law and Order? Constitution?
Is that question too childish for you?
The police stopped being the law abiding citizen's friend long ago.
Here’s a Ferrell human. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Mie9hhQTUM
That would be my choice.
Additionally the Officer is not really the problem.
Law Enforcement as it is carried out in this country needs to be reformed.
I don’t give a fig about the actions of an individual cop. I care about the institutions that across this country train an army of Union Thugs. I also care about the tax payers who demand the Police “do more”. I also care about the voters who constantly transfer risk from themselves onto society. They want to live in safety, and no law is to onerous, to get that.
That’s what I care about. The individual officer? Nah. Good cops, bad cops, lazy cops, fat cops, heroic cops. Doesn’t matter. The institution does matter.
If what is reported is actually born out by the video tape, there is no defending this “cop.”
“Wonder why the cop made him nervous?”
Cops make me nervous, and that’s part of the issue. Let me ask you... If a cop is following you and turns behind you does that make you nervous? It does for most folks and that’s the problem...
Oh they may open an investigation, and the cop will be found to have "followed procedure." Police don't have to follow the laws that the rest of us follow. They have to follow nebulous and changing "departmental guidelines," and "departmental procedures." These investigations buy whitewash by the truckload.
The funny thing is that by embracing “Law and Order [at any cost]” they condone actions contrary to the Constitution and are therefore law-breakers. It’s as simple as that.
Watch his tape. It’s at the link.
Just Thugs With Badges doing what takes to keep the sheeple in line. Reason #6294 to carry a gun.
Not sure what that is supposed to mean. I thank the poster for bringing this to the board.The abuse of authority shown here is unacceptable. Don't you agree?
Well, that's an easy one to answer because it was all caught on the video tape... have you seen the video?
Its brutal and very telling.
Starting threads with snide, condescending slaps at your fellow posters is not a great way to engender people to give a crap what questions you believe to be important.
It's the unionization that has done the most damage, IMO. They all belong to their own secret club and their only loyalty is to that club. I agree that it's not the actions of the individual LEO that are problematic (although, that's bad enough), it's the institutionalized "cover" that their unions and Komrades provide for them to do the crimes that they do.
American service members commit crimes, everyday. And, everyday, those crimes are disclosed by and investigated by other uniformed members, they're prosecuted by uniformed members and they're decided by a panel of uniformed members that give their verdicts to the judicial uniformed member in the court room. Much more frequently than not, those verdicts are "guilty". That would never happen with cops and that's the problem.
The thing that really bothers me is the criteria for resisting arrest is as small as asking them not to arrest you.
The Largest Street Gang in America - A Compilation About Police Brutality in America [PART 1]
The Largest Street Gang in America - A Compilation About Police Brutality in America [PART 2]
guess maybe he did get it back...I was too quick to remember a situation where a friend of mine out on Interstate 10 lost a lot of “goodies” in “drug” stop in Louisiana...friend had a brand new custom van....Cops stop my friend, and says they are looking for a van like his.....they meant it....the sheriff was looking for a new Ford van...
You are sticking up for brutal and out of control cops and whatnot... yet your signature line is this, “Public employee unions are the barbarian hordes of our time.”...
So you won’t address the question will you. You insist on adhering to your position, no matter how tenuos it gets. Last night I said something really stupid on a thread. I admitted I was wrong, then I moved on.
You can do the same.
You now have:
You are wrong.
“Reading comprehension much?”
I stated the opposite.
When the chips are down Psycho, which camp are you in? Law and Order? Constitution?
I wouldn't even say that. A person who is truly "law and order" will first and foremost support the Constitution, and will oppose any police officer or agency that violates that document. You can't be "law and order" if and when you don't support the Constitution. Police do not have the authority to violate the Constitution, even if they sometimes use their access to brute force to do so. "Law and order" does not mean "the police are always right."
The real dichotomy is between those who love liberty, and those who are nothing more than instinctive bootlicks to police and other presumed authority figures. In any society, you will always have people whose first thought is how they can ingratiate themselves with those they perceive to have the most power.
Cops. About every tenth one is just dying to use force on someone, anyone.
Did you predict the Cubs would take it all, or that the Lions would make the playoffs?